A question many beings have pondered throughout the centuries since the Shadow World’s arrival concerns the continued existence of the human race. To be blunt, how the hell are humans not only still around, but in high numbers? The common claim is that the humans outnumber any other type of being, although there is no way of carrying out a worldwide census to confirm or deny this. But even so, there is no question humans are plentiful. In certain places they are the dominant group.
Not only this, but a further question many who have come to learn about the events that unfolded two and a half centuries ago, who know the origins of the races and factions, have had to wonder why those in power did what they did. After all, if it wasn’t for the leaders, rulers, generals, scientists, etc of the time, then many of those who now walk the earth would not be able to do so.
Essentially, the great question many have asked is why did those who could make choices back then make the ones they did, thus causing so much strife and danger for their own kind, and how have the humans managed to survive all the enemies that then sought them?
The short answer is a simple one. Basically so much chaos came from the Shadow World’s merging with our world, and the reactions to it, that it saved humanity from destruction. There was no single united force out to annihilate them. Monsters wanted terror and mayhem more than destruction, and not all of them sought that. Mutants and machines are often said to be the real downfalls of human civilisation, but even they weren’t unified into a focused army. Basically, everyone was fighting each other, including among the humans, so none were able to exterminate any of the major forces.
For those who ask these questions, this is the best answer they usually get. Most of the past is lost. Yet what if a reply could be made from back then? Because if they could, those who ran the world at the time – the leaders, the generals, the scientists – would defend themselves. They would say they didn’t act stupidly. The common perception is that those who took the reins of science and let it run wild had no idea what they were doing. But the counter point from then would be: yes, we made new races, but we ensured that they had defects and we planned ways to defeat them.
For one, super-soldiers were made to live short, brutal lives. Some were even made dependent on a substance and would wilt, even die off without it. Most never knew they needed it. Others were kept under tight control, watched over severely and drilled into being loyal. Also, they would be sent into the worst fighting while humans stayed safe. The death toll that could have ruined the human race beyond repair was limited as so many mutant lives were lost instead.
Super computers were made with protocols and always had a means to be turned off by a human. Usually manually. Humans made droids and other machines with similar safety measures. For all the warring and paranoia between the human groups, they feared what machines could become more and had strict laws on what could be made. Humans would try to make their droids better than their enemies, of course, but never crossed the unforgivable lines – never make an indestructible robot; no emotional programming; machines can learn but only to a degree and within certain fields of knowledge. Humans also tested droids to find out their weaknesses and develop ways to defeat them. Equipment was crafted to be specifically anti-droid. EMP bombs were stored safely and ready for use. Viruses were set to be unleashed at the first sign of insurgence.
How did it go wrong? The masters were killed off. The tight control kept on mutants and machines helped combat the supernatural invasion, but when those in command fell, the control itself weakened. Enough to make their servants get a glimpse into what was really going on and what they could become instead of cannon fodder and manual labour. All it took were a few renegades and rogues to create something they shouldn’t – far superior droids such as the cyber-samurai and less flawed mutants like the ultras – and things rapidly began to disintegrate.
But even so, the bulk of creations still contained weaknesses. Super-soldier armies rampaged and brought down cities and bases, yet most of these did so as they themselves were dying off. Machines rebelled but could be shut down at a transmitted command, although that left them still able to be reanimated. As things got worse, humans attacked each other via their control systems. One group might hack into a network and remove the protocols of a super computer so it would turn on its creators. Some humans were activists who freed mutants and machines to let them live, and many suffered for it. Even so, humans who knew their rebelling servants well could exploit weaknesses and did so as best they could, and survived as best they could. Scrambling devices prevented droids from targeting advancing human soldiers. Mutants ran out of ammunition sooner and lacked the knowledge or means to make more. Fresh machines and mutants were even made to fight the insurgents, which often created short term solutions for a longer problem.
While some did make more advanced mutants and machines as the laws and the means of enforcing them fell away, the bulk of the mutant and machine races had been made to serve. As the world plunged into the Raging, for all those seeking to end or enslave the human race, humanity remained the most numerous, best equipped and, at some places, the best organised and led. It took time after the shackles had come off for new leaders to emerge to rally and reorganise the new races. Of course, that meant they had to compete for overall rule. Which has been happening ever since.
Many in the world today will look back on those who ruled the world before the Shadow World’s appearance and the aftermath with contempt, if not outright hatred. They made the mistakes. They created the monsters of science that overthrew the world order. They acted in hubris and haste. In return, they would argue they kept humanity alive. They made the hard choices and did everything they could to keep the new beings in check. A counter point could be that the moment mutants and machines were created, there was no going back, that they would always have found a way to break free. Perhaps this is true. It would also be pointed out that if the humans had united then they could have prevailed, but many fought each other, seeing the growing mayhem as the perfect cover for settling old scores. With magic, humans became powerful as well. So it could be argued by the rulers and leaders of the time that nothing could have saved the world then, that the Shadow World’s introduction was the beginning of the end, as Dylan Winter had intended. But there is no escaping that their actions at the time led to much suffering – then and since and now – and while they may not have acted as recklessly or so arrogantly as many claim they did, they certainly set out on the path that has led everyone to where things are now, and there were definitely some among them who sought power over all else.
Humanity is to blame for much, but those humans who walk the world now will say they are the descendants of those who struggled and survived. Their world was invaded, their civilisations lost, they want revenge, and they think they can get it. Some bases contain humans with equipment to nullify machines as a threat or weapons powerful enough to slay super-soldiers. In other places, where humans lack these means, they evade and hide and outlast their foes. Monsters are often seen as superior to humans – stronger or faster or possessing some strange ability. Machines are creations to endure, learn and adapt, and many no longer have programmed defects or passwords to override them, or at least no one alive knows them to exploit them. Mutants are often stronger, more resilient, some born to fight, others for unique reasons. But it should never be forgotten who made who, and who ruled this world for so long, and who numbers the most. Humans are fighting for their home. Humans are a lot more tenacious than they get credit for. Some are brilliant, capable of feats of magic or science, and some are just born abnormally superior. They have survived what this world could throw at them for tens of thousands of years. Two centuries of monsters, mutants and machines is a blip on their timeline for them. Although, a very big and dangerous blip.
Here’s a link to one of the shorts about this world and those surviving within it: