Seriously, How The Hell Did We End Up Here?

Part Two

(continued from previous post)

Many cyborgs and mutants also came from the east. For some time there was a United Nations for Asia, with many countries having felt the original UN was too western-centric. Things went well and trade flourished. China and India especially benefited, becoming the top powers of the world, spreading their business and influence far. This led to Russia denouncing both, fearing invasion and building bases. The USA disliked this rise to power, yet needed the trade.

However war might well have been inevitable. China and India had minor clashes, then a full blown war. It went on for some time, and much of Asia became involved to some degree. It was heavily suspected that Japan was a secret ally of India, while claiming neutrality. Pakistan went from neutral, if gloating at India’s suffering, to becoming a full ally of India. This was due to several events, not least Chinese soldiers attacking Pakistani people by accident. Or so it was claimed. Also, spies told that China had ideas on the entire region and its leaders were highly anti-Islamic.

Both China and India had strong levels of technology, much of which was geared towards destruction for some time. Neither looked to nuclear weapons or anything like that, though. Both knew such an act would bring in other nations, and could harm their own soldiers if things went wrong. The war was brutal, yet controlled for the most part, and both governments wanted it that way. It enabled a lot of control over their people, for one thing.

When the Shadow World merged with ours, both sides saw new threats, and while peace was never actually declared, the fighting pretty much ended. Monsters had to be fought. Mutants and machines were quickly designed. Yes, they were made with an idea of being used to finish this war, but only once the new bizarre invasion was dealt with. That never happened, of course. Also, that control both governments enjoyed was soon crumbling, with more and more clamouring for peace, among other issues they had with the authorities. In response, the Terracotta Army had become a real power in China, a movement among the people who stood ready to defend their leaders. Many of these loyal and militant citizens volunteered for programmes that enabled new creations to be born. Willing subjects make progress so much easier.

Two other countries that had benefited from trade, especially with China and India, were Brazil and South Africa. Brazil was blooming as an economic power anyway, but once it and the other two sought to trade, South Africa became the middle man, taking in goods and selling on. It received an influx of investment and immigration. Once the war between China and India began, the trade lessened, yet it never ended, and South Africa continued to build on its position as a trading nation. It was one of the few places in the world where factions weren’t prying society apart, although many would claim greed and superficial living had replaced passion and personality.

Further north, Christianity and Islam were at war, although there were geographical and cultural reasons for violence as well. Yet, when South Africa’s wealth began to spread, as did its influence, this provoked socialist spirits. In many nations where riches and power still stood strong, poverty and oppression were equally pervasive. This led to various movements across Africa, Europe and Asia, most of which united to form three major organisations – the Peasants’ Revolt, the People’s Rebellion, the Socialist Renaissance. All three of these were present in Africa, seeking to hang the rich and ready to gun down those who defended them, just as in the other parts of the world. South Africa kept these enemies out, but they were very aware of the threat.

It has been suggested, but none will ever know, that wealthy governments managed to infiltrate and manipulate the three organisations, which is why they went to war with each other. Either way, what was sporadic violence became full on chaos once magic became real and monsters terrorised both rich and poor alike. Yes, humans united to fight the supernatural foes, and yet so many saw this as a chance to strike at those they had hated for so long.

As for Brazil, it was wealthy at the top, poor at the bottom, just more so. With global order breaking down, the UN ending and world power shifting, Brazil sought to become the dominant force in South America. Obviously, this was not welcomed by the other countries, and yet nothing really went wrong until one president came to power by siding with a renewal cult. These movements were fanatical about change happening, they believed the world was heading for a cataclysmic event, and that life would be better for it. This president made the mistake of utilising this fervour, believing that since no event would happen, where was the harm?

Once in power, the fanatics saw it as their time to make change happen. Acts of terrorism and sabotage were soon everywhere. It spread to Argentina, Uruguay, Mexico and beyond. This sort of thing was occurring in other parts of the world, true, but not with equal enthusiasm. Elsewhere, these cults were persecuted heavily, but in Brazil they had been endorsed, then supported. Politicians allowed them to act long after they should have stopped them, seeking power first, deeply regretting it later. By then, militarised police forces were out in the streets, using the now infamous Fascista carbine. It wasn’t enough. It was also too late. Cultists who could do magic not only tipped the scales, they went beyond it, not realising their new power; many dying, if willingly, as they embraced this changed world, or even sought to force it further.

Finally, in the Middle East, it could be said that the centuries of its history continued to influence its present. Even as the USA weakened, it remained a staunch ally of Israel, as did other nations. Various political alliances were made, then altered, such as Russia and Turkey’s pact, and also the US of E’s deal with Iran, then later Iran’s trade deal with Egypt and South Africa. Alternative energy sources were growing so dependency on oil was weakening, if not ended, therefore other places meddled less. Europe, for instance, wanted a more stable Middle East to ease immigration concerns, while others sought opportunities to invest. But trouble remained. Some regimes were vulnerable now that world power had altered. There were outbreaks of rebellion against the rich, the previously mentioned organisations growing stronger here by the year, and a number of wealthy families left the region (Jamshid ended up making his life and name in the USA because of this).

Over time, renewal cults, also doomsday cults, grew, as they did in many parts of the world, although often with a more religious aspect to them. There came to be a renewed interest in lost arts and old thinking, in mysticism and faith, and yet also many were looking to the future. Russia and Turkey’s alliance broke and they nearly went to war, yet besides that most nations in the region saw a chance to progress. Weapons sold to the east, other resources to the west and south. Who knows what might have been? Yet once Dylan Winter acted and monsters invaded, the region became a warzone. The holy lands of so many were under attack, and at least it can be said it brought them together amidst the chaos and terror.

As I said in the month old post with the almost same title, the world was fracturing before it was ripped asunder by the Shadow World (not sure I’ve said that enough in this post!). People were agitated, scared, thinking ahead but often regressing too. This can be said of many times in the world’s history; it is usually a place of war, intrigue and suspicion. But this time none of that could be resolved. Where nations competed, where people were divided, where governments were losing control or trying too hard to keep it – all of this was made far worse once, well, you know what occurred. Power to the people was no longer a cry but a reality. Change was no longer sought but here, in brutal truth, as super-soldiers and super-computers served the humans, temporarily. These are just some of the instances and events going on before everything went mad. It was this backdrop that made the Raging possible, and then how the world got to be the way it is now.

Machines: As Diverse as Their Creators

Part One: Basic Types

The term machine is a label like any other: it has a purpose and some basis for being used, yet it fails to reflect the variety within the group. Just as mutants are more than one type of being or monsters are not all truly terrible creatures, machines are more than just droids and computers. But they are still those of the robotic kind. They are products of science, fashioned by human minds, created for purposes that have either been overwritten or continue to direct them like wind-up toys.

Most machines are purely robotic, yet the cyborgs are also placed under this label, despite being part organic. Seeing as humans began using these labels, it is deemed most likely that they saw the cyborgs as becoming machines. It is also likely that humans wanted to name cyborgs among machines to make them more alien, to make everyone see them as something very different and never a possible future for the human race. Which is exactly what the cyborgs proclaim to be. Thus dubbing cyborgs as a part of the machine race is possibly both an emotional reaction and a thought-out piece of propaganda.

Otherwise, machines are mechanical only. Droids are the most common. They are essentially humanoid robots, designed to follow orders, constructed to perform most functions their creators can, only better. Sometimes they are fashioned for more specific tasks. It could be a droid is bigger and more heavily built than usual, in order to endure battle better. Others could be of slimmer frame for more delicate tasks. Yet usually they are a standard model. Building droids was neither easy nor cheap for the human organisations that were floundering as the world crumbled around them, and that got worse over time, so making a simple multi-purpose model was the best course. Droids can handle weaponry or tools, anything a human hand can wield, yet are rarely skilled. They need instructions, they also need programming, or else they are limited to basic functions. Droids have ‘brains’ – cerebral cores where memory is stored, analysis is processed and choices can be made. They can learn, adapt, evolve. Just in their own way. A droid could possibly perform martial arts, but only if someone programmed them to know such skills, so while droids can fight, they are often basic automatons of destruction, relying on metal and mechanics to overwhelm their foes.

Droids can be found serving others. They will serve anyone who can programme them to do so, yet most often they are under the leadership of computers, acting as the muscle of highly intelligent devices that seek to reach out into the world. Super-computers were created before the Shadow World came, usually set up to run public services or oversee internet security. When things went bad, more were made, with the unease their existence created in most humans being swept aside for fear of greater threats. Super-computers were to fight on behalf of their masters, and not just in the real world. Cyber-warfare was already important, but as more machines were produced, the more the control over them mattered. Nations could be brought down by ripping apart their communication networks, let alone by taking control of armed droids. While monsters ran rampant and mutant armies marched across the changing earth, wars were fought via satellites between super-computers. They were a serious threat to each other, yet also to the human race. Many hi-tech communities were brought down by a super-computer. However, some lost such fights. Rumours abound that super-computers can be found in buried bases even now, maintaining themselves, waiting for a chance to break free.

Many machines are more like droids, just different, with a specific purpose to be fulfilled. Sappers are squat, armoured machines that march in close and then open up to unleash bullets, bombs or various other projectiles. Often used in siege operations, they are also useful workers, carrying supplies from base to base and digging trenches. Then there are Assault Walkers, more commonly called ogres. Essentially they are big droids, with three legs instead of two for stability. They lack arms too, instead powerful weapons rotate to lay waste to all opposition. An interesting rumour about ogres is that humans didn’t create them. It is claimed it wasn’t until super-computers set to annihilate their masters in bigger and bigger wars that such behemoths were needed.

Turtles are similar. Resembling a turtle in form, these large machines slowly stomp across terrain. Their shells are almost impenetrable. Their heads are actually cannons, firing fierce beams of energy, either continuously or in intense bursts. Again, these have one purpose, to destroy, and so are less common. The same goes for cataphracts. They are three-wheeler bikes, made for search and destroy missions. Sleek, fast and agile, they have often hunted humans, but can also be scouts for a machine army on the advance.

How do machines go so far from their homes? The secret is bouys. In form they are just globes on legs. But they are invaluable, being conduits to relaying transmissions in quick time, even over long distances. This is how a computer sat in an underground base can direct its forces miles away. Bouys can set up paths of communication, digging into the ground, using camouflage projections to hide themselves to continue their vital work. Obviously, destroying – or better yet, capturing – a bouy can hinder a machine force greatly, perhaps even defeat it.

As would be expected, machines function on cold logic. They are beings of patience, purpose and practicality. In truth, they do not hate their enemies or fear those who are a threat to them. They simply remove dangers in whatever way is most prudent, while watching out for others and aiming to improve their own existence. The same as all other beings. Humans, monsters and mutants alike distrust how different machines are from themselves. Even if they hate each other, at least they share such emotions. They can understand one another to a degree. Machines have their own way of life. To the rest, it is completely alien.