Copyright © 2002 by Bob Hall.
Vignettes by Joe Gregg
The following historical excerpts were taken from the 'Offical Lunar Encylopedia' by the Copernicus Institute. Certain editorial liberties were taken to keep the summary brief.
Widespread disaffection among the growing Chinese middle class led to labor stoppages during 2006-7, finally resulting in a military takeover and repressive crackdown. Many members of the stagnating communist party were purged, leaving the national bureaucracy crippled. Food shortages resulted following the 2008 crop failures, and the nation appeared to be descending toward chaos. The Beijing reforms of 2009 brought some relief, but not before many millions had perished. It took over a decade for the nation to recover their economic power.
To protect their borders from the rampant turmoil in the former USSR, Poland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic are inducted into the Pan-European Union. Russia and the slavic states protested bitterly, but there was little they could do.
The human genome project is completed, eventually resulting in major medical advances in disease treatment, life extension, and understanding of the human mind. However, the new knowledge is not enough to prevent two lethal epidemics from sweeping the globe during the decade, proving particularly lethal to the large elderly populations.
Other technological advances include the paperless school, live video feed to every home, the first genetically modified human fetus, 3-D movie theaters, and the first terahertz computer chips. Physical limitations take their toll, however, and the rapid advances in computer miniaturization come to a grinding halt. Additional enhancements in computer subsystems only improve performance to some degree. The cost of developing new processors is now so high that the industry is completely dominated by a single multinational company.
Virtual reality has gone from a concept to an everyday experience for all the advanced nations, and a majority of their people spend most of their time plugged into the net. Much of the infrastructure is based on high capacity electronic communications, as most of the physical labor is taken over by automation, robotics, and tele-operated machinery. The more poorly educated masses are increasingly shut out of the primary economy, as the remaining low-wage skills are shipped overseas to emergent nations. This growing numbers of the unskilled and unemployed are trapped in a descending cycle of poverty, and many found escape in VR formula shows or the newly designed psychotropic viruses.
New advances in quantum computing allow the first large scale quantum devices to be built. As a result, large changes in the computer network infrastructure are required as past security measures are rendered void. Incidents of cracking and computer piracy see a resurgance and several international banks fail. High density one-time disks are used en masse as an emergency replacement, but prove effective.
The old brick and mortar school systems are replaced by the virtual classroom, requiring a major restructuring in the educational system. Instead of grades, students now follow thread paths with groups of similarly qualified peers. Graduation requires the completion of a set of standard threads plus a number of optional educational threads. Talented lecturers achieve the status of stardom within this new system, while most teachers are relegated to on-call consultants for students with questions. Education is nationalized, requiring a national sales tax to fund the school networks.
The retrenchment policies of the increasingly corrupt and indebted US government created a growing reactionary movement among the non-technical, disaffected masses. Widespread sabotage of the commercial network by this movement led to a information crackdown and takeover by the techno-elitist. The resulting government was a democracy in name only, with the representatives being elected from among the educated class. This led to a lengthy campaign of active, and often violent resistance by the outcast Popular Welfare Party.
The Hawaiian liberation movement took advantage of the situation on the US mainland to declare the islands independent. Martial law was declared and military forces were redeployed to maintain control. The elitists took advantage of this crisis to reform the Constitution and declare the Presidency a life term.
2114 saw the first nuclear exchange between two countries as the long escalating war between Pakistan and India finally erupted into full conflict. A limited exchange resulted in the devastation of urban areas on both sides of the border. The industrial areas of India were turned into radioactive scrap and many vital agricultural lands were poisoned by dirty bombs. Even worse, large numbers of cattle had to be slaughtered, and outbreaks of disease swept through the countryside. The effect on Pakistan was even worse, and the area effectively ceased to exist as a nation.
Shortly following this war, a mysterious disease began to appear in many parts of the world, carried by aircraft from the indian subcontinent. This plague was devastating as it effectively incapacitated those it did not immediately kill. Even those who eventually recovered discovered to their horror that they were completely sterile. Thanks to advanced computing software and genetics techniques, world scientists were quickly able to synthesize a vaccine. However, this was not before the plague had killed hundreds of millions and left a lingering economic blow which required decades to recover. Experts speculated that the new plague was in fact a hybrid of common influenza and a radiation-mutated virus that had escaped from a destroyed biological warfare laboratory.
Despite periods of surplus budgets, due to past failures to control deficit spending the US government debt has now grown to many times the size of the gross national product. Interest payments on this enormous debt now consume the majority of the federal budget. Taxes are increased to pay for the interest, and to fund the growing internal security forces. The result is an even greater wealth disparity in the country, and a growing underclass. The once large middle class has gradually shrunk to a relatively modest segment of the population, resulting in further deterioration of the economy.
However, the expected crisis to the archaic Social Security system is averted by improved medical technology and increases in the retirement age. During this period, the first commercial fusion plants come on line. Massive and expensive, the plants do not at first live up to their expectations. The government bankrolled the construction effort by further cutting benefits to the poor and selling their latest military hardware overseas.
The U.S. workforce is now better educated than at any time in history. Yet many are impoverished and there are few opportunities for a better lifestyle. A political backlash is inevitable, and week-long demonstrations are held in the shrinking major cities. The economic conditions also degrade social tolerance, and several large race riots are quelled only after a bloody crack-down. The severe social turmoil results significant restructuring of the U.S. government. Constitutional amendments roll back many freedoms that had once been taken for granted.
World wide the last remaining glacial deposits are rapidly retreating. During the summer months the arctic is sufficiently denuded of ice that this route is now wide open for ordinary merchants ships. As a result the strategic importance of this area has increased significantly and several new military bases are built along the coasts. Arctic ports still freeze up during the winter months, however, so most of the naval forces in the vicinity are composed of nuclear submarine fleets from the major powers.
In 2021 an international array of telescopes working together as an interferometer detects the first earth-like planet in orbit around Epsilon Eridani. Many more earth-like worlds are located in the following years, although only two show the tell tale signature of an oxygen atmosphere.
The long reign of Pax Americana was finally coming to a close as U.S. strength crumbled under the combined blows of massive debt, social turmoil, widespread addiction, and cheap, well-educated foreign labor. The military forces of the once-mighty super-power were hollow and nearly a two decades out of date. American president for life Shannon O'Reiser relied increasingly on allies and adept diplomacy to maintain the turbulent world peace.
"Madame President," then Secretary of the treasury began, "There is another opportunity to earn a few millions and save on future labor costs by selling another Navy carrier battlegroup. The Brazilians are interested in the Kennedy as long as it comes with the air wing. As usual they are willing to accept qualified pilots as immigrants with immediate resident status. This should solve our latest problem with the South American debt. They will argue for a softening of the Hemisphere Bank's stance on repayments. Shall I call SecDef for you?"
- Cabinet meeting transcript, 10/17/30.07:40 - Voice only.
The second Korean War of Unification in 2034 finally established the great power status of the Chinese state. The Trans-Pac Alliance suffered its death knell as the revolutionary neural-net weapon platforms roamed the ocean at will, smashing the U.S. Pacific surface fleet and severing vital Japanese trade routes. The price of peace was the loss of U.S. military presence in the orient, the vassal status of Korea, and the reunification of Taiwan with mainland China.
"No currents disturbed the stark hull that lay nestled at an unnatural angle along the base of the crevasse. The white forms of salvage robots pass through holes into the twisted aluminum wreckage. Suddenly, behind a ruptured bulkhead, the camera finds a gruesome sight - the corpse of a long dead crew member, her bones picked clean by schools of scavenger crabs.
- Nature Revisited episode, "Deep Salvage".
To the west, the Islamic confederation of Iranistan exploited the resulting power vacuum by invading its weaker neighbors. Iraq and Saudi Arabia quickly fell under the nuclear sword of Teheran. Fortunately, Turkey proved a less palatable foe, and the faltering Trans-Syrian army was soon stiffened by the arrival of a Pan-European intervention force. By 2039, however, the Treaty of Damascus established Iranistan as the uncontested ruler of the Saudi Peninsula, and gave the confederation possession of 70% of the world's remaining crude oil supply.
"We have at long last liberated the Qaaba from the lackeys of the Saud's. No more will infidels tread within a thousand miles of this sacred ground! Ayatollahs, shieks, and mullahs all may visit and meditate in our peace. But let none who claim to be of the Prophet but are really from lands dominated by Western infidels, try to come here. Jordan and Syria are outcast. Africa is suspect. Be wary, oh my brothers! Watch with God's care!"
- from period airport pamphlets found in Jedda and Medina.
Starved for petroleum, the North American continent is thrown intou a period of economic disruption and strict fuel rationing. The United States of North America (USONA) is formed as an extension of the old NAFTA accord. Air travel is limited to critical missions, and the entire transportation business suffers a severe economic depression. Research intensifies on coal reprocessing and Hydrogen-based engines. Many large-scale solar and wind farms are constructed.
Rising sea levels caused by the greenhouse effect begin to have a devastating effect on coastlines worldwide. Expensive efforts to save the coastal cities prove a failure and large portions of the world economic infrastructure need to be rebuilt on higher ground. The result is a severe impact on the world economy, with government cutbacks in many areas. Research and social funds are cut back to fund the new construction efforts. For the first time in decades scientific progress begins to slow as researchers find themselves unemployed or retrained as engineers.
The Siberia-Alaska tunnel is finally completed, well over budget and delayed many times. With this tunnel the two continents are finally linked together by railroad lines, cutting the cost of transporting goods. Unfortunately for the backers, trade with North America has dropped considerably over the past decade and as a result many of the tunnel financially ruined. The tunnel remains in good working order for eight years before being heavily damaged by a terrorist attack. Only one of the two tunnels remain functioning until repairs are completed in 2053.
After a lengthy period of social turmoil, the Unification party was finally thrown out of power in the USONA. The Techno-socialists, under a revisionist mandate, began a period of strict government regulation of the economy. Immigration laws are finally loosened, and a flood of intellectuals cross the pacific, fleeing the repressive Sino-Japanese hegemony.
Long shot of an unkempt man in an Auto-Arrest clamp. "In headline news today, the arrest of reclusive cyber-tycoon Charles Devriess raised new legal and ethical questions about the so-called practice of NALS - Nano-Accelerated Life Simulation." Close up of a vegetative youth in a NALS tank. "This legally sanctioned suicide, known in the street jab as Dream Death, has seen increasing use in recent years, especially among teens and street addicts." Fixed shot of old-fashioned funeral with professional mourners. "Dr. Devriess is charged with illegally modifying mortality rates in order to increase profits, and he faces a maximum life sentence of 20 years expulsion from the VolksNet." Reassuringly droll cybercaster flashes a look of concern. "The National Association of Morticians has promised a through review of their NALS procedures." End tape. Audience share 1.497.
With many of the world's key natural resources under the dominion of foreign monopolies, the USONA government decides to gamble on a major expansion to their Space-Industrial base by building a large fleet of relatively cheap, reuseable aerospace vehicles. By the year 2059, a mining center had been established near the Sinus Iridium region of the moon, and orbital industrial plants were constructed from the lunar ore shipments.
"Space, Ma! I'm going to Space! Yes, yes, I got picked to go next month, with the top of the class! Give Dad and Sis my love. No, sorry, I won't have time to come home first. That's what I get for doing so well in school, they want me first and we have to prep our ship. Ma, I'm sorry - I'm really sorry, but I can't pass this up right now. We get shore leave on Earth once a year. I'll see you then."
- Personal video call dated 10/29/53, recipient unknown.
Unfortunately, the new industrial base was expensive to maintain and the output had only a modest impact on the economy. However, the orbiting factories gave the USONA a dominant military position which it used to coerce improved trade relations with Iranistan and the eastern bloc. Quickly the other major powers began their own expansionist space programs. The race was on to colonize and exploit the moon.
Despite the arrival of the electronic cottage and the rural movement earlier in the century, much of the world remained addicted to petroleum products. The widespread use of expensive Fusion plants did not significantly reduce the net emissions of combustion by-products. However, the long-feared runaway greenhouse effect has been forestalled, thanks to ingenious climate control technology.
"Mayor, I understand your position, but you have to realize that New York just isn't the American jewel that it once was. We really don't have the budget to raise the dike another ten feet. I suggest that you put your efforts into relocation programs for your people. There is some open territory in Canada's north coast and they are looking for farm labor there. I'm sorry I can't help you."
- Authorized NASEC Fibertap recording, #427-EA31.
Nevertheless, the surface temperature of the Earth had risen nearly 7 degrees over the past century, and the melting ice caps have now completely inundated the old coastal cities. Ocean waves now lap against the crumbling bases of the once-glorious skyscrapers. The continent of Antartica is almost completely denuded of ice, leaving a cold, rocky desert which the world nevertheless begins to colonize. Conflicts between the new settlers are common as the varied cultures clash over the limited resources.
Efficient sonic fishing nets have stripped the oceans bare, leaving only the coastal commercial fish farms to supply the world's requirements. Pollutants and toxins are gradually destroying the Plankton supply, leaving millions of filter farmers without a cash crop.
The land is not in much better shape. Most of the world is industrialized and nearly every piece of arable land is being used to grow crops. All of the great forests have been harvested for housing or paper, and the few remaining primitive stands of trees are jealously guarded in climate-controlled domes.
Increasingly, the resources of the Earth are being pushed to the limit in an effort to feed and support the 20 billion inhabitants. Scientists are making prodigious efforts to satisfy the ever growing food requirements. But the situation is becoming explosive, and each disruption in the economic system has devastating effects world-wide.
"John, these are the old sci-fi classics I was telling you about. Why don't you give them a read? This one, 'Caves of Steel', has a good solution for earth's problems. We could all live underground. No, silly, it doesn't have us evolving into moles. Look at this video when you get a chance. 'Silent Running' has a good line about an econut trying to save the plant life of the world. The copy's a bit scratched up but you need to look at it for its story. I think you'll like them. Your intelligence is what attracted me to you, you know,
- Dream retrieval - Polly Parts, MedTech Gr. 3.
Governments are all-too aware of the increasingly unstable nature of the world economy, and many are taking steps to prepare for a major conflict over the diminishing resources. The development and purchase of armaments is at record levels across the globe. Many scientists who could be working on addressing the resource requirements are instead pressed into armaments research. This results in the development of some frightening new instruments of warfare.
In 2091, the Ukranian government announced a ban on all grain exports. Food futures in the world markets immediately sky-rocket to unprecedented levels, triggering a stampede to horde grain supplies. Shop shelves and storage rooms are quickly stripped as hungry consumers panic.
Executive Order #793 - The Euro-Parliament hearby suspends due process for all civilians; declares any acts of economic terrorism to be a capital crime; and authorizes any and all necessary use of martial force to restore and maintain internal order.
- decree signed into law by Pres. Stossreich, 3/20/91.
In the Pan-European Union, martial law is declared and paramilitary forces are deployed to suppress the food riots. In desperation, President Stosslein issues a strongly-worded ultimatum to the Ukranian Secretary-General, and secret mobilization orders are issued to the military forces. World leaders hastily attempt to calm the situation, but it is far too late.
"Sarge, I didn't say I wasn't gonna load the truck. But I don't thinks I signed up to be on the side that started World War III. Yeah, I know, I think too much for a private. Well, I'll go, and so will you. Centuries from now we won't even be a mote on the history pages. I just hope there will be some history pages still around."
- Personal videotape, Bravo Co. mascot - Rover 12.
Within a year of the Union's invasion of the Crimea, most of the world is at war. Iranistan quickly guaranteed the borders of the Ukraine, and sent an invasion force to counter the Pan-European forces. Escalation ensued, and the battle lines spread to the Caspian. New types of military weaponry is revealed, escalating the pace of war and resulting in rapidly shifting front lines.
With the western nations preoccupied, China invades Siberia in a bid to capture prime northern grain lands. In response, Russian armies mobilize and a nuclear exchange takes place near Vladivostok. The USONA is drawn into the conflict when their orbiting factories are destroyed in a preemptive surprise attack.
"This is Mark Mikely with CNN news. I have a special report. Several ICBM's were launched less than a minute ago from the Chinese launch sites in Szechuan province. Nothing is known at the moment about the target. We have a good view of the launch flashes from here in USONA New Jersey Station, a safe ten thousand miles from all of the terrible turmoil on earth. The Station liason officer is readying a brief for us. As usual he will wait to get the track analysis from his computer.
"Excuse me, but there seems to be a problem over at his desk. We'll get right back to you as soon as we can find out what is wrong."
- Newscast retrieved from Skycam VII memory cache.
Prime targets for conquest during the war were the grain fields of the Ukraine, midwest USONA, Argentina, and Siberia. Strategic weapon exchanges devastated much of the landscape and destroyed most of the crop lands in a scorched-earth policy. Large numbers of hunter-killer robotic weapons are manufactured for the battles in automated factories, leaving a terrible swath of death wherever they passed. New, ever more unthinkable weapons of mass destruction are rapidly designed, manufactured, and unleashed, slaying untold billions of people and sentencing billions more to death by starvation and disease.
During this armageddon, the few losses suffered by the sparse lunar colonies served to enlighten the inhabitants about the futility of warfare in a vacuum. Despite urgent orders and threats from Earth, the majority choose to sit out the deadly war, exchanging little more than heated rhetoric and diplomatic visits.
The world war devastated the planet. Billions of people died from starvation, and the survivors began a rapid descent into barbarism. Millions of tons of debris orbit the Earth, making it extremely hazardous to approach the planet. The lunar colonies are effectively cut off from their home, and could provide little in the way of assistance.
The Earth is now a bleak world and the great civilizations are in ruins. The total population is soon to be counted in the hundred millions, and those lead a desperate struggle to survive. Brutal tribes of cannibals and slavers roam the barren landscapes, preying on the weak and helpless. Deadly strains of biological agents keep the infant mortality rate high and food crops infertile. Strange mutations began showing up with disturbing regularity.
"Running Deer, all our children have been born that way. It is a curse of the White Man. It is not you, it is not me, it is not our tribal chiefs nor medicine woman. We will cut the extra fingers off when the child is a little older. It will be another chance to use the Ceremony of the Lash on our white slaves. Remember to hate! Their metal demon fell into our pit trap yesterday and we buried it. A circle of blood must be drawn to protect us from its power. maybe that will make our babies whole again.
- "The Leather Papacy" by Lazerdeath.
Many islands of lethal radiation exist where nuclear weapons had been detonated. Automated death machines still roamed the landscape, their masters long dead and instructions hopelessly scrambled by sophisticated software viruses. In several locations, including parts of what was once the eastern seaboard of the USONA, featureless lakes of grey goo expand slowly yet inexorably outward.
Only a few regions of civilization remained amidst the terrible ruins left by humankind. Small techno-priesthood colonies lived on in remote locations, such as Iceland, the northern Oregon Coast, and New Zealand. Like the Christian monks during the European dark ages, these technocrats guard the remaining fragments of mankind's once vast knowledge base.
"You have brought a 1997 edition of the Chemical Rubber Company Handbook of Chemistry and Physics? Welcom, brother, to our humble church. We admit you to our sanctuary as a full priest. You have saved us years of effort. Come, come, I must introduce you to our Master Librarian. He will want to express our appreciation. All we had before now were pages 400-459."
- "The Brief History of Books" by Rev. Alfred Flynn.
In orbit above the Earth the shattered hulks of space stations and orbital factories are constantly bombarded by a rain of man-made debris. The only safe route between the Earth and the Lunar Colonies is through the relatively clear polar regions. Ultra-fast neural network computers are required to compute a safe passage, allowing an occasional shuttle flight to travel between the moon and Reykjavik.
With the arrival of peace by annihilation, the lunar colonies declared a permanent truce and finally began dealing with the problems of their isolation. Despite their supposed self-reliance, the colonies had still required shipments of finished parts from Earth for their factories, and tanks of hydrogen for organic materials and food production. With the desperation of their position growing increasingly clear, cooperation between the colonies was now vital if all were to survive.
A metallic clang. Clicking sounds that could only be boots. A pause. "Sharkey. They decided. You put us all in danger, Sharkey, stealing those pretty rocks. Yeah, they're jewels. Yeah, that makes them valueable. But Sharkey. They're life. They were for the lasers in the ore gouger. We need that stuff to live, Sharkey. You were thinking only about you. We can't afford that. You won't get another chance because some of us are already dying. Goodbye, Sharkey." A hissing noise. More fading boot-clicks.
- A conversation with Airlock 14, by Bryanne Nyg.
In a hazardous operation, several ferry shuttles were recovered from near Earth orbit. These old, but sturdy ships were refurbished as freighters to ship ice from the moons of the outer planets. The engineers retooled their small factories to supply most of the missing parts and fulfill the daily requirements of the colonists.
Fortunately for the Lunar colonies, much of the latest computer technology was brought to the Moon prior to the war. The colonies could also boast of many of Earth's best and brightest minds, allowing quick solutions to be implemented for the many pressing problems. The first general survey of the post-war state of the solar system is performed in 2114, and the result is surprisingly hopeful. Despite the calamity on earth the colonies are surviving and some show signs of improvement.
Despite this news the critical nature of the situation soon forced the replacement of the representative government by a more highly-centralized bureaucratic state. Yet the strict controls enforced by this regime are resented by many, and a resistance movement soon begins to form. Initially, most of these groups are non-violent in their methods, primarily working to decentralize the imposed political institutions. Some of the areas of strongest resistance, however, require pacification through the imposition of martial law.
Toward the end of the decade construction was started on an armored station in high earth orbit that would be dedicated to salvaging useable parts and equipment from the debris of the war. This station would be home to four well protected robotic salvage ships that would be teleoperated. The basic station was completed within four years and gradually expanded over the following decades. The station, known as the LRS Belfore, would also double as a docking platform for the surface shuttles.
New, larger factories are built to turn out much needed materials. Cloning technology is employed to increase the sparse human population. High speed magna-lev trains are built to travel rapidly between the growing lunar cities. Huge, self-repairing domes are erected to house farms and recreation areas. Persistent medical problems caused by the low gravity and high radiation conditions are treated by new designer drugs and symbiotic life form implants.
Self-replicating factories soon begin to produce robotic ships to survey the solar system, looking for scarce resources. Several lightly-manned mining ships are constructed for use in the asteroid belt. One of these ships discovers what could be the find of the century, the remains of an ancient mining site that pre-dates mankind. Scientists are dispatched on board the research ship LSS Plato to investigate the first definite traces of an extraterrestrial life form.
Toward the end of the decade, lunar engineers recover advanced robotic techniques from the battlefields of Earth. They are able to build limited self-replicating machines that are capable of fully autonomous operation. These massive devices are used to construct cavernous domes deep beneath the lunar surface that can support entire cities and grow enough crops to feed the entire population. The caverns are hardened against attack and are fully self-repairing if they spring a leak. Many of the surface cities are abandoned as a result, leaving only small teams to man the surface launch facilities and perimeter defenses.
Several expeditions to the earth's surface have discovered a few groups of war survivors that have begun the process of building primitive communities. One of these is the Winterhead clan located in the northern part of the great lakes region. The culture of this clan is quite brutal, and the expedition barely escaped enslavement by trading away most of their equipment. The clan seems to have enslaved a group of technically proficient easterners who perform their salvaging work. The primitives also displayed some disturbingly odd mental talents, and most of their ranks suffered from birth defects of one sort or another.
Two other expeditions into the continental heartlands have met with disaster, and the Lunar Republic has decided not to bankroll further expeditions for the time being. However, regular shuttle service between the moon and the three centers of civilization has finally been established.
The salvage ships sent to examine the wreck of the LSS Plato discover that the crew was a victim of some extremely advanced biotechnology attacks. These weapons seem to have been developed with the destruction of an ecosystem as a goal, leading some to believe that the Earth had somehow escaped a planned annihilation in the past. The Lunar Republic orders the asteroid declared a hazard zone and defers exploration until some future date when the new bio-techniques can be countered.
Despite the apparent hopelessness of the task, an organization is founded by the Lunar Republic to find a way to recolonize the Earth. In additional to a massive orbital cleanup, methods will be needed to stop the spread of nanotech swarms, immunize against biological agents, and restore the soil to some degree of fertility. The group plans to use self-replicating technology and "terra-forming" techniques to make the world inhabitable once more.
Advanced techniques in genetic modification and fetal growth tanks yield results as genetically improved human life forms are grown entirely in vitro at secret republic laboratories. These enhanced humans can achieve physically and intellectual maturity within the span of four years, greatly accelerating the population growth. The new humans are brought to states of super-genius level intellect through direct neural stimulation machines, and their physical speed and capability is beyond anything that humans have been capable of achieving in the past.
The older humans, who begin viewing these new replicant as replacements, see this development with alarm and the resistance movements begin to gain massive numbers of recruits. What is termed the Tankmen War, but what is more properly the first lunar war, begins with a series of devastating acts of sabotage against the Lunar Republic and their superior replacement humans, or Tankmen as they are derisively called. Genetically engineered diseases are used to couter-target the Tankmen, resulting in heavy loss of life due to their genetic uniformity. Nevertheless a few survive and they have a significant impact on the outcome of the war, inflicting casualties out of all proportion to their numbers.
After three years of indecisive and often times brutal guerilla warfare, the desperate Lunar Republic agrees to a truce with the rebels, temporarily ceasing production of the Tankmen until they can be introduced into society without harm. The surviving Tankmen are sureptitiously hidden among the populace and taught to blend in with the crowd. (The hope being that the genetic pool will be enhanced to the point where the end goals of the republic will have been met.) However, a number of these concealed Tankmen are subject to "witch" hunts by the populace and they often meet a painful end through an airlock door.
As a result of the war the government is a Republic in name only, and is now ruled by a council of three generals. This triumvirat is much loathed by the populace, especially as the cities and towns suffer a prolonged recession brought on by heavy debt. The triumvirat controls all media on the moon, and special AI software is being used to manipulate networked communications. Nevertheless thanks to the advances of the past two decades the people of the moon are proud to note that they are now fully self-supporting and capable of living a long, healthy life free of medical problems caused by the low gravity.
By 2137 robotic researchers working for the lunar government produced the first in a series of artificial surrogates to help raise and train infants. As a result, once the technology became widely accepted the moon began to experience a population boom as many parents chose to raise three and even four children. In spite of some troubling problems with these surrogate robots, they proved successful caretakers and many infants bonded with their nanbots.
In 2139 the Lunar government had completed the secret refurbishing of the decommisioned patrol ship LSS Atlantic for an investigation of the restricted biohazard asteroid. By the start of the decade the ship was in orbit around the rock and a steady investigation was underway. Careful examination of the site revealed that it was actually a sophisticated device for modifying a terrestrial planetary environment so that it support life. A symbolic plaque on the interior of what appeared to be the control room indicated a point of origin just beyond the Kuiper Belt. The ship returned to docks for retrofitting with an advanced ion propulsion system to investigate this distant site.
By 2146 the crew of the Atlantic had discovered a strange artifact in deep space. This consisted of a domain anomaly in the shape of a cosmic strand that slowly bent its way around the solar system. How the strand got here was a mystery. It may have been a relic of the birth of the universe, or perhaps it was an alien construct. Some of the crew speculated that an untold number of such anomalies may wind their way through the galaxy, resolving the last of the dark matter puzzle. At any rate the strand was far too narrow for the ship to enter, so a sensor platform was lowered into the strand on a cable to gather data. What it found there was an astonishing new realm where physics operated on different principles, and the very fabric of space was stretched and twisted.
The interior of the strand was vast, stretching almost 9,000km across its diameter. By the same token the anomaly was shrunk to an diminutive scale along its length, so that a distance of a full light year in normal space could be traversed in a few hundred kilometers within the Strand. One scientist estimated that the strand could actually twist and turn its way through the entire galaxy, yet it would take a ship only a few months to circumnavigate. What further amazed the crew was that an entire world, shaped like an immense flat donut, seemed to be orbiting its way through the strand. A needle-shaped light oscillated back and forth through the hole in the center, perhaps making the world inhabitable.
When the crew had finished their preliminary investigation of the Strand, they set course back to the restricted asteroid in order to determine how it had managed to enter the galaxy from within the anomaly. They were under strict orders of secrecy, but word soon got out about their discovery, causing much excitement and turmoil back in the Lunar Republic. Unfortunately the cataclysm of the following decade was to delay further exploration until far in the future.
Starting in the year 2142 three new colonies were constructed on Mars, exploiting the subterranean ice reserves and advanced robotics to build large settlements in a record time. Many younger couples emigrated from the moon to settle in these colonies. Two of the colonies proved highly successful, while the third was beset by internecine rebellion. By 2147 marines were sent by the lunar government to stabilize the situation, but the resulting battles destroyed the remaining infrastructure of the colony and the settlers were transported to the lunar penitentiary.
By 2145 it was apparent that the lunar colonies would soon run out of hydrogen reserves, so the decision was made to set up automated ice mining stations on the Jovian moons. A massive construction project was initiated to build transport ships large enough to carry the requisite hydrogen. The resulting project required enormous expenditures by the lunar government, and the heavy taxation began another period of political dissent on the moon. By the end of the decade, however, the ice was being shipped in quantities sufficient to supply the burgeoning population.
Thanks to the stringent measures taken by the unpopular lunar government, by the year 2150 the population of the moon had reached a quarter of a billion. The economy was undergoing a cycle of expansion, despite the rampant corruption of the bureaucracy. Most of the population had now accepted cybernetic enhancement implants as de rigueur, and many of the citizenry now began to closely resemble cyborgs. As a result the citizens were now smarter, stronger, faster, and healthier than any human population in history. In spite of these benefits, however, some people still yearned for the freedoms that humans had known in the past, and a rebellious undercurrent survived in spite of large scale spying on the citizenry by the internal security ministry of the government.
In the year 2152 the lunar government sent a specially constructed ship to perform an examination of bio-hazard asteroid to search for useful new technology. Unfortunately the resulting expedition triggered the asteroid mechanism and set off a chain reaction of events that would bring the human race to the edge of extinction. Scientists later theorized that the true purpose of the asteriod base was to prevent the emergence of a true machine intelligence in the solar system. As the lunar research ship was fully automated for safety reasons, and served as a base for a series of robotic probes, the asteroid base must have concluded that a machine intelligence was now fully in control.
Once it became fully activated, the asteroid base dispatched a series of organic transport pods to various locations in the system, including most of the sites presently inhabited by humans. The pods dispersed a series of cleverly engineered, self-replicating life forms that were clearly intended to disrupt and neutralize machine devices throughout occupied space. Many of these engineered life forms were capable of operating in a pure vacuum under harsh radiation, so they proved a deadly threat to the sprawling lunar cities and the growing asteroid bases. Several such pods also arrived on earth, and soon infested the planet with insidious biocontaminants ranging from technology-disrupting bacteria to bioengineered monstrosities designed for battle with machines.
The war against this infestation completely disrupted the economy of the solar system, and resulted in large scale casualties and the partial destruction of the technological infrastructure. Each time the colonists seemed to be gaining the upper hand, the asteriod emitted a new stream of pods that inflicted even more hazardous life forms. Only a massive attack using the remaining lunar government's arsenal of nuclear weapons appeared to neutralize the bio-hazard asteroid, at least for the time being. Nevertheless conditions in the system have once more become very grim, and many of the more lethal life forms have yet to be destroyed. There are now some nasty surprises waiting to be discovered in various backwater locations of the solar system.
This war and the ongoing bio-hazard has led to a significant expansion of the lunar government's defense force, and the well-armed military spends much of their time suppressing new eruptions of the bio-hazards. Much of the surviving economy has been dedicated to supporting this mission, and the troops receive the latest in equipment and technology. In spite of this the outcome of the war remains uncertain, as the infestations are nearly impossible to completely eradicate.