History - In Character

Source: Blog post of unknown origin written by T0_Power. Author claims to be an “amateur historian and information seeker”.
Date: December 31, 999

T0_Power here – as I sit with my glass of scotch, watching the clock count down, I can’t help but reminisce a bit about this crazy new world that we find ourselves in. 47 years ago, humanity was on the brink of our destruction. If you ask me, we fell over that edge, but there was a whole lot more on the other side.

The Blackout

On April 1, 953, the entirety of humanity jointly experienced…something. There are many names (Most commonly referred to as The Blackout, but also known as The Awakening or The Evolution.) There are even more theories on what happened, some more plausible than others.

Regardless…on that day something happened to the whole of humanity that changed us. Some awoke from The Blackout with (at the time) bizarre new capabilities. Projecting their mental energy into the physical world, probing into the minds of others – these were things that classified military spec-ops went under the knife for years to be able to do, not something that some account executive or janitor was capable of.

Others awoke finding their bodies transformed in some way. Their strength and reflexes were increased ten-fold, their skin became strong as steel, or they could leap dozens of meters into the air.

However, while humanity took two steps forward, technology took two steps back. Machinery and technology the world over spontaneously detonated. All known so-called Stims imploded, and many other plasma-based technologies melted down, destroying everything from plasma sidearms to cities powered on plasma generators.

The Blackout changed everything. But as they say, the more things change, the more they stay the same.

Science

Researchers immediately began studying our new-found capabilities, sequencing DNA and evaluating study trials. What they have concluded so far is that whatever caused The Blackout caused some sort of genetic mutation in the brains of every man, woman and child on Earth. While for some, these new mutations did not code for anything meaningful, in about 1% of the population one of two significant sequences were formed.

Strand Alpha caused the beneficiary (or victim, depending on how you see it) to develop some type of enhanced physicality – strength, stamina or speed. Strand Omega seemed to bestow the powers of the Psyon to individuals, even though they did not possess the Stims technology developed by Shinra Inc.

What’s more, it seemed these new sequences (even if they didn’t code specifically for Alpha or Omega) were remarkably receptive towards technology, as if some of the genetic code was specifically designed to have hooks with which machinery could latch onto.

The market for enhanced prosthetics and what came to be known as Cyberware was jump-started. Whereas before The Blackout, you’d have to be extremely well-connected to get a simple pair of Cyber-eyes, now anyone could pick up a whole new set of sensory organs (and often needed to, to keep up with the Psyonic Joneses.)

The destruction of plasma technology meant returning to old ways of power generation and manufacturing as well as brave new avenues now made possible with our adapted DNA. Researchers the world over are constantly pushing the boundaries of what we can accomplish with our new traits.

Government

Lucky for humanity, we were in a period of collective shock and unity as most cultures are after experiencing a traumatizing event together (although it helped that both Stims and Plasma weapons were destroyed).

Armies ceased active hostilities around the world, and the pause allowed us to take a moment to understand what had just happened. However, once the global conversation was rejoined, the door was open for a whole new breed of leaders looking to achieve their vision of what this ‘new’ world could mean.

Broadly speaking, the once-global world withdrew into itself. We had just been either attacked or blessed, and either way people were scared and wanting to crawl into their shell until we all figured out what it meant. In most parts of the world, this meant returning to the older ways of governing – local governments and limited authority. The days of world governments like The Covenant were over. Across the globe, leaders railed against the evils of big business and big government. They claimed that consolidating so much power in so few individuals was what allowed the development of destructive technology like Stims and could throw the entire planet into war with the stroke of someone like Arcturus Mengk’s pen.

Leaders started from the grass-roots to build cities and states, and some led their flocks out of the major cities that existed pre-Blackout to create their own (usually religious) communities in rural settings that had been the domain of mega-farms for decades. We wanted to build communities, start over, and see what these new powers meant for humanity.

Of course, the effects of having dozens of factions and nations squabbling and positioning for resources didn’t quite line up with this grand vision. It was not long before states began arming themselves ‘for their own protection’ and disputes over borders and resources began breaking out all over the world. It was true, these weren’t wars with massive plasma cannons which could level entire city blocks with a single shot. Yet to the person who was mowed down with a burst from an AK-97, it didn’t really make much of a difference.

Business

Shinra was in proverbial (and literal) ashes. Unfathomable resources had been poured into the failed Psyonic Stims project and the wars that ensued, and most of the heads of the organization were either dead or missing and presumed dead.

Not unlike the rest of society, many remaining executives within Shinra began consolidating their power at the local level. The company relaunched globally as “NeoShinra Inc.,” but the new organization hardly resembled the old. Executive Vice Presidents and Global Operations Leads began spinning off their own divisions of the company into independently owned and operated corporations (10 in all) to take control over their little piece of the global pie. They no longer operated as a quasi-governmental organization but instead cooperated with local governments (or just bribed their officials and rigged their elections.)

Rarely were Shinra’s facilities or projects ever so cut-and-dried however. The Corps made a mad dash (often at the point of a rifle) to secure unclaimed factories and research facilities to bring them under their Corp’s oversight. In cases where someone beat them to the punch, those companies often would “reclaim” research or individuals to integrate them under the “correct” division of the company. The fact that the research may happened to have been done after NeoShinra had been created was just a technicality.

All in all, while the President of each one of the “divisions” of NeoShinra Inc. convene once a year for a formal Board of Directors meeting, everyone knows that these Corps are out for themselves, and a loss for one is a gain for the others.

Culture and Summary

So what does this all mean for your average Joe, as we sit here on the brink of a new millennium? For a lot of folks, not much has changed. Sure, now the guy you watch on the Vids is 100 miles away instead of 1000. The company you work for is owned by a NeoShinra Corporation rather than owned by Shinra itself. But all in all, we are a scant 50 years out from a war that put humanity back 200 – entire cities remain razed from the Psyonic Wars and inter-faction squabbles have groups more focused on surviving from day to day rather than being able to build anything back up (unless there is a profit to be made.)

That said, in one important way, people have changed. Alpha and Omega Strands have given ordinary people extraordinary gifts. Maybe someone out there will figure out how to use them for good…

Thanks for taking a trip down memory lane with me. This is T0_Power, wishing you a Happy New Year and a great 1k.

History - In Character

One K Reed06