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 The Ceres Project is withdrawn from the MIT and is classified as a top-secret state affair.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.
Throughout spring, Thor mobilizes his men and some new followers from the ranks of Ceres’ tribe to take Neocron. Thor's men are equipped with a powerful hand weapon which shoots heavy plasma. This glowing green concentrated energy beam wields an enormous amount of destructive power. As Thor's men leave the city, they know there's no turning back. Ceres has told them that anyone choosing choose war over peace will forfeit his place in this community.
The Battle of Neocron doesn't last long. After Crahn and his Psi Monk bodyguards manage to escape, the remaining Psi Monks surrender quickly, realizing that they stand no chance against Thor’s powerful energy weapons. Thor is displeased by Crahn’s escape, but the joy and jubilance of the liberated populace comfort him sufficiently to take his mind off this disappointment soon enough. Not only do his own people cheer him; Crahn’s people hail their rescuer, as well. They, too, have suffered badly under the cruel reign of Crahn and his monks. They now hope for the instigation of an honorable government with Thor, whom they have heard so many encouraging tales about, heading it as a just ruler.
Crahn and his bodyguards escape to the Wastelands. Building on the base of ancient ruins, they begin to erect a fortified abbey. In the course of the following years Crahn dies. His guards found the Brotherhood of Crahn in the abbey. This sect will become a most influential religious group in the following decades.
After seven years of growth, justice, and progress under Thor's benevolent reign, he considers himself too old to continue his rule of Neocron. He passes power on to his son, Regant. Regant wants to develop Neocron into the most powerful, most modern, and largest city of the new world.
The construction of the Dome of York is nearly finished, as well. Following the insights gained from the Ceres discs, York is structured like a 22nd century city. The dome of former Tokyo, which had protected that city against radiation centuries ago, served as an example for the protective dome above York.
Regant doesn't believe in the dome concept. Educated by Caalron, Mecando’s successor, he designs a plan for a magnetic shield that reflects more than half of the radiation without a material structure. The advantage of Regant's plan lies in the fact that his concept won't limit physical expansion of the city.
Despite the magnetic shield, the population of Neocron still suffers from a disease which can be traced back to the influence of radiation. Regant plans to improve the shield and asks the now 65-year-old Ceres to give him a copy of the Ceres discs to supplement his knowledge of magnetic shields. Surprisingly, Ceres refuses his request, declaring that he had warned Regant's father of bloodshed and that there will be neither partnership nor friendship between Neocron and York.
Bewildered, Regant insists on his right to gain access to the Ceres discs. He points out that it has, after all, been his father who discovered them. But Ceres is not swayed from his point of view. Regant has no choice but to give up his plan.
A lethal viral infection kills thousands of Neocron's residents. The city's medics are helpless, and even the Psi Monks, who have wondrous healing methods at their disposal, are puzzled. Once again Regant turns to Ceres and pleads for access to the discs that, he is sure, contain information on some medicine against the plague. But Ceres proclaims that the plague is the vengeance of the God of the Blinding Light, who is punishing Neocron for the pointless bloodshed.
Outraged, young Regant declares that there will be more bloodshed and begins to prepare his troops for war against the Dome of York.
Regant and Ceres are unable to reach a peaceful agreement. Regant orders the Psi Monks to use their knowledge of genetic engineering – gained primarily while fighting the viral infection – for breeding a stronger and more robust warrior. The Psi Monks, who have studied genetic engineering ever since Thor's capture of Neocron and the introduction of the new doctrine, pursue this task most intensely and develop a prototype, which they call GenTank, after just a few months. The GenTank can be produced as a fully trained warrior in a short amount of time and has all the characteristics Regant requested. In addition, Regant's scientists develop new armored vehicles based on 22nd century military tanks. Piloted by the new warriors with their genetically enhanced reflexes and tactical abilities, these hover tanks become extremely effective weapons.
Ceres, too, instructs his researchers to work on new military equipment. They develop a new kind of walking vehicle, a powerful metal giant equipped with numerous weapons and piloted by an artificial brain. This new kind of field weapon is called WarBot by its developers. Furthermore, they work on a new mass destruction system based on the former nuclear bomb.
Once again Regant asks Ceres to grant him access to the discs. He explains that, regardless of whoever discovered the discs, Ceres is not entitled to use the knowledge of the discs exclusively for himself. In fact, the knowledge stored on the discs should be accessible to all of mankind.
He issues an ultimatum for Ceres to make the discs accessible by the end of the year. Should Ceres not react by then, Regant will use force to ensure that the knowledge on the discs be shared by everyone.
Ceres declares the discs his property and indicates that Neocron has already benefited more than it merits from the knowledge they hold. Regant deploys his army of GenTanks equipped with heavy weapons and attacks the Dome of York with full force. Regant's strategy is based on a short, forceful military strike against Ceres, but he fails to take the defensive mechanisms of the dome into account. The area surrounding the city is covered with mines and spring-guns, and the GenTanks that break through this protective perimeter face an army of WarBots.
What was planned as a short strike becomes the longest military conflict in the history of the new world. While Ceres dispatches his armored warriors to the battlefield, the Psi Monks raise one Tank after the other and the factories spew out thousands of hover tanks.
The earth surrounding both cities is soaked in blood and covered with debris by the time Ceres' scientists discover a weapon based on the nuclear bomb, which would kill unprotected organic material while leaving Ceres' own walking weapons unharmed due to a special shielding for the WarBots. Ceres does not hesitate to detonate this bomb over the battlefields between the two cities. Thousands of genetically bred GenTanks fall victim to the radiation of the bomb. Ceres threatens to deploy the bomb over Neocron if his enemies don't surrender within a week. Little does he know that the Psi Monks have already copied the shielding of the WarBots and have applied it to a new type of armored suit developed by adapting technologies they acquired from destroyed or captured Ceres WarBots. This suit of armor enhances the reflexes and capabilities of the GenTanks even further, and the next wave of GenTanks marches into battle adequately protected.
Because of this protection and the increased power and efficiency provided by these suits, the GenTanks vanquish Ceres' warriors and WarBots and invade the Dome of York. The government is overthrown and Ceres publicly executed. Regant seizes all of the Ceres discs and begins to reveal their knowledge to the public. Furthermore, he appoints a new ruler from his own ranks, who is to supervise the reconstruction of the dome.
Radiation in the area between the Dome of York and Neocron is staggering. Even with the best radiation protection available, the distance between the two cities can't be covered without the unfortunate traveler suffering permanent damage. This leads to a rather isolated development of both cities in the following years.
The irradiated area on the brink of and outside the protective dome is called The Wastelands. The first district of Neocron adjoining these is the Outzone. While the Outzone is protected against radiation, the numerous and hard-to-survey installations and buildings hold a certain attraction for criminal elements. The inner districts of the city are composed of Pepper Park, an entertainment and red light district, Plaza, the actual center of the city, and Via Rosso, the governmental and financial center.
It is a peaceful time that greatly furthers research and financial growth. The Psi Monks, to whom Neocron more or less owes the victory over Ceres, have taken command of the military.
There is no further genetic development of GenTanks. From the Psi Monks' point of view, a battle unit based on an organic being can't be the optimum solution. The existing GenTanks are left to their own devices. Much like the Psi Monks, the GenTanks mostly remain among their kind. Nevertheless, they more or less succeed in becoming a part of the social system. They accept security and bodyguard jobs, thus carving their place in society. But the GenTanks are never drawn into the regular police force.
Regant, who suffers badly from the effects of radiation disease, apparently loses influence and the well-organized Psi Monks become more and more of a secret power within Neocron. The intelligence service NSD, once founded under Crahn's rule, controls police activities and increases its power steadily. The NSD sets up internment camps in the Wastelands, where political opponents are held and tortured.
Regant dies. His chosen successor is found murdered shortly thereafter. The Psi Monks immediately seize control of Neocron. They introduce rigorous laws, but also do much for the progress of the city. In the meantime, the complete knowledge of the Ceres discs has been put into practice, except for space travel. In some areas progress has already surpassed the theoretical knowledge.
For the first time mankind succeeds in establishing an uplink to the ancient satellites which have remained in orbit for centuries. Much to the amazement of the scientists, more than half of the satellites are still operational. By using these satellites, researchers discover that on another continent, which emerged from East Asia, yet another city is being constructed. But since it's situated on the far side of Earth, it is impossible to reach by riding regular vehicles through the irradiated areas. From the Ceres discs, the Psi Monks also know about the Mars colony. The Council of Psi Monks resolves to develop a spacecraft for passing the orbit and thereby escaping the lethal radiation on Earth. By this means, the East Asian metropolis can, indeed, be reached. In a second stage, a spacecraft capable of flying to Mars will be developed.
After twelve years of dedicated work a flying vehicle which is able to break through Earth's atmosphere and travel outside its orbit is at the city's disposal – for the first time in 480 years. A select crew is sent to the newly discovered metropolis. They are amazed when they learn that the city boasts a high level of development both technologically and culturally. Just like that of Neocron, the protective dome of Tokyo II is based on a sophisticated magnetic shield. But the two shields also prevent radio communication between the cities. The Asians react rather coolly to the foreigners and are not interested in any further contact with the western world. Thus, the crew is unable to learn how the inhabitants obtained the old world knowledge. After just a few days’ sojourn in Tokyo II, the crew are awakened by soldiers one morning and escorted to their spacecraft. Without having accomplished much, the envoys return to Neocron. After they have reported to the Psi Monks, the latter decide to ignore Tokyo II and to concentrate on the space travel program instead.
A group of young scientists feels oppressed in its work by the Psi Monks, and the researchers decide to leave the city. They erect a small base in the Wastelands protected from radiation and settle down there.
Named Shirkan after the chief of the PSI Council, a spacecraft embarks in September on a nine-month journey to the Mars colony.
The astronauts discover the remains of the more than 500 year-old Mars colony, Red Terra. The logs show that the colony fell victim to an unknown virus in 2212. Thanks to the logs, the crew of the Shirkan relives the utter despair of the colonists when they discovered that Earth was nearly destroyed by WW III – while at the same time unaware that they could easily have prevented the terrible war from happening, had they known the reason for the catastrophe.
On the 13th of February, 2134, Red Terra receives a distress call from a spacecraft named Starcruiser. They are told that the ship has been hit by meteor debris which damaged the sensors and their long range communications equipment. The crew of the Starcruiser is therefore unable to send a radio message to Earth, but has already begun to repair the equipment. The ship's crew asks Red Terra to forward this message to mission control in Beijing.
But Red Terra knows nothing of the launch of the Starcruiser and the pair of fighters that happen to be in the area are unable to confirm the existence of the ship. Red Terra command therefore thinks the message to be a joke of the patrol and ignores the call. And so disaster takes its course…
The astronauts also learn of the attempt to make the atmosphere of the planet breathable by releasing Gabanium. According to the logs, Gabanium stimulates the growth of the lethal virus on Mars, which is why the experiment was discontinued. A few days later the crew of the Shirkan discovers that Red Terra receives a continuous Hypercom message. It's from the crew of the Starcruiser! The content of the message – arriving every three hours at the colony – is that the generation cruiser has arrived on the planet Irata III, the Gabanium experiment has transformed the whole atmosphere of the planet according to plan, and that they've been ready to receive new instructions for generations.
Apart from these important insights into the history of mankind and the realization of the order of events of WW III, the crew also salvages all kinds of technical devices. The loot ranges from a mini holodisc player to a VR video game console when the Shirkan leaves after its two-week stay on Mars. The metal, which contains the elements needed for fusion drives, is also shipped to Earth in large quantities.
News of the colonized planet Irata III spreads quickly throughout Neocron. The government decides to develop spaceships which can cover the 80-light year distance to this promising planet.
After nearly 20 years of work, the Avenger is at Neocron's disposal, a spaceship which is to take 2,000 people to the planet Irata III on a 90-year journey. The crew also has the necessary equipment for constructing a permanent communications installation on Irata III intended to establish and maintain permanent contact with both Earth and Mars.
The colony Red Terra is once again put into operation. Construction of a vast communications facility begins.
After a powerful explosion in the Wastelands, rumors of hidden laboratories engaging in research on secret weapons and defensive measures abound. Supposedly, the Psi Monks run these laboratories to protect their power by force in case of an insurrection.
The Neocron crime rate peaks. Citizens accuse the Psi Monks of being unable to control the situation despite their iron-fisted leadership. Lioon Reza, an eloquent ex-member of the secret service, founds a group of terrorists, who set their sights on overthrowing the government and reforming the laws of the city.
After a failed attempt to take over the mighty government building in the Plaza district, Lioon's troops succeed in surprising the government of the Psi Monks and banning the members of the government from the city. The remaining Psi Monks are tolerated within Neocron, but are not allowed to congregate or to be active in the field of politics. Many of the Psi Monks of the former government retreat to the old Crahn abbey in the Wastelands.
Lioon becomes the new dictator of Neocron. He introduces the CopBot system to the city. CopBots are policemen-cum-judges and therefore are able to take rigid action against violence and crime in the streets of the city. Laws become strongly simplified and punishment is severely increased.
After an insurrection in the old districts of the city, Lioon decides to concentrate the presence of the CopBots in the inner districts of Neocron. Following this decision the peripheral areas, especially the Outzone of the city, degenerate dramatically. The laws are once again tightened, the only punishment for a criminal act being immediate execution. All aggressive actions are punishable. Carrying unconcealed weapons in the inner districts of Neocron is (after a caution is issued) punishable by death. Everywhere in the city monitoring systems are installed, first and foremost to protect the inner districts ? Plaza and Via Rosso.
The Avenger arrives on Irata III. Red Terra 2, the new colony on Mars, establishes contact with Irata III. Apparently the people traveling on board the Avenger have found paradise on the planet: Irata III is covered with forests and oceans. The Chinese have erected a city of stone and wood, which they call Typherra. The newcomers are warmly received, but the news of the destructive events on Earth shocks the inhabitants. Since the planet is so big, the Typherrans offer to accommodate more people.
Word of the paradisiacal situation on Irata III spreads quickly in Neocron. Lioon Reza decides to populate Irata III and to subjugate the inhabitants of the planet. He promises a prosperous life to the citizens of Neocron if they join his troops and his trek. Most people are sick and tired of malformed children, radioactive water, and the general hopelessness on contaminated Earth, and are more than ready to join Lioon's trek.
For unknown reasons contact with Irata III suddenly breaks off. Red Terra 2 rules out the possibility of a technical malfunction in the communications facility. The plan of the ‘Great Trek” persists nonetheless, although Lioon himself decides to stay on Earth.
The ‘Great Trek’ begins. Forty spaceships, modeled on the Avenger and the Starcruiser, embark on their journey to Irata III. The new design allows 8,000 passengers per ship, which means that 320,000 people are leaving the city. Six months later, another twenty spaceships are launched. But those are only the beginning. Almost daily, more and much smaller ships leave Earth. The fact that contact with Irata III has been interrupted for almost a year now only seems to strengthen the wishful thinking and the hope placed on this new paradise.
The void left in the population of Neocron by those who have embarked on their long journey to Irata III opens up new opportunities for criminal elements. Since the trekkers are forced to leave most of their personal belongings behind, the government decides to collect this property for its own use. But there are others who would also like to profit from the abandoned belongings ranging from everyday utility items to entire buildings. Thus, governmental 'reappropriation' operations are disrupted ever more frequently by criminals and gangs. One man in particular, a lowly criminal named Trevor Denton, succeeds in organizing raids on abandoned property. By forging alliances between several criminal organizations, even between members of the Mafia and the Yakuza, he greatly impedes the government's progress and succeeds in accumulating a good share of personal wealth. But a large measure of his success is based on the fact that he is loyal to no one except himself, betraying every ally whenever it seems profitable. At the end of his short career, Trevor Denton is the most wanted man in Neocron and is finally killed by one of his many pursuers. To prevent any of Trevor's children from taking over the organization, the government arrests all of them. They are either executed or used as guinea pigs for scientific experiments. Two of them, Xav and Zeke, are pardoned after they survive a series of experiments. Xav is disfigured for life, while Zeke Denton has lost the greater part of his memory.
The treks have left their marks on the face of the city of Neocron. Deserted areas and the collapse of the spacecraft industry are among the harmless effects. Lioon increases the presence of the CopBots yet further to prevent those inhabitants remaining in the city from plundering and committing other acts of violence. Still, the CopBots barely succeed in keeping a semblance of order, particularly in sections of the city that are difficult to oversee, such as Pepper Park and the Outzone.
When contact with Irata III is still not re-established four years after it broke off, Lioon's interest in Irata III wanes noticeably. Of course he knows that the treks won't arrive on Irata III before 2840. He, as opposed to the frozen passengers of the generation ships, will be long dead by then. Realizing this once and for all, Lioon's interest turns once again toward the security aspects of the city and his governmental duties.