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About Deviant Bruce MunroMale/United States Group :iconalternate-history: Alternate-History
 
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This account is a storage spot for my alternate history maps. I also have started putting up "Alien Space Bat scenario" (fantasy settings) writings in a seperate "ASB" folder, and more recently some doodles.

PS - to see all the map deviations in my gallery, hit "browse": for some reason some don't show up otherwise, although they aren't in seperate folders.

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Have neglected putting anything here, so I thought I'd start adding: alternate history maps by others, some Anime pics, odds and ends...

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THE GALAXY BEING

In 1963 Allan Maxwell, a brilliant radio expert and electronics engineer, developed a way to transmit microwaves through the fourth spatial axis, thereby allowing for effective faster than light communications, and established contact with a blue-glowing dimensionally transcendent nitrogen-cycle radiation eater from the Andromeda galaxy. [1] Unfortunately, due to poor hiring choices (a little ambition makes for a dangerous temp) a certain unfortunate equipment-based decision was made, and said entity was accidentally drawn onto Earth. Emitting flesh-burning microwave radiation and creating violent local atmospheric disruption merely by existing and moving around, the alien’s encounters with human beings in a desperate (and failed) effort to find equipment with which to reverse the process were not happy-making ones, and eventually It ended up back in at the radio station surrounded by police and local army elements.

After saving Maxwell’s wife from bleeding to death through a hole in her throat by cauterizing the injury (one of the police officers surrounding the station was a wee bit trigger-happy), the alien demonstrated its ability to psychokinetically stop machine gun bullets and issued a stern warning to terrestrials about the dangers of dealing with alien life forms through violence, given the immeasurable power and low tolerance for violent fools of some of the civilizations out there. It then somewhat confusingly disintegrated the radio tower, because what says superior civilization like the random destruction of other people’s way of making a living?

The alien would then go on to dissolve itself, so it wouldn’t be tracked to Earth by the authorities of its own world – personal contact with unknown aliens from beyond civilized space was strictly forbidden, and personal contact with warlike unknown aliens was double dog forbidden. (What it did not mention was that the “illegal contact clean-up crew” often used fairly extreme methods to eliminate knowledge of the contact from the alien world. It felt it had brought Allan Maxwell enough trouble already).

The government line was that a crazed scientist in a spaceman costume full of radioactives had run amuck, and although there were a lot of witnesses there wasn’t too much physical evidence (photos were badly blurred by radiation), there weren’t so many that the US government couldn’t afford bribes, the internet didn’t exist yet, the alien had left no body, and eventually the Culver City Spaceman furore died down. The government of course didn’t buy its own line – too many stories in agreement, too many indications of strange radiation, the fine molecular dust of the radio tower scattered miles downwind. Although Maxwell wasn’t too agreeable about helping – he feared that without adequate precautions, further attempts at communications with things Out There might have even worse consequences – the Army forces seized control of the radio station once there was no longer any signs of the alien, and although Maxwell had taken the precaution of taking his equipment apart, the officer in charge refused to let him take any of it away.

Having lost the radio station, and somewhat tainted by the whole “spaceman scandal” and the deaths, in spite of a US government influenced investigation clearing him of responsibility, Maxwell eventually found a place teaching electronics at a small Pacific northwest university, puttered around in his shed with ever more sensitive electronic detection equipment and writing some philosophical articles based on some of the things the alien told him. Were the underlying electromagnetic forces sustaining the universe conscious in some way? Did the electrical forces of the brain somehow persist after death? God, energy, matter, infinity – in some way the same? His writings would be fairly successful with the counter-culture crowd of the late 60s and 70s, somewhat to his wife’s embarrassment – although one might note to her credit that she was never quick to blame protesters for being shot by policemen.

And then in 1977 US government researchers established contact with the Web of Hercules [2], and shit got real.

*****************************************************************************************
Contact with alien civilizations has not destroyed human civilization, but there have been a couple close calls: the Chinese had to nuke that research ship in the Pacific when the machinery started merging with the crew, the Imskian effort to turn their microwave link into a matter transmitter facilitating an invasion of Earth by way of France only failed due to a mutual misunderstanding of image standards and optical wavelengths which prevented the Imskians from taking the necessary precautions their being less than one inch tall would call for, [3] and nobody is sure what happened in Siberia that converted nearly a cubic mile of Siberian Tundra into neutrinos. Of course, there are problems with even the more beneficent species: The Web of Hercules gave a fine demonstration how a moderately dickish alien superintelligence can string a less developed species along for years and years with scattered bits of most useless knowledge and alien science while carrying out a thorough scientific investigation of their culture, biology, thought, etc. But then if they hadn't been jerks humanity might have been less prepared for contact with the Exchange, which nowadays is only allowed contact with people having little or no authority, to prevent them from selling the planet for the alien equivalent of magic beans.

In any event, it seems most alien races aren’t interested in picking up the phone. There have been only a couple dozen sustained contacts, many aliens apparently cutting contact once they got a basic gander at humanity, and quite a few others being so alien as to make communication efforts largely futile. (Although some are persistent. After twenty years, we have managed to agree on the meanings of “yes”, “no”, and “maybe” with a six-dimensional swarm of dark-matter intelligences somewhere on the edge of the local cluster).

Due to the clear risks, communication with aliens is strictly regulated, and certain forms of advanced electronic equipment are even more tightly regulated than high explosives in our world, and there is nowhere on Earth one can erect a radio station without the government and an international inspection team getting a look in. Although most aliens aren’t interested in accelerating the progress of a race as backwards and aggressive as ourselves, thanks to a few alien do-gooders there has been considerable technological progress beyond OTL. Energy is cheap, as is synthetic food, and computers have developed to the stage of weak AI (which eliminated so many jobs that most western governments have made a 30 hour work week mandatory to avoid putting a third of the population on the dole). There have been a few technological whoopsies, such as the Great Unfolding’s providing humanity with a means of preventing atomic explosions, which led to the third world war of 1993-1996. (As a result the Soviet Union is now the Federated Russian Republics, while the north/south Chinese border still remains somewhat fluid).

With the existence of contact with alien life becoming public knowledge in the 80s (the need to make sure no private accidental messing around with microwaves led to disaster made it inevitable) made the Culver City Spaceman story come back into public consciousness, and although the government was very reluctant to admit that they had been bullshitting the public on such as scale, the full story finally came out, and Allan Maxwell was honored with a belated Nobel prize in 1990.

There is a strong push to cut all contact with aliens, due to risks physical and mental both. Aside from the odds of some small-scale illegal station letting something Very Bad into the computer networks or failing to master by now the very comprehensive protocols meant to prevent it being used as a teleportation system, helpful-minded aliens have noted that while the odds of our getting in contact with aggressive races physically close enough to come visiting by non-transmitter means are low, they aren’t zero, either: aiming our transmissions entirely outside the galaxy is probably the safer bet. And there’s always the possibility that some alien superintelligence might just talk us into exterminating ourselves or completely modifying our culture for “our own good”: it’s certainly the case that contact has been culturally disruptive. The fact that a number of alien intelligences claim to have “proof” of some sort of mind being inherent to the structure of the universe itself has shaken up religion, not helped by the fact they seem unclear as to whether it can be described as good, bad or indifferent (further clouded by the fact that such categories are often orthogonal to alien thinking). Others claim to be in contact with some sort of afterlife, although whether such a thing exists for all races is again unclear: opinions on humans differ, and nearly half of aliens either won’t talk about such matters or claim to not understand. At least one race claims to be part of God, if only in the sense that liver cells are part of a human being.

The Brightly Shining invaded and colonized Earth a while ago, but since they are a non-material race, nobody has noticed.

Nobody can explain the incomprehensible equations professor Takajuo wrote all over the walls of his room before he committed suicide. Hopefully nobody will ever dig the data storage stick out of the dump and find it still usable: the aliens meant well, but the human processing system can in fact be crashed.

The Eppawa Rzong fleet will arrive in eighty-seven years. Much depends on how lucky humans are in their communications in the meantime.


THE HUNDRED DAYS OF THE DRAGON


Another Outer Limits short. Please excuse the Red China demonization, it comes with the era.  

The non-OTL Chinese Communist Party leader Lee Chin Sung takes over from Mao in 1963, in the wake of the disastrous Great Leap Forward. Mao dies in a “tragic airplane accident” shortly afterward. Lee pursues a program of limited free enterprise and Stalinist heavy industrialization with a fair degree of success, raising China to rough co-equivalence to the Soviet Union in terms of economic/military power by the mid-80s, building a nuclear ICBM force sufficient to inflict crippling damage on either the US or USSR, although not as huge as the bloated arsenals of those nations, and heavily investing in scientific R&D combined with extensive scientific and industrial espionage abroad. He strengthens his hand at home with a heavy dose of aggressive Chinese nationalism, taking a hard line on Taiwan, giving North Vietnam the sort of military backing it needed to allow it successfully overrun the South before the US could build up the necessary forces to stop them, and with a combination of terrorism and military threat forces the UK and Portugal to abandon Hong Kong and Macau years early.

With the US and USSR in this world moving into a form of Détente more sincere than OTLs, China is increasingly seen as the main threat to world peace and security, and the US election of 1984 sees the election of popular candidate William Lyons Selby, who (among other things) pushes for international containment of what he politely refuses to call “the yellow peril”, no matter the term’s resurgence. However, President Selby’s early policy moves seem oddly out of character…

The Proteus formula, developed by Chinese biochemists originally in search of something quite different, makes human flesh, cartilage, etc., all but the solid bones itself, temporarily as malleable as clay, and easily reshaped to exact specifications. It allows one to replace ones face with any of a million other faces, to change fingerprints, to remove or add scars, to modify a voice box and change the timbre of a voice, and much more. It allowed the attempted Chinese takeover of the US government in 1984.

It probably not would have happened if US security was tighter (and was never tried against the Soviet Union), but then this was ironically a happier US than ours – the cultural and social shocks of the 60s and 70s were less violent, and no US president or presidential candidate would be assassinated between 1901 and 1984. Security remained light, public access easy, because who would be crazy enough to assassinate a US president in these enlightened days?

President Selby’s first 102 days in office, later to be referred to (inaccurately) by historians as the “100 days of the dragon” saw a breakdown in détente with the USSR, an unprecedented outreach to the People’s Republic, and half a dozen deaths the details of which the US public would not learn of until years later. In the end, a man dental records would determine was not, in fact, William Selby Lions would commit suicide in prison before revealing any larger detail of what had been planned, the Chinese government blandly disclaimed any knowledge of the acts of what it called “radical renegades in Soviet pay” and US politics came very close to boiling over as the very legitimacy of the 1984 election was called into question, along with the identity of the dead man in his cell, the identity of a Chinese “assassin” cremated beyond any identification shortly after his death, the loyalties of the Vice President, now US president, and why were weren’t going to war with China, already.

The last one had a clear if unsatisfying answer: the paranoid Chinese regime had a large nuclear arsenal on hair-trigger alert, and a successful nuclear first strike, even with Soviet support, seemed a gamble unlikely to “pay off” without the deaths of tens of millions of US citizens. The best that could be done was to create a solid US-Soviet alliance to “contain” China and as extensive a technological and economic embargo as could be assembled. There would be no war, just an ongoing struggle.

China was forced to turn inwards after 1985, forced to increasingly depend on its own resources and spend heavily to deter enemies unified, at least for now, against it. His popularity with the masses shaken, Lee Chin Sung turned more brutal, more despotic, reviving the Death of Ten Thousand Cuts, now greatly extended in duration by Science, for all “traitors” against the regime – an ever-broadening category. Strange stories emerged of underground atomic cities, horrible failed experiments in nuclear breeder reactions in the western deserts, giant crèches of children born from artificial wombs and never seeing the sun, curious genetically engineered fungi spreading vastly over square miles of ground.

In the Year of the Snake, 2001 to westerners, the aged and reportedly ill Lee launched his final scheme, a false-flag operation which would draw the Soviet Union and the US into atomic war (the US and Soviet Union détente had become a lot friendly in the 90s with the Soviet economy tanking and the US supposedly “meddling” in the revolt of much of Eastern Europe). Replicant bodies – not merely reshaped Chinese, but clones of actual Americans and Russians then “pressed” into shape – at the right locations, secret tunnels dug under hundreds of miles of Soviet land with atomic lasers, cleverly faked satellite signals and messages and imaginary rockets seen to be launched. Although half the population of China might die – the Soviets at least would not China alone when they grappled with the other - with atomic and laser antimissile systems, deep underground cities with built in food supplies, nuclear breeder reactor power and the ability to rapidly repopulated, China would survive and inherit the Earth.

Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition, and as it turns out neither did the Chinese expect Israeli intelligence, which kept a close eye on all powers with Israel-glassing capacities as a matter of course. The balloon went up but the world failed to blow up, the Soviets demonstrated the limitations of Chinese survival plans by demonstration-dusting part of Gansu with their new super-anthrax (spores guaranteed lethal for up to 200 years!). Lee threatened to unleash even more horrible threats if attacked, but it’s hard to top nearly destroying the world. Fortunately, a coup took place and both the Forbidden City and the small town in Sichuan from with Lee was actually running things [1] went up in flames. The succeeding war between regime loyalists and revolutionaries quite convinced the US and Soviets that the threat was ended and that sticking their softer appendages in the hornet’s nest would be a bad idea.

Today, the New Chinese People’s Combine, if not very democratic is at least a much less aggressive nation than Lee’s People’s Republic. The economy having been largely wrecked by the civil war and the lengthy dedication of most national resources to surviving a nuclear holocaust while hiding the details from outsiders (a bunch of cities were essentially _roofed over_ as a security measure), much is being rebuilt as it were from scratch, and since under such circumstances simple addition of inputs can make a big difference, growth rates are high. Of course, the current leadership has bigger ambitions: dominated by the children of the crèches and the underground cities, the new generation of elites has a technocratic and utopian vision which is bold, daring, and frankly a bit creepy to outsiders. It does not help that the inner governing council, in their fanatical dedication to preventing a “cult of personality” from ever arising again, are not only nameless, but faceless (thank to Proteus, very close to literally so).

The US in the year 2015 is still a somewhat paranoid nation, pardonably so due to their nation nearly being destroyed by Sinister Plots twice in fifty years. US presidents remain even more heavily guarded than OTL, and advanced genetic and biometric identification techniques remain SOP for all individuals in positions of government and military authority. People expect the US government to have Secret Scientific Projects, and aren’t so much annoyed by that as by the government protestations that no, they don’t. Smoking remains common on TV and the movies, thanks to the development of cancer-free (well, mostly) tobacco by genetic engineers in the 1980s. Race relations are more complex than ever (see below).

Fashions nowadays are fashions in faces as well as in dress; although identity issues and the problem of freaking out your family means most people will stick with the same face for decades (aside from reshaping it into a more youthful version as they age), many of the young and trendy/disgruntled or the variously-aged criminal [2] change their faces often better than annually. (Among the young and female, the Brazilian-Polynesian Fusion Look is in this year). Further developments of Proteus means scar-and-stretch free plastic surgery is a relative snap, fat removal is generally easy, soft body parts are more often enhanced than not (nudge nudge wink wink) and countless idiots with a homebrew batch of Proteus and a Teach Yourself Body Modification book mangle themselves horribly every year to the point of requiring extensive surgery and the aid of master body-shaping artisans to fix. Really effective means of changing skin color as well as body and face shape have really _seriously_ complicated the issue of racial definitions and boundaries, and led to some really nasty family fights in both minority and majority ethnicity families. And then are the SERIOUS rebels and punks, who rebuild themselves into genuinely non-human forms, limited only by the underlying bone structure (and some wacky biologists are working on ways to modify bone growth, so don't depend on that remaining a constant).

US colonization of the solar system is ongoing in partnership with Japan and the European nations. There's a certain amount on "eggs in multiple baskets" thinking: the Almost Apocalypse failed to come off, but the "false flag" operations still killed some millions of Americans and Soviets, and the Chinese civil war killed more people than all the deaths of WWII. The Soviet Union, without the Chinese Menace to help hold it together, slowly dissolved 2002-2012, although the Slavic core has managed to hold together: the New Russian Union is trying to get back into the Space game, but getting the funding together remains difficult.

[1] Nobody is entirely sure if Lee Chin Sung was actually in either place, and loyalists rallied behind three different “Lees” all of which turned out to be Proteus-modified doubles. Nobody is sure how many doubles there were during Lee Chin Sung’s last, paranoid days, but there were dozens at least. Some loyalists claim that Lee had been replaced years before 2001 and it was a crazy _double_ who planned Armageddon. Others claim that the real Lee is still alive, sustained by Unnatural Science at the age of 94 plus and wearing a new face, planning his return to power.

[2] There are laws in various places preventing known felons from changing their faces without notifying the government of their new look, but they are widely disregarded.


THE ARCHITECTS OF FEAR

The Thetan (Beta Hydri Theta) was a strange and fearsome invader. Only vaguely humanoid, bidpedal, with backwards-jointed bird legs ending in fierce (if shaggy) claws, long, double-jointed arms with which it knuckle-walked when in a hurry, covered in black, oily scales. Its torso was broad and flat, as was its head. Its blood was copper-based, it metabolized nitrogen rather than oxygen. Two slits for a nose and two slits in a conical muzzle for a mouth – back home it’s ancestors did not so much eat as suck in the floating microlife of its dense atmosphere – reptilian eyes with a spectrum shifted deep into the infrared, and a skull-topping dome of fine bony latticework that did not hold its brain but rather processed nitrogen and expelled digestive gasses [1]. A being most alien. A being which, however, did not exist.

In the year 1999, the cold war raged on, although the cast had changed a bit, with the United Asian Collective pushing a stagnating Soviet union out of Red Menace No.1 spot, a genuinely united western Europe (sans Britain, but what you gonna do?) taking a more equal position to the US in the Anti-Red coalition, and to everyone’s surprise India and its allies actually emerging as a genuine third power rather than a running gag. With ever more sophisticated space-based weapons systems getting increasingly hard to keep track of, the dangers of an accidental nuclear war were higher than ever, and after an accidental firing of an automated orbital “second-strike” rocket nearly vaporized Los Angeles (it was rerouted just in time to the Nevada desert), a group of dedicated and brilliant scientists decided that humanity needed a common enemy. This was the fourth “near miss” since the start of the thermonuclear age and the third since the Cuban crisis: the odds of humanity making it through a fifth, a sixth, and so on, decreased exponentially.

A push to militarize space from the start had as one beneficial consequence the earlier development of powerful space-based telescopes, and by the late 90s a multitude of extra-solar planets had been discovered and many had undergone close spectroscopic analysis. One of the most interesting cases was Beta Hydri Theta [2], which while having less water than Earth and a mostly Carbon Dioxide and Nitrogen atmosphere, appeared to have a lot of complex organic molecules in said atmosphere, and thermal analysis indicated quite livable temperatures. Theta was therefore much in the news as the likeliest location for off-Earth life yet found.

They had a planet: now they just needed a Thetan.

Needless to say, the “rebuild a human being into a mock-Thetan, have him land on the UN building terrace in a “scout ship” [3] and threaten the UN with a “death ray” while making it clear he was only the first scout, and then be killed so he could be dissected and shown to be most likely a Thetan” plan didn’t go off flawlessly, with something going wrong with the lander’s steering mechanism so it ended up in a swamp in New Jersey rather than in Manhattan. The “Thetan” made it back to the New York research lab where he had been rebuilt on an entirely inadequate supply of nitrogen and with a load of duck shot in his back, and perished right in front of his wife, who had been kinda left out of the whole “we’re going to turn your husband into a space monster and send him on a suicide mission For The Good of Mankind” thing.

(The self-destruct mechanism for the lander, designed to keep Earthlings from discovering the too-terrestrial nature of most of its equipment, did in fact work flawlessly, and blew to bits three duck hunters. Their dog, which had sensibly gotten lost, survived.)

It proved impossible to keep the whole thing quiet, especially since the rather angry wife blabbed and the scientists were too bummed and in any event uncertain about what to do next to, say, dissolve her in acid. It became a national furore, and the consequent call for close monitoring of scientists and their work, allowing only those who took loyalty oaths and were properly patriotic to work on major projects, etc. would eventually cripple US scientific development for over a generation, but that’s another story. [4] Things were not helped by one of the scientists sharing some of the technology they had secretly developed for the project with the Reds, feeling it might destabilize the Cold War if the US alone had access (most notably a hand-held laser with 100 times the punch of anything available to the armed forces, and a spaceship hull alloy lighter than aluminum and stronger than steel). Purges of academia and government institutions followed.

Ironically, even if everything had worked exactly as planned, the "Scarecrow" would have only worked for three years at most: genetic studies unknown to the project members, being carried out by scientists entirely uninvolved in the conspiracy would have made the Thetan's human origins impossible to conceal by 2003.

The modified Rhesus monkey which had been the initial "proof of concept" for the project survived until 2005, creeping out millions of schoolchildren which came to see it in its new home at the New York Museum of natural history.

Although the project and its scientists were roundly condemned, one man was not: Dr. Allen Leighton, the man who had become the Thetan. Whatever people’s concerns about the unpatriotic, internationalist and probably commie-inspired “project scarecrow”, the fact that a man would face death and physical torture and body horror worse than death in the name of world peace was admirable enough for most to forgive him. The head surgeon on the project promoted the notion, in interviews, magazine articles, and a hastily written book, that if one man could sacrifice so much, could not the rest of us try a little harder to live in peace? The response was tepid, not helped by the fact that Leighton’s widow refused to give interviews on what she called “the idiocy” and protected her fatherless daughter from reporters with the fury of a she-bear. [5] But, in the end, the project did change the world, just not in the ways its architects had hoped.

The surgical, biochemical and biological innovations of the project have been adopted and added to. In 2015, both East and West blocks have settlers on Mars, modified to survive the cold and thin air, adaptations less extreme than those required to make a man a Thetan. Other projects are underway to make men and women capable of surviving in zero gravity indefinitely, and to survive in vacuum for extended periods: the asteroids beckon. Still other projects, generally kept secret from the general public, seek to make people who can survive high levels of radiation, lowered oxygen and high ozone, and live off weeds and bugs. The Thetan’s “death ray” has been adapted to create a new system of laser anti-missile defenses, which made the fifth “near miss” quite survivable. Of course, the eternal race of offense vs. defense continues, but between the inward turn of most governments in the post-Thetan “OMG INTERNATIONALISTS” panic and the slowdown in technological progress, humanity has been given a breathing space.

Telepathy is also in the news: the existence of psychic abilities had been proven finally in the 1970s by the Rhine Research Center after some new leadership hired a few professional magicians to weed out the obvious (to magicians, not psychic researchers) fakes, but proved to be so weak a phenomenon as to be largely useless for effective long-range communication or weaponizing (much to the military's regret, and in spite of initially apparently successful work with goats [6]). Occasionally a strong link would arise between two psychically talented individuals, allowing them to know over a distance of thousands of miles if the other was alive or dead or suffering, but this did not extend to more elaborate communications, and also required the forming of a close emotional bond between the two first, which led to much awkwardness in government-mandated experiments.

Only recently have techniques to rework the brain by surgery and cybernetics (mostly in Japan) finally reached the point where the telepathic ability can be enhanced. As yet there have been no true mind-readers created, let alone mind-controllers (which some argue is an SF trope having nothing to do with how telepathy actually works) but there are now several "star subjects" which can establish empathic relations with almost anyone. Unfortunately from the point of view of military men, this just makes them emotionally involved with their contacts: it apparently works both ways.

************************************************** ****

Perhaps, as eyes turn to the planets and stars, a new generation arises in Asia, and the Soviet Union undergoes slow internal convulsions, the Cold War will finally grind to a stop. Perhaps new links from mind to mind will create a sense of fellowship that even oceans between cannot break. And even if the unspeakable does still happen, the techniques created to build a global scarecrow give the children of humanity a fighting chance, a chance that even if the world burns, on other planets and drifting space rocks, and in the barren and lonely parts of a ravaged earth, something of us will survive, even if it does not quite fit the definition of “human” any longer.

[1] Yes, it farts from the top of its head. Deal with it.

[2] Seventh planet, yes, but Beta Hydri is hotter than the sun, there are a couple more extra-close “Mercurys” and the dense atmosphere of Theta retains heat.

[3] Sent up disguised as a new weather satellite

[4] In any event, the Asians, fearing similar disloyalty among its own scientists, launched their own purges, which helped even things out a little. Japan, where most people thought the whole thing had been pretty cool, ended up world leader in R&D for a while.

[5] With the sort of contrived coincidence one might expect from cheap melodrama, Mrs. Leighton didn’t inform her husband that her seemingly incurable fertility problem had resolved itself in the happiest manner until _after_ the initial modifications had passed the “irreversible” stage.

[6] It turns out some goats are just really, really sensitive to telepathic energies.



THE MAN WITH THE POWER

The future, for the first time in quite a while, is looking somewhat hopeful. Although much of Europe, the former Soviet Union, and the United States lie in ruin, while sinister super-beings lurk in hiding, the new cosmic energy condensers have at last brought the promised dream of the nuclear age to reality – power, limitless and almost too cheap to meter. The resource crunch has been greatly alleviated by the fact that if power is cheap and abundant, recycling is far more practical. Beams of cosmic energy send ships flying to the Moon, the asteroid belt – and beyond. Now as long as someone doesn’t do something crazy like try and use the power cosmic [1] to drag one of those asteroids down from the sky…

It was in some ways a more successful world than ours. The Soviet plans for computerized “red plenty” were successful: the third world successfully broke out of the slow-grow trap which so much of it was mired in OTL before the 90s: China found its own somewhat peculiar path to growth. Unfortunately, the accelerated global growth also led to more pollution, more global warming, and a rapid exhaustion of rare elements. Atomic power was energetically tackled as a substitute for the coal and shale-oil that was poisoning the skies and choking the planet, but the atomic fuels were limited in quantity, and breeder reactors were politically infeasible after a couple truly unfortunate fast-breeder failures. Due to a different technological development path, solar panels remained pricey and fusion as usual twenty to thirty years into the future. The world demanded more clean energy [2], more raw materials, but where were they to come from? Space held promise: the Moon was poor in heavy elements, but probes sent to the asteroid belt located great tumbling masses of rock and iron rich in rare earths and atomic fuel elements. However, as the 21st century got under way, the technology did not yet exist to send ships out there, and return to earth with raw materials, all while keeping costs per unit retrieved lower than those where such elements were extracted from poor and scanty ores back on earth.

And then a man called Harold J. Finley, a physics teacher at a small California college, came up with a solution. Of sorts.

The Link-Gate, an electronic implant built directly into the frontal lobe, allowed the human mind to do what technology could not do alone – focus the infinite sea of cosmic energy on which all reality floated, and of which the known electromagnetic spectrum was only a tiny part. With it the mind could exert the force to move and manipulate matter on a massive scale, to mine the asteroids or move them into more useful orbits without the use of equipment too bulky and massive to be economically moved between Earth and the Asteroid belt. The US space program seized upon this new technology and paid for an operation which made Finley himself (who would permit nobody else to take the risk) the guinea pig. Things went a bit pear-shaped after it turned out that 1. The amount of energy that could be channeled had no clear upper limit and 2. The subconscious mind also had access to the steering wheel on the jalopy. A number of people disintegrated [3] later, including Mr. Finely himself and the only other working model of the Link-Gate, the project was put on the back burner.

“What one man can do, another can do.” – Various.

Although the exact design of the Link Gate was kept secret by Finley to keep his ideas from being stolen (a life of being put upon had left him somewhat paranoid), he had been forced to give enough away when first convincing people he wasn’t a kook that given a large number of very intelligent people working very hard on the problem, getting the rest of it wasn’t too hard. And in spite of the unfortunate results of the Mark One model, essentially infinite free energy (not to mention the potential of possibly moving mountains with ones mind) was too much of a carrot for people to not convince themselves that the Mark Two would be all better. And the same reasoning of course applied to the Soviets when their spies reported back on what the Americans had been working on. Control issues? Well, are there no tamper-proof explosive collars in the Worker’s paradise? No mind-altering drugs? No implantable explosives, if the collar thing didn’t work out? No hypnotic compulsions?

The Mind Wars were brought on by several things: increasing degradation of the world environment with attendant food shortages, famines, civil unrest, etc.; raw material shortages: the contest for control of the asteroids, which were supposed to solve many of these problems, (but it would be cooler if one power controlled access to them, wouldn't it); and fear that the other side’s mind-controlled, bomb-implanted, drug-pacified super-soldiers would get out of control (or, worse, would be _effectively_ controlled). Not to mention various mysterious earthquakes, explosions, massive land slips, etc. that each accused the other side of triggering. Things got ugly very fast.

(The planned use of carefully drugged and lobotomized human brains connected to Link-Gates as sources of power for industry and urban centers was a project still in the process of “getting the bugs out” when the war started, and was not continued afterwards).

The Super-Soldiers or H-Womds (from Human Weapons of Mass Destruction) both wrecked half the planet and also saved it from even worse, striking down atomic bombs with their minds in flight, burying or tossing into space burning and shattered nuclear reactors, and in other ways minimizing the amount of radioactive death that would linger after. They also, across distances of hundreds of miles, burned cities, shattered mountains, set off volcanoes, created earthquakes, and out in space some of them threw asteroids at the Earth (fortunately they either had poor aim over distances of millions of miles or other H-Womds deflected them). And some went rogue, one way or another: some went mad beyond the abilities of any control protocols to manage them; some destroyed themselves and everyone around them; others managed to somehow survive destroying the elaborate mechanisms designed to kill them if they deviated at all from orders. The mechanisms designed to keep them from drawing more than a certain amount of power didn’t always work the way they were supposed to, either. A quarter of a million square miles of Canada is still only slowly stabilizing as rock molten all the way down to the asthenosphere slowly cools from the top down.

Powerful as they were, they were still human and mortal and as easily injured as anyone else. A H-Womd could throw a screen of destroying energies miles high over a city to stop bombs and planes and missiles, but that didn’t help if he (mostly he: for some reason, sexism ran rather high in deciding who got god-like powers) stepped on a rusty nail and got tetanus. The development of methods to detect other H-Womds by their exertion of power brought the war to a rapid mutual-destruction close. Nobody won: neither the US or USSR
were in any shape to do anything aside from starting to clear up the rubble afterwards, and Europe, China, and various other countries had been drawn in due to alliances, Super-Soldier programs of their own or just became “innocent bystanders” as various mentally unstable supermen wrecked havoc across the planet.

On the positive side, after the large scale dieoff from the war and some very nasty winters, and a serious reduction in planetary industrial production, the resource shortages weren’t as bad for a while.

In the year 2045, thirty years after the war, things are looking up. New centers of power have arisen in India, S. America, and Africa, a new functional government has arisen in South China, and something fairly sizable is assembling itself out of bits and pieces of the former US, Canada, and Mexico. The human element has been eliminated from the project of drawing power from the cosmic energy substrate, and while you could still use it to write your name on the Moon, that requires bulky,complex and not universally available equipment, so unfortunate personal impulses are not so easily given form. Of course, new and destructive weapons could be built as dangerous as any Super-Soldier, but after the Mind Wars, who would be so silly? (Or at least that’s what say placating politicos pontificating on public programming.)

Most of the H-Womds died in the war or were murdered in one way or another soon after: only a few elderly, carefully monitored specimens still exist under the jurisdiction of the New League of Nations, using their powers in aid of various public works (H-Womds are still capable of focusing and manipulating the cosmic energies in more complex ways than any single machine can): all are individuals very carefully psychological vetted back in the day, and also usually on a regimen of drugs that keeps them in deep dreamless sleep or cheerful daylight euphoria. No more than can be counted on the fingers of one hand have managed to gain the public and government trust to the extent where they are trusted on a regimen free of happy pills of some sort. Far more worrisomely, frequent blips on the screens of sensitive detectors indicate there are people manipulating the energy field without government remit or monitoring: such incidents never continue for long enough to pin them down closer than a single city, and wartime “draw them out by flattening the city” methods are of course not practical. The existence of hidden people with terrifying power is a constant sour note in the public consciousness: more worrying to governments is that these people may not be simply hiding but may be working for agents of other governments or secret societies of various sorts: still worse is the possibility that it’s not just survivors of the war - someone may be again building new direct-brain-link interfaces, something illegal in every recognized state and carrying the death penalty in a majority of them. Suspicion has fallen on the various Transhumanist churches, which have mushroomed into existence with the clear evidence that a little technological meddling can indeed make humans as Gods.

In the deeps of space, a spherical mass of rock some miles in diameter flies on through the void. Inside are air, water, and life: energy for light, power, and recirculation of air and water come from the mad god of this place, a particularly adept manipulator of cosmic energy who got rid of his control implants at the cost of a chunk of his brain. He fled into space from enemies real and imagined, but not without taking a large chunk of landscape rolled into a ball, and a few thousand humans to keep him company (now several hundred: he didn’t think through the details of farming very well). Current survivors are cautiously hopeful: he hasn’t killed anyone for suggesting it might be getting to be time to get back to Earth in a while. And they really need to get back: the “Mindlord” is getting shockingly aged and often given to rambling, and if he dies while they are still in space it will not be long before everyone else faces death, whether through freezing, suffocation or starvation.

In a church buried deep in an old salt mine, a man stands, most of his broken body replaced by mechanical parts controlled and powered by a trickle of cosmic energy. The chorus breaks into a hymn of praise for the God which will be.

More pleasant space settlements now are beginning to dot the inner solar system, propelled by harnessed cosmic forces: they would reach further and be more numerous if it were not for the fact that the cutting edge in life support technology kinda dropped back to pre-NASA days when the global economy and R&D spending cratered in the post Mind-Wars mess and jobs for life support systems specialists kinda dried up. Many governments secretly feel the human race needs to spread far and fast: even without transhumanists and other idiots trying once again to put the cosmic power directly into the hands of mentally disturbed people (on some level, most human beings), it’s possible in theory to create a wide-open mechanical gate to the infinite energy sea which in the nanosecond of its existence would create an energy flow capable of vaporizing the Earth.

The underlying energy field extends to the most distant stars, and is bounded neither by space nor time. The energies drawn from it during the Mind Wars, although relatively miniscule on pan-Galactic level, set up vibrations that could be detected across many light years by those in the know, while the steadier and steadily increasing draw in consequent years allows for triangulation, so to speak. The guardians of universal safety and order close in slowly, but steadily.

[1] Self-conscious Silver Surfer reference.
[2] For various reasons this world never developed as big a phobia towards nuclear waste as OTL.
[3] Think the entire output of the NE United states electrical grid passed through the volume of a human body.
The Outer Limits, I
Some "what happened next" plots for the old-school Outer Limits show. 
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It was a different 1994 than ours: technology had advanced faster, and powerful energy weapons, sophisticated robotics, advanced life support systems, suspended animation technology, and even anti-gravity had been developed. Alas, none of these was sufficient to avert the unimaginable catastrophe: the bases on the Moon perished as well when the satellite was split in two by the gravity of the strange, glowing visitor from interstellar space as it sped through the Earth-Moon system, and Mars had yet to be settled; the Earth was less damaged, but the massive tidal waves, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and falls of Moon-shards were enough to cast civilization in ruins.

In the year 3937, a strange new world has emerged. The reemergence of civilization was both aided and hampered by the strange process of mutation that took place in the centuries after the Fall. Nobody is quite sure of all the factors, but the Visitor (one of the more polite and less mythic names of the doom planet) emitted an unknown radiation, to which were added the toxins of burning cities and the radiations of destroyed nuclear power plants, the release of industrial chemicals, and the curious glowing matter from the core of the Moon. Innumerable new and curious species have emerged, most dying out due to being simply too strange to live, but enough surviving to create a quite alien ecosystem. Many non-sentient animals have developed into things which walk upright and speak and use tools, including some form of rats, lizards, apes, bats, penguins, hawks, crocodiles, dogs, and some whose origin simply leaves people baffled, such as the superhumanly strong Moks, which have elements of the cat and the baboon in their appearance – but have hoofed hind feet.

The Cats With Opposable Thumbs were wiped out by the Dog-Men with the aid of the Ape-Men, who knew a deadly menace to all intelligent life when they saw one.

Humanity too has mutated. While some mutations are neutral (such as the blue amphibian humans) or damaging (there are various sub-races of misshapen monstrosities or ape-men), perhaps the most significant human form is the Wizard, the magic-user (Sorceress for female Wizards, but Wizard is the general case: the world remains sexist): this variant has spread world-wide, and currently makes up most the world’s ruling classes. (There are those who theorize that wizards are not in fact something new at all, but possessors of an ancient blood that has responded to a new “magic-rich” environment post-Fall, a theory which is supported by the emergence of many strange forces and beings seemingly of magical nature. Current state of the art not being up to advanced gene-sequencing, the question remains unresolved). Wizards are often oddly mutated physically, which further separates them from “baseline” humans, although many are indistinguishable from 20th century humanity. (Not that there aren’t a lot of oddly mutated but non-magical humans).

The Reign of Wizardry has not been particularly beneficial to humanity, since wizards as a rule tend to think of themselves as a superior breed and humans as their natural slaves, and the issues that naturally arise are exacerbated by the fact that getting Wizards to cooperate is like herding cats: powerful wizards tend to the solipsistic, and hardly any Wizard trust another one to not try and steal their spells or magical artifacts. As a result Wizard-run states are usually the domain of a single Wizard or at least a Wizarding family, and extend as far as their power can reach: personal or institutional loyalty tends to be thin among their subjects, and assassination is always a risk, as hard as some wizards try to instill worship of themselves. (The fact that life-essence is one of the cheapest ways to boost your power stats does not help with the popularity thing, and sensible Wizards will usually seek victims in the wild lands beyond the rule of any one Wizard). Most Wizards are mortal: indefinite life extension requires very powerful and subtle magic (and a load of stolen life-essence) and is achieved by very few, and no Wizard has ever managed to make themselves unkillable, although many have tried.

Still, things have become a bit more organized over the centuries. The Wizard’s Council now provides a rough and ready sort of order throughout North America and most of Eurasia, frowning upon outright warfare between Wizards and pushing for dispute resolution through, if not negotiation, through contests and challenges in which People Other Than Wizards do the dying. The almost constant inter-wizard petty wars and conflicts that used to lead to the extermination of entire family lines of Wizards has (almost) become a thing of the past, although an occasional lethal Wizard’s Duel still takes place.
The Council is made up of Wizards both powerful and ambitious, and is headed in rotation by one of the Seven Great Wizards: the Seven Great Wizards rule the Seven Cities of Sorcery (know as such because as they are the habitation of one of the Seven Great Wizards, duh). Each is a Wizard (in two cases, a Sorceress) of surpassing might and has successfully mastered the bite of entropy, and also cares enough to participate: there probably are a few Wizards of comparable power out there who simply strictly shun the limelight (many elder Wizards do fall prey to Demented Old Crank syndrome and hole up in a palace under the sea or something).

On the rare occasions when one of the Seven Great Wizards dies, the Council arranges for the disposal of their goods and chattels (e.g., organizes the looting) and the competition to fill their shoes and get one’s own town named a City of Sorcercy is intense and often produces a fair number of corpses. (The position is not hereditary, unless the son or daughter can prove to everyone’s satisfaction that they are _at least_ as badass as their parent). The recent death of the Great Wizard of California, Argoth the Many-Eyed, has set off another round of plotting, incidentally putting a number of plans to strengthen the grip of the Reign of Wizardry on the back burner.

Much of the world is dotted with the domains of several thousand Wizards, varying in size from pure city-states to maybe Belgium-sized, usually with quite a bit of open space in between: besides avoiding border conflicts, where would one find fresh populations to enslave or drain of energy if all the world was divided up between Wizardly domains? Also, quite a bit of the world is rather troublesome to rule. Many great forests and jungles are home to powerful magics and monstrous beasts dangerous to even Wizards (trying to burn or cut said forests is a bit like tossing firecrackers into a Mafia boss meetup), other areas are still barren or toxic in some way, and some of the new species make poor slaves (it takes an unusually powerful slave driver to keep control of Moks, and it is largely impossible to train Moks to oppress eachother). There are such dangerous beings as werewolves (a form of contagious magical possession) or the occasional psionic mutant, and some regions have the strange property of causing a Wizard’s power to fade and fail if they venture into them. Siberia, rich in nuclear power sources and toxic waste before the Fall dumped them into the environment, remains particularly rich in monsters and mutants. Much of the former Amazon is ruled by giant insects, and there is the Machine Collective of Antarctica, the sentience of which is hotly debated, the dangers of meddling with are not. And then there are some small nations which are actually badass enough to be seriously dangerous to conquer in spite of their lack of Wizards (although Wizards prefer to ignore this fact).

Technology tends towards the schizo, since Wizards tend to be as grasping when it comes to technological knowledge as anything else. Wizard cities are variously light by neon, electricity, coal gas, magic, and burning torches. Flying saucers mix with steam engines mix with near-naked slaves staggering under hods full of dirt. And quite a bit of technology is not “technology” as we understand it: machines may be powered by magic rather than by steam or oil or electricity, and spells may substitute for what requires complex interlocking systems in a regular machine. Many “robots” are really more in the way of Golems. Some Wizards employ technology they don’t really understand themselves, using techno-necromancy to restore ancient pre-Fall machinery to operation (or simply keep it running many centuries past its warrantee expiration date). A few Wizards have the unusual talent of might be called technomagery, the ability to magically combine a variety of bits and pieces of machinery into a working device “by ear” without ever really knowing what all the bits do. Wizards are particularly fond of strange and somewhat impractical war machines, which roll or crawl across the landscape, or occasionally drift across the skies like escapees from a Disco-era SF comic book. Many Wizardly states have radio, but strictly for communicating orders, announcements, or propaganda. There is no TV (but a great variety of usually magical Wizard’s “viewing screens”). Due to the lack of oil, internal combustion engines are largely a lost art. Due to the great variety of new mutated plants, medicine has benefitted from many new curatives or palliatives: alas, so have mind-controlling or simply addictive drugs.

Then there is duplicated pre-Fall tech, some derived from writings surviving on the almost indestructible plastic paper of the 1990s, and some built by people actually from before the fall: quite a few people tried to wait out the collapse of civilization in suspended animation capsules, and although their hiding places were usually crushed in earthquakes, fried by lava, or broken into while things were still a wee bit chaotic and cannibalistic, some refugees from the past continue to occasionally show up even into the 3900s. (The release mechanism for the North Korean vault is buried under several thousand tons of rubble: the Kims will be sleeping in for a while yet). And then there are a very few Wizards who have succeeded in robbing the past itself: on more than one occasion, a Wizard has succeeded in finding a way to travel back in time and bring back technology from the past. This almost never becomes a major issue, though: sooner or later the Wizard incurs a paradox, time snaps back to its correct shape, and the Wizard arrives back in the future in multiple smoking installments. (What will cause a paradox is tricky: by travelling back to just before the arrival of the Visitor, one can get away with shit like giant robot battles in the streets, but jog the elbow of a Historically Important person at the wrong time and next thing you know your Pig-man servants are cracking jokes about your lisp as they scrub you off the floor).

Then there are those who lacking either wizardry or well-preserved texts have been forced to do the best they could with scraps of preserved knowledge and the sweat of their brows: the steam engine has been reinvented several times, and there are even a few places with railroads (there would be more, but Wizards don’t like “wild” humans who get above themselves with impressive technology). Someone, somewhere, has always retained knowledge of gunpowder making, in spite of a long-running Wizard campaign to suppress such things: usually when Minions with magical zap-guns meet good old fashioned rifles and cannon used by well-disciplined soldiers, it’s not the soldiers who end up fleeing the field, and even the best steel golem doesn’t react well to being hit with cannonballs (perhaps if they were _solid_ steel, but they’re usually hollow: it would take too much magic to move them around otherwise). Many seek to fly, with hot air balloons, man-carrying kites and gliders, insane inventions involving gunpowder-propelled kites and parachutes. People _know_ that the ancients flew, and many Wizards have flying machines: heck, the Hawk-Men fly on their own.

Religion is different: organized churches didn’t tend to survive the Fall, and a distinct shortage of printing presses led to considerable scriptural drift. Christianity and Islam as we know it are gone, replaced by a multitude of contending regional sects which in some cases have gone quite polytheist, while a number of new charismatic or shamanistic religions have popped up. The cult of the beneficent Lords of Light, which will one day overthrow the Wizards, is quite popular among free humans in the eastern portions of what once was the United States, while the Mysteries of the Queen of Night are prevalent in much of northern Old Europe. Certain nomadic tribes wandering the wastes of East Africa follow something which looks a lot like Judaism, while Buddhism of sorts holds out in the mountains of inner Asia. Wizards tend to various cults and sects which validate their self-esteem, but there is no “Wizards religion” except maybe self-worship. A Wizard who takes their religion too seriously is looked upon with some suspicion by his or her peers, especially if it is a faith they share with normal humans.

Transportation and trade (which for non-Wizards usually takes place the old fashioned way, through a long chain of intermediaries) is usually by foot or by horse/horse-like mutant animal. Even trade between Wizard cities is usually by wagon train, save for items of small bulk and great value, for which the Wizard may send a flying machine or even a war machine if the product is desirable enough (there is a fair amount of trade between Wizard domains, the small size of most of them rather limiting the variety of raw materials and products, although magic can make up for deficiencies to some extent. ) A Wizard’s wagon train can be a rich prize for raiders, but a risky one, for one is never sure what degree of magical protection is involved, or if the Wizard is one of those who can, say, teleport long distances to deal with people messing with his or her stuff. Barges and rafts travel on rivers. Still, trade is limited: even “safe” routes may be preyed upon by Wizards and their minions, or the occasional wandering monster, and routes are often much longer than a straight route to try and stick to concealing forests, magical null zones, etc. as much as possible and circle widely around Wizardly demesnes. Given the abundance of sea monsters (the fire-breathing Sperm Whales in particular are hostile: in fact they remember old-style humans, and feel they are owed some revenge) and the rickety nature of current sailing ships, overseas travel is quite rare, although some limited and intermittent contact still takes place between Europe and North America and South America and Africa: the Pacific is seen as too vast and dangerous to cross. (I speak of Free Humans, of course. Wizards can cross in comfort, although in practice they usually communicate with their overseas counterparts with magical projections. Can’t stab a projection in the back).

Free Human and Free Something-man societies vary greatly in size and complexity. Some have reverted to hunter-gatherer lifestyles, others are essentially basic-sustenance farmers. Many tend to minimize their materials goods and retain high mobility, to get the heck out of town in case a Wizard or their slave-catchers move into the area. Others build extensive earthen or brick, relatively fire-proof fortresses to retreat into, knowing Wizards dislike fighting at close quarters. Others burrow under the ruins of old cities, and take advantage of surviving subway tunnels. Some dwell within forests and jungle, finding ways to work with the wild powers and even befriend them, while others still live in the relative safety of magic-null areas. The blue Gill-men live beneath the sea. And a very few, in remote areas from centers of Wizardly power, have managed to remain undisturbed long enough (the anarchic condition of the Wizarding realm for so long helped in days past) to build up some real states, with organized large-scale governments, armies, gunpowder weapons, etc.

They are of course on the Wizard’s Council’s Enemies List. Once the Council develops enough authority to mobile a large-scale, organized magical attack by many Wizard’s domains, these threatening “old-style” humans will be brought to heel – or so the ambitious men (and some women) of the Council think. Of course, they are not the only enemies that need to be eliminated. There are the Werewolves, the disobedient species like the Moks, giant monsters, etc. – and the “bad sort” among Wizards themselves. There are, after all, some Wizards, “race-traitors”, that treat the humans they rule over as almost equal to Wizards, giving them rights and freedoms and even consulting them on government policy. Worse, there are those who abjure their superiority and go out and mix with the wild humans, even – unbelievable! – helping them out against their fellow Wizards…

Among the Free Peoples, most generally stick to their own kind, but there are exceptions. Humans and Moks get along fairly well, and there are a number of mixed communities, Mok strength supplementing superior human tool-using skills (Mok hands are a bit on the clumsy side, to be generous) and long-term planning (Moks tend to live in the moment: they worry less than people, but don’t model the future very well). Also, in the Old World, there are communities of Humans and evolved Dogs (the fact that Dog-people often have old-style dogs as pets tends to weird foreign visitors out). Relations between Humans and the various reptile-based species have historically been poor, as with the Rat-People: some memories seem to extend beyond intelligence. Apes have a chip on their shoulder: a thousand years ago, they came close to global dominance, but were ultimately crushed by the Wizards. Returning to their past glories is a common obsession with them, and admitting anyone save Wizards as their equals is positively anathema.

The blue Seafolk exist largely outside the reach of Wizards: they can breathe air as well as water, but generally stay beneath the waves where they are hard to get at. Some of them are occasionally born with the mutation for Wizardry, and are carefully indoctrinated to serve their blue, gilled relatives rather than their fellow Wizards above the waves.

It is the year 3937, and it is a world in the throes of change. Ambitious Wizards seek to establish the Rule of Wizardry on more secure foundations for all time: other Wizards seek to subvert their efforts, imagining the emergence of a dictatorship of Top Wizards. Humans and other largely non-magical sapients (there are some Ape and Lizard-man wizards, but they are generally weak and not accepted as “real” Wizards by the human-derived ones) struggle to survive in the cracks of a Wizard-dominated world, while some plot to take the fight to the Wizards.

In the human-run Empire of the Green Banner [1] in what was once Nigeria, a revived Soviet engineer (his suspended animation capsule made a trip long and strange) works to provide the Emperor with the world’s first true jet plane in an age: the oil may no longer be available, but with hydrogen fuel extracted with wind-power electricity, he’s made some impressive progress with rockets.

In Siberia, a hideous mutant who believes himself to be the reincarnation of Genghis Khan has gathered with his powers of mental compulsion an enormous army of freaks and monsters; soon they will march on the Wizard cities of the Yellow River watershed.

The radio waves emitted by pre-Fall Earth have travelled far over the past two millennia, and there are those who have overheard them. Some of them are hungry.

One the Seven (well, Six right now) looks at a mass grave of “used up” baseline humans, rat-men and lizard-men, and wonders if, in fact, it would be a bad thing for her kind to perish from the Earth.

A boat has made the dangerous crossing of the Atlantic and made dock at what was once Dakar, now a sort of free port for traders and pirates both. Aboard are a Hercules among Moks, a beautiful Sorceress, and a barbarian from the wilds of Ah- Palachee wielding a weapon created by the greatest Wizard of the last thousand years. North America has gotten a bit too hot for them, now that the Wizard’s council has come to see them as a serious threat: it’s time to lie low, and there may be new opportunities to set the wheel of fate spinning here in North Africa…

[1] Islam, sort of, in the same way Judaism today would be familiar to King Solomon.
The 1962 Emergence of the Vulcanids was rather disastrous for England: the opening of a half-mile wide volcanic flue into strata 15 miles down and the consequent large-scale release of hot ash and superheated and partially toxic gasses killed several million people, the authorities having rather underestimated the scale of the problem: nearly half of London wasn’t even evacuated, and the hot poisonous cloud reached as far south the Channel. Further unpleasantness took place when an army and air force already in a murderous mood spotted the huge, clumsy Vulcanid exploratory machines “sculling” through the (to them) non-substantial surface (and roads, buildings, bridges…) and setting everything on fire as they went. Due to their extreme density, most conventional weapons were ineffective, but the very largest “block-buster” bombs could spring cracks in the already cold-stressed hulls, the tremendous pressure and temperature change killing the crews: the panicked use of atomic disruptors by Vulcanids under attack demonstrated, among other things, that an atomic disruptor was much more of an area-effect weapon when used in open air rather than within an environment of solid rock.

Fortunately, some rather clever individuals on both sides managed to de-escalate things before the plan to drop an atomic bomb into the shaft was carried out.

Today, most inhabitants of Britain have put the disasters of the Emergence behind them, especially since having “first dibs” on new technological advances arising from information exchange between humanity and the Vulcanids having gone some way to reversing Britain’s post-war decline. Currently, the nation is a world leader in materials science, semi-degenerate matter engineering, atomic synthesis, and hot-crystal computing, although politicians grumble that they do the science work and then the Americans or Japanese beat them to the saleable product stage. This relationship has been facilitated by the Vulcanids deep embarrassment over the cluster-fuck of the Emergence and the fact that, 14-20 miles down, there is only one, unified Vulcanid world-state. At 5 million, New London still doesn’t have as many people as Old London, but it’s a lot wealthier. It mostly lies north of the ‘Ole, as the man in the street colloquially refers to the conduit to the deeps, much southern and eastern Old London having burned down during the Emergence. The Shaft is now capped by a quarter-mile high dome of reddish pseudometal, which is also the surface outpost of the Vulcanids: heavily insulated, its surface is rarely warmer than the boiling point of water, although a wide concrete strip separates it from anything flammable. A ring of scientific and government buildings surrounds the dome, save at one point where a long tongue of what looks like dark blue rock extends out from the dome environs.

Curious visitors from Callastheon (the translated – very freely - name of the Vulcanid megapolis underlying London and much of SE England) who want to take a look at what they call the “Shadow World” take said look around walking along the blue strip, which is composed of a Vulcanid synthetic adapted for the surface’s low temperatures (Vulcanids tending to sink out of sight into the relatively soft surface of London environs), looking in their bulky insulated pressure suits a bit like clumsy 50-foot tall land octopi carved out of black tar. Most don’t stay out very long: to their inhuman senses the ground beyond the walkway is a freezing black quagmire, the cold is almost unimaginable, and the sky a terrifying void in which a single dim source of radiation somehow floats. Trees and other organic things are so tenuous as to be almost invisible.

It’s not a one-way exchange by any means between Vulcanids and humans: humans, operating under conditions utterly alien to the dwellers below, have developed entire fields of science utterly new to the Vulcanids, and there are currently a multitude of joint “human-Vulcanid” scientific research operations, as human being carry out experiments under conditions almost unimaginable to the Vulcanids half a century ago.

These projects are paid for with complex credit arrangements based on utility and sales of Vulcanid-derived technologies (keeping a great many lawyers and accountants happily employed), but there’s also a fair amount of more “regular” commercial activity nowadays, in spite of the utter uselessness of any consumer product for the other species. From early on, rich Vulcanids would pay substantial money-equivalents for “rare Shadow World artifacts”, initially consisting pretty much entirely of lumps of solid metal from the surface, nothing else surviving the deep environment (and even then requiring protective encasement – it’s tricky pushing metals through rock, even partly heat-softened rock). Nowadays, the development of more sophisticated protective containment methods allows the very rich to maintain a real bit of surface culture inside a super-cooled near-vacuum sustained within a degenerate-matter pressure vessel, so their visitors can use their sonar senses to admiringly examine their hosts genuine authentic unopened container of Bing Soda. (Their guests lacking the ability to peer through solid matter, wealthy humans find the display of Vulcanid artifacts a more difficult proposition.) While the references are so totally alien that a book from the other realm requires more footnotes than text to understand, there still is a fair amount of trade in literary copyrights. (For both humans and Vulcanids, attempts to “rewrite” books to make them more understandable to the other species is a source of entertainment: translated back into the original language, the results tend to be hilarious). Among the other arts, the visual arts of humans have little appeal to aesthetes that appreciate the interior as much as the exterior of solid objects, but music has been perhaps the most untranslatable: to be played properly, Vulcanid music is usually performed at frequencies that cause internal damage in human beings.

The Vulcanids are not entirely confined to the UK: several treaties have been concluded with other nations, establishing scientific research stations with diplomatic immunity – they even have one in Antarctica (compared to the difference between the surface and the deeps, what’s another hundred degrees?). To get there, they have developed their own form of air transportation, which takes off from a hatch atop the London dome: the stubby cylinder (no more than office-building size, barely seats three Vulcanids and a bunch of supplies) is lifted on a column of electromagnetic force to a height of several miles before it activates it’s propulsion system (at a mere quarter mile up, it would have an unfortunate tendency to both flatten and irradiate the surrounding buildings: as it is, the amount of radiation these flights dump into the atmosphere often leads to Questions in Parliament and arguments at the UN).

History diverged from ours after 1962: the existence of subterranean alien beings with the capacity to easily wipe us out from below rather put the Cold War into perspective, and given the eventual establishment of a “special relationship” between the UK and the global Vulcanid government, the Soviet Union discovered the value of co-existence rather than confrontation with the capitalist powers (especially the British). Fortunately, long-persistent difficulties in translation and the really quite different nature of Vulcanid society allowed the Soviets to claim them as fellow socialists for several decades, while the US and the UK claimed they were actually capitalist. Détente of sorts set in by the late 60s, the US was distracted from Vietnam, and the arms race slowed. Colonials in the few remaining valuable colonies remained rebellious, and Mao of course denounced any compromise with the Capitalists out of fear of the Vulcanids (which he claimed to be a “paper dragon”), but he went away after a while.

(Mao was actually right, really: the Vulcanids had no interest in fighting any wars for the sake of the inhabitants of the Shadow World, whose politics and economics they found largely impenetrable).

As of 2014, the Soviet Union is still around, albeit minus a few SSRs and with the other ones in a complicated arrangements of various sorts of semi-sovereignty and integration, and runs off an odd mix of technocracy and state capitalism: it’s not as wealthy as the US or the UK, but it seems in no reason to shuffle off the world stage, while China is a very odd post-humanism obsessed dictatorship. The UK is not a part of the EC, although it has highly favorable trade relations with it: Britain’s enhanced technological, economic and geopolitical presence means that it has instead been able to rebuild the Commonwealth to some extent as an economic-political block of some influence, although India remains stubbornly uninterested in kissing and making up. International pressure brought an earlier end to Apartheid, but alas, without the unifying figure of Mandela (with only 15 years of prison under his belt, his revolutionary credentials weren’t as polished as OTL, and he failed to take control of the ANC), the aftermath has been messier. (With the proxy wars in Africa ending earlier than OTL, the continent as a whole is however better off).

The world is generally a bit more humanist, a bit more leftist, and more secular than OTL – this may in part be influenced by the example of the Vulcanids, which are somewhat less religious than your average modern Swede.[1] Of course, there has been a smaller but still formidable counter-movement on the religious side, with energetic new sects forming around differing ideas on the spiritual meaning of multiple intelligences, and established religions making efforts to adjust their doctrine to the new situation, while many have made energetic efforts to convert the Vulcanids. Such efforts have not been helped by many religious hard-liners efforts to demonize them (in some cases rather literally: giant red-hot monsters from the fiery interior of the world? Clearly scouts for the forces of hell cleverly made up as “aliens.”)

The US never really forgave the British for not allowing themselves to be pressured into handing over human-Vulcanid relations to the Americans: nowadays the US has a Special Relationship with Japan.

Technology has seen all sorts of advances, with amazing new building projects (self-growing walls, super-synthetics, and new states of matter) and colossal arcologies and the Channel bridge, more efficient forms of atomic power (alas, no cleaner than OTL: Vulcanids consider nuclear waste useful both as a floor polish and a dessert topping. [2]), strategic devastation through self-replicating crystal (see, “The Monolith Monsters”), cheap matter transmutation, and atomic phasing (which allows one to build structures without doors, although heaven help you if the power is interrupted while you walk through one of the walls). With Vulcanid help, some remarkable geo-engineering projects have taken place, with artificially created islands adding to the world’s land area and inconvenient mountains sunk, while certain Vulcanid techniques have been exploited to bring to the surface previously inaccessible ores (only in rather isolated areas, since it involves creating what is essentially an artificial volcano). The once field of science which is actually some ways behind OTL is biotech, with resources going instead to study of Vulcanid technology, and Vulcanid “biotech” being entirely inapplicable to carbon-water-oxygen cycle life forms.

Space travel has been greatly aided by the use of atomic drives based on Vucanid designs (once they got the “kills the pilots with radiation” bugs out) and there are now bases on the Moon and Mars and people have been to both Mercury and the Asteroid belt, although life support issues (those darn biotech deficiencies) have so far prevented a trip as far as Jupiter. So far other forms of intelligence seem lacking - Martian life is generally primitive, and Venusian life appears to be microscopic and confined to some of the cloud layers (and tends to dissolve investigatory probes). There has been talk of building Venusian landers to send vibrations into the ground in hopes of catching the attention of possible Vulcanid-equivalents (the Martian crust is too cold), but there has a been a certain amount of trepidation – there’s no way to spy on deep, hot civilizations from afar, and there’s no knowing what might come climbing out of the abyss. Humanity, after all, was lucky that the Vulcanids turned out to be civilized entities.

The astronomers are arguing about what that blurry infrared source is – they haven’t cottoned on to the fact that they have discovered their first Dyson sphere.

The Vulcanids live on the average more than three times as long as humans, move through compressed 700 degree rock like a mole rat through loose sand, and incorporate radioactives as part of their metabolism. They are naturally agoraphobic, and residents in the long-term research stations have to be carefully vetted for maximum mental stability, lest existing with a mind-hurting void right next door drive them slowly mad. (Understandably, the Vulcanids are happy to leave space exploration to the humans, although some experimenters suggest a large enough craft could be designed to be sonar-proofed in such a way to create the illusion of illimitable solid mass surrounding the crew). They are a more peaceable and more rational race than humanity (which probably explains why they succeeded in establishing a world government), but also in some ways less curious and imaginative: they had established through gravitational measurements the existence of the sun and moon, but had never really been interested in what else might exist in the void around the world to try exploring near or above the “limit” of the solid planet before the first artificial signals were detected coming from the surface.

One reason human fiction is popular even in bad translation is, from the point of the view of the Vulcanids, the simply outrageous imaginations of human beings. This is not always a good thing – it took human beings to point out the alarmingly obvious corollary to the Vulcanid Emergence. Many Vulcanids have developed certain paranoid fears as a result: with thousands of miles of rock lying below them, growing ever hotter and denser down to the liquid metal oceans and below – who or what might come climbing up to visit them some day?

[1] I'm not being anti-religion here: I'm just being consistent with what Arthur Clarke, a solid secularist, would have thought about an advanced alien race.
[2] Just kidding! Vulcanid houses don’t use floor polish, since nothing can drop to the floors of their rock-filled houses.
The Fairly Hot Stuff Within
Another shorty, assuming a happier ending to Arthur C. Clarke's "The Fires Within." (Opening a flue to a spot 15 miles down isn't going to destroy mankind - volcanoes ultimately tap sources a good deal deeper than that)
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In this world, where a degenerate but ancient and technologically advanced race was not roundly defeated by one guy with a big club, the world was invaded in the 1930s by beings from the distant past of the Moon, a billion years or so before, when it was still rich in life. The “Eternal Ones”, a purely mechanized society, reduced to little more than brains with manipulative tendrils riding around in mechanical shells, required slaves to do the work the degenerate and ennui-ridden near-immortals no longer had the energy to pursue. Having failed to enslave their peace-loving, machine-free back-to-nature kin (although doing a good job of exterminating them in the trying), humans seemed like an excellent replacement, at least after the control-collars were placed around their necks.

They arrived travelling in duplicates of the interplanetary flyer the brave (if eventually crispy-fried) human explorer had travelled to their world in: said flyer had been designed to travel between worlds through the reversal of gravity, but unexpectedly (well, except by the scientist whose opinions were blatantly ignored) in bending the fabric of space it also bent time, so that a trip of mere days from the point of view of the traveler would carry them across millions of years of time, backwards or forward.

However, the Eternal Ones had rather badly underestimated how large the Earth was, how many people inhabited it (their own numbers by this point had declined to the low hundred thousands) and how badly they would be hampered by a gravity six times their own. They hadn’t fought an actual _war_, rather than persecuting psionic primitives, in ages. And in spite of their vastly advanced technology, quantity, as it has been said, has a “quality” of its own…

The long and the short of it was that the Eternal Ones never managed to gain control over more than a fraction of Earth, and the original inventor of the flyer, who had assumed his flyer (and onboard nephew) lost in space, rapidly produced a superior model for the use of the US, and later united world military: a number of ships were initially lost in space and time, but it wasn’t long before the Eternal Ones were tracked back to their space-time and the counter-invasion of the ancient Moon began.

Today, most of the Moon is under the control of the League of Nations[1]; only one independent city of the Eternal Ones remains under its force-field dome, surrounded by a burning waste of radioactive dust created by the interaction of terrestrial radium bombs and Selenite (the general term for native inhabitants of the Moon) disintegrators. It survives on human sufferance: the other surviving seven cities of the Eternal Ones were destroyed by large masses of iron travelling back in time from the future to arrive within their force-field domes at several thousand miles per hour. The last city survives only as long as humans get free access to study all of its technology and scientific achievements. Openings are made in the force screen as human ships come and go.

The Eternal Ones had developed near-immortality without developing the psychology for it, and historically have been plagued by a sense of ennui and pointlessness in their sterile, perfect, push-button eternity: while theoretically able to live for milennia, few of them actually last more than a few centuries before ending themselves in some way or another, and hated and despised and envied (although they never admitted that envy, even to themselves) their happily wilderness-living cousins which they killed and tried to enslave. Reproduction is by cloning and artificial wombs and raising children is a duty rather than something done out of any desire for descendants or care for future generations: the Eternal Ones are generally a selfish lot. The last of their cities is full of huge, geometrically perfect metal towers, far more space then the small surviving population needs. Self-maintaining robots keep things working, since the Eternal Ones wouldn’t be caught dead doing something as menial as maintenance work: much of the mostly empty city looks rusty and run-down as the machines prioritize. Some of them still plot the destruction of mankind and the “liberation” of their world, but most have just adapted to the situation and spend most of their time watching terrestrial videocasts (TV, in other words).

The Moon is undergoing colonization, but the other planets have not yet been reached either in the past or the future (as yet, scientists have been unable to perfect the gravity-twist drive to the point where it can travel to, say, Mars, without at the same time travelling back before the time the Solar System had condensed from interstellar dust). The Moon is an interesting place back an Aeon ago: although the air is already thinning, oceans only cover 40% of its surface, and much of the dry land is desert, there are also areas rich in life. The silty, shallow seas are stained gold by microorganisms, and huge purple-winged seas dragons breach the waters high into the air before flopping back to create splashes that descend slowly as a dream. There are dense violet-blue jungles, great uplands of purple or green moss, and fertile river valleys filled with great tangles of flowering vines, groves of 20-foot flowers, vast tangles of golden thornbush three times as high, and pink or orange “cactuses” which drive off predators with frightful stinks rather than thorns. Huge lime-green floating dirigible-beasts float down to feed on the vegetation, and brilliant butterfly-things as big as birds swarm. In other places, trees grow skyscraper-tall in the low gravity. The mountains, too, are fantastically tall and thin, and great crater valleys hold various micro-environments in their depths. The sky, even at sea level, is a deeper and more violet blue than Earth. Not yet tidally locked, it’s day-night cycle is about 18 hours.

It’s not all roses, admittedly: the thorn bushes protect themselves with foot-long spikes poisonous to humans, and the green dirigibles have smaller purple balloon-cousins that fish for prey (up to human-sized) with long sticky ropes. And there is the Lunar Juggernaut, a huge armored ball of a creature that kills its prey by running it down and then sucks its bodily fluids through the spiked tips of its retractable tentacles, which it also uses to drag itself up slopes too steep to roll up. The Juggernauts are relentless predators, able to track like a bloodhound and endlessly patient.

Of course, human beings being human beings, much of the local life has been shot, dug up, burned, or (in the case of the Juggernaut, bulletproof save for its eyes) blown to bits. Human crops have replaced the local plant life over extensive areas, and many remarkable life forms have either become rare or altogether extinct.

This does not make the Free People happy. Thought to have been extinguished by the Eternal Ones, a few had managed to survive in deep cave environments too far underground to be accessible to the spy rays of the Eternal Ones, living under conditions so marginal that their survival would not have been believed before they emerged. The Free People retain the original form of the species, 5-foot golden-furred snake-like creatures, crested with feathers, with great violet eyes, white wing-like membranes fringed with manipulative tendrils than can be used as hands, and disturbingly human mouths. They are arranged in beehive like societies, with one fertile Mother amid many sterile females and occasional drones; once such extended “families” numbered in thousands, but due to the stringencies of underground life, they had shrunk to merely dozens: since the human “liberation” (hah!) of the Moon, they have begun to expand their numbers again.

Although the material level of their lives, even before they fled to the deeps, was not much above that of Amazonian Indian tribes, they possess (or so anyone who spends time with them says, although armchair anthropologists on Earth scoff) an extremely rich spiritual life and an artistic culture of complex song and story, much of it non-verbal: for what cannot be denied is that the Free People have developed some remarkable mental powers, and can communicate telepathically, psychically heal, internally generate heat in cold weather, possess near-limitless stamina, can communicate with animals and some plants, etc. They live in communion and at peace with nature, and are trying their best to convince humanity to leave be what is left of the Lunar ecosystem.

The question is often raised about whether or not to send a rocket expedition to study the young, cloudy earth, which appears to be early in its development, possibly at the stage of solely unicellular life, and is the only “ancient” planet currently accessible from the ancient Moon. Fears of causing some sort of paradox and replacing humans with sapient blue jellyfish or something have so far nixed any such plan, but evidence that history has already changed are becoming more and more definite; attempts to transmit a message from the past to the future by, say, burying radioactives in geologically stable areas of the Moon in the past and looking for them in the future have completely failed. Of course, it is also possible that other time-travelers are messing with the results: on the other hand, searching in the previous location of one of the Eternals cities has dug up some very suggestive deposits, which by their distribution indicate that the city crumbled in place rather than being smashed by a time-space projectile: of course, on the gripping hand, a new city might have been built in the interim.

According to some theories the Moon people now travel to is in an alternate timeline branching off when the first explorer landed, although others argue that this would make two-way travel to the same future impossible. [2] A recent theory by a British theoretical physicist holds that the regular travel between Moon and Earth is creating a standing time-space loop linking the two worlds, and that if it is interrupted for any length in the future, the ancient Moon, with its human colonies, and the present Earth will become mutually inaccessible. People are still arguing over his math, although the physics community looks a bit askance at a man who while lecturing described the structure of space-time as a “big ball of wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey…stuff.”

All this has had a great of effect back on Earth. For one thing, technology has progressed enormously as a result of the duplication of Selenite science. Robots carry out heavy labor in construction, industry, mining, etc. Gleaming rockets crisscross the heavens. Those which were once confined to wheelchairs now stride speedily about on spider-chairs, while cybernetic replacements are available for all sorts of missing body parts. The entire world now runs on solar power, and, when the sun isn’t shining, off of Selenite-type batteries of almost infinite capacity.

There are less pleasant technologies. The frightfulness of war has been sharpened by the duplication of the plasma thrower and the disintegration ray, and while major cities are protected from attack by force-fields, the countryside can be rendered radioactive. Giant walking tanks patrol the borders of mutually hostile nations. And then there are the spy ray and the matter transmission beam.

While the mass production of the matter transmitter makes for instant travel across thousands of miles (for those who can afford the ticket: the machines are huge and expensive enough that the private transmitter remains a dream of the future, like the private flying car), it can, in combination with the spy ray, snatch people in their sleep from hundreds of miles away. (Focusing on a distant target can take several minutes, and has obvious visual effects, so it’s not effective against a moving and conscious target). And while a house can be shielded from the spy ray, this requires considerable expense: so in the United States, for instance, the poorer 70% or so can never be sure that the government isn’t watching them go to the bathroom or might snatch them away in the middle of the night, although the government claims it would never, never violate people’s privacy with the spy ray, cross their heart – well, unless they had reason to believe they were Bad People, anyway. This somewhat promotes paranoia: all public buildings and many hotels, etc. are shielded, but people wonder if that is only true until the government asks them to turn it off.

In dictatorships, of course, the population is spied on and in danger of being "vanished" as a matter of course.

And dictatorships there are. Although the Nazis failed to make it through the war of the Moon (territorially small and a prime target for invasion, and far from fully rearmed, much of Germany was overrun by the invaders: the military took over in the aftermath), fascism wasn’t invalidated by war, and a number of fascist dictatorships exist: the Soviet Union, territorially huge, has also survived, the spy ray helping to keep its rulers firmly abreast of any dangers to their rule. The most notorious of the fascist dictatorships nowadays is China, which the invaders largely left “for later” as no immediate threat to their plans. (Japan, curiously, has gone left, and its highly mechanized society is far better “planned” than anything the Soviets have). The disastrous mess of the Italian-French conflict demonstrated the power of the new weapons developed after the Eternal Ones surrendered and discouraged further large-scale war, but proxy conflicts continue and there is fear that a war might be fought on the Moon for control of its resources.

The conflicts between nations and between peoples and their governments exist in parallel to another conflict, this one more of a conflict of philosophies, although it occasionally kills people. The split between the Free People and the Eternal Ones on the Moon has brought a sharp split between the anti-technology, back-to-nature crowd, who feel that events on the Moon rather validate their point, and the pro-technology, pro-progress folks, who think the social problems of a race of fuzzy worms aren’t really a map for humanity’s future. Although no national government has taken steps to return humanity to a lifestyle of grass huts and root-gathering, there is a powerful environmental movement, and a lot of the democratic nations are pursuing what we would call “green” technologies. Communistic regimes tend to be the most hostile to the back-to-nature movement: Fascist nations, with an ideal of human dominance over nature, trend more pro-mechanization than the democracies, but also tend to think nature should be preserved so that people can go out and be Manly in it, and are also usually big on physical fitness: no shriveled bodies with giant brains here, no!

There are of course extremists on both sides, although the back-to-nature crowd is somewhat hampered by the fact that going off into the wilderness in a loincloth tends to get you killed, while having parts of your body replaced by machinery, if expensive when not on your medical plan, can be taken fairly far nowadays before it becomes seriously injurious. The Free People after all have various formidable psychic abilities, and know their little world in detail. Much of their abilities actually comes from eugenic self-breeding, but since this involved Mothers mating with hundreds of male drones (swapped between different “families”/hives) and selecting promising lines for eventual Mother status, and _still_ took thousands of years), achieving similar results with human eugenics programs seems doubtful. Some of their mental mastery is the result of training, and as a result they have another reason to be annoyed at humanity, as a steady stream of enlightenment-seekers show up to pester them about “psychic training.” Some of the Free People have given it the old college try, but given the sadly low level of life-energy possessed by terrestrials, the results are rarely better than professional hypnotism training and a lot of exercise and yoga would get you back on Earth. This does not prevent a flowering of fakers claiming to have gained Great Psychic Powers (often including things the Free People are quite unable to do), angry and often threatening accusations of “holding back” their knowledge, and a steady flow of new idiots coming to pester them.

Things are tense on the Moon, as various overlapping claim lines become a more serious issue with rising human population: the parts of the Moon which are neither water nor desert nor impossibly steep mountain slope, after all, are smaller in total area than the USA. Conflict also rises between settlers and rapidly multiplying (in self-defense) Free People who need a lot of land for their essentially hunter-gatherer (with a few semi-domesticated plants) lifestyle, while environmentalists and “friends of the Free People”, in those countries where their influence is strong, push their governments to stand up to foreigners holding “expand first, work on environment/compensate the natives later” viewpoints. To add to the fun, a “Selene for Selenites” movement has arisen in the settlements of more than one nation, among the Moon-born, which, aside from the occasional demented physical fitness fanatic, are too frail from their low-gravity development to be able to make their way around under Earth’s gravity without a motorized exoskeleton. Free People have come to Earth, immobilized by gravity and confined to floatation tanks, to plead their case before the great and powerful. Some fear that if the situation on the ancient Moon explodes, it will set off a charge of powder leading back to present-day Earth.

Meanwhile, robots toil in secret in places the light never reaches. The Free People are not the only ones able to hide in deep caves, and while both humans and Free People fear a war, there are Eternal Ones who see possibilities in such an event…

[1] Rather theoretically: in fact the major decisions as to, for instance, where to settle colonists are hashed out between the major terrestrial powers and then rubber-stamped by the League.

[2] A view strengthened, among those in the know, by the fact that various secret government expeditions to try to reach Earth’s recent past and nip the US/the USSR/the British Empire/the Chinese Integral Republic/the Reformation in the bud have all failed to return.
The Moon Era
Now, for some ASB scenarios again! This short one is from an old pulp SF tale by Jack Williamson entitled "The Moon Era."
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deviantID

QuantumBranching
Bruce Munro
United States
Current Residence: Where the rabbit shoulda made a turn
Interests
Hmm. No comments on the new map. Is it a dull map? Am I no longer "hot" on Deviantart? :) Or have I simply produced a map so densely annotated that there simply are no questions to be asked? 



Edit - so it is I simply produced a map so densely annotated that there simply are no questions to be asked 


Guess I shall have to make my maps more obscure in the future! :D

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:iconheliosmegistos:
HeliosMegistos Featured By Owner May 11, 2015
I think I may have asked once before but I can't remember... do you take map/scenario request or challenges if they interest you ?
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:iconquantumbranching:
QuantumBranching Featured By Owner May 16, 2015
Free for stuff that inspires me, and $25 a map for stuff less up my alley but not downright yecch or beyond my abilities. 
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:iconheliosmegistos:
HeliosMegistos Featured By Owner May 17, 2015
Ahh good to know.

I Hope I didn't bother you, I was just curious.

I better get back to work on my own Dawnverse project shortly, Telepathic dystopian-alternate historical fantasy doesn't write itself.
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:iconeclipse-paladin:
eclipse-paladin Featured By Owner Apr 30, 2015
Happy Birthday!
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MrCaptainA Featured By Owner Apr 30, 2015
Happy Birthday, Bruce!
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:iconbi777:
bI777 Featured By Owner Apr 30, 2015  Student
Happy Birthday!
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:iconthe-polybius:
The-Polybius Featured By Owner Edited Apr 30, 2015
Happy B-Day BM!
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:icontwiggierjet:
Twiggierjet Featured By Owner Apr 30, 2015
Happy birthday.
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:iconmeloa789:
meloa789 Featured By Owner Apr 30, 2015
Happy birthday
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rossi1994bs Featured By Owner Apr 30, 2015
Happy Birthday
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