Prolog To the Never gonna finish novel
|Where do I begin? The year is 2512. I stand amidst the ruins of Washington D.C., former capital of this once proud nation, now reduced to a pile of melted stone and twisted metal. A great war many hundreds of years in the past reduced this city, this country, to a shadow of its former self, and drove mankind to the brink of extinction. Indeed, the way things are going even 500 years later mankind may still become extinct. Not extinct in the sense gone from the planet forever, extinct as in this form some of us still hold. Mutations of all kinds have gained the upper hand in this unforgiving environment, and man being the way it is, refuses to accept the change even if it means his own death.
My name is unimportant. I was born in the year 2359, in the underground world of the Military. I was a prominent scientist for them but time, and events, changed me into the traveler I am today. Most of what I know of the time prior to my roaming comes from bunkers found buried beneath this city; Bunkers that survived the great cataclysm that marked the beginning of the new age, the age of darkness. Bunkers guarded by the bones of those that tried to survive, unprepared, in the new world. They, like me, tried to pass history on to those who came after them. Well, their spirits can now rest easy, because I have taken the burden from them as my own. I will carry on as best as I can and pass my knowledge on when the time comes.
In June of 2003, a weapon of unimaginable power was used on this city. Almost all life in this city, and for many miles around was extinguished in a ball of fire that had never been witnessed by human eyes before. Fires raged for days. Most of those that somehow survived the fireball, died over the next days, weeks, and months, as the invisible poison called radiation did its grizzly work. Hair and teeth fell out, and skin rotted and fell off. Rats and other scavengers, lured by the smell of death, soon descended upon the population, spreading diseases, adding to the climbing death toll.
But this was not the only city to suffer this fate. All over this country and throughout the world, nearly every major city suffered a similar fate. The decline of mankind was in full swing. Another blow to the struggling mankind was the cover of ash that shrouded the entire planet from the sun. Many survivors opted to commit suicide rather face a long painful death at the hands of starvation, radiation poisoning, or freezing to death from the Nuclear Winter. In February of 2004, when most of mankind was resigning itself to its fate, something unexpected happened. The skies began to clear, and radiation levels began to drop off remarkably.
Unknown to the general population, the military had been prepared.
They had developed bacteria that lived by eating radiation. Almost before the great fireballs had ceased burning, dozens of places on this continent spewed this bacterium into the air. They went to work immediately, growing and spreading at a rate never expected by their creators. What the military thought would take 36 months to do had been done in less than 9.The radiation had been cleared from all but the hardest hit areas.
The military also had satellites in orbit capable of altering weather patterns. By manipulating weather patterns the military had sped up the process of clearing the ash from the sky. Again this was years ahead of what it was expected to take.
The military began the process of finding survivors, recovering what technology was still useable, and setting up outposts. They found much had changed in the months they had been underground. Strange new life forms, both animal and vegetable, were present. While this was expected, it wasn’t expected to be so abundant in so short a time. In the first three months, 150 new animals and 300 new plants were identified. What the military didn’t know was that they had helped create these new life forms.
The bacteria released to eat the radiation did its job. It had such an abundant supply of food that it reproduced quickly in large numbers. With influence of the radiation attacking the bacteria genes, and occasional mutation randomly introduced by Mother Nature herself, several new strains of the bacteria were created.
In addition to the radiation eating strain, there was a variety that now ate the dust blocking off the life giving sunlight. Some bacteria were absorbed into the very genetic structure of the creatures and plants still on the planet, giving them the ability to cleanse themselves of the radiation destroying their bodies. In the malformed offspring, or too critically damaged to survive in its current state, the new genetic material twisted what it was into something new, into something that could survive. By the hundreds, new plant and animal species emerged, giving a jumpstart to the recovery of the planet.
But the plants and animals weren’t the only ones to benefit from this. Mankind benefited as well. Those who were still trapped outside, at the mercy of the planet, suddenly found themselves able to survive and even thrive. When the military climbed out of its bunkers, it found communities of people already rebuilding what once had been. While very few were “Pure” human, most were not changed in any dramatic manner. All of the mutations were simple ones, strange hair or eye color, scaly skin, or something minor.
The military was wary of these changes, often treating these people as animals instead of survivors. The military would roll into a village, take what they needed and drive on. Many clashes broke out between the military and the people they referred to as The Warped. The military always won these encounters due largely in part to the fact that the Warped were mostly simple folk from pre-war times that now found themselves trying to cope with not only the change in the environment, but the change in themselves as well. They lost everything and almost everyone they cared about in less than a year. They had watched friends and family die horrible, slow, deaths, and expected to die the same way. They did not fully understand they had been given another chance.
As time went on and the fighting continued, the military began herding the Warped into containment camps. These camps were nothing more than a large tract of land surrounded by a fence that was patrolled by armed guards and dogs. Anyone caught trying to escape, was shot, no questions asked. Lack of food and lack of basic facilities inside these camps, led to large outbreaks of disease, and mass death. When the disease level reached epidemic proportions, the military simply burned the camp, and everything in them, alive or dead, to the ground, and started over. With nothing to keep them in check, the military ran roughshod over everything and everyone they came across.
In July of 2005, the Warped got their first break. From out of what is now known as the Wasteland, back in those days it was a heavy radiation zone, came a mutant who would be known as Cutter. He had the ability to reshape, and harden his extremities, until they could cut through almost any substance like it was air. He rallied the Warped into standing up to the military and taking back what was theirs. At first, the military didn’t take the threat seriously, allowing the Warped to drive them back to their bunkers. For the first time the Warped tasted victory.
The celebration was cut short, as the military, now with a better respect for the Warped, regrouped and struck back. At first, it appeared, that the military would easily destroy the Warped; taking back almost half of the territory they had lost. Things looked bad for the Warped. Two points in the Warped line had begun to crumble. The military began pouring reserve troops into these areas in an effort to break through, and, not only split the Warped’s front line, but surround a large portion of their troops. Then the Warped got their second break.
Military vehicles, and personnel, found themselves besieged by the plants and animals in the surrounding area. Tracked vehicles would get slowed down, and eventually stopped, as plants would grow into all open spaces. Troops, as they were clearing the plants from their machines exhaust systems and weapons ports, would come under attack from animals of all shapes and sizes. Terror began running through the military units as many came to believe Mother Nature herself was trying to destroy them. Several units broke and ran before the order to fall back and dig in was given.
The frontline stabilized at this point. Neither side could gain ground on the other. Where troops met, fighting was vicious, both sides taking horrendous casualties. Both sides worked on new weapons, on new tactics but to no avail. When the Military would come up with a new weapon, the Warped would suddenly find the way to defeat it. If a new mutant emerged from the Wasteland, the Military would suddenly find a way to counter its ability. This Stalemate lasted for over 20 years, until both sides became tired of the conflict and declared a cease-fire.
They divided the country into 4 parts. The Wasteland, which took up from Northern Mexico to Southern Colorado, and from Nevada to Kansas, was controlled by no one. The radiation levels were high and neither side had any idea of what was in the area . The Warped controlled the area North of the Wasteland and up into southern Canada as far East as the Mississippi River. The Military controlled East of the Mississippi and up into Canada. The fourth part was declared Neutral Territory. The Neutral territory was made up of inhospitable terrain neither side wanted. Skirmishes occasionally broke out, but were quickly ended and forgotten.
Both sides began rebuilding the world the way they thought it should be. The Warped built in concert with nature. Not saying that they stayed primitive cavemen living off the land, but they never over built an area. They always included the environment in what they did. They found a certain type of tree that had mutated to not need roots. It drew what it needed from the air. When the tree was cut and used for building purposes, it continued to live, and grow, in its new form. It would even fuse with other wood of its kind, and form a solid, living, object. They made their own Technological advances, only they did not consume the natural resources as they used them, they found a way to use the natural properties of the resource to it’s fullest extent. They found new cures for old, and new, diseases in the plants and animals around them. Water and Solar power were used almost exclusively for energy. Nothing that polluted the atmosphere or the land was used. Most people who traveled through areas that Warped lived in never knew that the Warped were there, even when standing in the Heart of their larger communities.
As the Military began its reconstruction it ran into problems. They would clear large tracts of land of it plant and animal life, and almost before the buildings foundations could dry, the plant life had crept back and was taking over the area again. Foundations would crumble under the assault of the new strains of plant life. The Military even found there was a certain kind of beetle that ate stone. As the Military designed chemicals to destroy the insects and defoliants to destroy the plants, new strains of both emerged that were immune to the chemicals. To keep a building above ground was far too costly in both resources and man-hours to maintain, so the military moved underground and kept very few buildings on the surface. In effect, the Warped controlled the surface world and the Military controlled the underground.
Both sides discovered that the bacteria that had helped stabilize the planet also helped keep both sides equal in their power struggle. The bacteria infected every living thing on the planet, and kept a kind of communal watch over the two sides. If one side would discover a way gain the upper hand, the bacteria would lead the other side to a way to counter it. It seemed Mother Nature herself was keeping the devastation of a few years earlier from every happening again. When the Military tried to rebuild its nuclear arsenal, it discovered it could find no radioactive material of any kind anywhere on the planet, except in the Wasteland. Even the old missile silos that had never fired their missiles were devoid of radioactive material. The missiles were still there but the payload was gone, eaten by bacteria. Excursions into the Wasteland were out because of the creatures that roamed there.
Humans, by nature, hate the thought of confinement. Around the year 2100, just as the underground population was beginning to thrive, a revolt broke out in the underground world of the Military. The new generations, not having had to survive the horrors of the Great War, yearned for freedom from the confinement the underground world offered. Fighting broke out throughout the hundreds of miles of tunnels, as those that wanted to leave clashed with military forces that wanted to keep them underground. The bloody fighting lasted for months, until the leader of the military forces was slain, throwing the Military into disarray. Tens of thousands burst onto the surface of the planet, completely unprepared for what awaited them. Behind them, the military sealed the entrances to the underground world, condemning those that left to their fate. A new race had been born, the Upworlders.
The Upworlders were completely unprepared for what they found. A world, in their eyes, of utter chaos. A world where nature, not man, was in charge. For the first few months many grew sick and died, were killed by the wildlife, or just starved to death because they didn’t know what they could or could not eat. Their numbers dwindled, and they too were on the verge of extinction when they were saved by the Warped.
The Warped had been watching since they arrived. Silently debating on whether or not to help them. They were, after all, the enemy, and who was to say they wouldn’t try to destroy the Warped as well. They watched as the Upworlders tried in vain to come to terms with this world. As sickness ran rampant through the Upworlders ranks, and the death toll mounted, it struck a familiar chord is some of the Warped. They remembered how tough it was for them to survive at first. They remembered watching friends and family die horrible, painful, and, worst of all, slow deaths. It was then the first of the Warped approached the Upworlders with offers of help.
At first the help was packages of edible food, and maps to locations of potable water, left in the camps. The Warped figured this would be the easiest way to avoid trouble until the Upworlders were ready to accept help from their enemies. At night the Warped would scout the area surrounding the camps and drive off the marauding creatures. They left medicines to help with the sicknesses plaguing the camps. There were a few encounters between the two races, but no one got hurt.
Then one day, at the camp where New Chicago stands, their leader, Harold Astimeyer, simply walked out of the camp, alone, to a clearing two miles away, where he sat on a tree stump and waited. He didn’t have to wait long. Less than an hour later the mutant known as Shrieker walked into the clearing alone. The two men shook hands and began talking. Over the course of the next few days, the leaders from all the Upworlder camps arrived in the clearing, as well as representatives from all the major Warped cities. While neither side fully trusted the other, they hammered out a plan where the two sides would trade technology and train the other side in how to use it. Both sides stood to gain a lot and lose nothing.
Over the next century, with help from the Warped, the Upworlders not only survived, they thrived. They took what they knew and combined it with what the Warped had taught them, and began reclaiming the land they had fought for so long to see. Cities began springing up all over the countryside. Cities not of glass and steel like their ancestors, but cities none-the-less. Where before large tracts of land had to be cleared to build upon, these new cities were grown out what was there. They were no less impressive, just not as costly to the environment.
Where cement was once used, a fungus that exuded foam that dried harder than concrete was used. It weighed one tenth what concrete does and is twice as strong. One of the drawbacks was that as it grew it had to be smoothed back to the original size and shape. But this drawback was also an asset. In a very short time, it would repair whatever damage had been done to it. In the event the damage was extensive, this fungus could be ground up, added to water and poured into the hole where it would grow into the surrounding wall and be as strong as ever.
The Warped and the Upworlders became strong allies. Borders no longer mattered to either side, in fact, the two races became so intermingled, you couldn’t tell who was an Upworlder and who was a Warped. So they dropped the two titles and just went about calling themselves New Worlders. They colonized this country from one coast to the other. They sent emissaries to the far reaches of the planet to find news of other survivors. What they found was a surprise even to them. The whole planet was thriving with life. The human, or not so human anymore, race had survived it own apocalypse.
The instinct to explore began to take hold again and the New Worlders looked to space. They took the old technology for space machines and began applying new technologies to it. They made great leaps in a short time. The whole world held their breath as the final countdown commenced. 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3…. As the engines came to life, the rocket shuddered, and then tore itself apart, stunning all that watched.
Almost before the debris from the rocket had crashed back to earth, the Military launched an offensive. Soldiers began pouring out of the ground, through tunnels, all over this country. They were intent on taking back the land they considered theirs. They had planted the bombs on the spaceship and used the explosion as the signal for the invasion to commence. The unprepared New Worlders were no match for the initial assault.
The Military captured large tracts of land in the opening days as the New Worlders scrambled to defend themselves. The areas around the Great Lakes, most of the East and West Coasts, and all along the Mississippi river were all captured before the Wasteland seemed to come to life. Mutants of considerable power began pouring from it as if it were giving birth, and the Military’s expansion was halted, and in most places reversed, as they had a new, more powerful foe to contend with. But, the Military was prepared for this as well with some of their own augmented soldiers.
Super-Human met Super-Mutant in a battle that, while brutal, was eerily beautiful. A ballet in the skies as well as on the ground as flying mutant met military aircraft, and mutant warrior met military warrior. The fighting was costly for both sides as the death toll mounted. Neither side was willing to give ground. Again the lines stabilized, with the military holding the coasts, the great lakes region, and what used to be Canada, and the New Worlders holding the rest. The battle raged for several years when Mother Nature again seemed to get involved.
In the space of just a few months, Major natural disasters shook this country from one end to another. Volcanoes erupted all over the West coast, Hurricanes ripped up the east coast, the Mississippi river flooded most of the river valley, wildfires ripped through the western zones, earthquakes almost on a daily basis, and heavy tornadoes ripped through the flatlands. Both sides were forced to pull out of the fighting and begin relief operations in their own areas.
With so many of their warriors being used in relief roles, the two sides struck a truce. They fortified their borders, and settled into a cold war that has lasted ever since. Minor incursions occur from time to time, small firefights erupt, but nothing major happens. But things have begun to change lately. Mother nature appears to have given up her role as babysitter.
The bacteria that had sped the healing process of the planet and helped keep the two forces in balance, is disappearing. Of the last several months I have taken readings from all over this country, and they all show the bacteria levels are dropping at seven percent per month. In just a few months these bacterium will be all gone. What happens then is anyone’s guess. My guess, the Military is monitoring the levels as well and is preparing to attack. I have warned as many villages as I can, as politely as I could. No one wants to believe that the war could start again but they are at least taking some precautions. I point out to them that the Wastelands are no longer producing stable mutations. Which means the bacteria levels are low enough that the radiation is allowed to do whatever damages it wants, resulting in some non-beneficial mutations. I have seen some mutations that have no other purpose except to kill and eat whatever gets in their path.
The future, as always, is uncertain. But now the future is getting even more uncertain as the new age of mankind enters the new era. All I can do is record what happens and hope that future generations can learn from our mistakes.