Hello, my name is…
1 – Hello, my name is Jack. My parents enrolled me in every music class they could in school. Choir. Orchestra. Marching band. I learned how to play the violin for orchestra. I learned guitar for marching band, which was fun, and then got to march behind the majorettes. That was awesome. I went to Minnesota state music festivals every year, and we even marched at the Snow Bowl Parade a few times. We didn’t even need warm weather gear for that. The marching kept us warm enough all we needed was earmuffs and we were good to go. Those were the days.
2 – Hello, my name is Charles. With Socialist Germany destroyed and parceled up into Allied hands, Russia was the only remaining great nation where socialist principles held sway. But it was a broken nation and would take generations to rebuild into anything approaching the remaining power of the new NATO alliance. So The West discounted Russia as a real threat. Everyone took notice though when socialist rebels rose up to topple the governments of Korea and China.
3 – Angel Flight. The War hit us unprepared and unready, but we survived. We rebuilt. Third Fleet took us two years to assemble from the dribs and drabs of new construction, demothballed ships, or stray ships that got home. We launched from Earth ready to kick their asses to the other side of the galaxy. We smashed the Russians at Procyon, Mayer, and Zeta Reticuli. We crushed the Chinese at Cygni, Alsafi, and Eridani. We were feeling pretty ducky after that. Epsilon Reticuli was supposed to end The War once and for all. It didn’t work.
4 – Hello, my name is Betty. Everybody knew each other in the business of creating virtual worlds. They went to school together, worked together, and played each other’s games. They grew up together in a ragtag mess of dreams that most knew they were never get rich on. Then big business came in and began throwing movie budgets around at single games. But the same handful of people did the making and the writing about them.
5 – Hello, my name is Jack. I first met Julie and Alex in orchestra and marching band. Sorta. I played violin and guitar. They played the flute and trumpet. We didn’t really spend much time together. Plus that was back in my “girls are icky” stage. I didn’t know them really. Though I do remember them being first seat in their instruments and me trying to show I was better than they were. Keyword there. Trying. Not that I’d ever admit it at the time, but they were better than me. A lot better.
6 – Hello, my name is Charles. Russia began supporting the Chinese socialist revolution in the 1920s. Millions died in the long Chinese Civil War, but the socialists could never drive the government out. After Japan killed 10 to 20 million Chinese in World War II, the people lost faith in the government though. The rebellion succeeded by the end of the decade and China would go on to form the longest-lasting socialist government in the history of Earth.
7 – Hello, my name is Betty. Many people began to consider the business of creating virtual worlds to be an old boys club. They saw corruption in the business designed to trick them into buying no good virtual creations. Many began to long for the days when virtual worlds were small again, made by single programmers in their basements. And ironically many such small publishing houses appeared to fill the void. Very few of them succeeded.
8 – Hello, my name is Jack. The first time I “really” met Julie was during recess in middle school. I was plucking at my guitar, trying to write a song that was playing in my head. I was starting to realize that girls were nice so that called for new songs. I just couldn’t get the notes right. She waltzed up, snatched the guitar out of my hands, and told me to shut up as she played what I was trying to write. I think I fell in love with her a little bit that day. Maybe more than a little bit.
9 – Hello, my name is Charles. The conquest of China by a socialist rebellion was one of Russia’s greatest foreign policy victories. It was the kind of victory that nearly destroyed them in later centuries. But the short-term results included at least 50 million dead Chinese due to Chairman Mao’s pogroms and his Great Leap Forward famine. China nearly collapsed, but an elemental stoicism kept the people marching forward until socialist China became one of the most powerful nations on Earth.
10 – Happy Birthday Marines. From the Halls of Montezuma To the shores of Tripoli; We fight our country’s battles In the air, on land, and sea.
Thus begins the United States Marine Corps Hymn. Happy Birthday Marines.
And let me give a special shout out to Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 112, the Cowboys. My ability to write stories about people who serve in a speculative futuristic version of the unit is only possible because Marines and others put on a uniform and devoted their lives to defending the freedom of others.
Thank you for serving.
11 – Hello, my name is Betty. As some people decried corruption in the virtual world industry, others wished for a day before the industry went mainstream. When only highly-educated computer nerds could run the systems that ran the worlds, all worlds were designed for them. But as systems became cheaper and easier to run, the worlds would programmed for larger audiences. Some felt like as if the worlds were losing what made them great. It became a difficult time for the industry.
12 – Hello, my name is Jack. Julie and Alex had learned to play by reading the notes but didn’t know the theory. I played by ear and always struggled to read the music. I’d always faked it good enough that most people didn’t notice. Even with them I covered it up for a while. They asked me join their music sessions after school and I successfully used the “ladies first” excuse to get them playing first so I could sync up with them. They still caught on though.
13 – Hello, my name is Charles. The fall of the Japanese Empire at the end of World War II setup conditions for the Korean War. The final peace treaty allowed Russia to occupy the northern parts of the country while United States forces occupied the south. Governments arose in both occupied zones that claimed to be the one true government. The socialist government in the north finally chose to march south and the southern forces were not powerful enough to hold. They were driven back nearly to the sea. The Korean War was nearly over in weeks.
14 – Hello, my name is Betty. As virtual worlds became more widespread, some gamers began to attack newcomers, saying that they weren’t real gamers. Almost all virtual worlds were games back then after all. Interactive novels were the stuff of science fiction back then. Glasses were for correcting bad vision, not computer displays. It was a truly different world, where technology was becoming common. And many who had been apex technophiles did not appreciate losing what they thought made them special.
15 – Hello, my name is Jack. When Julie and Alex realized I couldn’t read the music, they decided it was high time to teach me. And for one of the first times in my life I found that I wanted to learn something. The things guys will do for a girl. Or two. They taught me to study so much more than music too. History. Math. Science. They were straight-A students and they wanted me to be just as good. And I really didn’t want to fail their classes. I was so head over heels for them.
16 – Hello, my name is Charles. The invasion of South Korea became the new United Nations’ first test. Formed by the Allied powers after World War II in order to support democracy and keep another world war from happening, the United Nations quickly voted to send forces to support the southern republic. The predominantly American UN forces smashed the North Korean forces and sent them running all the way to the Chinese border. It was a great victory. Then the Chinese rolled in.
17 – Wolfenheim Rising. The Wolfenheim Project was a dream given form. Her mission to establish a new colony farther out than any Earth had ever sent. To tell the aliens that we would never stop coming. To show them that we would never give up. It was a grand and ambitious project. Some called it crazy. Others called it fraud. When the people funding the project found out they were funding the project, they demanded their money back. They brought guns. That was when things got interesting.
18 – Hello, my name is Betty. The early twenty-first century saw a generational change in electronic technologies. The widespread use of mobile computing and communications devices. The merging of the two. The new technologies connected people around the world like never before. But it was not all good. The fringe elements of society did not always use these technologies for the betterment of the society that shunned them you see.
19 – Hello, my name is Jack. Julie and Alex taught me to read music, to study in school, and so much more. And in return I taught them how to play by ear. I taught them to break the rules, in music and in the rest of life. Sometimes the best things in music come from playing outside the rules. Life too. I taught them to put the music down and play what they felt. That was when they decided they wanted to start a band. I was all over that like white on rice.
20 – Hello, my name is Charles. Mainland China had fallen to the socialists by the time of the Korean War and they had an impressive army. They had minimal training but decades of experience in the long Chinese Civil War. They’d taken hideous losses against the Japanese but the survivors knew how to fight. And those survivors formed the core of a million-man army ready to cross the border. They smashed the South Korean and American armies when they came.
21 – Hello, my name is Betty. Fringe elements of society will always be with us. There are some people who will always see, act, and be different. Some will never be able to conform. Some of them will always be able to interact with society, deal with people even as they keep their distance. Others will not. Some never want to. The rise of interconnected technologies in the early twenty-first century gave these fringe elements greater access to society than ever before. That is one reason it all went so bad.
22 – Hello, my name is Jack. There aren’t a lot of bands with flutes and trumpets. Guitars though? Those are big in bands. So I taught Julie and Alex to play guitar. Don’t get me wrong. They knew how to strum a guitar before we got together, but there’s a difference between that and really jamming out a song on stage. And if I learned anything in marching band it was how to play to the crowd. That proved invaluable when it came time to start a band.
23 – Hello, my name is Charles. The Chinese offensive pushed the American and South Korean forces into a long retreat down the Korean peninsula. They killed hundreds of thousands of South Koreans and only American naval superiority allowed the UN to evacuate two hundred thousand soldiers and civilians back to the south. The armies were far too depleted to keep the combined forces of North Korea and China from once again conquering Seoul, the once proud capital of Korea.
24 – Forge of War. All I cared about was girls and parties when I was young. Family too. We used to have the best get togethers. Then the Shang blew Yosemite Yards out of the sky and dropped its remains all over western America. Killed most of my family and friends. I volunteered so I could kill as many Shang as I could find. It was all revenge. I never thought I’d find something worth living for along the way.
25 – Hello, my name is Betty. By the early twenty-first century, most hackers had melded into one of two groups. Some worked for governments or corporations, while others did it for fun or other reasons. Many cut their teeth in the various cultural movements of the time and created the idea of hacktivism. Some did good. Some did bad. We only survived in the end because of those that did good.
26 – Hello, my name is Jack. Julie and Alex were the brains of the band. They said we needed different instruments. I figured three guitars was just fine, but they said the sounds would work well from different…things. They lost me on the music theory, but I was willing to give it a try. Alex learned bass guitar and Julie claimed the acoustic guitar. Me? Well, I got to play the field. Fiddle. Mandolin. Banjo. Sometimes I even played the violin. I played whatever the song called for and loved it.
27 – Happy Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving Day is a day set aside by our government to give thanks to God. It has usually been in thanks for a good harvest, though at times it has been thanks for surviving a war. I know it can be hard to think of things to be thankful for today, but we should. We live in a great country, where our dreams can change our future. I write stories and make money because people like you buy them. You help me live my dream. So I give thanks.
28 – Hello, my name is Betty. Humanity had played with hacking in the later part of the twentieth century, but mobile computing and satellite communications brought interdependence on computers in the next that made war on that level possible. The Americans, the Chinese, and the Russians began the Second Cold War when their relations frayed, but the Islamic Brotherhoods soon joined them. That was when the war went hot.
29 – Hello, my name is Jack. We called our band the Extreme Licks. Not the best name ever, but everything had to have the word extreme somewhere if you wanted to sound shiny back then. Our logo was a big tongue with arms and legs jamming on a guitar. Looking back on it I have to chuckle. We thought it was such a clever name. Now I’m amazed at the naivety of our youth. Despite the “clever” name and logo we actually became a success. We were bringing in real money when we graduated from high school.
30 – Hello, my name is Charles. With most of the Korean peninsula once again under socialist control, the United Nations forces had to rebuild and resupply. But Supreme Commander MacArthur was unwilling to accept defeat at the hands of China. He ordered a combined arms counterattack as soon as the forces were ready and they pushed the overextended Chinese and North Koreans back out of Seoul and to the north. He even entertained the use of tactical nuclear weapons though bowed to President Truman’s orders against their usage.