Campaign of the Month: December 2016
Gamma World 2754
A Brief History of the Apocalypse
Colonel Althea McDermott, Adjutant, Eagle Clan
By our best account this is the year 2754, something over 100 years after the end of that conflagration recorded in the Divisional History as ‘World War 4’, though we do not know the exact dates or much else for certain. The little we do know comes to us through artifacts handed down by our elder officers, the records we found with the people in this bunker over a century ago, and the few details we have scavenged from the vast wasteland that is the world outside. We are largely ignorant of where we come from or the purpose of our ancestors, but know enough to feel the anguish of history. Sometimes I envy the barbarians outside for their merciful ignorance. What follows is a summation of our knowledge of human history, poor as it is, and how mankind came to this pass.
- General Severus Morgan, Commander, Eagle Clan
WORLD WAR III AND THE FIRST APOCALYPSE
By the end of the 25th century mankind had reached new heights of technical achievement and political unification. The European Union of States, now a sovereign power, the United States and the Pan-Asian Combine were the major political and industrial forces of the age. Fusion power, anti-gravity and other technological wonders abounded. Billions of humans and their sentient creations inhabited mighty cities of crystal domes and durasteel towers.
The crowning technical achievement of humanity was ‘Project Daedalus’, a great starship planned for launch at the turn of the century carrying 10,000 colonists bound for the habitable planet orbiting Epsilon Eridani. Beyond Project Daedalus and a few major geopolitical events, very little is known about human history prior to the 25th century. By the 23rd century East Asia was united under a Pan-Asian Combine with ultimate power in the hands of an outdated oligarchy ruling from Old China. The ongoing conflict between East and West erupted into a series of regional and brushfire wars during the 24th century. Tensions rose as the Pan-Asian Combine increasingly threatened the independence of Japan and Australia, the last independent western Pacific states. The Pan-Asian Combine (PAC) and the Western Alliance, including Japan and Australia, finally plunged the world into global war sometime late in the 25th century. Initially the war is recorded as a conventional conflict concentrated primarily along the Pacific Rim. Then project Daedalus was sabotaged. While not destroyed, launch of the ship was delayed for another 5 years.
The Pan-Asian Combine was blamed and this seems to have been the trigger for all-out war. Within three years, 95% of earth’s human population was decimated by chemical, biological and nuclear war. The weapons used during the last year of World War 3 changed the geology, biology and climate across the earth: seismic and thermonuclear bombs, engineered biological species and plagues, mutagenic agents and global weather manipulation were deployed by all major combatants. 99.9% of earth’s inhabited land area returned to wilderness. Most major cities and industrial centers were completely destroyed. The western seaboard of North America slid beneath the waves, as did most of Japan and the British Isles. Old mainland China suffered the least due to a huge inland area and widely distributed industrial base, but the Pan-Asian Combine as a political entity was no more. The ruling nation-states were largely obliterated and the survivors reverted to barbarism or local self-rule amid the ruins.
THE SHADOW YEARS
The decades after World War 3 are known as the ‘Shadow Years’. In the early years of the 26th century, survivors of the apocalypse gathered into geographically dispersed enclaves concentrated around surviving military-industrial complexes. Certain pre-war corporations specialized in constructing and selling bunker or ‘vault’ real estate. Many of the more remote bunkers survived the war, along with a lucky few well-heeled vault-dwellers, to be incorporated into the new enclaves. All economic, social and political activities took place within the increasingly fortified enclave cities. Those not fortunate enough to live within one of the enclaves were considered ‘raiders’ and killed or captured on sight.
In the Americas the major enclave governments consisted of the Union of Western States (UWS), Texahoma Confederation of States (TCS), New York Protectorate (NYP), New Canada Combine (NCC) and the Kingdom of Brazil. Most enclave governments were Sparta-style military dictatorships with the possible exception of Texahoma, an authoritarian republic with 5% political franchise. Socially, the enclaves were highly stratified and militarized with very little mobility between castes.
The government, technical, and military elite lived in high-tech residential compounds, often underground, with every convenience and a standard of living eventually exceeding that of pre-war earth. The majority lived in harsher but still tolerable conditions within sealed surface domes and extensive subterranean complexes. Civil unrest and food riots were common, but suppressed with ruthless efficiency by enclave security forces.
The major technical problem faced by the enclaves, beyond extensive contamination of air, water and earth, was a substantial reduction in birthrate. The shortage of people led to increased investment in automation and biogenetic research. By the late 26th century some factories operated entirely under the direction of self-aware thinktanks and computer installations, repaired and maintained by hosts of mobile robots.
Numerous advanced technologies were discovered or perfected during the Shadow Years century: anti-gravity, anti-matter energy, artificial intelligence, advanced military robots, self-aware cybernetic beings known as ‘borgs’, and exploitation of latent human paranormal powers. Despite the best effort of scientists during the Shadow Years, human population no more than doubled to around one billion. By the end of the Shadow Years 40% of the earth’s self-aware population consisted of borgs, androids, and artificially created life-forms.
The Shadow Years saw the rise of secretive social organizations known as ‘Cryptic Alliances’. Similar to clandestine terrorist or government organizations of past centuries, these alliances operated outside the law and across enclave boundaries to forward their vision of the future (or the past). Examples include the Radiationists, technocrats who believed humanity’s way forward was through radical bio-engineering and mutation, and ‘The Created’ consisting mostly of androids and self-aware robots with a few human allies who at least initially fought for the freedom of all sentient beings. The Radiationists would later devolve into a mystic cult worshipping radiation and mutation in general, while ‘The Created’ became radicalized and committed to the extermination of all humanity.
WORLD WAR IV
In the middle of the Shadow Years a new dictator arose in northern Old China, a self-styled ‘Genghis Khan the Second’, striving through blood and terror to unify the Asian enclaves under a new Combine with the ultimate goal of finally conquering the Pacific and Americas. Eastern Asia was unified under the Khan’s new Combine well before the end of the century. The conquest of Australia and the remaining Japanese islands followed within a decade. By the start of the 27th century the reconstituted Combine eclipsed the Americas in population, military power and productive capacity, but there was no unity among the widely dispersed American enclaves. The Great Khan now controlled armies of robotic death machines, elite soldiers in powered armor and an armada of nuclear powered sky ships, surface ships and oceanic hovercraft.
In the year 2610 the armies of the Combine led by the Khan’s first son, Genghis the Third, initiated the 4th and final world war by crossing the new land bridge between Asia and Alaska to advance south across the empty wastes of central Canada. A series of delaying actions by the UWS and Texahoma stalled and finally stopped the Combine advance along a line east from the Great Washington Crater to the Wyoming Desert. At the same time another army under the Khan’s second son reopened the Panama Canal with a series of earthquake and anti-matter bombs. After demolishing the Kingdom of Brazil in less than 3 months, this army advanced north by way of the Gulf of Mexico to land virtually unopposed on the Texahoma-Louisiana gulf shores. The coastal Texahoma capital of Austin was quickly captured. At this point the North American enclaves struck back, in coordination with an advance by allied Russo-European forces across central Asia to threaten Old China. Power armored troops and mighty robotic war machines clashed all across the central plains and mountains of North America as the armies of the Khan’s 1st and 2nd sons sought to divide the populous Union of Western States from the technologically advanced NYP and NCC.
Within a year the Combine’s overextended lines of communication began to fail. There remained sufficient supplies and reinforcements to mount one last great offensive. With the assistance of the latest deathbots and tactical anti-matter missiles, the Khan’s 1st and 2nd sons linked up near the enclave of Salt Lake City and turned east to divide and destroy the outnumbered but technologically advanced NYP and NCC forces.
Meanwhile the Russo-European advance into Old China and Mongolia threatened the Khan’s capital and seat of power, Xanadu. Faced with total ruin and the end of his short dynasty, the Great Khan, now over 90 years old, deployed his hoarded arsenal of thermonuclear missiles and bombs against the Russo-European enclaves and their advancing forces. The European, Russian and Indian enclaves dissolved in a rain of nuclear fire along with a good proportion of their field armies. With no humans left in control, the Archangel and Warsaw defense-borg networks elected to launch a thermonuclear and anti-matter bomb retaliation which devastated all of Asia east of the Himalayas. The Great Khan died in the sea of molten glass that was once Xanadu.
THE SECOND APOCALYPSE
The second and final Apocalypse occurred a few months later, sometime between 2614 and 2618. Facing destruction or slavery at the hands of the Khan’s sons, the New Canadian forces surrendered and joined the Combine. For reasons unknown to this day, the NYP responded by unleashing a vast arsenal of the deadliest weapons yet devised, including bombs that tore the very fabric of space, plunging great sections of earth and sea into a null void. The new weapons initiated uncontrolled chain reactions beyond anything predicted by the scientists. Unholy energies tore the skies of earth from pole to pole as 99.9% of all life was extinguished and the earth reshaped once again.
THE PROXY WARS
A tiny number of men directing hosts of great robotic war machines from the deepest bunkers and highest orbital platforms continued the battle of mutual annihilation for another few decades, but the clock was winding down on civilization. The few human and created survivors took refuge in the hinterlands or remaining bunkers. After this nothing is recorded or known and the clock of civilization was reset to the year zero.
To this day the great starship Daedalus remains visible to the naked eye in its perpetual orbit around the moon, a quarter million miles away, an ever-present reminder of the highest achievement and greatest failure of humanity. All communication with the great starship was lost shortly after the 1st Apocalypse that ended World War 3. For the majority of barbaric mankind living beyond the enclave remnants today, there has always been a star swooping around the moon…