Setting

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Background – The World

BFE, KS

After the end of the first Gulf War, nearly all the troops came home with stories of weird shapes seen in the night, strange noises coming from nowhere and sights that just didn’t add up. Of course, the military’s PR agents explained it all away as “combat fatigue” and “the fog of war”, but many believe the reports are too numerous, too similiar and too well corraborated to be figments of anyone’s imagination.

The weirdness continued in the ensuing years, as the country polarized around the christian fundamentalists who pointed to the increasing number of “irrefutable” claims of “demonic doings” and “miracles” as proof the end of the world was nigh. The nonbelievers pointed to the ubiquity of home cameras and video editing software. Late night TV was full of self-proclaimed wizards and witches, who seemed to be able to conjure effects at will, with no props or setup.

Videos of the OKC bombing clearly showed a face attributed to satan in the billowing dust cloud. The fact that McVeigh claimed himself a holy warrior was only lost on the other warriors for christ, and they continued to redouble their efforts to convert the unholy plebians and/or create their own little Jerusalems through the nineties. The divide between the religious right and the rest of society came to a particular head in 1997, when then president Clinton vetoed a bill banning cloning. He stated that the gains to be had by genomic research far outweighed the risks. Several southern and western states nearly seceeded from the union, and military and national guard units were put on the highest alert. The crisis was averted when the administration allowed a bill that forbade federal funding for human genomic research, and required all “self sustaining tissues” to be destroyed within 14 days of “viable uniqueness”.

However, the schism in American society did not heal with the stroke of a pen. Malaise, psychological disorders, depression, nightmares, sleeplessness seemed to affect not just Americans, but everyone across the world. Popular entertainment seemed preoccupied with dark themes, the nature of mankind and the possibility of redemption. When the kids shot up the school at Columbine, nobody was surprised. Sales of OTC and prescription sleeping pills, antidepressants and antianxiety drugs skyrocketed.

The attacks on the World Trade Center on 9/11 galvanized the unbelievers. At the same time, dark political forces seemed to be growing out of the former Soviet Union, and while nobody but the wackiest conspiracy nuts really believed they were tied to islamist fundamentalists, the new political organization seemed intent on undermining the West’s traditional role as leaders of the planet’s economies. The neo-conservative movement in America played off these threats and swept the elections of the early 2k, winning massive majorities in the executive and legislative branches and then stacking the judicial branch with likeminded people.

The attacks on the World Trade Center on 9/11 galvanized the unbelievers. At the same time, dark political forces seemed to be growing out of the former Soviet Union, and while nobody but the wackiest conspiracy nuts really believed they were tied to islamist fundamentalists, the new political organization seemed intent on undermining the West’s traditional role as leaders of the planet’s economies. The neo-conservative movement in America played off these threats and swept the elections of the early 2k, winning massive majorities in the executive and legislative branches and then stacking the judicial branch with likeminded people.

Life across the planet grew grim, and the US was not spared. Food riots became commonplace in third world countries. The “storm of the century” pummeled both hemispheres every year. Sightings of strange beasts and unexplained occurances began to show up in “respectable” news outlets. Most people, despite the dwindling economy, soldiered on and tried to eke out a comfortable life as best they could. In the US, jobs related to the military sector were plentiful for people willing to toe the party line, and the armed forces were recruiting in record numbers. The stranglehold on the media by the ruling party made sure patriotic fervor was stoked. The newly formed Department of Homeland Security had carte blanche, and scientific research seemed to dwindle to a halt. Unless it had military applications, of course.

The forces of the newly formed New World Alliance were positioning themselves in direct conflict with the interests of the G7. Comprised of most of the former USSR, Mayanmar, Bolivia, Cuba, Sub-Saharan Africa and parts of Central America, it’s members espoused a militarstic socialism and “pride of the oppressed”, and their leaders openly spoke of “taking what is ours by right of history”. As the number of bush wars grew, and the intensity slowly but surely intensified, it became obvious that the NWA was working with anti-western fundamentalists in at least an advisory capacity, funneling intelligence and materials into combat zones. When the Columbia shuttle broke up in reentry, the media widely reported “enemy agents” were believed at fault. But when the crew was found alive in the intact command section, it was hailed as a miracle. Before being whisked away for “medical observation”, the astronauts each reported “angels” that protected them from the inferno and gently carried their cockpit to the ground. Unfortunately, the astronauts are still in “observation” some years later and the incident has dropped off the public radar.

The G7 was too tired, too broke and too busy trying to clean up after the mess that global warming was causing to engage the NWA directly. The american appetite for cheap gadgets and entertainment still drove ships laden with consumer goods across the oceans between Asia and the west coast of North America. While scientific research in the traditional sense of discovery for the good of mankind seemed the province of a handful of cranks and idealists, datacenters with concentrations of computing power never before seen were growing at an alarming rate. It was an open secret at every medical school that the best jobs for promising young doctors and biotechnicians were with the military, though no official statistics were available.

By the time McCain won the 2009 election, the United States had become a vividly polarized society, with the fantastically wealthy elite writing rules for themselves while the fragmented and dwindling middle class tried to make ends meet, keep their job and raise their kids. All it cost them was their civil liberties and any hope of saving for retirement. The increasing masses of jobless working class people hunkered down in the vast stretches of smalltown america, forced out of the cities and suburbs by increasingly draconian taxes and “patriot duties”. Soon, vast parts of the heartland were virtually lawless fiefdoms, with innumerable local prophets, warlords and bandits assuming political control of the destitute population. The federal government was content to let this de facto privatization of local administration happen, as long as the tax money went to Washington and nobody challenged the system.

Setting

The Zombiepocalypse brainycat