today is THURSDAY
the date is OCTOBER 12
the year is 2038
the weather is OVERCAST
the contaminant-index is MODERATE


D'ya ever get the feelin' yer being twisted in the timestream?

How could such a strange and alien world as Neon Twilight come to be? Here is the account of what has happened over the past forty years to shed some light on why things are the way they are now. History veils many secrets, so not everything is included or explained satisfactorily, but all secrets eventually emerge...

The world at the turn of the century was in the midst of a titanic re-alignment that had only begun during the nineteen-nineties. Momentous occasions were celebrated by the people of that era: Eastern Europe's slow but certain merger with Western Europe, South America's gradual rise towards uneven prosperity, Asia's troubled growing pains, the completion of a permanent international presence in orbit, the West's struggle to cope with cultural and informational change, and Russia's troubled transition towards wealth and stability.

Yet old religious and cultural rivalries still seethed beneath the surface of a seemingly progressive and rational global village. China's ambition came to match its vast economic and military power; its expansion into Mongolia and Burma came as a surprise to few analysts. America's declining importance bred protectionist sentiments which were exploited by opportunistic politicians to create a fear of foreigners, which in turn exacerbated race relations. India and Russia demanded to be heard around the world, and threw frequent temper tantrums when things did not go their way. By 2010 the major Powers had begun to re-arm, seeing in each other enemies whose cultures were so alien that they posed a threat deeper than mere economic domination. China's increasingly belligerent stance in East Asia alarmed Russia and India. The Europeans were too busy integrating their poorer neighbours and dealing with civil wars in North Africa to notice.

The World Seems Secure...
Until 2010 the world seemed much like today; new technologies emerging in the rich world, growing wealth and rivalries in Asia and South America, and a unifying Europe taking its place as a voice in the world. American economic, diplomatic and military power, though weakening, was still felt across the globe. The geopolitical situation was stable in a multi-polar arrangement between America, Europe, China, India, Russia and Japan. A manned mission to the Moon and probes to Mars had been successful, and people were once again enthused with the idea of colonizing outer space. Although there were a few setbacks - such as the peaceful disintegration of the Canadian federation - the world as a whole appeared to be moving towards democracy and capitalism. Few realized that a democratic country has the same nationalist and imperialist tendencies as a dictatorship. The acquisition of nuclear and biological weapons by several new countries was also a cause for concern. Iran's nuclear tests in the fall of 2008 nearly prompted the US to invade, but tensions were soon cleared by intense Russian diplomatic efforts. The disintegration of Russia's southern flank during the Russian Border Wars (Georgia, Chechnya, Dagestan, Tajikistan, Bashkortorstan) continued even while its crony-capitalism economy flourished under the semi-dictatorship of President Kamenorov. And so the stage was set...

Sparks in the Middle-East
One troublespot remains a sore spot for all countries: the Middle East. As the demographic baby-boom surges through Islamic countries, old regimes begin to fall, starting with Algeria in 2008 to Saudi Arabia in 2013 to Syria in 2015. These eager youths eventually institute a moderate form of Islam in most cases, but the revolutionary bloodletting is terrible. American troops under Central Command are asked, very firmly, to leave all Arab countries. Relations chill considerably, but American troops eventually leave. The proliferation of mass-destruction weapons in these countries alarms everyone. The new Arabian regime, angered by foreign troops in neighbouring countries such as Oman, and disgusted by the more liberal states of the Gulf, invades the Arabian Rim and quickly conquers neighbouring Yemen, the UAE, Oman, and Bahrain. During the Tens Iran also undergoes a revolution, but an economic one, as it finally industrializes and rejoins the world economy. Ironically, Iran's government becomes friendlier to the West even as the regimes around it become less so. Arabia's eager expansion eventually triggers an Iranian invasion of Iraq in 2016 to create a buffer zone. A counter-move by Syria quickly partitions Iraq between Syria, Arabia and Iran, all of whom are on the verge of fighting each other.

2015 Mideast War
Syria in turn extends its grip on Lebanon, provoking an Israeli military response which quickly flowers into a border war in the Golan Heights. United by a shared hatred of Israel, and spurred on by rumours that Israeli intelligence provoked the confrontation between Arabs to weaken them, Greater Iran, Jordan, and militarized Arabia support Syria's offensive into the Golan Heights. The 2015 Mideast War erupts fully on March 7, 2015. Subtle threats of chemical and nuclear weapons are exchanged while Arab forces advance towards Jerusalem. Israel places its SSBN fleet on full alert as Arab and Israeli jets battle over Tel Aviv. Things have changed since 1973, and now the Israelis face foes whose economic and military power makes them far greater threats than ever before. To the dismay of Israelis and Americans alike, Arab forces advance rapidly on the ground and achieve a stalemate in the air. Pakistan sends troops to reinforce the Arab offensive, in turn prompting India to begin a defensive build-up in Kashmir. As Arab forces surround Beersheba and Israel openly contemplates a nuclear strike, Great Britain drops a diplomatic bombshell by revealing that its agents have conclusive proof of Chinese 'technicians' being directly involved in the fighting. China counters that American technicians are also helping Israel, prompting vicious debates over intervention in the UN Security Council. With Israel slowly losing the conflict and ready to fire its nuclear missiles, the American president acquiesces to a Congressional demand that a 'peacemaking' expeditionary force be sent to Lebanon and the Dead Sea to delineate a UN ceasefire line, by force if necessary.

Within weeks American marines are fighting Pan-Arab forces on the Lebanon-Syrian border...and winning. Turkey is asked by the Islamic Conference (OIC) to assist Arab forces. It cites neutrality and refuses, and is expelled from that organization. Unpleasant news also awaits the US: the Europeans, fearful of war and confident of getting oil supplies from Russia, refuse to send troops to invade the sovereign countries of the Middle East. NATO becomes torn. American congressmen are outraged that "allies who were saved by Americans now refuse to help us". The French Commander of the European half of NATO is 'fired' by the American SACEUR. France, Germany and Italy 'temporarily' withdraw from the unified command structure in protest. The Atlantic Alliance is becomes moribund.

American Forces Occupy Arabia
As fighting intensifies in the Middle East the Islamic Conference urges OPEC to cease distribution of oil to America and its supporters. The war has already destroyed much of the production facilities, interrupting the flow of oil to Western Europe, Asia, Japan and China. Years of secret maneuvering by the Chinese in Central Asia now pay off, as the PRC reveals that it has exclusive rights to ship Uzbek and Kazakh oil, effectively denying America, Europe and Japan vital oil supplies. It is later revealed that this was the moment when Japan negotiated a non-aggression neutrality agreement with China in exchange for oil and freedom of the seas. Russia is incensed by the Chinese coup. Long-standing negotiations between Russia and India are finalized in the Treaty of Tomsk military alliance. The Chinese are accused of conspiring with Islamic countries to deny oil to the rest of the world. The Chinese in turn accuse the Americans of supporting the re-armament of Japan and of causing a viral wheat-epidemic which caused famine in south-western China in 2014. India is accused of arming insurgents in Tibet and Mongolia. As suspicion builds on all sides, East Asia enters a financial crisis-of-confidence that weakens its economies and exacerbates ethnic tensions. Westerners blame China for arming the pan-Arab forces with deadly weapons of mass destruction. The USA manages to convince Britain, its old NATO ally, that an invasion of Arabia to secure oil supplies is absolute necessity. Within weeks the heavy fighting in Lebanon and Damascus shifts to Aden, Riyadh and Doha. Pakistani intervention grows as China begins naval exercises in the Andaman Sea. Incensed by the global situation, and finding little support for its policies outside of Europe (and friction even there), the US begins a military build-up in several places to defend its vital shipping lanes and chokepoints.

Sino-Russian Conflict Flares
As fighting devastates the Middle Eat, The Chinese Central Military Commission, fearing total energy isolation or control of oil supplies by hostile Americans, decides to risk war with Russia in the hope that the conflict will be short and decisive. Citing historical claims to the land the Russians call Primorskye Kraj (north of the Amur), China invades the Russian Far East in a surprise attack on May 17, 2017 to secure the abundant oil and gas resources of Sakhalin and the Sea of Ohkhotsk. Chinese paratroopers quickly capture Sakhalin and Vladivostok but are repulsed by a tactical nuclear explosion in the city. The brutality of the fighting (in what appears to be a race war) shocks the rest of the world. The weak Russian forces, most of whom are engaged in Central Asia and the Caucasus, are smashed and forced to retreat hundreds of kilometres. The world holds its breathe as nuclear war seems imminent. Yet Russia holds back its nuclear weaponry, rightly guessing that the Chinese can match them in missiles but wrongly assuming that 'superior' Russian troops will eventually drive the 'Chinese peasants' back. Russia invokes its alliance with India, but its partner is content merely to harass border troops. As a UN delegation tries to hold cease fire talks, China seems to be winning its gamble...

Korea Reunified in Fire
The Vladivostok Incident proves to be the final spark for the tinderbox of the Korean Peninsula. Frightened by North Korea's deployment of its nuclear arsenal and by Chinese chemical attacks only a few hundred kilometres away in Russia, South Korea presents an ultimatum that all non-conventional North Korean weapons be placed in storage. The North refuses and deploys its strategic rocket forces. Border skirmishes escalate until finally the North launches an incursion large enough to be called an army. War is declared on July 2, 2017 despite American attempts to restrain both sides. It later becomes evident that the war was provoked mainly as a diversion from China's invasion into Russia. North Korea is on verge of collapse anyway, and without Chinese assistance it chooses to settle things through war rather than reform. As fighting begins in earnest, America starts shipping troops via Okinawa/Japan. The war goes badly for the demoralised North Koreans, and Allied forces soon force their way into the heart of the country despite warnings from China that it will not tolerate American troops on its border. Fearful of starting a war with China, American negotiators (the Infamous Five who allegedly sold America out during the negotiations because they over-estimated Chinese military strength by a factor of 2) conclude a peace treaty with North Korea and China. The negotiations soon include Russia, India and Europe. The new Republic of Korea absorbs most of the North except for a thick buffer zone between it and China, to be maintained by UN troops. Finally, three months later, China and Russia agree to a ceasefire and negotiations, in which Russia cedes Mongolia and most of Primorsky Kraj to China but gets back Sakhalin. The Mideast War continues as American troops occupy Riyadh and Bahrain. Then tragedy strikes the region: as American forces move into the giant El-Baraba oil fields in NE Arabia, an unknown paramilitary group detonates a large thermonuclear device over the oilfields. 230 American troops die instantly; over 4,000 die of radiation sickness and the heavy radiation from the dirty bomb renders the oilfields useless for decades. US aerobombers reduce Damascus to rubble in retaliation. American forces now occupy two-thirds of the peninsula and are extracting enough energy to power America for the time being, but the cost in lives and terrorism on American soil in horrendous. Thousands die in skyscraper bombings, along with hundreds of American Muslims murdered by enraged mobs and National Guard vigilantes. It is at this time that the Federal Bureau of Security is formed to combat Islamic terrorists and raging mobs alike.

APEC Isolated
Strengthened by its seemingly painless victory over Russia, China makes new demands within global organizations, and holds military exercises near its neigbours' borders to intimidate them into compliance. Pressure by China on other East Asian countries eventually leads to an historic vote in which America and Amazonia (Mercosur) are expelled from APEC, instantly plunging the region into a crisis. China claims that "the era of American colonialism in Asia is over" and issues an ultimatum for Taiwan to rejoin the motherland or face isolation. The US military steps up its sales of arms to Taiwan and sends covert soldiers to help prepare the island's defences. On November 5, 2015, China institutes a blockade of Taiwan. Taiwanese attempts to break the blockade result in several ship sinkings, including an American merchant liner which the Chinese accuse of smuggling weapons. As American President Merim ditters over what actions to take, hundreds of American 'volunteers' arrive in Taiwan despite the blockade. The prickly Chinese leadership, about to lose face by being stared down by a tiny island, decide on an extreme course of action.

The Pacific War Begins...
The quick victories over Russia embolden the Chinese leadership. Thinking American resolve to be weak, the Politburo decides to invade Taiwan in a lightning strike, but not before making sure that America cannot intervene on its behalf. On January 27, 2016, The Chinese People's First Digital Shock Corps launches a massive softwar attack on American communications networks throughout Asia, shutting down control systems, overloading servers with worms, and flatlining most network traffic within the Asia-Pacific region. The attack is disguised as a major network crash, but the American Defence Information Systems Agency recognizes its true nature and launches its own counter-attack. The resulting chaos causes massive disruptions and numerous fatalities across the world and provides the perfect cover for the amphibious and airborne invasion of Taiwan a mere four hours later. Public news of this takes two days to reach the outside world as all network news and comsat systems are disabled. Chinese troops continue inland towards Taipei while the American Congress debates whether to declare all-out war. American volunteer troops engage Communist troops in an undeclared war as the war deepens on the second day and Taiwanese resistance falters. When Taipei falls, the escalation is a shocking as it was predictable. Panicked by China's skillful attack and certain that the softwar attack on America precluded reinforcements, the Taiwanese leadership authorizes the use of chemical weapons on Communist troops. Without even thinking about the consequences, China responds with a massive chemical attack that wipes out most military and civilian life outside Taipei - including 6,200 American soldiers. Amidts raging economic-network chaos in America, President Merim is accused of gross negligence and impeachment proceedings begin. He and his entire cabinet resign less than twelve hours later. Merim's last act is to accuse China of 'an electronic Pearl Harbour' and formally declare war. Since the vice-president is equally blamed for the fiasco and resigns with his superior, the Speaker of the House urges the respected Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Haldeman, to assume the Presidency until elections can be held, to do 'everything within your means to repel the Chinese invasion of Taiwan'.

President Haldeman begins by authorizing the activation of the secret Athena/Medusa constellation of war satellites to destroy all Chinese space objects. The 'Week of Comets' sees thousands of Asian satellites fall to the earth as communications in East Asia grind to a halt. The US Congress passes the War Resolutions Act which reintroduces conscription and nearly doubles the military budget. Fearing an imminent American invasion, Chinese forces hop from Taiwan to invade the Philippines and quickly overrun the weak defenders.

United Nations Dissolved
In an historic session of the United Nations Security Council, a majority of countries vote not to act against China, including - to America's stunned surprise - the representative of the European Union (citing the wish for a 'peaceful solution'). A humiliated and furious America threatens nuclear armageddon and resigns from the United Nations, followed by Russia and Amazonia, and eventually about a quarter of the remaining members. The United Nations is effectively dead, and the general assembly votes to 'temporarily' suspend operations until all members wish to attend. World War III has just begun.

As India withdraws from the U.N. it also begins preparations for a quick strike into Pakistan. With tacit American approval (who fear Pakistani support for Arabia), India invades Pakistan and clashes with China. The Chinese drop their support for Pakistan in exchange for a truce, and the war goes well for the Indians until Islamabad uses tactical nukes in defence of Pathna. The short exchange disrupts electronic systems enough to shatter both federal governments, and both countries disintegrate into local units. The fighting continues for another decade.

American Setbacks
The war quickly turns into a disaster for the Americans when their prized Nimitz carrier battle group is attacked and sunk by Chinese brilliant missiles, all the more galling for having been developed with the aid of American technology corporations. The Sakhalin cease-fire zone erupts again as Russia attacks to regain its lost territory, but soon turns into a quagmire. Other East Asian nations, smelling a Chinese victory, side with the People's Republic and begin expelling Westerners. Thailand and Singapore break their ties with America altogether. Ironically, Vietnam is the only (unoccupied) country that sides with America, and fierce fighting starts around Hanoi. The war goes better in the Middle East, where Israeli/American troops seize most of Arabia. Islamic commanders faithfully follow their emergency orders and detonate underground nuclear devices to destroy all oil reserves. Only a few are successful, and oil production begins again within six months. Egypt is the first Arab country to sue for peace. During this time the Greeks provoke a border war with their ancestral enemies, the Turks. Most of the European Union sides with Greece, and Turkey is quickly defeated by European Legion troops. As the government collapses, Kurdish guerrillas build their own state in the south-east.

Americans are stunned by another blow, this time political. Japan, having recently voted in a nationalist and isolationist party, decides that it cannot support the American war in the Pacific. Japan withdraws all military assistance and reveals its secret nuclear arsenal, claiming to be a nuclear power and warning China not to even think about invading the Islands. In response to this the US militarizes and annexes Okinawa. During the year US 'softwar' programs overcome Chinese computer defences and manage to either corrupt or paralyze most command-and-control functions. In a blow for American battle-computers during the Battle of the Senkakus, the remains of the Chinese fleet are sunk and American air superiority is re-established. Allied troops are fighting across East Asia, from the Andaman Sea to North Australia. The first cases of new disease outbreaks begin to emerge from the war zone, rapidly overwhelming health care workers in Sumatra and Vietnam.

By late 2019 American forces have make strong gains in Burma, Malaysia and have recaptured the Philippines. Casaulties run high on both sides, but Chinese resolve weakens as supply networks collapse. The Plague is spreading to Africa, Europe and the Americas, with deaths running the hundreds of thousands. Osaka Conference agrees on preliminary biosafety protocols to contain the outbreaks. No specific source is found.