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Offline CaptainPenguin

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Sic Transit Mundus
« on: January 26, 2005, 06:46:31 PM »
Sic Transit Mundus

"In the imminent dark age people will endure hardship, and for the greater part of their time they will be laboring to satisfy primitive needs. A few will have positions of privelige, and their work will not consist in... cultivating the soil or in building shelters with their own hands. It will consist in schemes and intrigues, grimmer and more violent than anything we know today, in order to maintain their personal priveliges..."
-Roberto Vacca, The Coming Dark Age

So. Big man, aren't you? Think you're the head honcho around our little village? Think you rule the roost? Think you're sitting pretty? Think you're strong, think you're smart? Well, that's good. It's always good policy to maintain a positive attitude. But let me let you in on a little secret about the world, a little secret about how big you really are, cowboy...

Babylon

"Time, like an ever flowing stream,
  Bears all its sons away;
They fly, forgotten, as a dream
  Dies at the opening day."

-Isaac Watts, 1719; Anglican Hymnal #289

I'm sure you've been to Shikka-Go, cowboy- you've seen the endless ruins on the shore of the Cold Sea, how they glow at night and are covered in huge wounds, like the face of a defeated god. You've seen the metal chariots smashed down in the streets, rusting. You've seen the piles and piles of bones, the dead who lie in the streets, the Muties and Demons who dwell among the rubble, and the Undead who twitch around the hills near where the Science Wizards worked their wonders. You've probably fought 'em, haven't you? Gone down into Downtown for iron or for some trinket. Well, it wasn't always that way.
Don't look at me like that- I'm older than you, I know what I'm talking about. Long ago, in the days of your grandfather's father, back when the storms weren't so bad, the toppled towers were huge and shining- all that glass that's all over the place was probably part of their faces. The metal chariots glided across the ground. There were people all over the place- more people than you could ever imagine, and Metalmen, too, and Science Wizards. All the diseases were conquered, and they knew much magic, and they could keep you alive very long. Many, many people had guns. Yes, yes, guns. There are places where they aren't as scarce as here, y'know. The King of the city was a man named Arco, and Arco was the subject of another, bigger king, a king who lived far away to the south (you couldn't walk there in a whole moon, or maybe even two moons) towards the Salty Sea, and that King's name was Prasi-Dennt. Prasi-Dennt was a very wise king, and very powerful (even more powerful than the King of Nuyork) and though he had a whole holdfast full of old sages to help him (they were called the Sennit, but you don't need to know that), he had the biggest word of them all, and he ruled the whole horizon as far as you can see, and every other King in the land was subject to King Prasi-Dennt.
But there were other Kings who had other kingdoms, far away north in the Snowlands and far away south in the Hotlands, and across the Salty Sea (over that way there were many, many kings). And none of these Kings could ever agree- they had many, many wars, into the past beyond memory, fighting with guns and thunder-axes. Have you heard the tale of Al-Ais fighting Nat-Zees? That was during one of their wars- Al-Ais was a cowboy for King Prasi-Dennt.
Their wars got bigger and bigger and bigger. The Kings had many meetings, as well, but they never helped- they could never agree and always would argue and leave angrily. It was discovered that the magical oil which they had used to power the chariots was gone- that caused more wars, until a very clever Science Wizard discovered a new way to power their magic, but this just caused even more wars.
Then they had more and more and more and more wars. And these wars were bigger and bigger and bigger and bigger.
All the people cried out to the kings, but there was no help. There was more and more killing, and the kings were so wasteful that God himself became angry and made the seas rise up and many lands began to sink. The people of the lands of Angle and Japan and the Salty Sea Islands suffered greatly, and all the people of the coasts as well.
Finally, the Kings, including King Prasi-Dennt, all decided to meet at a specified place.
"We must do something!" they all shouted at each other. They shouted so much that God's angels shut the Gates of Heaven so that God wouldn't be disturbed while sleeping.
"We must do something!" they still shouted, but that was all they shouted, until none could hear the other. Then, they all began demanding what they wanted, and none could agree to compromise, and in the end the meeting, they all began to fight again!
But it was worse this time.
The Big War had begun.

The Big War

"General, you don't have a war plan! All you have is some kind of horrible spasm!"
-Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNamara, 1961

"The policy of the United States remains unchanged. Upon confirmation of actual nuclear attack on this nation, our strategic forces will inflict unacceptable damage on the enemy."
-Pentagon spokesman, 1975

Those were terrible times. Horrible times. Your own grandfather's grandfather, cowboy, was probably a cowboy for King Prasi-Dennt in the Big War. All over the world, to the four corners of the world, from Hell's Gate to Heaven's Gate, there was bloodshed and battle and fear and war and terror. The skies were darkened with the great eagles and dragons which the Kings fought each other with. The land swarmed with cowboys, fighting with guns and walkers and beamers and Metalmen and poison clouds and thunders and thunder-axes.
At long last, the Kings began to fight each other with the most feared things in all Creation, things that God had sealed up in the ground so that Man would never find them: the Lucifers. Previously, the Lucifers had only been used once, when King Prasi-Dennt sent one flaming against the King of Japan. All the Kings had then decided that God would not want them to let loose the Lucifers.
But now they did, and this is what happened.

End of Days

"Then let them which be in Judaea flee into the mountains."
-Matthew 24

"Run to the hills/run for your lives..."- Iron Maiden, "Run to the Hills"

But now they did, and the Lucifers were horrible- they swarmed from the ground over all the hills and flew blazing through the heavens, blinding all who looked upon them. Then, they would leap into the cities and holdfasts of the people all over the world and in a flash of light and a great thunder, there would be nothing left. Many, many, many, so many perished- the dead overflowed the corners of the Earth and the angels and demons were too busy to rest. Those who did not die from the blinding flames that the Lucifers threw died from the poison smoke that rose from the flames, or then from the Wasting (which you know very well). And if that were not enough, the Lucifers threw up their smoke all over the world, so that not a single ray of sunshine could shine through.
Then there were almost no men left over, and they all cried out to God to help them.
He looked down and saw the world in so sorry a state that he became angry.
He first did what he could to make the elements right again, and stop the icy cold and poison clouds, but the Lucifers also had stirred up huge storms by mixing their cold air with his warm, and He could not stop many of these.
The people all fled to the highest mountaintops, even the Kings.
Angels came down with a message from God:

"Let Men, who hath been wicked in their days, atone for their sins before God; let them riseth up against the Kings, they who hath been twice unto thrice as wicked and who hath unleashed the Lucifers, and cast them down. And then let Men dwell in the Earth for seventy unto seventy unto seventy generations until all of Creation is pure once again, and then may Men return to the Kingdom of God, and not until then, and not before."

Then all of them on the mountains cried out once more- their cries were terrible and great, but the angels just went on back up to Heaven and shut the Gates.
All the men turned upon the Kings, and there were battles on all the mountains, but finally, the Kings had all died and the Big War was over, and it was just the men, left over, to wait out the coming of the Pure Land so that we could go to Heaven again.

So there you have it, cowboy. I can see you don't believe it- that don't matter. It's true, every word of it, and you can go to Nuyork and they'll tell you so, and you can go to Yu-Ess-Ay far off yonder and they'll tell you so, and you can go... Well, you can go anywhere, and they'll tell you- that's how it happened.

I once heard my father say some words in an ancient language. I don't remember what the language was, but I remember the words. They're like a prayer.
Sic transit mundus, he said. "There passes the world."
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Offline CaptainPenguin

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Sic Transit Mundus
« Reply #1 on: January 26, 2005, 09:19:48 PM »
Okaaaay...
I really gotta' stop writing those really long opening things. I'm not writing a novel, here. Sheesh. I'm a maniac!  :)

So... What next? I'm not really sure where to go with this.

Quote
IDEAS....
-Big War (that's what it'll be called) sparked mostly over a scarcity of oil, with a lot of political tension thrown in for good measure.

-I think I will adopt AG's cyborg Undead; they're just too good of an idea! Smile

-Two major European centers of population (one's a city-state, one's really more of a district): the New Holy Reich of Neues Berlin and Novya Moskva (anarchic semi-kleptocracy built in and around the ruins of Moscow).

-Mechs, hell yeah!

-The Followers of Morgenstern, a weird cult-hive of people who aspire to become cyborg-ized by their god-leader, a supercomputer called Morgenstern.

-The Freedom Army, a large, well-armed militia of the French from the Big War which devoted itself to the cause of stopping "American tyranny".

-Siberia is wilderness now; got nuked and then became a sort of bizarre mutant tundra-jungle, with giant carpets of moss and insane fungi, as well as evil-looking pines.

-Japan is hyper-urbanized and technological (think Akira-style).

-Mutants, robots, fallout-savages, cargo cults, and the like.

-Nuke-Winter and Global Warming counteract against each other- huge storms and violent weather (probably not scientific, but hey, who cares?).

IF the U.S. is kaput:
-A community of militant Christian-fanatics in the Southeast (Florida, Georgia, the Virginias maybe) that refer to the time before the Big War as "Babylon" and all others as "Pagans" (Mouthful of Dust tie-in?)

-A military state begun by a stranded U.S. military unit on the last surviving base in Europe; they still cling the hope that somebody is coming to rescue them, even despite being beset by the Freedom Army out of France.

IF the U.S. is (mostly) okay, then radiation-sealed cities policed by robots and ruled by the now-despotic President Campbell (130 years old, sustained by nanotech; Big Brother tendencies); a "democracy" that is really a pluto/aristocracy. Possibly some sort of virtual-reality-consciousness network so that not everybody can see the squalor and decay?

I could probably incorporate the two ideas- perhaps the pseudo-U.S. exists only in the Northeast or West coast of the (former) nation.


Okay... I think I will have most of the U.S. and Canada will be wilderness and tribes and gangs and such. The northwest U.S. and part of the western Canadian coast is the technological, dictatorial remnants of the United States of America, ruled by President Arthur Campbell. Other than that, there are the small states of the Lone Star Republic (pretty much anarchist), the Kingdom of Little Rock, the militant Christian towns of Florida, the Kingdom of Nuyork, and Ellay (a very disparate group of militias and communities who have a common militia, living in the ruins of L.A.).

Europe is home to the warm, cuddly dictatorships of the New Holy Reich of Neues Berlin (similar to the pseudo-U.S. but less technologically-advanced), the Geneva League, and the Republic of Madrid. Other states are more or less soluble, and tend to change with the wind. Somewhere in southern Germany there is what most call the Division. It's a small state based in the last remaining American military base in Europe- military ranks are supreme, and those not in the military are "civilians" living under the protection of the U.S. Army; Essentially, the common populace have two options- join the U.S. military or conduct a strange sort of life within the confines of the originally-temporary settlement of Constitution City. The Division (and Constitution City) are meanced by the Freedom Army, a militia of French loonies devoted to destroying "American tyranny" (they have an agreement with the Geneva League). In and around Moscow is the anarchic district of Novya Moskva, where the Revolution is every day, all day. Most of western Russia is wasteland, but Siberia is a bizarre nuclear tundra-jungle-swamp full of mutants.

In Asia we mostly have nothing- disparate people in the western part of China. There is the New Chinese Federation, centered in Beijing, that runs up and down the coast of the China Sea. They're not real advanced, but they do fairly well in trading with Nippon, the dystopian cyberpunk oligarchy that they've made out of Japan (Neo-Tokyo is built over the Tokyo bay, most of the island is city). Tibet is mostly unharmed (in fact, much the better with the Chinese gone) and well on its way to reforming its Buddhist theocracy.

Not sure what to do with India, Africa, the Middle East, or Australia.

So, anyway... that's what I have. I could use a hand from experienced post-apockers like A.G. and such.
Currently Reading: "Kafka On The Shore" by Haruki Murakami

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Offline Kinslayer

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Sic Transit Mundus
« Reply #2 on: January 26, 2005, 11:49:35 PM »
I like that the same good old-fashioned monotheistic Diety is still seen as the guy in charge, but that he's been sleeping for quite some time now.  Also, the increased autonomy of the angels could be employed more, perhaps with some of them being blamed (or appealed to) for certain events, such as disease, mutants (obviously demonic, to some), or natural disasters.  

I like the demonification of nuclear weaponry.  This also can be developed further, such as attributing names & personalities to specific weapons or weapon types (as background information), or local myths about the Lucifer that once dwelled inside a local pit (the silo).  

Another point I found interesting is that you used the condensing of history.  There's one theory that without an accurate accounting of history (especially without literacy & education) that historic events of antiquity are always assumed to have taken place just beyond the lifetime of the oldest person that one knows.  That is, both the apocalypse and the fall of Rome took place shortly before your grandmother was born.  

I'm curious to see how you've changed culture & society.
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Offline Scrasamax

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Sic Transit Mundus
« Reply #3 on: January 27, 2005, 04:51:11 PM »
"These are bad times partner." Those were Tex's words for just about any situation. Things were going pretty good from what the books say. Their were all kinds of good things, shiny robots and clean food and water, women without weird tentacles growing out of their green skin.

"Its hard out here." he says. The sun is beating down on us pretty hot, and I can see hreat shimmering off of the hull of the tank, a vietnam era M-48 Bulldog. A museum piece from Old Fort Hood. The military base there wasnt hit during the Reckoning, most of the troops and the shiny new equipement was gone overseas. I figure it got blown up with the rest of creation, but Tex says they are coming back one day, coming back with their walking tanks, and solar cannons. Its up to us to keep the home-fires burning. I think Tex has spent too long in the sun.

Patrol along the Rio isnt a good detail, but it is alot less morally straining. Patroling the east, along the Sabine, and Red rivers is worse. The water is dirty, and the Jesus-Freaks are ready to come across the border and take everything we have left. They have their puppet king Campbell, but it has fallen apart. Bad times.

At least facing west, we have allies. There are a hell of a lot of mutants in the wastelands that used to be part of the good old USA, used to have names but they dont matter anymore. Its just shattered cities with hald degenerate mutants, and crazies who are holding onto the weird stuff that might have survived, or something that they think is the superweapon of yesterday. The Republick of California is a good ally, but the wastelands are like fences and good fences make for good neighbors, as the expression goes.

"Lets pop one." Tex says, tossing down the butt of a half smoked cigarette. Following orders I chamber a round for the 75mm cannon. There arent any of the originals left, but we collect the empty casings, and we're lkucky bastards, we can make more. Nothing fancy mind you, but enough black powder and a 12 pound lead slug can make a mess of just about anything nowadays.

The turret grinds as we turn to face the setting sun. I've got nothing through my viewport but Tex is squinting, his face turned into a strange half smile. The tank bucks as the cannon fires, and at about 500 yards something dies. It goes up in a huge cloud of black ichor and segmented plates and legs. It was a nightcrawler, a d**ned centipede the size of a flatbed truck, now blown into about four pieces. We've been waiting on him for six hours now. I wonder where the rest of his buddies are?


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Offline CaptainPenguin

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North America
« Reply #4 on: January 27, 2005, 07:46:32 PM »
North America (Canada and the U.S.A.)

"Buildings fall, after all,
But we're still livin'/
Drop the bomb, right or wrong,
But we're still livin'/
Turn the page on the rage/
Are you down with it?
Keep on dreamin' now... Dreamin' on."

-Handsome Boy Modeling School, "Down With It"

Still common, nowadays, to call it the U.S.
What a joke.
Look at this- look at this. Here's your United States, here's your Star-Spangled Banner. Rust, dust. Y'know they take this s**t apart for the scrap metal? F**king tribals. Don't know where they came from.
Well, anyway, take a good look.
There's a lot of people spread all over this continent. Course, not as many as there used to be, but still, we got population around here.
Heh. Population. Tribes all over the place. They call their warriors "cowboys", or vaqueros if you're down around the Lone Star Republic and in the Hotlands over yonder. Bunch a crazies, the tribals, but then again, who isn't these days?
Up northwest you got yer' remaining U.S.A., for what it's worth. People don't go in and out of there. Don't know if that Campbell motherf**ker's still alive, but my bet is that he's sticking around. Yep. Bad deal, that.
Let's see... There's the Lone Star Republic, but don't expect to find any help there. Every ranch has it's own king down there, and anyway, they're busy fighting off tribals and giant bugs. Yep. Hannegan's the boss around there, but don't expect him to listen to you, and don't expect the ranchers to listen to him. Little Rock ain't much better; yer' liable to get your head cut off if you say anything bad about the King around those parts.
Way off yonder, there's Nuyork. I've heard that the King around there isn't too bad. But you'd have to go through Mutie-Land to get there. And I ain't steppin' foot near Florida. Crazy bastards; don't go 'round there unless you want to get your head blown off in the name of Jesus.
I suppose, if you really want, you can go west towards Ellay and the Republic of California. Not sure what it's like down there, but closer that way, they talk about Sacramento like it was Heaven. I dunno', man. Ellay... Well, freaks, hippies, and muties, and they're all living in the ruins. It was big enough before it got fried- you could probably find a place to stay, maybe even for free.
Arizona, New Mexico- I'd wanna' go there about as much as I wanna' go to Hell. F**king hot, burning deserts, tribal cowboys and muties and huge bugs (bugs like you never seen, partner); I know there's some crazy military types about those parts.
You could stick around here- the Midwest, they used to call it. You get what you pay for. If you can find a safe place to get out of the sun and the storms, more power to you. But don't be surprised if you get jumped by muties on the road, or the little town you go to turns out to be full of cannibals. It's happened before- I could tell you a story about my cousin...
But anyway... Up north of here, maybe, but I dunno' about Idaho, Montana... And way up north, what they used to call Canada, but now they call the Coldlands... Good luck.

The United States of America

"Fascism is capitolism in decay."
-Vladimir Ulyanov Lenin

"We're all living in Amerika/
Coca-Cola, sometimes war/
We're all living in Amerika/
Amerika, Amerika..."

-Rammstein, "Amerika

Welcome to the United States of America, the Greatest Country on the Planet Earth, the Home of Democracy, the Cradle of Freedom. Are you immigrating? Voluntary, involuntary, slave, or annexation? Very good. Line on the left. Please fill out Forms A1-15, B-6x, 7R-PT, and your Possessions documentation, and prepare to be fitted for your uplink. Have a nice day!

Long ago, the name America, the name U.S.A., used to mean something. To people across the world, to the oppressed, to the downtrodden, the poor and the hungry, America was the golden land, the land of freedom and opportunity.
No longer.

America's physical dimentions are rather reduced from what they once were- the U.S.A. now consists of the states of Oregon, Washington, a western strip of Idaho, northern parts of California and Nevada, and southern parts of the former Canadian province of British Columbia, including Victoria Island. Much of the land is heavy pine forests or (in eastern regions) high desert. However, in and around the city of Seattle (the capitol of the United States in this day and age) and the Puget Sound on which it sits, the land is covered in one huge city. In fact, population centers throughout the U.S., including Olympia and Tacoma in Washington, and Portland, Salem, and Eugene in Oregon, have become megacities, joining together into miles and miles of black cities, sparkling with brilliant colorful lights, dark skyscrapers spearing into the air. The distinctive style of New American architecture is seen everywhere- structures seem almost unfinished in their abstractness, with large sections of irregular black-stained concrete and dark metal, walls of colorful glass, exposed machinery and wiring encased in ephemeral green containment fields, bridges everywhere. All skyscrapers are bridged between each other; most activity goes on amidst the skyscrapers, roads are suspended on static-cables and containement fields. Brilliant colorful lights are everywhere.
The poor live below.

It is often said among those who dwell amongst the towers and on the balconies and in the skyscrapers that America is like a coral reef, a beautiful living organism that makes itself greater and greater upon the sacrafices of its elders. Those live a bit lower down will tell you that America builds high on the broken backs of the dead, growing like a fungus out of the stinking corpse of its past. The layers of American cities read like a fossil record. The upper reaches, bridges, towers, balconies- these are the strata (often called Upper Layer or Sky Level) of the rich and the priveliged. A little lower is the sooty, damp regions of the small middle class- this is also the place of the major shopping centers, the public places, the major movement of American society. This layer (known as Commons Layer or Earth Level, despite being considerably higher than the actual ground, in most American cities) is a mixing point between the classes of the U.S., though don't expect many to acknowledge that these classes exist. Below, stretching down, down, below the ground layer and deep into the underground (and into barely-sealed, barely-pressurized chambers beneath the Pacific Ocean and Puget Sound in some of the coastal cities and Seattle) are the layers of the poor and the poorer, and the factories and production yards (really more like production caverns) that work all day long, belching their wastes forth through venting tubes to reclamation centers to be recycled or encapsulated for storage and removal from the Earth (as necessity; if the government could get away with it without destroying the weak environment, they would gladly let such pollutants go). In the lowest layers, the people are hardly human, living like the rats and mutant animals which dwell in those dank, dripping, foetid concrete-and-metal caverns beneath the planet, scrabbling for survival just as desperately as mutants and tribals in the blasted lands outside.

The Upper Americans live like kings, the beneficiaries of super-advanced technology, nanotechnology, boosted lifespans, and all the amazing technological advancements which Americans have preserved or created. Every person is in perfect health (for the most part), strong, fast, intelligent, and extremely well-educated. Many have lived to be 120 years old. Most appear to be much younger than they are. They dress beautifully, look beautiful.
In contrast, the majority of Americans live in indescribable misery. Their rotting jumpsuits are stained with years of the excreta of their society. They are frequently diseased and injured, despite nanomedicals and regeneration fields. They live on handfuls of government-dispensed rations each day, and barely, if ever, scrimp together enough money to purchase better nourishment, more protective clothing, or medical care on the Commons Layer. They toil every day in dark factories or deep pits, or deeper in the tunnels; they are manual workers where robots cannot be, they are technicians and janitors. Most, however, are without employment, and live each day in a haze of drugs (government-dispensed or purchased or killed for) or simply battling their fellow Americans to survive. The luckier ones, those who make up the middle class, may wear better than jumpsuits- they might wear actual clothes, do more than shamble too and from work or battle, have actual social lives. The middle class may be technicians and workers in the Upper Layers, or anonymous corporate slaves in sealed concrete cubicles, managing endless computer networks and uplink patterns. In centuries of computer production, the digital makeup of the United States, even with the big cleanup that the Big War created, has become hopelessly tangled.
Every American is implanted with uplinks to the network. No longer must one  log into a terminal to access the Internet or use a computer- it is done through the uplinks in one's brain at special stations (resembling the phone booths of an earlier era, one after the other in huge banks) that must merely be touched- the Upper Classes may simply have to be near to a conduit. How the uplink is used often depends on the class of the person- the Upper Classes use them for games which overcome their own realities, and for finding information, while the lesser folk use them for many different purposes. Communication, art, information-gathering- all are possible. The uplink can also become a very sinister drug; many are addicted to other realities which the uplink can overlay onto their own. The uplink is also the American government's secret spy tool- the age of Big Brother is truly come, when even an American's thoughts are monitored by the government. Strangely, despite the despotism of the American regime, it seems that there is still some respect for the old right to free speech and thought- it is rare for a person to be arrested for their thoughts, though not unknown.

The ruler of the United States of America is President Arthur Campbell, styled Mister Campbell, Friend of the People, Defender of Freedom, Protector of the Constitution. Also styled (in less respectful locales) Campbell the Bastard, Campbell the Motherf**ker, King of America, the Tyrant, the Despot, the Old Man. President Campbell's beatifically-smiling face can be seen everywhere in the United States, adorning patriotic banners alongside the American flag (now red, white, and black in remembrance of all those slain in the Big War) and printed propaganda, projected in holograms above the streets, celebrated in sculpture in the windows of structures, and in profile on the black hovercopters of the Freedom Police, the black-coated enforcers of his regime. Campbell is over 250 years old- he was one of the footsoldiers who stormed Riyadh in Saudi Arabia at the beginning of the Big War- and is sustained by constant regeneration fields, nanites that swarm through his body, and robotics. He lives in the White Tower (spiritual descendant of the White House and the only skyscraper in America that is allowed to be white) in Seattle, and is constantly attended by the Presidential Guard, the fanatic white-uniformed superwarriors who guard him at all times with their lives (though it is not entirely clear if they are living, or even human), and the black-uniformed leaders of the Secret Service, who are now his secret police. Where a job must be done too secretly for the Freedom Police, the Secret Service are sent in.

America depends very much on robot and slave labor. Robots are more reliable and easier to repair, but slaves and the lower classes make up a sizable portion of the work force where robots would be inefficient, impossible, or just silly to use. Slaves are also kept by the rich for help and amusement, though some have qualms about this and instead hire help instead of purchasing it.

The U.S.A.'s technology level is amazing, verging on hypertechnology. Hydrogen and nuclear power is the norm, though zero-point power systems have been experimented with. Nanotechnology is everywhere, as well as highly advanced robotics and cybernetics. Weapons are still generally material, though it is well-documented that the special Red-White-and-Black Units that are dispatched only during the U.S. military's most dangerous jobs wear super-advanced powered-armor and utilize energy weapons.

The Lone Star Republic

"So what is Texas? The simplest answer is that it is America on steroids."
-The Economist, Dec. 21-Jan. 3, 2003

It is certain that free societies would have no easy time in the future dark age. The rapid return to universal penury will be accomplished by violence and casualties of a kind now forgotten. The force of law will be scant or nil... because of difficulties of communication and transport. It will be possible only to delegate authority to local powers who will maintain it by force...
-Roberto Vacca, The Coming Dark Age

Now you listen here, an' you listen good- I ain't gonna' have you hangin' 'round here, suckin' up all muh' grub, unless you work your share and gimme' your taxes. Thas' how it works 'round here- this is Texas, and you work for what you get, an' yer' loyal to yer' Boss. An' don't you gimme' no bullsh*t about this not bein' a Republic- you sound like a d**n Californian when ya' talk like that. 'Round here we're independent.
Oh, an', uh, if ya' see a Mutie, put a round through his skull, not his arm, alright? We had some trouble with a man outta' Little Rock a month back. Said Muties was as human as us, an' wouldn't kill 'em. We had to feed 'im to the bugs.

Texas was the only state that became part of the U.S.A. by treaty. In that treaty, the Texans reserved the right to seccede at any time. Texas has always had a reputation for being independent, for being larger than life. There was just something different about Texas that wasn't true of the other states, for better or worse.
When the war came, Texas was hit hard- many military operations into South America had been facilitated by the bases there, and in addition, Texas had always been the basis of the international image of the rude American. It was wasted not only soldiers swarming out of Mexico, but by inferno weapons which charred the land, and nukes from four different countries. In the midst of this nuclear destruction, the genetically-engineered beasts of the government genelabs of northern Texas swarmed forth, converting many regions into totally bizarre environments unlike any other on the Earth. The Mutie Forests of northern Texas still are there, to this day, though much of the rest of the land is a blasted desert.
The current Lone Star Republic, though its size fluctuates due to the fractious and quarrelsome nature of Bosses (the Republic's equivalent of the dukes of medieval Europe), could be described, roughly as the former state of Texas, with parts of Oklahoma and eastern New Mexico. Essentially, it is most of the land between the Rio Grande and the Red River could be considered, at most times, a part of the Lone Star Republic.

Though the Lone Star state is known as a Republic, it is better classed a heavily decentralized alliance of landowners. Texas has once again become a land of ranches, and these ranches function like the manors of medieval Europe, being ruled by Bosses who oversee the government and protection of their people in exchange for work and service. Most ranches are governed in this way- others are more democratic in nature. Ranches in a given area cooperate to govern said area (generally called a "county"). Each area periodically sends one Boss as representative each year to the Lone Star Senate in Dallas, which is generally held to be the "capitol" of the Lone Star Republic, such as it is. There is no one ruler of the Republic- the Lone Star Senate is a year-round voting body which represents the interests of the Bosses. Each representative Boss gets one vote on every issue in the Senate- generally, a representative's colleagues in his county will send messengers to provide the consensual opinion on how the representative should vote.

Being pseudo-feudal and aristocratic, it is surprising how independently-minded and proud people of the Lone Star Republic are, even those who are not of the class of the Bosses. There is a general opinion among Lone Stars (as Texans are called) that they are as free as could be, and have a higher standard of living than anyone else (which is largely true, in relation to the states around it). Most Lone Stars are not fat, but they do not go hungry. They live in relative safety, though punishments are harsh for poor work or disloyalty. Lone Stars have a keen sense of justice and honor, and tend to be loyal and truthful, though mistrustful of outsiders. They despise slavery, and there are very few slaves to be found on any ranch. Most are excellent riders and good shots with a bow (or a rifle, among Bosses).

The typical Lone Star ranch is centered around the ranch-house, a large, rambling, one-story structure that generally has several wings. Imagine a rambling, many-winged combination of American-style farmhouse and stone-walled bunker. Around the ranch-house is a stone wall, generally about 8 feet high, usually with battlements and guardhouses. The wall and ranch-house together are known as the holdfast, and in times of danger (such as raids from tribals or scavengers), the people of the ranch will retreat within the holdfast and fight from there. Most holdfasts are built near by wells.
Outside of the holdfast, there are the barns and outbuildings, as well as the bunkhouses of the ranch's people (serfs), which are built in a ring around the holdfast. Outside of this are fields, and beyond may be the scrublands which ranchfolk use as grazeland for cattle and sheep or various other purposes.

The dominant religion in the Lone Star Republic is the Revised Baptist Church, a Protestant Baptist religion that differs very little from the older Christian faiths. Lone Stars are known to be quite pious, and blasphemy is often a capitol crime.

(That's all of Lone Star, for now)
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« Reply #5 on: January 28, 2005, 05:06:50 AM »
Regarding India,I could give you an idea if you'd like to hear it.
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« Reply #6 on: January 29, 2005, 09:07:27 PM »
Of course I do.

Soon to come: Northern Europe and Scandinavia, Southern Europe, Eastern Europe and Russia
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« Reply #7 on: January 30, 2005, 12:11:02 AM »
Added the United States. The appearance I'm going for with the New American architecture is very much like the Combine Tower in Half-Life 2, though not quite so alien or clean.
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Northern Europe and Scandinavia
« Reply #8 on: January 30, 2005, 12:25:24 AM »
Northern Europe and Scandinavia

"From the fury of the Norsemen,
  Spare us, good Lord."

-Medieval prayer

"All men have an instinct for conflict; at least, all healthy men."
-Hilaire Belloc, The Silence of the Sea

We got hit the hardest.
You Americans- you've no idea what kind of Hell our grandfathers experienced in the first years. You think your nation was destroyed, you think you were made waste of- you have no idea.
I have heard that in America, many have forgotten the old histories, or perverted them- we do not do that here. Unlike you, we have respect for our history.
It started with Berlin- like tiny suns, the shining warheads dropped down upon the ancient streets of the Germans' capitol. The ruins of the Berlin Wall, the Reichstag, the great centers, the buildings- all were wiped away. The countryside all around was scourged with them, and the hills toppled under the hellfire.
Next was Oslo, where the very land was split in half by the furious dragon that fell from above, reducing all to dust. My ancestor, Harald the Rifle (as he was known later), was blinded by that explosion, for he looked towards from Fredrikstad just as the bomb struck.
Stockholm, Lubeck, Vienna, all the great cities, torn apart by the atomic wind, the land made waste and mutant by the burning skies. This is what we inherited- dust.
Americans. Do not whine to us- we have still to deal with the grey plains and blackened skies. So very little grows in these lands. The sea yields so little. The cattle are so weak. By cooperation or war we survive, though.
So leave me, pathetic American. I have work to do.

The New Holy Reich of Neues Berlin

"The Fascists cannot argue, so they kill."
-Unknown

"Political extremism involves two prime ingredients: an excessively simple diagnosis of the world's ills, and a conviction that there are identifiable villains back of it all."
-John W. Gardner

The New Hanse

"With all their faults, trade unions have done more for humanity than any other organization of men that ever existed. They have done more for decency, for honesty, for education, for the betterment of the race, for the developing of character in men, than any other association of men."
-Clarence Darrow

"As we enjoy our abundance of wealth
We pray for the hungry nations of the world.
May they be freed from the yoke of oppression.

Response: Hear your people’s plea.

As we celebrate the joys of creation
We pray for the people who are denied their share.
May the earth and everything in it
Be for the benefit of all human beings.

Response: Hear your people’s plea.

As we benefit from international trade,
We pray for the producers and workers~
Who are deprived of their just reward.
May all created goods flow freely for all.

Response: Hear your people’s plea."

-Tony Singleton (copyright)/CAFOD, based on Populorum Progressio

The New Hanse is the spiritual successor of the medieval Hanseatic League that crossed Germany many centuries ago, before the Great War. Like its predecessor, the New Hanse is a trade alliance between many cities and settlements, and like the Hanseatic League, the New Hanse has formed something of a political alliance between its members. Unlike the old Hanseatic League, the New Hanse's merchants travel in caravans of armed mercenaries and clankers (ramshackle battle mechs), and establish their trading posts in the rusting hulks of old oil tankers, crashed airliners, old spaceports, and the ruins of sports arenas.

The New Hanse consists of many cities (and ruins) throughout Germany and western Poland, including Kampen, Neues Hamburg, Bremen, Wimar, Stralsund, Basmar, Wroclaw (Breslau), Chelmno, Gdansk (Danzig), Bergen, Riga. The "capitol", such as it is, of the New Hanse, lies in its ancient home of Lubeck. In addition, New Hanse shipyards run up and down the coast of the Baltic Sea. New Hanse traders range all through Germany and Poland, as well as the islands that remain of the Netherlands, south into the territory of the Division, and even upward into Scandinavia. New Hanse traders sometimes come to Petersburg in Russia, pack-ice in the Gulf of Finland permitting. They are not welcome in the territory of the New Holy Reich, and do not go there. The appearance of New Hanse cities is not uniform- they are in varying states of intactness or decay. Some are near brand new- the New Hanse rebuilt Lubeck only 100 years ago. Typically, the newest Hanse cities are built in the New Holy Reich style- square and grey, with heavy use of concrete, and packed dirt streets, with the industry located towards and outside the walls, and residential and official structures in the center. Some of the older cities retain their unplanned pre-War appearance, albeit much worse for wear. Many are little more than fields of ruins with the ramshackle structures of the new inhabitants.

The New Hanse does not, technically, govern its cities- they each have their own government. For instance, Neues Hamburg is ruled by an elected council; Bremen is ruled by a warlord with a puppet "parliament"; Stralsund is ruled by King Alfritz. But all rulers in New Hanse cities are generally puppets for the Hanseatic Council. The Council maintains more than a token presence in all the cities of its league, having a delegate office fully staffed, complete with Hanse agents and a unit of the New Hanse Guardians, the private soldiers of the Hanseatic Council. It is no secret as to who the real power is in New Hanse cities.

The greatest common thread in all the cities of the New Hanse is a Hanse Trading Center. These are constructed in the rusting hulks of supertankers, crashed airplanes, the bombed-out remains of sports arenas, dirt clearings- anywhere that will do. These Trading Centers team with activity, even in the most destroyed of Hanse towns. Day and night, they buzz with activity as traders arrive and leave, carrying goods to and fro between cities that need them. Much of the primary trading goods, such as clothing, seeds, and basic metals, come out of Lubeck and Neues Hamburg. Bremen's irradiated central crater has the strange quality of being superfertile, and much of the grain eaten in the Hanse cities comes from there. Coastal areas such as Riga and Gdynia produce fish. Closer to the Division, Hanse traders can get the goods produced by the Americans in that part, mostly weapons. The image most often associated with the Trading Centers is that of a beached oil tanker, filled inside with goats and cattle, piles of grain, stacks of weapons looted from old caches and won from raiders, armor bought from Divisioners, smuggled Neues Berlin drugs, slaves from east of Poland (Hanseatic opinion holds that Ukrainean slaves are the strongest), and more. This trade is commited by bartering- the memory of the Big War and the corruption of the old world is still a bit fresh for some, and it is more efficient to barter anyway.

The Hanse is not unified by any stretch of imagination- though the Hanseatic Council is in control, the cities are still independent of one another, and often refuse the orders of the Council. For example, Riga and Liepaja, the two northermost cities of the New Hanse, have recently come under attack by raiders from Novya Moskva. They called for help from the Kaliningrad settlements, who refused on the grounds that the other two cities had refused an offer of joining them in a Communist bond. When the Council attempted to force the Kaliningraders to act, there were riots in the tiny nation; in the meantime, Liepaja was sacked by raiders from Moskva with a fire-bomb which they launched by catapult and a pair of battle-clankers. Kaliningrad is currently under a Hanseatic trade embargo.
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An idea for India,post Great war.
« Reply #9 on: January 30, 2005, 06:01:47 AM »
From the ruins of India,emerged a group of Hindu fanatics determined to to create the ''Hinduvatta'',or pure Hindu state. One yuga of sin and decadence had ended and a new one had now emerged. In this yuga,the people of India would not embrace the weak,sinful concept of ''secularity'' that had failed them. No,this time they would create the Hinduvatta and await the coming of Kalki,the final avatar of the Preserver Vishnu. Backed by powerful war lords,the fanatics soon seized controll of most of southern and western India. Under their harsh and cruel rule,Muslims were condemned as ''invaders'' and were driven out,while the unfortunate untouchables were made virtual slaves,stripped of all the rights they had enjoyed prior to the great war.

 The north is ruled by a loose federation of Muslim war lords that are determined to protect their people from the armies of the ''trident bearers'' as they scornfully refer to the Hindu fanatics that rule the rest of the sub continent. Three times have the fanatics attempted to seize the north to bring it back to the ''embrace of Mother India'' and three times have they been defeated by the valour and courage of the Muslim federation.
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« Reply #10 on: January 30, 2005, 10:11:24 AM »
That's our India!
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« Reply #11 on: January 30, 2005, 09:26:12 PM »
:D .Glad you like it,Captain. This idea was inspired by the role of radical Hinduisim in Indian politics and Hindu mythology.
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« Reply #12 on: January 31, 2005, 01:34:41 AM »
You could also add in India's geographically troublesome past: earthquakes, mud volcanoes, upswelling, and an ever-shifting (mostly growing) coastline.  

As an interesting historic aside, invasions of India seem to almost always be from the northwest, dating back into prehistory.
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The Citizen
« Reply #13 on: January 31, 2005, 05:17:16 PM »
The Citizen

Thomas Van Martin is a citizen of the United States of America. He has all the rights, freedoms, and priveliges which this entails. He works a 9-to-5 shift at work jockeying a network of governmental tax-collection units in some near-empty corner of Idaho. At the end of the day, he sets his discs and re-usable inksheets in order, sits up from his orthopedic chair, and brushes dust off of the front of his jumpsuit. He turns, passes out into the dark hallway, streaming with hundreds of his colleagues through a scanner which certifies that their uplinks function properly, they have no outstanding warrants or treason notages, and that for the past day they have not had any suspicious thoughts.

Thomas Van Martin walks slowly, mechanically almost, down the fog-slicked sidewalks of his neighborhood, Seattle District D6, affectionately known as Seaview because, on a rare good day where the fog burns off and the smog disappears and the sun shines, one can see out through the canyon formed by the skyscrapers of bayfront Seattle towards the sea. He passes his fingerprint over the reader at the door of his building and climbs the steps towards his apartment, 2C.

2C is a very average apartment for a very average man. Everything is in order- the walls are a nice, clean shade of beige, the proper black couch is free of dust. The holoset is regularly cleaned by the small roombot that Thomas Van Martin has recently purchased. Hanging above the holoset is a small picture of President Campbell. The kitchen is orderly, all messes and spills are immediately cleaned, and the refridgerator is well-stocked but not cluttered. The bedroom of 2C has one closet, one bed (standard issue foam matress) and one window- the view is of a large banner bearing the face of President Campbell smiling against the background of the American flag's red, white, and black. There is a potted plant on the windowsill, some kind of flower. It rarely blooms.

Thomas Van Martin enters 2C, his apartment. He tells the roombot to stop vacuuming the couch, and promptly sits himself down. At precisely 6:23 P.M, he turns on the holoset and watches an episode of Vancouver Downs, a very emotional drama. He thinks it is insipid, but he plugs himself into the stimunet anyway, and feels every trickling tear, every emotional slap, and every passionate kiss.

At 6:39 P.M., Thomas Van Martin goes to the window in his bedroom. He climbs out onto the black concrete ledge that runs along the facade of his building. Just above his head, the concrete ends, though unevenly, for artistic purposes- a floor for higher-income families begins, and their facades are made of green glass. Thomas Van Martin stares down at the black street below, and at several individuals who furtively pace down the sidewalk towards the subway. Thomas Van Martin gives a chuckle that makes on person below look up, startled. He considers the smiling face of President Campbell across from him. Then, Thomas Van Martin commends his soul to God, and jumps.

At 6:43 P.M., after a cop from the Freedom Police notes down his identity and numbers, a gleaming robot, made from black metal, with white plastic shells and painted white stripes, comes and collects the body of Thomas Van Martin, to be removed to a matter-recycling center for many good causes, including nutrient boosters and bioplastic.

A fog rolls in. Thomas Van Martin's body is loaded into a suspensortruck and taken along with those of several other anonymous drifters, a very treasonous housewife, and a known criminal against the State, to the matter-recycler.

The street is left clean of all save one. The robot stands on the corner at the entrance to a public conduit-terminal. It turns as if to go about other mechanical business.
It is red, white, and black.
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« Reply #14 on: January 31, 2005, 11:25:57 PM »
A daily commute from Seattle to Idaho, and back again... and I thought I travelled alot.
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« Reply #15 on: February 01, 2005, 07:44:46 PM »
Maybe that's why he jumped. :)
I actually envisioned that he did his job from Seattle- remote management.
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« Reply #16 on: February 01, 2005, 10:02:24 PM »
Added the New Hanse, but I don't think I'm really satisfied with it... I'll have to think about it.
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« Reply #17 on: February 02, 2005, 10:41:42 PM »
The Merchant

Till the German left his home, a fortified, furnished set of tunnels in the hills above Bad Schwartau. He took with him one of his two wives (her name escaped him- something out of Spain, maybe?), two carts full of rare scrap metals, dies and casts, a pile of revamped AK-47s that Till's sources had discovered in a hidden casque and fenced to him at ridiculous prices, and a heavy iron barrel filled with ancient grease. One never knew what one could sell to some people.

He and his caravan proceeded west through the swamps towards the Nederlands Islands. His caravan consisted only of three riders, a contingent of riflemen (who walked), and the carts. He was not one of the great merchant princes to have a battle-clanker or a strider. Till led the caravan himself, wearing his most impressive armor- a mantle forged of black iron with precious aluminum chasings and layers of good Berlin bioplastic. His pauldrons were decorated with great plastic feathers (unbeknowst to him, once a part of a ceiling fan). His helmet was largely ceremonial (a paint can) and was decorated with streamers. He carried no guns- his left eye had been mutated at an early age, and was blistered over with scaly pox, and he was at best an indifferent shot.

The caravan traveled for several weeks and entered the swamps through a slot canyon- one of the Old World roads that had been blasted through solid stone. They had expected the cannibals who were rumored to dwell here to ambush them in the pass, but it did not come to be, and a lot of caution went to nothing.

The second day in the swamp was of little account. Till was almost disappointed- the other merchants in Lubeck and Bad Schwartau had counciled him against going with his small forces, regaling him with horror tales of winter mosquitoes (they were mutants, obviously), huge carnivore animals, mutants and demons of all sorts, and of course, the feared cannibals. But here there was nothing to be seen.

The third day was similar in dullness, if not in length- a wagon broke an axel and they stopped in the dripping wet to fix it.

On the fourth day of the trek through the swamps, Till saw why all the others had counciled him against going west. Two riflemen became suddenly sick after they were bitten by the winter mosquitoes, and died by sundown. Then, another crashed through the rime that overlayed a deep pond and he was not seen again. One of the horses cast a shoe, and then split a hoof. It had to be shot, and then a fast movement had to be made to escape its corpse before the dangerous scavengers came.
But it was not fast enough- soon, cries were heard from all around- "Meat, meat, meat!" Arrows and bullets began to hail down upon them, and Till's horse went down beneath him. The cannibals, dressed in filthy cloaks and tattered ski jackets, leaped from the forest, and Till's last sight before oblivion was that of his soldiers struggling against slavering man-beasts.

Till awoke lying upon the ground- the horse's corpse had saved him, though his leg was totally dead of feeling. He lay for a long time, staring fearfully into the rainy sky. Then, ever so gently, he lifted his shoulders, unclasping his soaked armor.

It was a nightmare scene- a pile of gore lay in the midst of the clearing. Spread ribs and severed limbs, entrails cast about. A head trapped in a rictus of fear, eyes rolled back, lay on its side in the mud. Till curled up as best he could snapping off one of the splendid feathers of his pauldron. He vomited upon his breastplate. The smell alone was indescribable.

After a long period, Till began to extricate himself from horse and armor. He was unable to stand- his leg, he supposed, was dead. Lacing the collar of his tunic, he crawled to the edge of the clearing, where he vomited once more. The dead lay thick about him. The cannibals had even eaten their own, and they had scavenged all the belongings of the dead. Then, they had spilled the ancient grease barrel over the main pile of dead and lit it aflame. Till wondered how he had escaped this hellish fate.

For three days, Till the German, merchant of the New Hanse of Bad Schwartau, crawled eastward through the swamp for help, surviving on insects and strange mosses, and drinking from fetid ponds where he smashed the ice with stones. On the third day, it began to snow.

Till rolled over in the cold white, and felt his warmth slipping away. Was this the end? Why had the Lord God ordained his death so? He was not a sinner. In his youth, he had even fought against the heathens of the kingdom of the pagan King Harald Haraldson, in far-off Uppsala.

"Meat, meat, meat!" The snarl came from the bushes above him. Death came swiftly, a heavy hammer to the skull, and the jerky made from Till the German fed a hungry family of mutants in the swamp for over three weeks.
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« Reply #18 on: February 03, 2005, 09:54:13 PM »
Aaarrrgh...
What to do, what to do?
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« Reply #19 on: February 03, 2005, 10:16:40 PM »
Eh? What's the matter,Captain? Everything seems to be going smoothly.
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« Reply #20 on: February 03, 2005, 10:37:27 PM »
I dunno'... Sudden attacks of apathy.
I must drum up ideas on how I will phrase the writing for Lone Star Republic and New Holy Reich.
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« Reply #21 on: February 05, 2005, 06:37:55 PM »
Put down a bit for the Lone Star Republic
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« Reply #22 on: February 07, 2005, 06:57:32 PM »
Hold on, folks, I think I might have a bit more inspiration.
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« Reply #23 on: February 13, 2005, 05:06:33 PM »
The Undead

"And we are always dreaming of the day when all the fires of summer are defunct, when everyone like a shriveled leaf shrinks into the cooling ground of a sunless earth, and when even the colors of autumn have withered for the last time, dissolving into the desolate whiteness of an eternal winter"
-Thomas Ligotti, Autumnal

Long before the Big War, there were terrible tales told of the waking dead, those restless spirits who rose from their graves to terrify the living. Gruesome tales of vengeance from beyond the grave, and of the howling evils of undeath. Then came more vivid imaginations, and images of groaning zombies and staggering corpses craving flesh filled the minds of beholders. Elaborate fantasies of blood-drinking nobles and restless spirits frightened the masses.
During the staggering final years of the Big War, there were fewer and fewer soldiers. So many had died and so many rebelled that the great governments began secret projects, all almost simultaneously, to resurrect the dead.
The first attempts were crude- corpses which were mummified to prevent rotting and then loaded with cybernetics, motivators, and positronic brains, little more than fleshy robots. But their introduction on the battlefield produced considerable horror on both sides- the 'technodead', as they were often called, were viciously strong and resilient, if slower and clumsier than a human soldier.
Next came the Resurrection Virus, as it was called. The R-Virus was the most powerful strain of nanotechnology developed at the time, a wildly active agent which stimulated constant tissue growth and regeneration in unliving cells. R-Virus revenants would recover from wounds much faster than human soldiers, were incredibly resilient and very difficult to kill. They were dully intelligent, and with data-chips implanted in their brains, they could be taught to utilize weapons like a soldier. But the R-Virus gave them their greatest weapon; in order for the nanocells to continue regeneration of an R-Virus zombie's tissues, the zombie needed nutrients, and the best way to harvest nutrients was to eat. Like the living dead of earlier fantasies, the R-Virus zombies hungered for living flesh.
The most dangerous and rarest kind of undead warrior in the Last War was the battleroid. The battleroids were also called "destroyers" by human fighters. A battleroid did not require an entire corpse- the only necessary portion was a majority of the brain and brain stem. The pieces of the corpse could be encased into light powered-armors known as "coffin-suits", and their brains would be rebooted with data-chips and positron-wafers. Battleroids were fully as intelligent as humans (sometimes more, when paired with artificial intelligences) and very deadly- programmed with incredible military prowess and battle skill, a battleroid was easily a match for the most skilled of human soldiers, with twice the physical capability.

All of these horrific revenants were dispatched upon the battlefields up until the last climactic battle. When the final silence came, and the last explosions settled, however, the dead still stood, and still stand.
Twitching across nuclear wastelands and scarred battlefields across the Earth come the technodead, mummified limbs heavy with robotic augmentations and cybernetic motivators, crumbling and rotting and programmed to attack.
Bloated and slick, mutantly-regenerating, the hordes of R-Virus zombies swarm for nutrients, devouring even each other in the need of their nanocells.
And above all, lurking in dark places, mad from having died and lived again, the battleroids await, the Grendels of the post-Big War landscape.
Currently Reading: "Kafka On The Shore" by Haruki Murakami

Currently Listening To: "Piece Of Time" by Atheist

Offline CaptainPenguin

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« Reply #24 on: February 14, 2005, 09:34:38 PM »
Undead somewhat finished, for now.
Currently Reading: "Kafka On The Shore" by Haruki Murakami

Currently Listening To: "Piece Of Time" by Atheist