I decided that if I was going to use a "do over" for human civilization - as I clearly do in A Reluctant god - I had better do a full commitment to The Apocalypse, dates and all. Especially I should define how my do-over heroes survived the thing.
So I did.
The first mention is early in the book ... like this:
The Do Over: After the Climax Battles, 2056 - 2060, the Apocalypse, the surviving bits of humanity were scattered over the planet in desperately defended pockets of livable space, most of which had been designed explicitly for survivability under wartime conditions. They had names like Mount Yamantau, The White House II, Raven Rock Mountain, Xishan Mountain, Site 911, Amhurst Hole, Fordo Qom, The Bunny Bunker, Northwood, Goldman Sachsdown, Q, Cheyenne NORAD and many others. All heavily shielded, deeply buried, redundantly self sufficient, these fastnesses usually doubled as command centers, though some were sybaritic hidey-holes for the extraordinarily rich. Survivors very slowly stuck their heads up. From 2093 through the end of the century, people came out of the protected places to see their ravaged world.
We thought The Great War was bloody, and it bloody well was, but it was a cakewalk compared to what we cooked up about a century after I died. We greatly improved the efficiency of dying.
The Climax Battles
HistoryFet Ludwig Armour
Toward the end of the 21st Century CE, events occurred that were so disturbing to the human population that it led to a massive shift in the behavior of the race.
Between 2056 and 2060 over 99.99 percent of the human population died. Countless other extinctions occurred in the animal and plant kingdoms. Those creatures and plants which avoided extinction underwent sometimes startling changes in their battles to survive.
Whole continents were rendered mostly uninhabitable by virulent toxicities that sprang from the Earth itself, boiled out by disruptive climate changes, but mostly from the weapons of an astonishing number of wars known as the “Climax Battles.” Wars and sub-wars and small, isolated conflicts abounded. As world populations continued to explode, until the climate of the planet spiraled crazily, then warfaring became the occupation of choice for the usual suspects until it metastasized into the only occupation left for practically everybody else.
What remained of journalists labeled these conflicts sectarian wars. However, every descriptor of humanity found adherents, qualifying the co-believers as “sects.” These people desperately formed common cause and gathered together to fight for it.
In the grander category of nation states, the wars were more focused, and much, much larger. There was a severe decline in inhibitions about using weapons “of mass destruction.” The first barriers to collapse of these inhibitions were with chemical then biological arms. There was a deeper restraint about using nuclear weapons.
Understandably though, the first response to the ravages of a really successful bioweapon attack was a nuclear riposte. As millions were dying slow, ghastly plague deaths in the first country to receive a full scale bio attack, millions others died rather more rapidly under unspeakably hot fireballs in the counter-attack. The first time it happened to be aimed at the wrong country – failed intelligence at its worst – but it hardly mattered in the big picture of the Apocalypse.
After that historic exchange, everything deteriorated fast. Fear of being attacked simply overrode the last of the sane pickets advising national leaders. “Preemptive” attacks were launched at an ever quickening pace. The atmosphere of Earth thickened with exotic chemical gases and virulent clouds of modified viruses, bacteria and fungi. The vacuum above the atmosphere was aswarm with missiles, decoys and sizzling beams of focused radiation. Armies, Navies, Air Forces, guerrilla bands and lone wolves dispatched themselves into hopeless killing fields, killing who they could before they themselves died.
Making inadvertent history, adventurist journalist Devon Martin, in an armored survival suit watched a city in the American South flash away in nuclear atomization and reported to her diminishing audience, “This is the climax battle. It is the end of Birmingham. I can see the shockwave coming toward me, so I'll say goodbye as I lose my own little climax ba … ” Ms. Martin uploaded everything to the sudden end. The 'climax' term went viral before all networked communication ended around the world. Climax battles they were.
The Net was soon gone, most cities of over 50,000 were gone, small town and rural people were gone to one of many kinds of death, leaving seas of bodies, starting their journeys into final decay from many starting points, but all on that road.
As in any mass extinction, not everything died.
The surviving bits of plant and animal life that escaped annihilation were luck-driven to various refugia left randomly scattered over the land and in the water of the wounded planet by the random will of Fate.
The human survivors, the few of them there were, came forth from their safe rooms and set about to restart their lives in a ruined world.
They were alive but psychologically bent. New beliefs were inevitable. They sought comfort in new basic values transmuted from the dross that had grown in the era of uncontrolled ambition and greed, self righteousness and blind certainties of the early-21st century. There were new golden rules.
After the Apocalypse, bloody war – a basic human behavior – retreated entirely to a game of the mind. In simple terms, the vast majority of humans were possessed by a basal urge to become better. New sacred texts were written and old texts cherry-picked for articulation of the new values. It was a very big deal.
I must note, it is a humbling thing to contemplate the apocalypse.
But we do it so often, it must be a fun thing too.
GIF credit: Photobucket