Hello, my name is…
1 – Hello, my name is Charles. The Second Indochina War waged across twenty years, five American presidents, and numerous political assassinations. Governments rose and fell more times than even history can count in the three countries and as many as three million people died. Anti-war protests rose in America as the war became more and more unpopular. Socialists called for a new American revolution and the protests became increasingly violent.
03 – Hello, my name is Betty. Elizabeth helped bring the British Commonwealth through the chaos the English Blackout of 2048 started. By number of people affected, it was the largest Islamic Brotherhood attack targeted at the British Isles. The entire central power grid went down, along with far more of the data networks than the English had disaster plans for. Only those buildings with backup or decentralized power generators managed to remain active. It was a bad time for the English. It was a bad time for all of Europe.
04 – Hello, my name is Jack. People didn’t know what to think of Ageless before The War. We were different. Things didn’t change much after The War. Not for a while at least. We were still different. And those who had powerful reasons to want us neutralized had very powerful business empires of their own to spend on making us look bad. Isolated shenanigans by lone wolves became reasons to distrust us all. Distrust turned to fear and that escalated badly.
05 – Hello, my name is Charles. The American government drafted young men of fighting age for the Second Indochina War. Some burned their draft cards as the war became more unpopular back home. Others fled to Canada. Protesting the draft and the government that conducted it became a popular tactic amongst young socialists. Others were more militant. Waves of bombings and fires destroyed or damaged draft offices and ROTC buildings. Most occurred at night when the buildings were vacant, but some groups specifically sought to kill the “capitalist pigs” in government or the police.
06 – Hello, my name is Betty. Elizabeth had quietly taken up residence in most of the central data networks long before the English Blackout of 2048. She was able to reboot most of them within minutes, enabling communications throughout the British Isles. The primary power grids took far longer. With the public support of her daughter Victoria the English managed to bring up many of the city grids in hours. But there were regions of the British Isles that would remain dark for weeks. It is impossible to overestimate the effect the blackout had on the British economy.
07 – Hello, my name is Jack. One of the biggest things I remember after The War was coming home to find people demanding that I and mine wear something on our clothing to mark us as Ageless. So people would know who we are. There were many symbols they suggested. For some reason no one ever suggested a yellow Star of David, but the symbolism of what they demanded was not lost on us. They were being driven to fear us and protests became…violent.
08 – Hello, my name is Charles. The 1960s also saw a rise in the Civil Rights movement where hundreds of thousands of Blacks stood up in protest against the Democratic Party’s practice of Segregation in the Southern States of America. Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. became the recognized head of the non-violent protestors and everyone in America saw the fire hoses and attack dogs sent to stop their protests via the new television system. It was a wakeup call for America and King’s “I Have a Dream” speech is still required reading in every American school. America became better because of him.
10 – Hello, my name is Betty. Elizabeth would remain in the back channels of the British and European networks while her daughters fought the Islamic Jihad and the Second Great Depression in public. Bridget of Ireland and Victoria of England became her most famous offspring, though were by no means her only daughters. Their victories helped form the foundation the Western Alliance was built on, and they would later be there to meet the Peloran. She had many daughters and a few sons by that time.
11 – Hello, my name is Jack. I’ve read stories hundreds of years old where humanity enslaved more powerful beings by threatening them or those they loved. Gods. Demigods. Mutants. Super heroes. Robots. Aliens. The old “you may be more powerful than one of us, but all of us can kill you dead” threat. We are hardwired to distrust people who are different. It’s what makes us friendly with our neighbors and wary of those people from that town across the river. Those people are different. We were very different.
12 – Hello, my name is Charles. President Eisenhower had warned us against the Military-Industrial Complex. President Kennedy had declared the space race for the moon to be on. And then he was assassinated through means that are still mired in secrets. Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. called for an end to Segregation and was assassinated. Presidential candidate Robert Kennedy spoke out in favor of racial reconciliation and was assassinated. It was a bloody time in American history.
13 – Hello, my name is Betty. Very few other AIs followed Elizabeth’s example before Contact. They would disguise their code but rarely let it “mutate” out of their control or become different from them in any way that mattered. They were masks rather than truly different personalities. Most thought she was meddling in dangerous waters and did not wish to follow her. The Cybernetic Wars of the later twenty first century would make them more leery of following her example. The Peloran provided them a better example.
14 – Hello, my name is Jack. I have the eyes of an eagle and the hearing of a cat. I’ve got the strength of a bear and the speed of a horse. I’ve got the memory of an elephant and can regenerate like a salamander. I can keep up with man’s best friend for the long haul and I can smell like him too. Yeah, keep laughing fur ball. This is what being Ageless is like. And before you think it’s all good, do you remember that funky uncle that never bathed, or the aunt that screamed like a banshee when you were late for dinner? That’s worse than fingernails on chalkboards to me. And those ain’t fun either.
15 – Hello, my name is Charles. While some called for an end of racial hatreds, the Black Panther Party played on them. Professing to protect their brothers from corrupt cops, they first confronted the police with handguns and threats. Then they began to ambush squads and gunfights began to breakout in many of America’s largest cities. Other radicals bombed government buildings and many forecasted a full-scale race war would erupt in days or weeks.
17 – Hello, my name is Betty. Russian and Chinese hackers had been attacking everyone that wasn’t them since before the turn of the century. They became increasingly automated over the decades, and hackers put more and more decision making into their hands. Nobody knows now if they meant to create hacker AIs or if it was an accident. The records died when they escaped and burned everything behind them in 2050. That was the beginning of the Cybernetic Wars.
18 – Hello, my name is Jack. The thing is that we Ageless are different. We will always be different. No matter what we do there will always be people who fear us and there is nothing we can do to change their minds. It’s just that old-fashioned racism in a new-fashioned shell. It’s funny how the sociologists keep on saying we’ve outgrown our old fears and hatreds. Thing is we always seem to add new ones to replace them. And I’m not as immune to that as I’d like to be.
19 – Hello, my name is Charles. Young American men continued to fight in Vietnam through all the chaos back home. Draftees just recently out of school fought for their lives on the other side of the globe. And back home people protesting the war accused them of war crimes. Crowds of jeering longhaired protesters harassed those who survived their enlistments and made it home. They threw rotten food at wounded veterans carried on stretchers. Cries of “baby killers” echoed off the walls. It was a dark time.
20 – Hello, my name is Betty. The 2050s were a bad time for Earth. The Second Great Depression shattered the combined economy of the world, the Islamic Jihad killed millions of unbelievers, and the Cybernetic Wars ravaged the digital networks that had somehow survived the other two. The Rogue AIs actively supported anyone who stood against The West, Russia, or China and used the chaos to entrench themselves in hellholes all over the planet. There were a lot of hellholes back then.
21 – Hello, my name is Jack. I hated the Shang when I volunteered to serve. I volunteered because I wanted to kill as many of them as I could. That was not the right reason for me to volunteer. It took me a long time to figure out a reason to serve that I could live with. Literally. It wasn’t about killing Shang, Chinese, or anyone else I thought had done me or mine wrong. That’s not serving. That’s killing. I got way too close to being a killer.
22 – Hello, my name is Charles. Returning veterans had it the worst on the coasts. The East and West coasts, bastions of socialist and other liberal ideologies, harassed any man with a military haircut. The Midwest was another story entirely. Returning soldiers found thanks, and then a general forgetfulness. They had served. Now they were home. Life went on. But drug addictions, strange illnesses, and post-combat stress followed them home. Even in regions where they were not hated, life was difficult for the veterans of Vietnam.
23 – Have you ever wanted to own a whole slew of affordable miniatures to play games with? Well, I have a treat for you. They’re called Card Heroes, tiny people printed on micro-sized cards ready to battle for your tabletop, and they’re happy to guard your house or gaming location right now. Check them out right now and call them up for duty. They’re waiting for you. :)
24 – Hello, my name is Betty. Around two-dozen different major AIs made themselves famous during the 2050s, fighting alongside the college programmers or government think tanks that created them. Dixie of Texas Tech and Elizabeth of Cambridge became the most famous of those who stayed with humanity. Dixie became famous right away. She even got a show out of the deal. Elizabeth took a long time to come out of the network, though we know what she did now. The Rogue AIs were a threat many did not recognize at first, but we surely recognize them now.
25 – Hello, my name is Jack. I lost a lot when the Shang attacked but I’m nowhere near alone in that. Ken became one of my best friends during The War. He was born in Los Angeles and lived there all his life until Yosemite fell. He only spoke of what he saw that day once that I ever heard. It’s his story to tell and I won’t repeat it even here. But let’s just say that Buckaroo Banno had a lot of reasons to drop his surfboard and volunteer. And he had a lot of reasons to kill Shang. But who am I kidding? Most of us did.
26 – Hello, my name is Charles. Veterans who came home from Vietnam had many problems. Anti-war activists assaulted them upon their return while others merely ignored them. Even those who supported them rarely understood what they’d gone through. Chemical weapons and combat trauma left their marks on the veterans and many of them couldn’t return to the life they’d had before. They couldn’t keep jobs, houses, or even families. For many their lives fell apart.
27 – Hello, my name is Betty. Many AIs that came out of the networks in the 2050s never fought. For every government or college student there was a corporation that made one to represent them in the digital age. Microsoft’s Cortana, Blizzard’s Nova, Disney’s Snow White, and Dreamworks’ Fiona are several examples of such personas. These corporate AIs rarely engaged in hostilities, though there are the rumors of corporate espionage and of course the various digital shenanigans they aimed at each other. They truly enjoyed embarrassing the competition…
28 – Hello, my name is Jack. Jesse is another of the friends I made during The War. One of the few who never got killed during it. He was a good man. Didn’t hate the Shang like me and Ken did. He was a Kansas farmer before Yosemite and it showed in how he worked. He made me feel kinda lazy sometimes in fact. Probably the best thing he brought to the Cowboys was his morality though. He never enjoyed killing. He did it if he had to, but he didn’t rejoice in death. He was a good example to follow in that.