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In late 2006, the United States experienced a dramatic explosion of terrorist attacks on American soil. As the threat continued to grow, the US finally had to take the most extreme measures, withdrawing all troops on foreign soil to defend their own country. This created political instability in a number

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In late 2006, the United States experienced a dramatic explosion of terrorist attacks on American soil. As the threat continued to grow, the US finally had to take the most extreme measures, withdrawing all troops on foreign soil to defend their own country. This created political instability in a number of third world countries. With the US no longer in Afghanistan, the Taliban, backed of course by Al Qaeda, was able to retake control of the country. They quickly turned on their one-time ally Pakistan, who also no longer had US support.

Seeing opportunity, India invaded and took control of the long-contested Kashmir region. Bitter enemies Pakistan and India, both nuclear powers, were finally in open war. The Middle East erupted into chaos as Israel came under full-scale assault from its enemies.

China saw the growing instability in their part of the world and decided it was time to act. In a dramatic reversal of WWII, they invaded Japan, easily overrunning the unprepared island nation. North Korea took this cue, attacking South Korea and proving, in dramatic fashion, that they did, in fact, have a nuclear weapons program.

Russia, fearing that they were next on China’s radar, launched a pre-emptive strike. China retaliated, and Eastern Europe and Asia were in a full-scale nuclear war. Despite their own difficulties, the Americans could not sit idly by, and along with Great Britain, they launched nuclear missiles into China. Again, China responded in kind. The US also gave Israel the only help they could at this point, launching nuclear missiles into a number of Middle Eastern countries.

Arab powers who had secretly obtained nuclear weapons attacked the US and Great Britain in reply. The European Union sat frozen by indecision, hoping not to be drawn into the catastrophic conflict, but their indecision cost them. With the last of its fading strength, China launched missiles at every capitalist target they could, including France, Germany, Italy, and Australia. By the time the shooting stopped, the world was a smoking ruin.

In the end, it was Australia that kept humanity alive. Because it came to the fight late, only the major population centers took direct nuclear hits. The blasts killed quickly, but the fallout spread over a huge area, slowly killing everything in its path. But by virtue of its sheer size, parts of Australia were spared, at least enough to let some life persist. Here and there, pockets of humanity survived by going underground. Massive ash clouds blacked out the sky. This was the time that people now refer to as “The Dark.”

After a few years, people began to emerge. Most of them were feral, and they had to be vicious to survive. Sometimes they even had to kill and eat each other.

People now refer to the time prior to the world’s decimation simply as “Before”, and the time since then as “After”. Everyone knows what it means when someone else talks about Before, and it doesn’t bear any explanation.

Over time, the clouds began to clear. Now, 50 years later, the sun beats down on the Earth again, but with the atmosphere ravaged, it is an intense and brutal sun that shines. Bands of ash clouds still linger, with fallout coming down like snow. Raging storms can appear in an instant, with great blasts of lightning.

Eventually, people formed into groups for survival. They built homes and strongholds in the ruins from Before. They salvaged guns, cars, generators, power plants, anything they could find from Before. They improvised other weapons and vehicles.

Different groups developed different ideologies and philosophies. Some are just fighting for survival and want normal lives. Others are savage and brutal and seem to live for the battle. Some have been twisted and deformed – physically and mentally – by two generations of exposure to toxic radiation. Resources are precious, especially food, water, and fuel, and this is what these groups fight over.

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