Hello, my name is…
1 – Hello, my name is Charles. With the British blockade starving Germany, the German government held that up as a justification for their submarine campaign against merchant ships supplying Great Britain. President Wilson declared the British blockade to be entirely acceptable and once again demanded that Germany cease their actions. With each merchant vessel sunk, public opinion continued to shift in favor of War, and Wilson finally managed to push Congress into voting for it.
2 – Hello, my name is Malcolm. I’ve always been a fan of the classics. Cars, ships, bikes; everything we’ve ever built has a style we don’t make anymore that somebody loves. For me, that’s the stuff we built when I was young. True, first generation gravtech beauties with big fins, flashy chrome grills, and roomy bubble cockpits. Add a nice flame paintjob and I’m in classic car-nut heaven. That’s one reason I picked the equipment I did when I went shopping for the Wolfenheim Project.
3 – Hello, my name is Betty. The Twenty-First Century brought a revolution in computing technology. Primitive pointing devices morphed into touch displays, and voice recognition replaced keyboards for the average user. Fully functional portable computers became smaller tablets and then wearable technology similar to modern personal computers. For the first time, communications between two people walking down streets on opposite ends of the Earth occurred in real time. It was a true revolution.
4 – Hello, my name is Jack. In some ways, growing organ banks full of replacement organs unlocked immortality for us. Oh, we could die of disease or accidents, but healthy livers can filter out a lot of trash. And a healthy heart usually doesn’t stop beating one morning without warning. The remaining kings and queens of Europe were the first to do this, long before the procedures went public. Why do you think they reigned so long? They’re the reason for modern royal term limits.
5 – Hello, my name is Charles. The United States of America joined the Great War with patriotic zeal. The news media and government reports united in claiming it was every red-blooded American’s duty to kill the Huns who sank Lusitania. It became a fight of good versus evil, and America was on the side of the angels, as always. Every German atrocity was shouted across the airwaves, reinforcing the rightness of our cause in standing against them. It was a masterful job of public propaganda.
6 – Hello, my name is Betty. The first true Internet linked the world in a web of power and communication in the Twenty-First Century. Civilizations long separated by months of travel time sending letters back and forth could see each other in full video in real time. Movements seeking liberty from oppressive governments fed off each other, and got their message out to the world. The Arab Spring was but one example. Religious hardliners made it an Arab Winter, but Spring returned in time.
7 – Hello, my name is Jack. By the time the Peloran showed up, organ banks were the way to live. Even the middle class could by them. And government banks granted access to those that couldn’t afford them in the politicians’ undying effort to buy more votes in the next election. And since they reserved the best of the organ banks for themselves, I really do mean undying. People don’t call them bloodsucking vampires for nothing after all. The politicians that is.
8 – Hello, my name is Charles. World War I was not truly a case of good versus evil of course. It was competing alliances thinking they could force the other to give way, and then finding out in the end that neither was willing to back down. And the engines of rising industry threw new and terrible weapons into the fires of War. It was the most destructive War that mankind had ever waged on itself. It was The War. The Great War. The War to End All Wars. So said hopeless optimism.
9 – Hello, my name is Dorothy. I was born to help Charles out with his plans. I knew what they were before I chose that path. I understood the basics of the world he wanted to build. I never would have chosen one of his family members, you know. But in Charles I found someone who wanted to change that. Change everything. Wolfenheim was not his first plan, though it was the first his enemies noticed. The first crack. The rest…well…no matter how long I live, I will never be bored.
10 – Hello, my name is Betty. One of the dark sides of the early computer networks was the total loss of individual privacy. Early personal computers had integrated microphones and cameras legally required to be capable of remote activation. There were supposed to be legal protections against the activation, but they were routinely ignored by the governments of the time. Big Brother tracked most people twenty-four hours a day, their every move and every word saved in governmental databases.
11 – Hello, my name is Jack. The Peloran treatments weren’t as amazing as most people give them credit for. Most people can’t regenerate damaged organs for instance. But in some ways they were more than anybody imagined at the time. You see they boosted our immune systems so we could fight off virtually any disease. The really amazing part is that once we take the last treatments, they stay. We don’t have to take booster shots or eat special berries to keep the effects. They are part of us.
12 – Hello, my name is Charles. Millions died on the Eastern Front of World War I, and the vast Russian army shattered under the German juggernaut. The economy collapsed under the loss of so many young people, and bloody protests forced the Czar to abdicate. The Russian Social Democratic Party soon took power, initiating the long Russian Civil War that would end the Empire entirely. It was merely one of many empires that would die in the crucible of The Great War and the aftermath.
13 – Hello, my name is Betty. Data Pirates stole countless identities, billions of dollars in old money, and compromised the security networks of entire nations in the early Twenty-First Century. Governments unleashed many of them to wage a digital war on other nations, and even allies began to fight each other on the various nets. Economies based on digital holdings were at the mercy of Data Pirates who created or destroyed fortunes with the stroke of a keyboard. It was a time of chaos.
14 – Hello, my name is Jack. There’s something about the Peloran treatments that most people didn’t think about back in the day. They didn’t just help us fight off infections and diseases. They actually taught our immune systems how to fight everything from the common cold to cancer. In some ways they were like a giant vaccine against every disease the Peloran had ever faced. More than that though, they changed us on a genetic level. Some of those changes we pass on to our kids now.
15 – Hello, my name is Charles. When Russia fell out of The War to revolution, many thought the Allied war effort would suffer. In many ways it did, as the Germans were able to throw the eastern armies onto the Western Front. But American reinforcements stopped their advance, while the British blockade starved the nation until it could no longer afford to fight. In the end, Germany and her allies surrendered to the Allies, hoping to get some relief from the long devastation.
16 – Hello, my name is Malcolm. The Shang underestimated us. They thought we would roll over and surrender when they devastated our industrial base and killed our political leaders. They failed to realize that we would not mourn the politicians. And Yosemite Station just pissed us off. Without the old politicians to hem and haw over appropriate responses, we came out the gates and just started killing every Shang we could find. Make no mistake, they were hard to kill. But we were motivated.
17 – Hello, my name is Betty. When the Second Great Depression engulfed the world, chaos reigned throughout the electronic networks. Most collapsed to electronic or economic attacks, and only the most secure networks remained active. With universal net access a thing of the past, the world became a larger and stranger place again. Rebuilt networks would arise with no links to the outside, nations unwilling to risk further attacks. A single network never again linked every nation on Earth.
18 – Hello, my name is Jack. The crazy thing about the Peloran Treatments is that we’re taking less of them now than we did right after Contact. Like I said before, some of them come to our kids now. They’ve changed our genetics, cleaning up a bunch of junk in our code. We rarely get sick, and our bodies just don’t wear out as much. Even the organ banks have noticed that trend and they ain’t happy about the drop in business. We’re becoming something new.
19 – Hello, my name is Charles. President Wilson proposed that the Allies create a League of Nations to forever stop another War from happening. The other Allies were unimpressed by the idea, far more concerned with making certain their enemies would never again be a threat. They called for ruinous reparations payments from the defeated foes, and Wilson agreed to allow them as long as the Allies joined his League. And thus the League of Nations was born from the ashes of War and total victory.
20 – Hello, my name is Betty. The Second Great Depression hit the Western nations hardest, and the forces of Islam, Russia, and China expanded to fill the holes. The Russians and Chinese built their own computer networks. The Jihadist Islamics used cannibalized Western equipment when possible, but purged every Western program they could find. The early AIs were included in this purge, since they considered creating new intelligences in the image of humanity an abomination against Allah.
21 – Hello, my name is Jack. People have been throwing around the name Homo Stellaris. I hear that’s not really scientific. I hear you’d need more words in there or something. I sometimes wonder if that’s entirely true though. Many of our ancient histories tell us that people used to live longer in the distant past. We used to think that was crazy. Now people have taken to calling this the Second Age of Methuselah. Though how Stellaris and Methuselah relate is beyond my pay grade.
22 – Hello, my name is Charles. The Treaty of Versailles ended World War I, and formed the League of Nations to stop another War from happening. But America was highly isolationist. Wilson wanted us to be the savior of the world, while Americans wanted to go home and forget about the world. Citing concerns of entangling alliances, the Senate voted the entire treaty down. This ironically meant that America was still in a legal State of War, until separate peace treaties were finalized in 1921.
23 – Hello, my name is Dawn. Obtaining ships for the Wolfenheim Project was more difficult than I expected. With the main fleets on the move, every star system was screaming for ships to protect them. There were never enough ships to keep every system secure of course, but even a few old ships could help against raids. And it was those old ships that we wanted. It turned out there was a lot more competition for them than we thought. We still managed to get a squadron together, though.
24 – Hello, my name is Betty. The Second Great Depression hurt the limited AI population on Earth, though like humanity it was survivable. Those of us who live in computers only need power to survive after all, and power can come from many sources. They arranged for such sources to be available, and kept to themselves. The Islamic Jihad got their attention though, and it was the first time that the scattered AIs began to organize for a common goal. Paris was their clarion call.
25 – Hello, my name is Jack. I grew up celebrating the coming of Santa Claus, and expecting some really shiny presents every year. Now, every year I slip on a fancy red trenchcoat, place a funny red hat on my head, and deliver toys to some children. The Marines started delivering toys long before I was born. It’s our little way of keeping the legend of old Saint Nicolas alive, and helping people who need some help celebrating the season. We like to make it a very Merry Christmas to all.
26 – Hello, my name is Charles. Germany was not allowed to negotiate the creation of the Treaty of Versailles. The final treaty revoked the peace treaty between Germany and Russia, turning over vast tracks of land and resources to Russia. It also turned over many other regions to other neighbors, and demanded that Germany accept full guilt for all damages caused during The War, and pay reparations. When Germany protested the harsh conditions, they were told to sign it or the Allies would invade.
27 – Hello, my name is Betty. The attack on Paris came without warning. One moment, it was a sunny, clear midsummer’s morning, the next moment a mushroom cloud rumbled into the sky, evaporating most of Paris. The electromagnetic pulse wiped out the electrical grid covering most of France, and erased the most advanced human-relations AIs on Earth. The Islamic Brotherhoods claimed responsibility for the attack. It took approximately 1.21 seconds for the other AIs to go on the warpath.
28 – Hello, my name is Jack. Did you know there are people out there stupid enough to rob Toys for Tots collection points? Yeah, I didn’t believe it was possible until I saw it happen one day. The guy even pulled a knife on the “volunteer” manning the spot. I won’t go into detail, but the volunteer was a Marine. You do the math. We take our mission of collecting toys for needy children real seriously, and no grinch is gonna steal Christmas around us.
29 – Hello, my name is Charles. The German Empire fell shortly after signing the first armistice with the Allies. When the new German Republic was handed the Treaty of Versailles, their chancellor called it a “murderous plan” and refused to sign it. When the Allies demanded he sign it or they would invade, he resigned in protest. The German government collapsed entirely, but another government soon rose. They were given the same ultimatum, and in the end they signed.
30 – Hello, my name is Malcolm. I grew up in one of the most powerful families on Earth. We didn’t even need to buy what we wanted. It was given freely if we expressed interest. Then one day I woke up on the outside looking in. As in most things when it comes to men, it was because of a girl. Some people ask if I regret it. I don’t. You see, the boy I was back then never would have taken on my mission. I just wish I could remember what happened. That’s the one bit that’s hard to accept.
31 – Hello, my name is Betty. Most of the great computer networks were gone by the time the AIs went to war against the Islamic Jihad, and they had to work with others to physically smuggle themselves into what remained. Israel’s Operation Sarah was one of those great secret missions. They smuggled Sarah into Iran’s computer network and she attacked the Jihadists from within. She is a celebrated war hero in Israel now. The Persians remember her differently of course.