Australasia: Origin to Present

So when the world you know is going mad and monsters have become real, and worse still, the things your science have created are no longer your protectors but your hated enemies, where do you run to? Where is there to hide? Where lies safety?

To most people in the developed nations around the world, there were no easy answers. People who were part of establishments or elite ranks had secret bunkers they could hide in. Others who had the means could flee. Some could stand strong, use strength of arms or technology, or something else, to fend off the threats. For many, however, it was a case of get by. Try and survive. Adapt if you can. Suffer, if you can’t.

For those who could escape, it then became a case of where to go. Fleeing a short distance could be the only option, but if you really wanted to be safe, you wanted to get as far away as you could. The other side of the world would be a good bet. True, nowhere was safe, but of course, when you’re just normal people in your own little corner of the planet, you hope beyond hope that there will be safety somewhere. You want to go as far as you can because you tell yourself this will work.

So for those in Great Britain, a place where magic became readily available and in strong quantities, which then drew monsters to it, there were a few options. Some could just flee to Europe and see how that went. Others would use the magic power they now had to defend their home. Others fled. To some that meant places like Europe, Africa, even the United States, while people from there were fleeing in the other direction. Like I said, for many it was about getting away rather than worrying about where you ended up.

Some had time and resources to think and plan. Britain had strong links with Australia and this large island with a low population had plenty of potential as a refuge. Monsters were there, yes, but no machines or mutants. People who wanted to leave the magical island saw this far off destination as the perfect retreat. It did mean organising for a long trip, but it was considered worth the wait. It should also be noted that the vast majority of these people who gathered and prepared were white. Other ethnic groups had other targets, usually closer ones.

A significant number of people left Great Britain, travelled across the sea and arrived at Australia’s shores. The details of this journey aren’t well known, mostly recanted by the descendants in glorified, simple tales, as often becomes the way. None of that matters here. What concerns us is that British people arrived and the Australian government took them in. It was seen as a humanitarian act, yet it was a practical response as well. Australia needed numbers to defend itself. While they weren’t suffering as badly as most places in the world, they had endured losses. Fortunately for them, more people were soon to arrive.

Once the British had settled in, Americans showed up. They had seen this trip. A number of British ships had stopped at ports of the United States coastlines, so word had gotten out. White people heading for a land where they could be safe and secure. It appealed to many. Hell, even some non-white people wanted to go. The Americans were more organised. Military personnel were involved. Perhaps this was so as to make sure no wasn’t the answer given when they arrived. Perhaps not. Either way, when the Americans came to Australia, they had more weapons, more resources, and they could even offer to mine the sea so as to close the place off.

Before that could be achieved, the Japanese appeared. Now in their case, they were fleeing both magic and science, and had been pushing southward through Asia for some time. It isn’t entirely clear whether they knew about the British journey or not, but it is very likely some form of communication occurred. The Japanese had been driven from their home, they went to various places to make new ones, and a lot of them came to Australia to ask to join this new forming nation. There was some hesitation this time, and let’s not pretend race didn’t play a part, but there was also a fear of the magic and science the Japanese still wielded. This was especially troubling to the previous immigrants. The British had fled magic and many were fearful of it, although some were magic-users and it had defended them on the way here. The Americans were fearful of science for the same reasons and many had travelled here looking to find a new life without it, and the reports of magic devastating the world had put them against that as well. Let’s be honest, there was definitely a vibe of this mass migration that was reminiscent of the Puritan movement centuries before. People had left a home they were persecuted in to find a new land they could not only call home, but make it a home of their liking. Science and magic were best left outside of Australia, according to many voices.

Yet for all that, there was still the practical reasoning of survival, and this was still Australia back then. The government had the only say and they chose to let the Japanese in, as long as their magic and technology were put to the benefit of all. They had come to the northern shores so that was they would be stay, becoming a line of defence, should it be needed. As this was taking place, the British and Americans pushed for their own regions. Many of their people just took Australian citizenship and settled in, but most wanted to remain who they were, and to have a say in the future running of this transformed island.

The new nation was called Australasia, as in the name for the continent that has been used in the past. This was a compromise so that the natives felt it was pretty much their land, yet acknowledged things were different now. The British were given the west coast, the Americans the southern, with the city of Perth now a shared capital for them both. Australia kept the most important parts, remaining in most of the cities, and so while there was a good amount of shuffling around, it wasn’t too much. Considering how far most of this new population had travelled to be here, it was an easy task. During that time, they were able to set up defences – mining the sea, placing land-to-air weaponry, and culling the monster population so no threats remained to the cities. The inner region became the wild lands of Australasia, where people went to get away from authority, society, religion, etc. Monsters lurked out here, but they were badly outnumbered.

While the Japanese were allowed to continue their magic and science, it was strictly under the conditions of this happening in New Japan, and only there. As time went on, the other groups became more and more intolerant of those forces that had brought down civilisation. The British continued to practice magic; in a way they had little choice as the power lingered in their bloodlines so strongly, as with the Japanese. Yet it was best to keep it out of sight as much as possible. Rules varied from town to town. In some, magic was a sin and pretty much a crime. In others, it had a use if used only when needed. Americans rarely tolerated it. Australians were more open, but needed to keep a united front for political reasons, so magic was not exactly wrong, but nor was it right, across the land. This hypocrisy extended to science. Most new settlements became low tech within the following century, and yet power plants were built by the Japanese for certain cities, as part of their commitment to the island. Science was frowned upon in most of Australasia, and yet all major cities used electricity, and the Japanese continued to develop things that the other nations showed interest in. Condemn science and magic openly, make use of them quietly; this was the new way.

With the creation of each nation, a new government was formed and the British, the Japanese and the Americans were able to govern themselves, at least to a degree. Even now, it is understood that the Australians call the shots in the end. Their population remains the largest, they run the most cities, and, basically, they were there first. Each nation can have some laws for themselves and of course keep their culture, for the most part, yet there remains a need for unity. It is about keeping a balance. Each group wants a semblance of independence while knowing that if any force came to their island, they would all need the others to defend it. It works well for politicians and agitators to claim they will ensure the voices of their people will be heard, but compromise and understanding are how things get done.

A useful way to get an insight into the relationships between the groups is to look at their intelligence agencies. Each people have their own spies and counter spying networks. There isn’t a great spy war going on, far from it, but each group wants to keep an eye on their neighbours while not giving too much away. In fact, the spying has reached an almost communal level. Basically, if no one knows anything about you, you must be up to no good, so each nation is aware of the others spying on it, and lets it happen. In return, the others do the same. Spies may even meet, have a chat, exchange information. This isn’t an open conflict where agents shoot it out in the streets. This is quiet, careful, and mostly open. Mostly. Everyone wants that one up. Each group has its own ways. For instance, the British tend to be about information gathering and then using this to barter with or blackmail. They lean toward not causing trouble, not making any ripples, just deftly listening in and then calmly using it. Smile, nod, be polite, and get what you want, is their way.

Religion remains important and is mostly the Christian church, as would be expected. For the most part they work a fine line of condemnation of magic and its use, and some even participate in persecuting the users. Obviously this doesn’t reach into New Japan. When it comes to policing, each nation have their own police, but there are Rangers who roam, especially into the less settled central region of the island. A Ranger could be from any group, but because of the nature of the quartet’s relationship, rarely will one be Japanese. The white races intermingle a lot more, sharing culture and history, as well as language, while the Japanese focus on themselves, refining their magic and science, and dealing with their own problems. More on that in another post.

For the most part, Australasia is a pretty good place to be. For a human. They have been cut off from the world and its problems for a long time, the monsters there are a threat but only if you go wandering into the central wilderness. There are bandits out there too, and criminals of other types around the cities, towns and villages. But crime isn’t a huge concern, nor is there any potential for war. Soldiers reside in outposts along the coast, with a headquarters in Tasmania, and the military is for Australasia, not each nation. Even though those soldiers could well side with their own people if conflict occurred, they pledge their loyalty to the island as a whole.

The people who live here may have left the incredible threats that once drove them from their homes far behind, but they haven’t forgotten them. There are difficulties in being four nationalities living together, of course, yet nothing approaching a desire to break this settled unity up. Their ancestors went through a lot so that the people living now can have a safe haven to reside in. Even if this isn’t said openly, that past migration still has an affect on the mindset of the Australasian people to this day. Their view of the world is fundamentally different from anyone else’s. Their home may not be perfect, but it is a good place, unlike those they fled from, and they wish to keep it that way. All of them. Any nationalism, racism and other divisive issues take second place to this.

Oh, a few minor details to add before I finish. Australasia has a lot of railways running to help connect the growing settlements, and this is an acceptable level of technology even for the religious zealots. Also, there is only one portal in the entire country, deep into the centre of its territory. Currently it is guarded by creatures that don’t want anyone new coming through, but the humans have long ago lost awareness of it. They consider themselves sealed off. Another point is that, as previously mentioned, the three white races speak English, while the Japanese speak English fluently as well as their own language. Gives them an advantage. A final note is to say that while New Japan has the city of Tokyo Two – made by the Japanese from scratch – as their capital, and Britannia and America shares Perth as their joint capital, the Australian, and so Australasian capital, remains Canberra.


The Forced Evolution of Gleaners

In a previous post ( , I gave a brief history of the gleaners. I actually said more than I planned, but I wasn’t sure if this was going to be the only mention of their origin. Here, I will tell more and flesh out not just their beginning, but make it clear just how bizarre and unique the gleaners are.

So when it comes to monsters, there are a few types that don’t get a lot of attention but are just as dangerous. Brain-maggots, for instance, are small, leech-like and will latch onto the back of the head or neck, where they can drain the intelligence from a person. At least, that’s how most people term it. In scientific terms, they drain the fluid surrounding the brain – the cerebrospinal fluid, which is also found in the spine, hence latching onto the neck as well – and if not removed, they’ll suck up every drop of fluid or juice available. Not only that, but they release a toxin to paralyse. Basically, if the brain-maggot isn’t removed, the victim ends up dead. If it is, they are usually left unconscious with possible long term affects.

Originally, as I have mentioned before, gleaners were small scuttlers, on the same level of brain-maggots. They even worked the same. Gleaners could sting with their tails, bring much larger beings down, then drain them. It is claimed they had sharp mandibles to lock into flesh, even bone, as they stung until victorious. As for their danger rating, they were a step up from brain-maggots and other small monsters. The venom was very potent, deadly often, and they would drain every type of fluid in the body. Stories tell of downed individuals being swarmed over by small gleaners and left withered husks. That’s an important detail. Gleaners drain, they don’t eat. The very tails that inject venom can also extract fluids, although never at the same time.

Many suspect gleaners were a level up in every way. Because of what happened, a higher intelligence would make sense. A higher and much more vicious intelligence.

This brings us to Madagascar. There are four magical hotspots around the world, including this place. Each overflowed with magic, which meant the inhabitants produced far more magic-users, also more powerful ones, and drew those who craved magical strength, such as aegis and devil-beasts, and dragons. There were immense, fantastical battles across Madagascar early on, just as there were at the other hotspots. As far as anyone knows, there was nothing there to draw the gleaners. It was an island and had people living there, mostly humans. Other such places existed.

The gleaners came in vast swarms. They must have come close together or the inhabitants would have either fought them off or left in time. Perhaps they didn’t have that chance. But the legend is that the gleaners were quickly all over the island. Everything else died. No matter the individual or collective strength, none could endure the numerous injections of gleaner venom. Then the gleaners fed. Then they made nests and laid eggs. Again, as said in the previous post, a new type of gleaner was born – far larger, more monstrous, much more deadly.

So the question remains, did the gleaners plan this? Was this an intentional act? Did they co-ordinate their efforts? Were nests all over the world summoned? If so, who by? Could it happen again? Could another race bring about such a drastic and empowering change?

Even now, gleaners are more savage than intelligent. They may well have had some animalistic cunning before, and certainly do today, but while gleaners are capable of coherent thoughts now, they aren’t known for complicated or far-reaching machinations. They can plan, some of them may well be quite smart, yet gleaners follow their instincts. They hunt, they catch, they feed, they breed. If they attack a secure position they will rush in with their numbers and strength first and only work on alternate ways in after being beaten back. If they are.

So could something like gleaners have known that emigrating en masse to Madagascar would result in a new and improved form? Highly doubtful. Not impossible, yet none believe the gleaners could have foreseen anything like this. But maybe there was something at a lower level. Something primal, some instinct, something in the nature of the world that called the gleaners. Or, of course, maybe it was just one of those many bizarre incidents that has come about since the Shadow World’s arrival. After all, no one knows for sure if all the gleaners showed up, and there were some already on the island. The new ones replaced the old, but who can tell how long that took. Perhaps only some were changed and they eradicated the rest around the world. Gleaners certainly are capable of such ruthless behaviour. So maybe the stories make it sound more planned than it was.

It has to be mentioned that it wasn’t just the gleaners that came out of the carnage changed. The island itself soon became a twisted and dangerous place, with poisonous plants and barren landscapes. It could be argued that this was because of the abominable gleaners, a fitting home to match their decaying and deadly ways. It could also be argued that the island reacted to them and wanted them gone, so made itself as inhospitable as it could be. True, it remains the home of the gleaners, with vast networks of tunnels joining the many nests, but most now live around the world. That could just be due to the ways of their kind – they fight, kill and compete for food and power, so nests continually have to expand or split apart to create new ones – but even gleaners must find the new form of Madagascar a difficult place to live. It should also be noted that the small islands near it remain flooded with magic, as does it, yet are not changed, so if you want to tap into that power, it can be done, if you can evade the neighbours.

While there are many questions surrounding the creation of the new gleaners, it isn’t utterly shocking something like this happened or could happen. After all, mutants abound. They were created by science, of course, and with deliberate intent, yet magic has affected people as well. Changes have been made to individuals and groups. It is hard to discern what level of radiation and pollution turned humans into mutants, and what part magic played in it, and those who distrust the power from the Shadow World will add it into the blame. But mutants exist, therefore mutation among monsters isn’t unthinkable. Also, there are the scions. Devil-beasts created a generation that they used their magic to transform while in the womb to create a new type of their own, planned to infiltrate and enamour humans in order to bring them down. Now, again, like most mutants, this was done deliberately and with a lot of effort. But the similarities are there.

Really, the origin of the gleaners – as they are today – is still a unique moment in history. There are things like it, but nothing matches it completely. People can change and be changed, so the question remains as to whether this was done deliberately by the gleaners. Even so, miss migration, wholesale slaughter, eggs being laid amongst and within corpses, new and much more terrifying forms emerging, all on a land steeped in magic – either this was one hell of a convergence of rare moments or something, somewhere, brought about one of the worst races in existence.

Because of the presence of so many gleaners and the current state of Madagascar, few go there. So what is happening there is mainly conjecture with some thoughtful guesswork and a sprinkling of knowledge. There are rumours of a High Queen that rules over all. Fears abound that the gleaners are trying to create a new form or that they are massing for a world-wide conquest. Close by, the people of the south of Africa watch for raids but secretly wonder why another invasion hasn’t taken place. The aquatics stand guard, or perhaps that should be swim it. When gleaners leave to make new nests, they follow them to ensure they leave the sea as well. There are those who want to raid Madagascar in search of power, secrets and just knowledge of the gleaners. Until someone does so successfully, the many questions and fears the rest of the world has about this race and this place will remain.