by Mark Kilfoil (20 Jul 95)
One day, I think it was last week when I was in a bad mood, I sat down and wrote the basis for something called Darkness 2276.
It's not finished, and I've decided to stop working on it for a while so that I can work on the Caern of the Reflecting Pool and other fiction stories, not mention read books and write non-WoD stuff, too.
So here is its current form, I hope you like it. Please recognize that it is no where near finished, and it feels like it could easily take a lot more work.
The year is 2276, more commonly known as 122 P.C. (Post-collapse).
Earth is Hell.
The Technocracy has nearly succeeded in strengthening the world to their iron grip. Mages of the Traditions are all but destroyed, the Traditions lost to the cries of children. Marauders are caged within the Umbra, destroyed and hunted to extinction.
The new God is the Machine. Iteration X has survived well. New World Order has joined them, creating a strong bond between Mind and Machine.
The Void Engineers are also severed from the world, but continue on in the Umbra, destroying whatever they find there, delving deeper and deeper...
Gaia is dead, her back broken. The werewolves were mostly destroyed, and those that remained lost most of the abilities they had, either due to dead teachers or lack of connection to their Mother. They can no longer enter the Umbra at will.
The Vampire Princedoms are now the Vampire Elysiums; entirely self- contained, huge cities, the vampires lord over the humans, and the humans thank them for the society and knowledge they get in return.
Erecting the Dome: When the Dome was erected in 2122, it was hailed by the Technocracy as the only way to save the Earth from severe solar radiation as the sun began a cycle of severe sunstorms. The procedure was described as very simple: a new compound, XSS103-4 (also known as "Sunscreen") was developed that would react with the uppermost atmosphere. The reaction would create a super-lightweight alloy that would hang in the atmosphere and screen out the harmful parts of sunlight. The public, seeing the increase in cancer due to solar radiation and the intense heat of the last decade, almost universally agreed to allow the compound to be injected into the atmosphere. This, then, was the Technocracy's /coup de grace/: the Dome, sometimes referred to as the "metallosphere".
There were riots and demonstrations, but it was too little too late. The werewolves found themselves at the mercy of an enemy they had all but neglected for centuries; the mages were caught by surprise and severely diminished in number by that time, and could not muster enough support. The two groups gathered together, but they were held back by the awesome security around the project. And they were held back by another group as well: the one group that felt themselves able to benefit quite highly from the Darkening of the Sun, the vampires. And so, the Technocracy found themselves with a very strong hidden partner.
It took a total of 24 hours for the compound to surround the Earth. That day, August 4, 2122, will forever be remembered and mourned as Darkening Day.
It was a spectacular sight, and stories were told of the rockets that fired up, 72 of them, and exploded high in the sky. Some of them blew up prematurely and had no effect: these had been attacked by the Traditions and the Garou, a last ditch effort to stop the Technocracy.
The areas that were not covered by the metallosphere are called the Burned Lands, for the gaps in the sphere let through lethal amounts of radiation. The Technocracy had failed to mention that by reacting with the upper atmosphere, the alloy would destroy it, making the world dependant on the Technocracy's Dome to survive.
Those gaps in the sphere were quickly filled, but the breach had let several denizens of the Umbras through. No one travels through the Burned Lands, now.
The metallic-grey Dome not only kept out the sun, but it blocked most of the stars, except during an eclipse. The moon could be seen as a ghostly pale light on the edges of the dome. Outer space, including in the Umbras, were almost severed completely from the world, now.
Only the barest amount of light was let through, so the Technocracy had supplied reasons for the continued reliance of the people on technology, because only artificial light, it was justified, would be sufficient.
Medical substatutes for the vitamins coming from sunlight were created, replacing the spiritual dosage with an artificial one. It also had the side effect of making a person more docile and happy.
Vampires began to go public, the Masquerade was tossed aside. First the Sabbat went wild, then the Camarilla decided it was safe to come out of the shadows.
The society began to collapse where the Technocracy wasn't working to solve the problems, until the vampires started moving in to the scene. The creation of New Carthage signalled a major turnaround in the world's fate: a very open city, where life was to be celebrated and peace would reign, the first of the Elysiums. People ran to them in droves, until the Technocracy decided to put a stop to it. They attacked New Carthage, and burned it to the ground.
More determined than ever, the vampires pooled many resources and drove back the Technocracy through sheer force (perhaps force of will?). On the spot where New Carthage had lain, they created Harmony, will exists as the essential "capital" for the Elysiums.
In between the Elysiums and the Technocracy is open land, commonly referred to as the Rogue Lands. There are small towns scrabbling on their own, but mostly there is no one except criminals ejected from the Cities or the Elysiums (hence the name "rogue" lands). Travel through Rogue Lands is very difficult; it means either travelling through a Wyld Zone [an area controlled by were-creatures] or perhaps Deadlands [areas where the Shadowlands have exploded into the normal world; the only Umbral connection truly left]; if you are not passing through these, you are either passing close to a City [Technocracy] or over/through the Seas, where Pirates roam, or near some of the bandit's lairs.
Travel or warfare by air is usually quite risky, including missiles, because of loss in technology by the Technocracy, and also the Sky Drones. The Technocracy released these robotic killers over the Rogue Lands not long after major animal attacks (including werewolf attacks); they are designed to destroy anything that matched the profile of a werewolf or other enemy, to cut down on attacks. However, it appears as if the programming code was modified so that they only attacked flying ships and missiles, which was a tactic for the Technocracy to hunt down werewolves by razing areas or having hunting parties.
It is not known whether there is still a small faction of Glass Walkers left in the world, whether there are friends inside the Technocracy, or if the Rebellion of Free Thought somehow managed it.
In either case, air travel is impossible on most of the planet.
In the decades following Darkening Day, the vampires continued to pull the strings from their shadowy positions, although they now found themselves able to walk about at all hours, suspiciously freed of the curse on Caine by God.
When the Sabbat made themselves blatant and public, the Camarilla held a hasty council, and decided that they would remove the Masquerade, for fear that they Sabbat would be the measure by which vampires were perceived.
They managed to convince enough people quickly enough to stem off the tide of anger and uneasiness that mortals felt towards their newly discovered enemy, the vampire, and gain their trust. They proclaimed themselves the centuries-old enemies of the Sabbat, and held themselves up proudly as the defenders of humanity from those vicious monsters.
It was an amazing public relations campaign, and with only a little Domination grease to turn the wheels here and there they managed to win the favour of humanity.
This allowed them to go back to the same old practices they had done for generations, manipulate humanity, but this time they were not hiding.
The Elysium are each run by a Prince and a Primogen, but the Primogen may be made up of mortals as well as vampires, and is usually much larger. The character of the particular Elysium is usually strongly influenced by the particular Prince's tastes, but there are usually many different cultures coexisting within they city. New Paris, for example, was modeled after the memories of Paris, France a particularly aged Prince had; the Eiffel Monument is particularly interesting, being a re-engineered model based on three-hundred year old "photographs". New Paris is decidedly lo-tech, or what technology and modernism there are are carefully hidden, and only come out when needed.
The religion built up around Mach II, called Servents of the Binary Order(?) are the primary group responsible for the technology of the Rogue Lands [areas not controlled by the Technocracy]. [Mixed-in a little bit of Celestial Chorus?]
Their typical appearance is either a monk's haircut[!] or completely bald, with a terminal interface [rectangular multi-receptor for a multiple line fibre link] prominantly visible on the side of the head. The receptor is placed on the side of the brain that the disciple is most adept with, i.e. on the left side for a "left-brained" person, or the right side for a "right-brained" person.
"God is dead, and Caine will return."
When the big changes came, the people wanted security, safety, luxury... and they were willing to pay almost anything to get it, including freedom.
The Technocracy began building technopoli (singular=technopolis) before Darkening Day, but in the ensuing chaos that followed they thrived, creating safe havens for humanity against the "monsters" that had appeared.
Each technopolis is very carefully planned and laid out, and rather repetitively structured. There are very few surprises when travelling around a technopolis, except for the occasional asthetic addition, such as a modernistic fountain.
NWO and the Syndicate are now purely internal organizations, overseeing the interactions people have with each other, and stamping out "bad influences" where it can. Welcome to Big Brother.
"Don't you see, brothers and sisters, that the computer you serve [Mach I or the Technocracy] is cold and barren, and cruel to its subjects? I invite you to be one with Mach II, to explore the dimensions within your mind through the computer, not shut windows of imagination through technology."
All major Technocracy cities are joined by Tubes, wherein the high-speed trains travel on super-conducting rails through a vacuum, the fastest ride around. Raiders are sometimes a problem along these Tubes, and so they are heavily gaurded.
"Freedom isn't evil, you fool! Freedom must be a fundamental right! It is better to be unrestricted in thought than restricted to the point of non-thinking!"
Or perhaps it was the act of a group of well-meaning Technocrats. The truth is impossible to tell.
Gaia is dead, her back broken. The werewolves were mostly destroyed by Darkening Day, and those that survived lost most of the abilities they had, either due to dead teachers or lack of connection to their Mother. They can no longer enter the Umbra at will. However, there numbers skyrocketted after this separation, and this has led many to suspect that Gaia was a burden on their shoulders. Many have embraced the Wyld, now, and have reinstated the Impergium. This time, however, they are meeting with tough resistance.
For the most part, the werewolves have taken back the wilderness, but not much lives there any more. There, they try to desparately revive Gaia, but most fear that it is impossible to bring back the dead world.
There are many crossover ideals in these groups; almost universally, they want to destroy the Technopoli and the Elysiums, and reverse the effects of the Dome.
Some of the Burned Lands opened gateways to dark places, one of the darkest being the Shadowlands. The DeadLands are places on Earth where the gateway remains open, and an entire area is both in the lands of the Dead and the lands of the Living.
The High Seas
Beneath every farcical story, there is a grain of truth, somewhere. In these stories, there are beaches.
You said there was a grey time and a dark time...So there is a time when light does hit earth, but not enough to affect vampires?
Basically, yes. There is small percentage of the light that reaches the earth, which is basically "tinted" gray by the metallosphere before reaching the earth.
In spiritual terms, I am basing the "does not affect vampires" idea on the suggestion made looong ago that there is a spiritual part of the light and that is what really affects vampires.
When the Dome was erected (which surrounds the globe, so its not really a dome, but...) it divided most of the spirit world from the material world (outer space from earth) except for a tiny fraction which leaks through, and carries a small amount of light with it. The metallosphere acts as a filter, further removing spiritual components from the light until it is almost spiritually null, and gray.
My current thinking is that the world was not in fact severed from the spirit world, unlike what the Technocracy believes, which is why the people have not become totally "spiritless". Instead, the Technocracy forced some parts of the spirit world to merge with matter in unification again (Mach I and Mach II are simple examples of this).
This obviously requires more thought, tho'...
Now when it is typicaly day, do kindred suffer from day lag?
Vampires who are extremely affected by the sun (a Flaw) will be cycle-bound, I'd say, but for the most part they are not really affected.
I have a feeling that I might make the Burned Lands more radiant, as well; a place where the barrier was slow in going up and is still weaker than the rest.
What happen to all the goverments when the vamps took over?
Well, many governments would have likely collapsed by this point, under the pressure of the Technocracy and the growing responsibilities placed upon them.
Likely, though, the vampires would have used the government the way a social butterfly uses a friend at a party: they got them to do the nice introductions, proclaiming how good they are, and then went off with the newly-made friends. It would've been a fairly important step in the safe removal of the Masquerade.
And what about the Antidiv-whatchamacallits?
The Antideluvians? That's a tough question. I would imagine they are still there, pulling strings where they can, but there might have been an uprising against the higher generations (similar to the original uprising against the second generation... hmmm....) and they would be hunted as monsters. They might have taken allies among some of the beings that fell through into the Burned Lands.
Is there still a prison system or is it gone?
The prison system would depend greatly upon where you are; in a Technopoli, there is the idyllic view of no crime or the Doctors will "fix" you (rewriting mental patterns), the most severe crimes being punished quietly by "recycling"; in an Elysium, all manner of imprisonment would be possible, but one punishment would be considered the most cruel: ejection from the city, into the wilderness; in the Wyld Zones, the werecreatures would likely have gotten more brutal, both with themselves and with strangers, because there are lots of them to go around.
Actually, there is also the question of what constitutes a crime...
If a vampire feeds on someone who has not given him explicit, written permission to do so, is that a crime?
If a vampire creates a childe without consent or government permission, what punishment is given to him?
I have a feeling that individual cities are going to have specific rule over themselves, with only a few overriding traditions/rules. That way, the legal scenery changes depending on how liberal/conservative the city is, and what era it is modelled after. (I just gotta create at least one wild west city, I just gotta! ;)
Do vamp bars serve blood?(Seriously, donors can make serious $$ keepin it on tap..)
Actually, yes they would. I have the idea that taxes would not be paid necessarily in money or goods, but in blood. Hm.... blood as the currency within an Elysium? Gives a whole new meaning to going to pay their "pound of flesh".
Are cybernetics very common?
Computer interface implants would be a necessary part of being a Servant of the Binary Order, and some sort of "steam-punk" network likely exists within Elysiums (archaic-looking technology that is large and clunky, but ultimately a little "organic" in feel and asthetic) that people might have personal interfaces for.
Within a Technopoli, there would be very little cybernetics beyond a computer and communications interface and a registration chip, except for Mecha-G soldiers, because the other limbs can be regrown easily.
There would be no cybernetics in the Rogue Lands or Wyld Zones, and very little technology of any sort.
And I haven't decided if there are any androids yet... maybe a couple of unique ones...