So New Years’ has come and gone, and while I hope you all had a great time, I’m sorry to say there isn’t going to be a new chapter just yet. While I have another snippet for you to chew on (this one is more of a teaser than a sample chapter or a pilot), things have been a little too busy for me to sit down and write a chapter up until now. I’ve just gotten back from my extended family’s late Christmas celebration in Iowa though and my doctor’s appointment is tomorrow, so after that I’ll be able to sit down and write again without any distractions (or at least fewer distractions). In the meantime though, this is all I’ve got for you:
It’s been almost two years.
Nobody remembers how it happened, exactly. How it all came crashing down. Some say the nukes were launched by terroristic metas. Others will tell you the nukes were launched in response to terroristic metas, or in anticipation of terroristic metas, or that they were the result of tensions between the world’s biggest geopolitical superpowers finally boiling over, now that they had to compete for control over people with real superpowers. Maybe someone just pushed the button a little too early by mistake and everybody else followed suit.
It was all of these things. It was none of these things. The truth doesn’t matter. It’s not what people are going to remember, and certainly not what we care about now. Whether the history books jot it down as the work of aliens, the secret world government or freaking Skynet, the effect was the exact opposite of the cause. Clear, concise. Undeniable. On October 15th, 20XX, five months after the spontaneous metahuman event known as “the Sixth Age”, it finally happened.
World War Fucking Three.
Nobody knew how to respond to it. The Sixth Age made 63 million people, almost a whole singular percentage of humanity, suddenly develop superpowers. Chaos ensued as soon as people started to become aware of what these powers were capable of. Death, destruction, mass hysteria. The world tore itself apart. Eventually, there was only one solution to it all. The bombs dropped like rain.
Fifteen thousand tactical nuclear warheads killed 600 million in the first week, almost ten percent of the world population. Of those, two hundred and fifty million were claimed by the radioactive fallout alone. Later on, with the remaining population beginning to suffer from the effects of disease, injury, infection, starvation, and dehydration, we began to suspect the death toll would continue rising until it hit a billion. Further deaths would almost certainly occur in the immediate days following the collapse of civilized global society, many of them human on meta or meta on meta, but after the death toll surpasses one billion people, what’s the point in even counting anymore? It’s utterly unimaginable. A scenario even the word “megadeath” fails to encapsulate. Society crumbling at our feet, burying the feeble, the helpless.
But it was far from the end. Human civilization would recover. Not today, not tomorrow, not in my lifetime or yours. But eventually. Whether in five hundred years or five thousand, we’d be back. Perhaps different; perhaps we’d all become metas. Wouldn’t that be a sight to see? Until that promised day then, we’ll just have to keep doing what we do best.
This isn’t the end for us, but it isn’t a new beginning either. If anyone ever tries to sell you that Hollywood movie trailer crap, I suggest punching them in the face (or maybe even aim lower). It’s just a change. That’s all it is. The age of humanity giving way to an age of metahumanity. Hi-powered businessmen and executive types would refer to it as a “paradigm shift”. Some of the raider groups we’ve encountered would rather it be called “the natural order”.
The post-apocalypse is mostly ruled by raider gangs and their metahuman warlords these days. Just a bunch of loosely connected tribes and militias, same as ours, only with more human headhunting and slavery. They believe baseline humans are inferior to metas, that we should all be wiped out to prevent us from further polluting their gene pool. They seem to think that metahumans are the next evolutionary step for humanity, willfully ignoring how evolution actually works as long as it suits their purposes. On the other end of the spectrum is us, the fools who are still trying to rebuild the old world rather than embrace the new.
Baltia. A city named for its trees (and known for little else) that went largely unnoticed by the bombs due to being in close proximity to practically nothing of strategic value besides a decommissioned Air Force base and a partially empty Nike missile silo. In the days before the war, we produced tree sap, varnish and maple syrup, hence the name. Nowadays, we produce roofs, walls, food, running water, electricity, weapons, everything you need to stay alive. And soldiers. We produce a lot of them too. We’re the last bastion of organized, civilized society on the Canadian/US border. Our militia, built from the ground up using the staff still on duty at the base when the bombs hit as well as the most able-bodied of the townsfolk, is one of the biggest we’ve yet encountered, and we’ve survived by making ourselves out to be one of the meanest.
We call ourselves Baltia’s Brotherhood. Not the Brotherhood of Steel or the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants, just the Brotherhood (perhaps to invoke the image of a band of brothers, fighting side by side). Don’t let the name fool you, we have plenty of sisters fighting on the frontlines too. My whole damn squadron is led by a ladydude in fact, a particularly fierce bitch who goes by the name “Raijin” when she’s on the clock, and Major when she’s not. I’ve never heard anyone in our squadron call her by her first or real name. I know she has to have one, but after calling her “Major” for so long the idea of her having any other name seems absurd.
By now you might be guessing I’m a military man, what with all this talk about nukes, squadrons and militias. You’d be right on one account, and wrong on so many others. I am a militia soldier. I signed up so I could have a job as a radio operator for the Brotherhood. I had a GDE and AV training, and I thought it’d help me earn my keep here in Baltia. Plus it seemed like a nice, safe, cushy position far away from any potential fighting that may be going on.
So I applied, got the job, and I worked there doing that for about my first year in Baltia, six months after the bombs dropped and we’d all gotten settled in and accepted the new reality. It seemed like my plan to live a nice, comfortable life in the military was going to be a success. Up until two months ago. When I found out I was a fucking Sixth.
Let me be clear about this. I never asked for this, I never wanted this. Even assuming I got totally badass, super-cool powers like the Major, I would’ve rather just kept on living the boring, uneventful life of a radio operator (as boring as you can possibly make living in the post-apocalyptic Canadian wasteland anyway). But no. Destiny, God, the world, or whoever made the Sixth Age happen, had different fucking plans for me. And if I’d known, I think I would’ve just stuck with being a fallout farmer.
Happy 2017, everyone!