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The Way to the Apocalypse


Holographic mass storage media are introduced to the world market. The holodisc is scanned with a laser and even the introductory model stores well in excess of 100 times more data than conventional mass media based on magnetic fields.


NASA successfully conducts the first manned mission to Mars.


The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) launches the Ceres Project, which is designated to take 20 years to complete. The goal of this project is to store the entire stock of human knowledge on holodisc in an easily accessible manner. Publicly available science data of the present are reviewed and collected by a group of 250 professors and students from all over the world. Ceres is the Roman name of the Greek goddess Demeter, who was worshipped in ancient Greece as the mother of the earth and the goddess of fertility. The name was chosen because the knowledge of mankind is considered the seed (physics, chemistry, biology, mathematics, etc.) as well as the fruit (technology, architecture, medicine, agriculture, etc.) of planet Earth.


At the very beginning of the fourth mission to Mars an accident during takeoff claims the lives of the entire crew.


During a press conference, Dr. Karmann, leader of the Ceres Project, explains that if a primitive civilization were to gain access to all the information the Ceres Project contains, it would be able to build nuclear plants after a few decades. This remark focuses public attention on the project.


Dr. Karmann is found murdered. The Ceres Project is withdrawn from the MIT and is classified as a top-secret state affair.


The sixth mission to Mars is a huge success, considerable amounts of a hitherto unknown metal with amazing properties being found on the red planet. Thorough scientific investigation reveals that this material will not become radioactive, even after an extended and intense exposure to neutrons resulting from the fusion of tritium and deuterium. Due to these unique qualities of the newly discovered metal that make it ideally suited for coating nuclear facilities, it is suggested that the funding of nuclear fusion research be doubled. Reactors based on nuclear fusion can only become a viable source of mass energy production if radioactive side effects can be eliminated. As the new material does precisely this, it will provide the perfect shielding for nuclear plants.


According to certain rumors, the Ceres Project has been completed by the NSA after introducing classified military and scientific information. Numerous NSA agents are assigned to attend to the project in the future and to help update it continually. The project is relocated, presumably to an isolated, hermetically sealed laboratory compound, where it will be safe in case of an environmental catastrophe or a war.


The US conclude a fifteen-year preparatory stage for establishing a Mars colony and begin operations on the red planet. The installation is partly used for scientific purposes, but its main function is mining the metal that was discovered there in 2031.


After the fossil fuels of Asia have been exhausted, the continent is reduced to poverty and chaos. Grim battles over the last oil reserves rage between Russia, Japan, and China.


In an American research center, deuterium-tritium plasma is held stable over a critical period of time. The commercial exploitation of nuclear fusion is close at hand.


While Japan becomes an ally of the US and is supplied with arms and reinforcements by the superpower, China subdues the former Soviet splinter states, whose defensive potential is weakened by corruption, anarchic uprisings, and Mafia activity. After collaborators have sabotaged Russia's desperate final attempts to recover from the aftermath of a nuclear strike, Russia surrenders and most of Asia is united under the Chinese flag.

Through this victory, China becomes the most powerful nation of the world, an empire reaching from Poland to the Pacific.


The first deuterium-tritium fusion plants are put into operation in the US and parts of Europe. Efforts of the western world to use the newly acquired findings on nuclear fusion for weapons research and the production of a plasma weapon yield no practicable results.


Following the subjection of Asia, China begins to re-establish communism in the conquered countries. While Singapore, Thailand, and South Korea, which were neutral up to this point, enter an alliance with Japan, the remaining countries anxiously flock to the banner of the Chinese Empire.


The Arab Emirates sign a mutual assistance pact with the Chinese Empire and provide it with oil. In turn, China grants the Emirates military protection from the US.


Because of the Japanese arsenal of high-tech weaponry, the Chinese Empire fails to occupy Japan. This leads to the signing of a non-aggression treaty. The border between Japan and the Empire becomes a highly guarded demarcation line. Diplomatic relations between Western Europe, the US, and Japan as one party and the Chinese Empire as the other are at an all-time low.


Representatives of the western world and Japan sign the article of agreement on the ‘Federation of the Free World’. This alliance will protect the member states from the mighty Empire.


While the efforts to design plasma weapons are still not leading anywhere, the use of bundled energy/particle rays for weapons in air- and ground-based vehicles are successfully introduced by the western industrial nations.


The last power plant based on nuclear fission is shut down in Europe. This concludes the transition from conventional nuclear power resources to fusion power within the Federation.


The Federation establishes a colony on Mars, ensuring its mineral supply for the future.


China puts the 62nd nuclear fission plant into operation to power the rural areas of former Russia. Nuclear power now has completely replaced fossil fuels and alternative power sources in the Empire. Although China has obtained theoretical knowledge of nuclear fusion by means of espionage, trade agreements prevent the Empire from initiating its own research, what with the sheathing material from Mars being under Federation control.


Even the oil resources of the Arab Emirates run low. The most important Arabian cities will be connected to the Chinese power supplies in the following decade.


The first cold nuclear fusion process is accomplished in a German nuclear research center. The development of compact high-performance energy generators draws nearer. At the same time, the development of new kinds of fusion plants will further improve the efficiency of this type of energy.


At Xian, a metropolis situated south of Beijing, a jet fighter crashes into an outdated nuclear fission plant. The sheathing of the reactor is destroyed by the power of the impact, which results in an uncontrolled nuclear meltdown. Not only Xian is contaminated by the radiation released, but also nearby Beijing. Millions die of exposure to radiation in the following years. Although radioactive dust is blown eastward by the wind, towards Japan, the neighboring state remains largely unharmed.


Alarmed by the Xian disaster, the Japanese government decides to build radiation protection domes above and around the nation's major cities.


The Chinese Empire discovers a way to hide conventional missiles from radar sensors. The Kerolin stealth missile is able to deliver any kind of warhead to its target unnoticed. The Federation claims to be in possession of this type of stealth technology but to have kept it secret until now.


China and the Federation sign the SALT-17 treaty, which prohibits both parties to station and especially deploy stealth missiles.


Conversion of the existing fusion plants within the Federation to utilize cold nuclear fusion for energy production begins.


Red Terra is established as the first civil colony on Mars. The settlement consists of seven domes and is the new home to 3,000 people. This measure initiates the extraterrestrial colonization program of the Federation of the Free World. The plan is to relocate 400,000 people to Mars by the end of the century.


Scientists discover that they can trigger a chemical reaction by adding a complex gas mixture to the atmosphere of Mars. The process will make the planet's atmosphere breathable within 300 years. Meanwhile, the pioneers begin to terraform the red planet. The gas mixture is called Gabanium for its developer, Dr. Gloria Gaban.


Technologically backward China surprises the world as it puts up a sea blockade around neutral Australia in no time it all. Australia now is totally isolated from the rest of the world. The Federation determines not to intervene, in hopes of averting World War III.


The Empire attacks Australia after having blockaded the continent for nine months. Demoralized Australia surrenders to avoid unnecessary bloodshed, as the Federation obviously won't support the country. In the past, the Federation had tried many times to convince Australia to join it, but to no avail. The continent, which has always cherished its independence and neutrality, was not to be convinced.


Extremist Chinese dictator Kong Jieshi is found murdered in his private mansion. An army of bodyguards was unable to protect him. China officially proclaims that counter-revolutionary troops had, in a surprise attack, shot the dictator in his sleep. This explanation notwithstanding, the citizens of the Federation are convinced that free world special squads had infiltrated the villa in an effort to correct China’s extremist political course. The latter version is, of course, never confirmed by the Federation government.


The political situation has been stabilized. New Chinese dictator Xu Derui knows of the technological inferiority of the Empire compared with the Federation and dampens the imperialistic drive of his people.

Japanese scientists develop the prototype of a small fusion-powered engine for use in vehicles (Furytec drive). Furytec-powered vehicles are as responsive as helicopters, with a maximum speed equal to that of small sports airplanes. Thus, they are the ideal means of transportation for the large cities brimming with skyscrapers. Since the fusion reaction inside the Furytec drive creates close to no pollutants at all, these drives are also ideally suited for use within the Japanese city domes.


Astronomers discover that the third planet of the solar system Irata, 80 light years away, is very similar to Mars. Even the chemical composition of the atmosphere is nearly identical.


Hoping to be able to colonize this planet sometime in the future, the Federation sends a probe to Irata III, featuring a new second-generation fusion drive. After its arrival, the probe will release a finely measured quantity of Gabanium into the atmosphere of Irata III.

The probe will take approximately 100 years to reach the planet. The atmosphere should be breathable 300 years after that, if everything goes according to plan.


China surprisingly presents the prototype of a generation spaceship to cover distances of several hundred light years. Project Starcruiser is based on the fusion drive of the probe sent to Irata III by the Federation three years ago, and has room for up to 3,000 passengers. Until now, the Federation was assuming that China did not even possess knowledge of cold nuclear fusion technology, much less a second-generation fusion drive. It's suspected that China brought the technology into its possession by means of espionage. But the spaceship boasts even more technical highlights the Federation either didn't know of or which are still at an experimental stage and therefore classified. The inertia absorbers in particular should be mentioned in this context. These allow the ship to accelerate using maximum power without harming the crew or damaging the equipment. The Starcruiser reaches a baffling maximum speed of 80% of the speed of light.

Towards the end of the year the president of the Federation, Eva Goreman, accuses the Chinese Empire of industrial espionage by asking publicly how a nation that produces 80% of its power by the antiquated means of nuclear fission could suddenly present a spaceship with a modified fusion drive. The governing Chinese dictator, Xu Derui, strictly rejects this accusation.


The technical advances made in the field of nuclear fusion within the last years are also utilized in arms development. As a result, the Federation has manufactured large numbers of advanced hydrogen bombs. These set free a mind-boggling concentration of radioactivity combined with a huge explosive effect and a large impact radius. The new warheads are used by the Federation mainly for long-range cold fusion missiles.

February 11th, 2143

In the morning hours of February 11th the Starcruiser embarks on its first and last voyage. 3,000 colonists from all population strata of the Chinese Empire are aboard. The destination of this voyage is kept secret. So is the technology that was installed during the last six months to enhance the fusion drive.

February 13th, 2143

Two days following the launch of the Starcruiser the ship disappears from the screens of Imperial ground control. After a short search a Chinese flight squadron finds debris which probably originates from the Starcruiser.

February 14th, 2143

China accuses the Federation of being unable to accept the technological advancements of the Empire and implies that the Starcruiser was destroyed by a Federation fighter squadron for this reason. Hot-tempered Chinese dictator Xu Derui threatens the Federation with vengeance for the death of the 3,000 colonists.

February 15th, 2143

President Eva Goreman announces that the Federation is not interested in Chinese plans for colonization and that the states had never planned to sabotage them. Furthermore, she considers China's claims to a leading technological position arrogant and provocative. China could only rightfully claim this if they were in possession of detailed information on Federation technology. Has China, therefore, indirectly admitted to industrial espionage? Furthermore, Goreman announces that she deeply regrets the Starcruiser incident and expresses her condolences to the remaining relatives of the 3,000 colonists – although the destruction of the ship would seem to prove that the Empire has overestimated its own abilities.

February 16th, 2143

Xu Derui declares that further proof has been found for the presence of Federation fighters shortly before the disappearance of the Starcruiser near the last known position of the ship. Enraged, he once again threatens with vengeance.

That very day, Goreman announces that the Federation will no longer tolerate these repeated and unfounded threats.

February 17th, 2143, 06:40 a.m.

The sensors of a German radar station pick up three shadows above the English Channel, which are only visible for a few seconds.

February 17th, 2143, 06:58 a.m.

On a rainy morning in London, England, the city is suddenly bathed in a bright white light. Seconds later eight million people are dead.

February 17th, 2143, 07:45 a.m.

A meting of the crisis committee at Federation HQ, New York, is held. It is decided to tune the sensors of all radar installations to the frequencies of the German station which detected the missiles that destroyed London.

February 17th, 2143, 08:02 a.m.

Two Kerolin stealth missiles hit Berlin, Germany, and destroy the city. Since the sensors of the Federation satellites were aligned to the navigation frequency of the missiles, they were able to detect the missiles 40 seconds prior to impact. In addition, 27 other missiles approach other major Federation cities.

February 17th, 2143, 08:07 a.m.

With the SALT-17 treaty of 2104, both the Federation and the Empire had agreed neither to produce nor to launch any Kerolin stealth missiles. The deployment of this treacherous weapon by the Empire will now destroy all densely populated portions of the Federation within the next 20 minutes.

At 08:07 a.m., minutes prior to the total destruction of the Federation, President Eva Goreman gives the command to counter-strike with cold fusion long-distance missiles. 85 of these missiles are launched from Federation platforms, targeting Imperial cities. President Goreman and more than 90% of the Federation's population will not live to see the moment of impact.

February 17th, 2143, 14:00 p.m.

In the last six hours approximately 23 of 24 billion human lives have been eradicated.

End of February 2143

Triggered by the enormous detonations, volcanoes erupt, earthquakes ripple through the ruins of the cities, and the waters of giant flood waves mix with the blood of the fallen victims. Those still alive fear that this is the end of the world, and for most of them it will indeed be.

The Second Ascension


Within the following centuries, due to the unnatural tectonic activity, the face of planet Earth changes in a way that would have required millennia under normal circumstances. The North American continent appears to deviate to the east, while Europe drifts away from Asia. Africa and South America have for the most part sunk beneath the waves of the oceans – but for the eastern part of Africa, which splits from the rest of the continent and drifts northward, there to collide with South Asia.

Those few survivors of the war, the radiation, and the ensuing natural disasters form a new kind of ethnic human race. Trained by the ongoing escape from death and hardened by the fight against the overpowering forces of nature, small groups and tribes gather all over a planet slowly coming to rest.

Earth and mankind are now in a state comparable to the early Iron Age. Although some knowledge has been passed on over the generations, there is a lack of any kind of infrastructure that might help put this wisdom to good use. Technical devices surface sporadically from the debris, but people lack the knowledge to repair them. Only occasionally does a tribe gain possession of a functioning technical device, which then is enshrined and worshipped like some kind of deity. Most humans feed on vermin and other small animals. A few plants prove to be nourishing, as well.


Some tribes begin to trade goods with one another. In regions of less radiation tribes conduct farming and cattle-breeding. Metal-processing trades prosper in the heavily contaminated regions. People living in the latter territories have developed a higher resistance to radiation during the course of generations.


Some very few people gain electricity from water and wind power, using it to run primitive technical installations. Still, public power supply systems are non-existent.


The total population of Earth now amounts to approximately 800,000 human beings; 75% of them living in the northern hemisphere. The remembrance of World War III, which only lasted a few hours, has long since found its way into the lore and customs of tribes all over the world. In some tribes people talk about the cleansing white light, in others about the fires of the apocalypse and yet other tribes believe in the breath of the devil, which haunted the earth and banished the human race from paradise.

Although memories of the catastrophe which condemned mankind to its primitive state are kept alive by lore and customs, there are certain tribes that do not specialize in farming or cattle breeding, but in the art of war. On the one hand they raid prosperous tribes in order to obtain their goods and wealth; on the other hand they offer their fighting abilities to other, weaker tribes, giving them the opportunity to deal with unfriendly neighbors.


Two warlike tribes with strong leaders become widely known: the tribe of Crahn and the tribe of Thor. Both roam contaminated Earth in pursuit of wealth and power. While the people of Thor wander through the northwest of the nameless new continent, the tribe of Crahn has declared the east of the continent its territory. Both tribes gain size and remarkable influence over the years.


While searching for minerals a patrol of the Crahn tribe discovers an entrance hitherto buried beneath rocks. Since they presume an ore mine to be within the cave, ten of the tribe's strongest men begin to excavate the entrance. After working for four solid days they discover a cathedral-sized passage that leads deep into the mountain. Upon clearing the way of all obstacles and venturing deeper into the mountain, the pioneers are dumbfounded by encountering other human beings.

They learn that these people have lived inside the mountain for countless generations, isolated from the outside world. Their ancestors had sought shelter from the forces of nature in the caves centuries ago. After the entrance to the caves had been buried, no other exit remained. A subterranean river supplied the troglodytes with water and food and thus they dwelled in the colossal underground caverns of the mountain range for centuries.

The skin of these people is hardly pigmented and they are extremely thin and lean of stature. They are bald and have big black eyes with virtually no white left. It seems that they don't communicate verbally and are all but blind.

When one of the warriors hits a cave dweller on the head just for fun, his companions witness the assailant being raised nine feet into the air by invisible hands prior to exploding! Afterwards two witnesses confirm that the eyes of the cave dweller glowed red during the incident.

From then on the cave dwellers are treated with great respect. They are led to Crahn, who is immediately fascinated by them. Since he assumes that one day his tribe will benefit from the powers of these people, he decides to admit the cave dwellers into his tribe.

Though they quickly learn to talk, the troglodytes nonetheless keep to themselves. Since they obviously possess telekinetic psi powers, the other tribe members call them Psi Monks.


The tribe of Thor and that of Crahn meet at the Sea of Silence in the heart of the new continent. Both tribes claim the western shore for themselves, which leads to a grim battle eventually won by Crahn's people – through the help of the Psi Monks. Thor's people flee from Crahn's troops and regroup further westward.


Because of the psionic powers at his command, Crahn believes himself invincible and follows Thor's troops. They reach Jeriko, the home town of Thor's people. In a bloody battle Thor's tribe is reduced to a few thousand men, for whom Crahn sets up a prison camp. Here, they are forced to perform heavy labor. One night, Thor and a group of about fifty fellow prisoners manage to escape from the ruins of the city he once ruled. They flee westwards, seeking refuge with the tribe of Ceres. Though Thor and Ceres have never been allies, they always tolerated each other peacefully. Ceres admits the exhausted men into his tribe. Since Ceres is aware of the considerable threat Crahn poses, he proposes an alliance to Thor.

The area around Jeriko, former home of Thor's people, is for the most part only irradiated to a minimal extent and lies strategically well-protected, situated slightly above a river's mouth. The Psi Monks suggest that Crahn build a mighty fortress atop the ruins of Jeriko in order to consolidate his power. Crahn, being the vain person he is, agrees. He declares construction of this fortress the beginning of a new era and therefore calls the fortress Neocron (Greek for: neo = new, cronos = time).


Six years later Jeriko has disappeared. Where the people of Thor once lived, the mighty fortress of the new age is now situated: Neocron. It is ruled by Crahn and the Psi Monks.


One day, Thor and Ceres hear about the arrival of a traveler from afar called Mecando. Curious about him, both leaders visit the outpost to meet Mecando. The old man tells them about the small tribes and their accomplishments, about heroic deeds and tragedies... and about Neocron, the huge fortress where nobody would offer him refuge.

One evening, as Mecando, Ceres, and Thor sit together, Mecando asks Ceres about the origin of his name. Ceres answers that his people once undertook an expedition to the north of the new continent. They advanced into a very cold and inhospitable area. The further they marched to the north, the more men froze to death or starved. When they finally decided to abort the expedition, they discovered the tomb of a great warrior. A huge rock overhang covered the entrance to the tomb and enormous steel doors sealed the tomb itself. The only part discernible from the outside was a black granite slab on which the word 'Ceres' could be read. Upon closer inspection the men also could make out the words 'Wisdom... Power...' and '...Knowledge...'. The rest of the engraved words had been worn away by the elements over time. Ceres presumed that a mighty tribal leader had been buried here. Since the tomb was apparently several hundred years old, he decided to help Ceres rise again by adopting his name. He hoped that by assuming the name of this northern tribal leader, the gods would give him the strength to lead the expedition home safely. And so, indeed, they did.

Mecando tells them that he has encountered the name 'Ceres' before in stories and myths, although he's unable to recall their exact content. But he is sure that there was no connection to any warrior or tribal leader, and he urges Ceres to lead him to the spot where the tomb lies. Ceres, aware of the dangerous terrain up north, is not too eager to give in to the old man. But Thor becomes curious and is prepared to lead an expedition to the tomb. The warnings of Ceres fall upon deaf ears and after he describes the way to the reputed tomb, Thor, Mecando, and a dozen tribesmen journey to the stark landscapes of the north.


Thor's expedition has been underway for nearly eight months and has been reduced to as many men by the time they find the place Ceres told them about. Mecando is convinced that they must enter the tomb to unearth its secret. The men begin to breach the enormous steel doors, and when Thor and Mecando enter the depths of the 'tomb' they sense that nothing will ever again be as it was before their discovery.

And thus the people of Ceres come into possession of mankind's entire knowledge as of the 22nd century. For months, the tribe sages study the Ceres Project. They uncover specific instructions on how to erect workshops, factories, and power plants. Ceres orders a valley in the west to be sealed off and the scholars of his tribe begin to experiment with the newly discovered knowledge. Mecando becomes chief researcher and Thor is usually the first to test the new acquisitions. Since he never stopped dreaming about conquering Neocron and freeing his oppressed people, he urges Mecando to develop new weapons enabling him to accomplish this goal. Despite Ceres' doubts, Mecando is convinced by Thor to work on the development of new weapons.


Of course, the discovery of the Ceres Project cannot be kept secret for long. By now, the monks of Crahn have established an excellent intelligence service. Many of the brightest and most agile citizens of Neocron have been recruited for the NSD (Neocron Security Department). The NSD succeeds in planting some of its members in the Ceres Project, who pass on information to Crahn’s followers. Crahn knows that in the event of war his people cannot come up with anything equivalent to this technological leap. Therefore, he orders the Psi Monks to initiate the elite of the NSD spies into psionic techniques, which will enable them to read the minds of the Ceres Project researchers.

The tribe of Crahn succeeds in acquiring large amounts of knowledge about the Ceres Project by utilizing these methods. However, the NSD spies are discovered and executed in the wake of a failed attempt to steal the Ceres discs. After this incident, only citizens and friends of Ceres' tribe are allowed to participate in the project.


Ten years after the discovery of the project, Ceres decides to begin with the construction of an enormous city in the still sealed-off valley. He wants to realize all the theoretical knowledge gleaned from the Ceres discs in this city. Mecando advises him to encase the city in a protective dome of specially treated glass and steel in order to protect it from the deadly radiation. Ceres publicly announces his plans, and so the Dome of York becomes a legend long before its actual foundation is laid. But in Neocron things have changed, too: the people of Crahn have begun to put the newly acquired information to good use and are expanding the city. The buildings become bigger and grander with every year.


On his deathbed Mecando passes the secret of a new weapon on to Thor. He calls it 'energy weapon' and explains that it does not shoot projectiles of solid matter, as do conventional firearms, but bundled energy. Mecando also tells him that he already has developed a prototype of this weapon and where it can be found.

Thor gives orders to press ahead with the development of this new weapon. He plans to distribute several hundred weapons among his men and to attack Neocron by the end of the year.

Ceres and Thor argue about this plan, with Ceres advising Thor to forget Jeriko and Neocron. Still, Thor is bent on freeing his people. Ceres threatens to abandon him if he won't discard this plan. But Thor mocks Ceres by saying that his men are the only warriors, anyway, and that the tribe of Ceres would be defenseless without him.

Copyright 2006 ReaKKtor
Permission from Niddhog to Delphi


Copyright 2006 ReaKKtor
Permission from Nidhogg to Delphi