Subconsciously, we all harboured the thought it might happen – somewhere, somehow, sometime – but we were either too wrapped up in basic survival or chose to dismiss it from our minds. We kidded ourselves nobody was evil or foolish enough to take on the free world. We have to consider, though, the notion of a ‘free world’; it is a misleading concept as very few of us are truly free from control or manipulation by governments, religions, influential individuals and/or global corporations. Armageddon has been on the minds of many throughout history and, due to the propensity of human beings for greed and their desire for power, it has always been considered a strong possibility, inevitable, or even, perhaps, our destiny – the fate of human evolution. If it was going to happen, we only had ourselves to blame. We had been half-expecting it, yet done little about preventing it. It became inevitable, though the only variables were when, where and how?
It did come and, by God, it was apocalyptic. It arrived suddenly, unexpectedly. Within a single year, human existence across the world was taken to the brink of extinction. Life faltered and wouldn’t regain a semblance of normality for many decades to come. Some societies turned in on themselves and were lost to time; distant memories in the annals of history. Others cut themselves off from the rest of the world for fear of further conflict. Few, if any, remained close, as fear and mistrust ruled everyone’s thoughts, following the onslaught unleashed on the world by the cruellest of doctrines – terrorism.
London, 2012. So wrapped up in their own self-importance and invincibility, the leading member countries believed it wouldn’t be possible for the spirit of the Olympics to be targeted by terrorists ever again. Ever since the Black September attack at the 1972 Munich Olympic Games and the political boycotts in the 1980s, the Olympic Games had risen like a phoenix from the ashes and had been seen and used as the one key, uniting and bridge-building event in human history. A coming together of the global community – the myriad of races and creeds, all ready to compete against one another in harmony and respect. But, behind the scenes, perhaps it was an opportunity for powerful totalitarian states to promote their greatness by domination in sport.
In opposition to that belief, and over the same span of time, came the birth, growth and proliferation of extreme terrorism. How quickly life became cheap as people obsessed with the pursuit of imposing their own ideals. Assassinations, barbaric executions, shootings, the hijacking of planes, bombings and suicide bombings were initially localised in areas of conflict and carried out against ‘soft’ indigenous ethnic groups, western targets, other religious or social beliefs and even their own kind. The ability to promote causes with freely available communication systems capable of reaching the most remote corners of the Earth seemed to feed this cancer in society; the ability of terrorists to trade their propaganda to news channels hungry for sensational news. It wasn’t many years before terrorism showed the world it could play with the big boys. Activity escalated dramatically with many increasingly audacious attacks globally – 9/11, Bali, Madrid, Belsan, Moscow and London. The list grew constantly.
This focus on the ‘sensational’ Western incidents is by no means deliberate – nor does it understate the vast number of atrocities committed over many years by Al-Qaeda and other terror organisations towards so many innocent people – it is to demonstrate the imaginative capability of terrorists to carry out increasingly daring and effective attacks against supposedly unassailable and benign targets. The G8 and burgeoning industrial nations in the last few years believed they had the measure of their terrorist enemies… or so they had thought.
Despite the assassination of fundamental terrorist figureheads in the very early years of this century, and with the tightest security ever seen in the United Kingdom, Al-Qaeda had managed to surpass all the combined evil ever delivered against the human race that had gone before. With extreme patience over many years and through meticulous planning, they had managed to deliver the death knell of society in one simple and truly effective stroke. The most unsophisticated of plans managed to go unnoticed; a scheduled airline from Pakistan to London Heathrow suffered some ‘terminal difficulties’ before take-off, rendering the flight suspended. However, a spare plane happened to be ‘available’, following essential maintenance. The flight was at first delayed but, due to the immediate availability of this plane, passengers were transferred and the flight took off a few hours later. The trusted pilot, co-pilot, cabin and ground crews, all of whom were long-standing Al-Qaeda sleepers, had been waiting for their calling to martyrdom. The ‘replacement’ aircraft whilst undergoing maintenance had been prepared secretively with an old Soviet nuclear device stowed in the luggage hold. On approach for landing at Heathrow, the crew simply diverted at the last minute, flying low across the city, aiming for the Olympic stadium, which was packed with global heads of state, dignitaries, the wealthy and a few ‘lucky’ individuals, all enjoying the lavish opening event.
There would never have been any notice for the authorities to have responded to the threat, nor for the visitors, athletes and surrounding population to have avoided the impact. This was Al-Qaeda’s opening gambit for the ultimate jihad and fundamental Islamic world domination. The device was detonated above the stadium and such was the destructive power, it levelled everything across a ten-mile radius in a matter of minutes and caused considerable damage for another ten. The consequential firestorm gorged itself on the remnants. Through this one despicable and pivotal crime against humanity, Al-Qaeda had ensured they had tainted every country in the world with their malevolent and indiscriminate trade; hundreds of thousands of innocent people immediately vaporised, the misery of many more yet to die from the horrific injuries inflicted upon them by the destructive power of the blast, and the legacy of the suffering to follow from the radioactive fallout. The world had been sentenced to death following this one initial barbaric crime; the killing of the Olympic sentiment and the destruction of the once-great city of London.
This single inaugural act was, unfortunately for the unsuspecting people across the world, the sign for Al-Qaeda’s dormant army to unleash their jihad using thousands of splinter cells in every single major city across the world. Each member of these splinter cells had been hand-picked at a very early age, systematically indoctrinated, thoroughly trained in the art of terrorism, prepared for war, then exported to every single country to become model citizens, keeping low profiles and within the law… until their calling, that is. Each and every attack was designed to inflict severe losses in human life and property. This meticulous plan of hatred saw attacks on highly populated venues including shopping malls, football/sports stadiums, cinemas, metros and cruise ships – millions more dead as a result of a well-organised and well-executed attacks. Governments reeled under the onslaught. The United Nations was in complete disarray, powerless and unable to respond effectively to counteract this mindless violence as it increased in frequency and ferocity. It was as if the soldiers of hate were feeding off the bloodlust and they made sure they had plenty of blood to enjoy. The following weeks saw additional concerted attacks across the world on innocent people, with governments apparently lifeless and powerless to act, other than to count the heavy toll on their populations, communicate the results and promise swift retribution.
It was China who retaliated first; not known for their restraint, they unleashed the full horror of their biological arsenal upon known and suspected Al-Qaeda strongholds in the Middle East, North and East Africa and South East Asia. The chosen weapon was an engineered and extremely contagious strain of the bird flu virus. Although it had the desired effect on the terrorist heartlands, it was a huge and costly mistake for greater humanity! All those who came into contact with it succumbed to the infection, which debilitated the strong and killed the weak and the young. Despite the indiscriminate manner in which the virus was deployed, its initial spread was at first localised and appeared to be under control. Then, as with all life throughout evolution, the virus, outside the confines of the laboratory, mutated and proliferated freely beyond the target areas. This unfortunate turn of events rendered the antiviral protection the Chinese had developed useless, taking China and the rest of the world by surprise. Their existing viral control measures were only good enough for the laboratory-bred strains; no thought had been applied to how the virus would develop outside the laboratory’s sterile environment! The human race was on the verge of extinction, and by its own hand – how ironic.
Third world countries were decimated as the virus spread, simply because they were without the resources to combat the viral pandemics that ensued. Victims who suffered with the infections and survived without the antibiotics were disfigured and considered subhuman by those privileged enough to have access to medical assistance. Populations polarised in the fallacious safety of cities, leaving the expanses of the countryside to mutants and outcasts, building barriers to keep out the unwanted and any potential contamination – not that physical barriers would stop any pandemic despite the expectations of many unsuspecting individuals.
In time, within what remained of the developed nations, scientists managed to overcome the viral threat, but at a heavy price; the world had changed and would never be the same again. It was, unfortunately, going to be an extremely unpleasant experience for those who survived… Countries fragmented in the resulting power vacuum and anarchy reigned. Food was scarce, conflict became the norm. Al-Qaeda, although no longer, had at the very least triumphed by causing the total disorder of their sworn enemies. The strongest and greediest survived, took control and cared for little else other than power and wealth. The Wilderness Years, as they became known, were times of real hardships as the human race had to all but start anew. Needless to say, people suffered and there is a tale to be told of how the world evolved between 2012 and now, but that must wait.
New York, late June, 2064 – the key remaining habitable city in what was many years ago the thriving land of the free and home of the brave. It was always seen as a beacon for those wishing to start over, a place where the pavements were littered with gold and opportunities were just a hand’s grasp away for those wishing to work hard and earn their fortune. That was a long time ago. Now, following the viral wars, the appeal of the place is simply survival; a safe and secure haven with unrivalled medical expertise and security of life second to none. It is sad to see how people’s visions or expectations are always so different to the reality!
The mass exodus from the countryside, following the viral wars, had seen New York expand into former neighbouring states, eventually to the point where it couldn’t expand any further and was literally bursting at the seams. That is until the authorities realised their ability to control and subjugate increasing numbers of citizens was on the verge of collapse. They mobilised the State Militia to stop the endless migration of refugees, initially by blocking routes into the city, turning the masses back at check points, then, inevitably, as tempers flared and urge increased with frustration, terminal physical force was used. Following increased armed skirmishes with desperate people and trafficking gangs, the State commenced the construction of a massive steel and concrete wall surrounding the city. These ‘protective’ and regularly patrolled defences managed to keep the unwanted out and the controllable in. The desire to gain sanctuary was always stronger for those who didn’t realise there was none. Within the walls awaited a life of sheer hell, as they would find out if they were lucky enough to avoid death when breaching the defences.
The scene is set for a future that is totalitarian, extremely challenging and soul-destroying. Yes, human resilience propagates progress and a tiny degree of human normality returns but the masses remain oppressed. The ever-widening divide between the rich and powerful and the ordinary people creates an undertow of resentment and the kindling of opposition. The police state cracks down hard; the tale begins…