Global Epidemic

In November of 2037, the fears of biological warfare were finally realized. A previously unknown virological agent appeared in lands of southeastern Europe and the Middle East. This airborn disease quickly spread from its center, reducing cattle, chickens, and other livestock to bloody carcasses in massive numbers. Soon food production was threatened across the entire globe as the virus spread. All attempts to halt its progress failed, the airborn nature of the virus proving too resilient for quarantines to work effectively. To make matters worse, weeks after the initial outbreak, thousands of people in Turkey began to exhibit the same devastating symptoms, leading many to believe that a mutated strain of the exceedingly lethal and contagious virus had adpated itself to the human physiology. As those infected began dying by the hundreds each day, Dr. Aimee Pearce was successful in isolating the human strain and confirmed that it was indeed a version of the same airborn infection, not an Ebola outbreak as some suggested.

Horrifyingly familiar with the unstoppable and lethal nature of the original strain, panicking leaders of the nearby Independent Republic of Chechnya viewed their black-market nuclear stockpile as the only alternative to heretofore ineffective quarantines. Every hot spot in Turkey, and many locations not yet affected by the "Pearce Virus", became the target of short-range nuclear missiles. Outraged, NATO responded in kind to what they considered an unprovoked attack upon a member nation. The military leadership and infrastructure of Chechnya was crippled by the rain of nuclear fire that fell upon it, launched by countries that no longer had the capability (nor desire) for a drawn out conventional war. Though the human-afflicting strain was seemingly wiped out, large expanses of Europe, the Middle East, and Asia were transformed into desolate, radioactive wastelands.

Food shortages combined with the nuclear chaos in Eurasia plummetted the world into a global depression in early 2038. Markets crashed, and order seemed to be breaking down across the planet. Some countries claimed to have evidence that Iraq was responsible for engineering the killer plague and a massive war broke out in the Middle East, leading to an all-out Muslim jihad against non-Islamic nations in the region. While America remained unaffected by both the human-affecting Pearce virus and nuclear altercation, the Global Depression left it in a tumultuous state, with rioting and people demanding action from the government. President Jason Heywood was regarded as inept and incompetent throughout the crisis; little improvement was made. Life was difficult everywhere, and the United States was no exception.

Rise to Power

In the election of 2040, the charismatic Kenneth Edgar defeated Heywood in a monumental landslide. Taking the office in January of 2041, he instituted quick and decisive changes to U.S. policy in order to draw the ravaged nation out of its dark state. The restoration of order was his first priority, followed by policies to increase food production and decrease reliance on imports of any kind (which had become practically nonexistent). President Edgar's hardline, no-bullshit policies were decidedly effective. As the U.S. began to rise out of its economic affliction, Edgar received the highest approval ratings ever recorded for an American president.

President Edgar informed the people of the United States in his 2043 State of the Union Address that the American depression was at an end. In addition to continual improvements to the domestic quality of life, U.S. policy would also turn its attention to aiding the rest of the world in its recovery from its economic state. For the next several years, Edgar not only helped other nations out of the depression, but also solidified the United States as the single most powerful economic, social, and military force in the world. Breezing through reelection in 2044, Edgar announced the end of the Global Depression in 2046.

The Golden Age

Many regarded this as the dawn of a new era. The self-sustatining orbiting space station, Daedalus, which had begun in 2009 but was more or less neglected during the global depression, became fully operational in 2047. Near the end of Edgar's second term, with his popularity at an all-time high, Congress repealed the two-term presidential limit of the 22nd Amendment (at the President's request, most say). Science and technology flourished. Though the human genome project proved to be a fruitless endeavor, medical improvements increased by leaps and bounds. Some considered the fully functional nanomechanical medical robot of 2047 the greatest human achievement since the first fusion generator was put online in 2023. With it, new levels of biological repair and alteration were achieved.

With his historical second reelection behind him, President Edgar announced his intention to complement the Daedelus station with a fully self-sufficient lunar colony. In record time, the process was underway, with regular transports of goods and materials to the space station to be used in the colony's construction. But it was never to be completed.

A Touch of Madness

Most historians consider Edgar's third term to be the greatest turning point in recorded history. Having achieved a goal not realized in over 100 years, many believe that Edgar began to see himself as a sort of divine figure, chosen by God to lead the world. They say he believed that his divine right and incredibly popularity would justify any action. Others simply echo the adage "Power corrupts. Absolute power corrupts absolutely." Whatever the reason, Edgar's attitude towards domestic policy began to subtlely change.

Citing reasons of crime and terrorism (both at some of the lowest rates in decades), Edgar pushed for the passing of decreased restrictions on governmental invasions of privacy in 2049. Using his considerable political sway, his bills moved through Congress quickly: lessening federal reliance on warrants, facilitating monitoring of transmissions over phone and data lines, and beginning the harshest campaigns against civilian firearm ownership ever, despite its protection by a Supreme Court ruling in 2007. To the civil unrest that ensued, Edgar described his vision of a golden future where security of work, happiness, and life would be well worth the small sacrifices of the personal freedom. While many people relented, the grumblings of the masses grew louder, ironically prompting the President to further curtail liberties for fear of increased violent protesting.

The Beginning of the End

In 2050, Congress repealed the 2nd Amendment to the Constitution, the last obstacle to Edgar's goal of public disarmament. Huge crowds of protestors on Capitol Hill decried the actions of the government, straining against the long rows of military guard. A single shot broke out, igniting a massive fire fight between the government agents and armed protesters that left hundreds of civilians and dozens of soldiers dead. All media footage of the event was confiscated by authorities in an attempt to isolate the exact individuals responsible. Edgar plubicly denounced the attack on federal troops by "fanatical terrorist groups", claiming the event was initiated by radical armed protestors, the exact people he meant to disarm.

A day after the massacre, a video clip snowballed its way through across the world through the Internet. The file, a digitized video segment, was coverage of the fire fight from a news camera that had been secretely smuggled from the scene. In it, government officers were clearly shown to be the instigators of the conflict, starting the shootout and firing automatic weapons into the civilian crowd. Agents from the National Security Agency (NSA) began to put Internet backbone routers out of commission in an attempt to curb the proliferation of the digitized video, under the claim of "national security." Unfortunately for them, it was too little, too late. Chaos broke out overnight.

A Nation Divided

Rioting mobs descended upon government establishments across the nation. President Edgar imposed martial law, brought in thousands of reserve troops, and established a shoot-on-sight order for anyone found looting, rioting, or out after curfew. In his words during a nationally televised speech, federal troops had merely done what was necessary to preserve the peace at Capitol Hill. Suddenly desertion was high, and in many cases, entire military bases or states withdrew their support of the federal government as a matter of conscience. The nation stood divided into three groups: those loyal to Edgar and the federal government, scattered resistance fighters who sought to remove the President from power, and those local governments and military leaders who refused to take action either in support or against the federal government. The Second Revolution had begun.

Federal troops, with the advantage of numbers, superior firepower, better resources, and a cohesive command structure, fought to impose their order upon a chaotic nation. For two years, revolutionary forces struggled vainly and nearly all victories belonged to President Edgar (who also "postponed" the 2052 elections due to the state of national emergency). This all changed when Alexander Dyson began to take charge of scattered resistance forces and unify them into a single consolidated army. Borrowing a name from the revolution against Britain, Dyson's Continental Army began to push back government forces, winning the first real victories for the revolution. Bolstered by defecting military units, Dyson organized decisive attacks upon governmental establishments across the country. For the next eight years, he turned the tide of the war, dealing Edgar defeat after defeat.

World War III

In a final assault, year 2060, the Continental Army lay siege to Edgar's central base of operations, a military base in Wyoming. The bloody conflict lasted for almost a year before Dyson's forces were able to break into the compound. With defeat at hand, Edgar played his final trump card. Before his base of operations was completely overrun, he launched as much of the American nuclear stockpile as he could at random global locations. It is estimated that of the nuclear warheads were fired at the United States in response, around one hundred penetrated the American missile defense system. In a single day, the Second American Revolution was over, World War III had begun... and ended.

It is said that one-tenth of the population of the United states, some 50 million people, died at the day of impact, and another 200 million died within the next five years. Every major city had been obliterated. What happened to Edgar or Dyson is unknown, and no evidence of the presidential stronghold was ever discovered (no one is entirely sure where exactly it was located). The survivors of the holocaust came together forming small communities of salvaged technology and resources. Conflicts between factions over goods was common. Though technically worthless, many people still clung to the dollar as universal currency, as they had done their entire lives. Those who managed to salvage their power base from before the war became prominent figures, leading hundreds or thousands of people in establishing a better way of life, either through work or by force. Through the "worthless" money they still possessed and sheer force of will, they acquired followers in order to rebuild the way of life people had once known. These communities developed into giant syndicates that dabbled in every market required for self-sustenance. In time, natural radioactive cool spots were discovered: locations of inexplicable low levels of harmful radiation. Communities came together in these places, building massive structures that rose high in the air, since clean horizontal land was such a precious resource. Oftentimes, multiple cartels would set up operations with the same cool zones, if space permitted. When there wasn't, violent gang wars would break out, ending in either one side obliterated or an uneasy cease fire of sorts.

To the Present

Such a place is Arcadia, located within one of the largest "safe zones" discovered so far. Built upon the foundation of a small pre-war city, its towering buildings, dark with the ash of the holocaust, rise up towards the dimly lit skies of tomorrow. The large number of petty gangs vying for power here came under the indomitable and ruthless will of a single man, Gregory Larkin. After uniting the various factions in 2138 (through whatever means necessary), he suddenly found himself with no more enemies to fight and beset by the mundane needs of a growing city. He oversaw the rebuilding of a community infrastructure: food, roads, housing, power, and utilities. What had once been a collection of scavenging hordes soon became a thriving civilization striving to reclaim the majestic heights of the past. Over it all, Larkin ruled with an iron fist.

His unexpected death in 2144 left a power vacuum. He had left no clear line of succession. Infighting once again lead to warring factions until six such groups consolidated the majority of power and technology under their dominion. Relocating to the fringes of the city, they now keep up the pretense of civility while a cold war wages in the dark streets and back alleys of downtown Arcadia. None dares attack openly, lest they break the unspoken truce and unite their rivals against them. Instead, each strives to gain the upperhand through strength, advances in technology, and covert mercenary operations, while dozens of minor gangs and a million inhabitants attempt to eke out what existence they can. Now doubts about the future of the human race take seed in the minds of the people. Will humankind rise above the collapse of nations... Or is the ashen sky above just the leading edge of the falling night, signifying the end of man's reign over the Earth?