Movers and Shakers

During the beginning of the 2032 Elections in the United States of America, it first looked like it would become a relatively easy victory for Republican President Frank Michaelson. However the sudden death of Michaelson from a stroke, triggered by a brain aneurysm, left the Republican Party scrambling to find a new candidate.

Having to rather rapidly organize the primaries, left the Republicans in a chaotic state and with a number of comparably merely average candidates. George P. Bush, former Senator of Texas, was finally elected to run against the Democratic nominee, David Sternberg, who had already run against Michaelson in the 2028 Elections.

Sternberg got elected by a relatively comfortable margin, prepared to leave his own mark on American politics.

Much like pre-implant genetic diagnosis during the first decade of the 21st century, genetic engineering was a hotly debated topic during the Sternberg administration, as Sternberg was in favor of the new methods and the opportunities it presented. The birth of the Nagata Twins in Japan even put the topic to the top of the list for the majority of 2032, prompting hefty discussions about the pro and contra sides.

Fears of supersoldiers, -humans and -diseases were presented by those against, while the cure for cancer and solutions to fight off several genetic diseases and other medical advances were by those in favor.

Although the arrival of Apophis was out of his control, the events following the discovery, up to its capture had a negative impact on the Sternberg administration, as fears arose among the general population in its wake and his administration tried to downplay the situation. They were acting on the suggestions of Sky Watch that eventually proved to be incomplete, and this in turn fell back to Sternberg.

All over the globe Apophis lead to an increased feeling of fear, panic and unsafety within the population, urban and rural alike. While in the beginning signs were weak and humanity was in a ‘we can handle this’-mood, things slowly turned for the worse as the looming threat came closer. The reactions on the Global Web and its effects were afterwards described as the latest and most unreliable factor in terms of panic control.

The entire chain of events gave birth to a new global economic crisis, one that came close to the one spawned by the Wall Street Crash of 1929.

Companies foreclosed, plants shut down. At first only a few, but as the economic equivalent of dominoes continued, soon suppliers and co-contractors went down along. Some closed due to lack of personnel, as qualified people started to quit their jobs willingly. Then there were factories that went bust due to sabotage, as employees destroyed machinery to get laid off.

Things didn’t only happen at the bottom however. There were managers and owners that willingly bankrupted their shops, stores, factories and left with all the belongings, causing their employees to stay behind empty handed and jobless.

The prices for gold, rare earth metals, food, oil and many other resources soared. Immediately this created a rush of people who wanted to get away from Earth, higher than the capacities of the settlements on the Moon and Mars, or the transport capacity.

There was an increased desire to seek shelter, physically as well as mentally, causing traffic jams near bunkers, once built out of fear for the alien and human threats, as well as causing a resurgence of people turning to their faiths. New ‘religions’ arose, preaching stuff like the Apocalypse or the End of Days, some of them armed to the teeth.

Worldwide the death toll caused by suicide increased and the media quickly adopted a name that would be remembered in history “Apophicide”.

Suicide wasn’t the only thing that increased though. Crime rates rose as well as. People either didn’t care for their safety anymore or perhaps it was the only thing they cared for anymore. Looting became a great problem and people got killed while looting. People got killed while protecting their property. People rioted, sometimes outright revolted, demanding more protection.

In the United States, Sternberg was forced to resort to the US Army and the National Guard to try and restore order, having to declare martial law over more than one state, hurting his reputation further.

Among these events, other inquiries of Sternberg had less time in the news. Sternberg was one of the main supporters for the ‘Declaration of Sophont Rights’ within the United States. They had been in place for ten years at the time, but had been harder to push through in parts of the United States.

Sternberg was also responsible for the creation of ‘Alien Relations’ bureau within the Departments of State and the Interior, and had been calling for employing aliens in these bureaus.

Something Sternberg was not involved in, but which still was of great importance to the United States had been the integration of Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands into the Union, as the 51st State, Puerto Rico. After every plebiscite of the Puerto Rican population from 2012 on had been in favor of becoming a state of the United States, as opposed to keeping the status quo or independence, Congress decided to grant statehood.

In hindsight, Sternberg was not a bad president at all as he had done what he had to do to lead America throughout the crisis. However the link to Sky Watch politics, the big issues surrounding the Sternberg administration and the firm decisions that had to be made to cope with them hadn’t made him a popular president. The Republicans came out victorious during the 2036 elections, where the Republicans had selected Christopher Shriver Schwarzenegger, Senator of California, who had taken former Puerto Rican Governor Philippe Torre as running mate, granted him a good percentage of the hispanic voters. Additionally it improved relations to the US latin american neighbours.

In 2037, the long awaited ‘Big One’ hit California. With its epicenter right below the city of San Rafael, in the Northern San Francisco Bay area, and having a magnitude of 8.5, it was the strongest recorded quake in the history of California, stronger than even the famous 1906 and 1989 quakes.

The tremors of the quake traveled along the San Andreas fault into the Cascadia Subduction Zone where they triggered a number of smaller submarine landslides. These caused several small tsunamis which combined into a larger one that hit the coast of Washington state, devastating parts of the coast west of Portland, before traveling over the Pacific ocean where the wave hit Hawaii and parts of the East Asian coast, doing relatively little in the way of damage.

Knowing what to expect Schwarzenegger immediately declared a state of emergency in California and sent in the armed forces to support the California National Guard. The quick reaction of both the State and Federal governments to the earthquake, as well as the harsh regulations for new buildings that had been in place since the 1989 quake, resulted in a relatively low count of fatalities and casualties. Damages of several tens of billions dollar however mounted up and the Golden Gate Bridge had to be closed for the following two years to affect repairs, adding to the damages that still lingered from the Apophis Crisis.

The Quetzal in the United States, who had settled down near Monterey, were among the first to help after the quake, with their anatomy allowing them to get into some places where humans were challenged and render first aid to a number of trapped survivors. A few Turukal specialists, working as mining engineers in the Rocky Mountains, also quickly arrived in the Bay area, supporting with large scale excavations and rescues, while orbital surveillance helped to find trapped survivors.

In the aftermath of the ‘Big One’, the San Francisco Bay area slowly rebuilt, as they had done many times before. The California Government passed new, harsher regulations for the construction of buildings and other structures, based on those that had survived the ‘Big One’.

While Schwarzenegger was best known for his quick and proper reaction to the ‘Big One’, his administration also worked more on the international stage, reducing tensions with the Chinese and the Soviets, while taking the last few steps to return to the good relations between the European Union and the United States before the Oil Crisis. Schwarzenegger also tried to shift the United States foreign policy towards the emerging local powers of Africa, especially in the longer aftermath of the ‘War on Terror’ in East and West Africa and the increased attention for the continent by the other major power blocs.

With the first completely ice free North Pole in 2036 and the following years, resources within the Polar regions, especially oil and gas, became more readily available to the United States, Canada, the Soviet Union and North European nations. It resulted in increased tensions concerning these areas over the rights to exploit the resources there and an increased presence of naval units of the interested nations as shows of force.

The European Union expanded in 2033, with the admission of Turkey into full membership, lengthening the border to the Soviet Union as well as giving Europe a more direct involvement in Arabian politics. Turkey had long since developed a native industrial infrastructure that could compete with the other European nations and now it would be further integrated into the greater European trade and infrastructural networks.

The integration of Turkish military units into Euroforce went on relatively smooth, thanks to cooperations between the Turkish military and Euroforce in the decades before, as well as German officers and troops of Turkish ancestry in all sorts of positions within Euroforce.

As genetic engineering, especially on humans, became an issue on the global agenda, the European Union was leaning more towards allowing its use, though there were loud voices speaking out against it. It was largely a personal issue, the majority of the social-democrats and even conservatives supported genetic engineering, while the majority of the greens opposed it.

Only one point was yielded by all involved, genetic engineering had the potential to help many people, but could also lead to a two class society with one class almost literally being better than the other.

The Pope also commented on the issue, surprising many with a stance in favor of genetic engineering. God had given this technology to mankind. So as long as it was used to ease the suffering of the weak and sick, and to provide help to those in need of it. He also noted that he was against the use of genetic engineering to allow parents to ‘tailor make’ their children, describing it as being against Gods will. Genetically engineered super soldiers were also not something that genetic engineering should be used to created.

During the mid 2030s, the EU and China slowly worked on a set of treaties, reducing tariffs on Chinese wares on the European markets, as well as on European wares on the Chinese market. However the relations were strained with the events that lead to the South East Asia Crisis of 2043.

The results of the Apophis Crisis on Europe were downplayed by the various governments, while their involvement in the rescue, through the European company Orbital Industries, was overplayed. The European economy, slightly more robust than in other parts of the world, still took heavy damage and while Spain and France saw heavy riots on the streets, Germany, Britain and Italy appeared to keep relatively calm during these times.

In the aftermath however, Europe needed slightly longer than other parts of the world to recover from the economic crisis in the wake of Apophis.

In the Soviet Union the admission of Turkey into the European Union was seen with a wary eye and a certain discomfort. Turkey was a local power in its own right and had developed a very capable military and was very active in the politics of the region. Turkey also had a direct border to the Soviet Union and could allow a bridgehead into areas important for the Soviets industry, like Kazakhstan and Siberia, should it come to a conventional conflict between the West and the Soviets.

Development in Siberia and in some of the lesser developed soviet republics, like Kazakhstan, the situation of the population improved with an improvement of life standards, as higher levels of technology filtered into these areas.

Interestingly, global warming was seen as a somewhat positive effect by parts of the Politburo, as the melting of the permafrost of Siberia gave way to areas where people could be settled down and build up a larger agrarian industry. It also made exploitation of the resources of Siberia easier for machines and people.

As for the political views of the Quetzal, they were becoming more and more of a problem to the Politburo as they continued to shake up the established politics. While the KGB was doing a decent job of keeping down the Quetzal views to the public eye and influencing their children more towards the Soviet model, personal contacts to the Quetzal lead to scientists and normal workers being enlightened with the differing way of Quetzal communism.

To combat these new ideas, new curriculums were implemented into schools and new forms of political educations were developed for the older population, to highlight the achievements and success of the Soviet model, while clearly emphasizing the similarities to the Quetzal model and at the same time carefully downplaying the differences.

While it was a reasonable success, not everyone was swayed by the new propaganda. In some cases people of dissident position needed to be removed from overly public views, but the Politburo did not want to rely on the methods of earlier times .For most of these people, new arrangements were created in remote places, removing them from the public view. places like the Moon, Mars, Venus or one of the various Soviet space stations were not uncommon to be re-assigned to, although the vast majority would be posted in newly founded cities along the Trans Siberian Maglev.

In Budushcheye, the city of the future, and the presumed model city for the Soviet Future on other planets, the problem of this policy could best be studied. The number of dissidents in the city was rather high and slowly the KGB officers sent in to keep an eye on them became influenced by political views that differed from official Politburo politics. It slowly turned Budushcheye into a melting pot of political discussion, wherein even the KGB officers in the city participated.

From Budushcheye, a covert sense of change and revolution slowly spread along the new cities of the Trans Siberian Maglev, hidden under the transportation hub that was set up to feed the Soviet industries of the west with resources from Siberia.

Siberia was not the only place where problems stirred. In the Eastern European puppet nations of the Soviet Union the prosperity allowed old ideas to resurface and take hold again. Nationalism stirred in many of the young generation, directed against the Soviet Union and the forces that still occupied most of those nations.

In Poland the majority of the population still followed the catholic faith and even decades of communism hadn’t removed the faith from the minds of the people, even though the communist party had tried. That alone drew the aversion of some parts of the Polish population, while at the same time rumors came up along with the growing knowledge about genetic engineering. These rumors spoke of Soviets using Poles and others in their experiments with genetic engineering, often exaggerated by mentioning mutations, abysmal creations and other horrific side effects.

The ever present social networks of the Eastern European networks spread those rumors faster than any other medium in earlier times would have been able to and not even censoring them helped to stop them, it only managed to achieve the opposite. The rumors did their own to the growing contempt against the religious Poles and the comments of the Pope on the subject did not help matters either.

The Apophis Crisis added fuel to the smoldering fires, when additional units of the Soviet Red Army were sent to assist the national militaries in restoring order during the worst of the Crisis. The fact that more national military units opened fire on rioters and looters was largely ignored, and most of the blame for ‘avoidable deaths’ was placed solely on Soviet shoulders.

Only in East Germany the situation remained quite calm during the Apophis Crisis, largely due to West Germany. Where the mood of the West German population remained stable, the East German government proved to be able to get their own people to remain quiet as well, stating that they could not be outdone by ‘class enemy’.

China used the 2030s to further expand its sphere of influence, using its newly established hold on Myanmar and Cambodia to try and drive a wedge into the Asian-Pacific Cooperation Pact and bring more of its nations into the fold.

The aftermath of the Apophis Crisis presented itself with a prime opportunity and China offered support to its southern neighbours, like Laos and Thailand, who gladly took the support offered, while Japan, India and Indonesia were able to do little to prevent that besides sending in diplomats. They were in no position to offer support themselves as they were too occupied internally due to similar troubles.

In posturing of offering support to its southern neighbours however, China chose to partially relocate forces and materiel used to keep order within their own borders. It lead to resurgence of dissidence within the nation, though it dissipated quite quickly, as it became apparent that China did expand its power, feeding the intense national pride of the Chinese people.

Before the Apophis Crisis, China had begun to earnestly fight desertification in the wake of global warming, especially as the desert moved ever closer to Beijing. In a true Chinese tradition, the Central Committee began with a series of massive projects to plant trees within the desert, as well as build new channels and settle new agricultural areas where it had been lost decades earlier. And China had success. It was slow but measurable.

Genetic modification, once the first taboo was broken in Japan, became a matter of personal and national pride, especially in the wake of the One Child Policy. As parents were generally only allowed one child, they began to look into way to make sure that their child was their dream child. Genetic engineering became the method of choice to make sure that their child was getting everything it could. Laws and medical guidelines limited the full extend of gene modification however to make sure that the current generation was not left behind by the newest, but would still make sure that the future would be Chinese. Of course there were also bribes to officials by parents who wanted a little more than what was approved by the Central Committee.

Troubled as it was, the Asian-Pacific Cooperation Pact managed to hold onto its position during the 2030s, but it became clear that the interests of India, Japan and Indonesia were differing more and more, with the Chinese actively working to break up the coalition of nations. For the moment however they managed to keep together, though the Bloc in this form would not survive beyond the 21st century.

At the time, the schism of the APCP was already becoming visible.

For a long time Australia, New Zealand and most of Oceania already formed an association of nations of their own within the APCP, and over time they had set up good relations with South America, while Australia and New Zealand also kept up good relations to most nations of the British Commonwealth.

Australia experienced a period of economic growth, even during the Apophis Crisis, and this did extend to New Zealand and Oceania. Most of the economic growth happened largely thanks to the discovery of the Arckaringa Oil Field near Coober Pedy and a number of other discoveries of natural resources in the Outback. These were mainly made by the Turukal as they searched for new places to set up their burrows, due to their rapid population growth.

Turukal population number had passed 10000 in 2031 and steadily grew to nearly 60000 in 2042. An interesting thing was that most of the Turukal born on Earth readily identified themselves as being Australian, largely due to the good and close friendship between the Turukal and the humans of Coober Pedy and South Australia. The Earthborn generation also quickly developed their own sort of culture, mixing human australian culture with Turukal culture and faiths of the survivors. Humans that grew up and worked alongside the new Turukal generation also adapted this new culture.

The Turukal affinity to applied science and engineering also helped the formation of stereotypes, cementing their status as ‘Australian Space Wombat Dwarfs’, while the entry of ten Turukal into the Australian Armed Forces in 2039 set a precedent for the Quetzal to do the same.

India itself formed another larger faction, together with Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka and the Maldives, with India being the big partner. The rivalry between India and China was well known internationally and the Soviet Union saw it as an opportunity to expand their own sphere of influence, offering their help to India to counter China. As the Soviet Union had already intervened in India’s favor during the last Indo-Pakistani War in the second decade of the 21st century, India was interested in the cooperation.

This stance of India towards the Soviets lead to a decline in relations to the other nations of the British Commonwealth during the 2040s.

The Apophis Crisis hit India hard, disrupting large parts of its industry and forcing the government to use the military to keep the peace as best as they could. The time lead to a resurgence of inter-religious problems, especially in Punjab, where Muslims and Sikhs were targeted by Hindus and in some cases the reverse.

The situation in Punjab nearly descended into another Indo-Pakistani War around the disputed areas between the two nations. It was only prevented by pressure from China and the Soviet Union, as they were uninterested in a local thermonuclear war breaking out between the two nations.

The third faction that formed within the APCP was formed by Indonesia, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, Micronesia, Vietnam and Palau. This bloc managed to keep good relations with the Australian bloc, and tended to focus their own attention more towards South America.

The fourth and last group within the APCP was formed by Japan, the United Republic of Korea and the Philippines. This bloc was formed more out of necessity and being politically close to the United States. During the early 2040s however, they began to improve their relations to Australia and Oceania.

In Syria, the al-Farkh government slid into a heavy crisis following the Apophis Crisis. In the wake of the presumed impact of the asteroid, panic within the population lead to riots, and the government tried to restore order by giving the army carte blanche, after the police failed to keep order, many officers even partaking in the riots.

When images showing the deaths of hundreds of rioters became public, the riots intensified and in several cities people began to take control over the rioters, directing them at the army. Even after the end of the Apophis Crisis, the riots didn’t stop and eventually turned into a rebellion against the government of Nazim al-Farkh, who had kept a hard hand in control of his county, especially as people from neighbouring nations started to cross the borders to aid the oppressed populations.

Israel saw this as an opportunity and the Mossad assassinated a number of high ranking members of the government in an attempt to further destabilize the Syrian government, and remove the pressure from at least one side, as Syria needed to remove army units from the Syrian-Israeli border to fight rebels. Meanwhile the Syrian rebels were supported with weapons by the Israelis through several backdoors.

The Soviet Union on the other side, trying to gain a foothold in the Middle East, supported the al-Farkh government with weapons and advisors, who were also covertly trying to bring the nation into its own Sphere of Influence and removing it from that of Egypt and Saudi Arabia. Nazim al-Farkh, who was in his late sixties and suffered from several chronic diseases, was flown to Moscow to be treated by the best Soviet physicians.

On behalf of the EU, Turkey tried several times to reach a peaceful solution, so did Iran, but over the course of the next years the situation itself became chronic with no solution in sight. At most, it was possible to contain the situation as best as possible and keep it from spreading out into the Lebanon, Jordan and Iraq.

Surprisingly the population of Israel kept rather calm during the Apophis Crisis and for the most part it was business as usual. At most more Israelis returned to their faith, and the heads of the various sects of the Jewish faith claimed that the asteroid was another test of faith from God.

In Saudi Arabia, the house of Saud had been having a difficult time to stay in power for the past decade, as the younger generations felt that they did not want to follow the outdated views of those in power.

The situation that finally lead to its downfall was an incident during the 2038 Hadj. Five Quetzal and two Turukal of Islamic faith intended to take part in the Hajj in Mecca and were openly denied access by Saudi Arabian security forces on the airport of Mecca. A group of Western African Muslims, several of whom had been helped by the Ivesi Fakuxi Shiry before the ‘War on Terror’, witnessed the situation and got involved on behalf of the aliens.

The security forces kept denying the aliens access to Mecca, with several openly calling them infidels, drawing in more pilgrims, the majority surprisingly supportive of the aliens. In the end the aliens were still denied access to the Hajj and had to leave Saudi Arabia.

This incident lead to a growth of the feelings of defiance among the younger generations, who were largely influenced by modern media, the mostly positive positive examples set by the aliens, the newly discovered Europans, as well the effects of the ‘War on Terror’ and saw the negative effects of the islamistic influences within the Saudi-Arabian government.

Large parts of the younger generations began with a campaign of civil disobedience, as well as protests, putting pressure on the government.

Following the general chaos of the Apophis Crisis, Africa enjoyed the beginning of a longer period of stability since the decolonization of the continent in the mid 20st century, aside from a few minor disputes and the disruption by the Apophis Crisis, which had relatively low effects on the largely rural population of the continent.

The European humanitarian help program in the Maghreb, lead by European interests to reduce the number of African refugees, lead to several large attempts to reduce the desertification of the areas in the Maghreb. Several key technologies developed for space flight to produce clean water that could be simplified were introduced to give the people an ample supply of water. Modern, yet simple agricultural systems that could be adopted were taught and provided food. These programs in turn also helped with people learning to think more for themselves and not fall in the hands of Boko Haram.

Two giant geoengineering projects were started in North Africa as well. The Sahara Sea Project was undertaken by the European Union and several North African nations, and the Qattara Depression Project of Egypt with the support of China. Both were geoengineering projects that built tunnels and channels from the mediterranean sea deep into the Sahara desert and flooding the depressions with water. Turbines built into the tunnels could even provide large amounts of electricity, while the seas themselves could provide new coastlines and the opportunity to develop the desert itself into land used for agriculture, as well as allowing easier access to minerals that were hidden beneath the desert.

The Guinean Union had pulled through the ‘War on Terror’ and the peacekeeping forces of the United Nations West African Intervention Force allowed the nations of the Union to rebuild in peace. Relations to Europe suffered during the time however, as there were still some people about who again called out that the only reason for the intervention was ‘recolonization’, thanks to the Islamist propaganda. This resulted in politics taking a long, hard look inwards, even up to refusing aid and diplomatic contact for a while.

The return of the Ivesi Fakuxi Shiry to the Guinean Union in the wake of the ‘War on Terror’ and the help they rendered, especially the two survivors of the Boko Haram attack on the first Ivesi Fakuxi Shiry expedition had an interesting effect. There was a sense of shame present in the areas visited by the Quetzal, as it was aliens showing humans how a good Muslim lived and worked, how they helped. Due to this, a good number of muslims converted to the Ivesi Islam, slowly building its number.

The East African Federation had meanwhile stabilized itself after the ‘War on Terror’, with the military intervention in Somalia, with the help of the APCP forces, providing a ‘formation myth’ for the EAF military and a common piece of history. It also left the EAD with close ties to India and Indonesia, which strengthened as China moved in on their direct neighbours.

Somalia had been pacified from decades of civil war and strife, where entire generations had been born knowing nothing else. This meant that a serious effort had to be made to build up something resembling a nation within the borders, where there had been no effective government for decades. EAF military as well as Indian and Indonesian forces were needed to keep things under control, and would likely be needed for at least twenty years. By 2039 however Somalia had something close to a constitution, and in 2041 they held the first actual elections, though those were heavily corrupted by tribe leaders trying to buy themselves into the new government.

In southern Africa, Zimbabwe, Nigeria, South Africa and Botswana had grown closer since the first decade of the 21st century, first by combining their national space programs, then sending a joint support force into the ‘War on Terror’ and by 2037 by adapting closer economic ties by forming a trade union as well as coordinating their external politics, where they tried to remain as neutral as possible, reaching out to any of the major power in the world and actively helping to negotiate between the nations of Africa as best as they could.

During the 2030s, the relations between the South American nations kept improving, with Mercosul slowly consolidating into a powerblok that could become a counterweight to the United States within the Americas. But that was not without setbacks.

The Apophis Crisis and the following economic crisis had a negative effect on the Brazilian and Argentinian economies and for a short time both nations fell back to the military to reestablish order in a number of cities, like Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paolo or Buenos Aires, where mobs of workers and jobless roamed the streets of the inner cities and pillages shops and factories.

As a result the economies in South America needed slightly longer to recuperate compared to the economies of other nations. Cooperation in rebuilding from the economical crisis however helped to improve the relations between the nations. Internationally Mercosul strengthened its bonds to Oceania and parts of Asia.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *