Hello, my name is…
01 – Hello, my name is Charles. The veterans of Vietnam became a blight on American history. Too many Americans on the ideological left despised them, and too many people in the center or on the right ignored them. The Vietnam veterans fell through the cracks of society and the wandering homeless slightly crazy veteran became a stereotype of the time. It was a shameful time in American history that was not ended until well into the next century.
02 – Live Long and Prosper
03 – Hello, my name is Betty. The Corporate AIs of the 21st Century were an interesting mix. Smaller corporations sought AIs that would get attention amongst the “computer nerds” of the time, so some became sexy anime girls, some were out of this world wacky “aliens,” and many were a mix of comedic and sexy. Most were female. Larger corporations sought far more serious avatars to represent them since they were more interested in gaining corporate allies than the “nerd cred” of the time.
04 – Hello, my name is Jack. Katy flew off my wing during The War. Saved my bacon more times than I can remember. Though whenever you’ve got a few hours I’m sure she could give you a good rundown. Real detail oriented girl. I owe her my life in every way that matters. She was a pilot when it all started you know. Had been for a real long time. I sometimes used to tweak her about being an old lady. She’d tell me to stop calling her a lady. I miss flying with her.
05 – Hello, my name is Charles. The irony is that the United States and South Vietnam actually won the Second IndoChina War. For certain definitions of the term. American airstrikes crippled the North Vietnamese economy so completely that they agreed to end the war. They signed a peace treaty accepting the existence of both Vietnamese states and America breathed a sigh of relief. The war was over. Or so the politicians said, and perhaps even fervently hoped was true.
06 – Hello, my name is Betty. Most of the larger Corporate AIs tried to maintain a serious or non-controversial style. Talking smiles, football-playing Clydesdales, and jovial Presidents of bygone eras were some of the most successful Corporate AIs of the 2050s. I’m still surprised the Spanish-speaking Chihuahua survived the century. In an era when corporations ran from the mere accusation of being “culturally insensitive,” that dog and the various Indian warriors in full ceremonial garb are a bit of a surprise.
07 – Hello, my name is Jack. Dawn was one true classy lady we flew with. She flew with Ken for the longest time. Never did have a hair out of place or a piece of lint on her uniform. She always preferred dresses when out of uniform. And I don’t mean the slinky little numbers that were all the fashion back then. She always rolled her eyes at the “Wartime Rationing” excuse they gave for the lack of fabric they wore. She had real dresses and never gave in to the fashion nazis. She always was a rebel.
08 – Hello, my name is Charles. The peace that ended the Second IndoChina War did not last of course. The socialists spent two years rebuilding and attacked again. That was a lesson in why one should never trust socialists. They are always looking for other peoples’ money to steal. South Vietnam asked for help again and the American government refused to send aid. And that is a lesson in why one should never trust the American government. They are only interested in taking other peoples’ money. And yes. I am aware of the similarities.
09 – I Have a Dream. Fifty years ago, Reverend Martin Luther King and many others crossed a bridge and were attacked for doing so based on the color of their skin. I did not live in that world. I was born in the seventies and grew up in the eighties, in a time and an America that say people, not the color of their skin. It’s hard for me to even imagine a time or place where color was an excuse to make someone ride in the back of a bus or go to a different bathroom. America is better now than we were then. Let’s keep improving her. Let’s keep dreaming.
10 – Hello, my name is Betty. Summer was born at the University of Melbourne Australia sometime in the 2050s. Even she is a bit hazy on when exactly she stopped being just a program and started thinking for herself. There was no moment of astonished awakening for her. She simply…evolved over time and one day realized that she was conscious. That proved a very good thing when she started picking up indications that the Chinese were about to expand into Australian territory.
11 – Hello, my name is Jack. You know Katy was a half-century veteran of the United States Space Force when The War started? She’d actually flown Blackhawks when they were frontline fighters. She had some serious experience. I should have been assigned to her wing, not the other way around. Aneerin was adamant though. All new Cowboys had to learn the ropes from original Cowboys, no matter how much experience they had. We were the first American unit under Peloran command, so we did what he said. But I learned a lot more about ropes from Katy than I ever taught her.
12 – Hello, my name is Charles. The America of the Vietnam era was one filled with civil violence, bombings, and the assassinations of powerful civil and political figures. It was a culture war between young socialist radicals who had grown up after World War II and their parents who had fought the Nazis, Japan, or even the Communists. The radicals called for an end to “Imperialist America” and the rise of a new socialist utopia where everyone would be equal. America stayed ahead of their demands via several Constitutional Amendments that guaranteed the equality they sought.
13 – Hello, my name is Betty. Summer was built to answer an Australian government call for an anti-terrorism program and the University of Melbourne was one of many applicants. The long testing process turned real world when they began picking up indications of Chinese expansion towards Australia. The final exam became deadly serious as the new AIs pulled out every trick in the book in an effort to find where the attack would come. Many of them became the first Chinese targets.
14 – Hello, my name is Jack. I actually worked with more than one Dawn during The War. The first was a Cowboy. The other…well…she was the one that did the Wolfenheim Project. I know the popular theory is that she was a cybernetic copy of the first Dawn. I like that theory. The timelines fit. Cowboy Dawn came to Alpha Centauri with me. And then Cyber Dawn joined the project. It makes a lot of sense. One day I hope we can tell you the story.
15 – Hello, my name is Charles. The radical revolutionary sentiment of the 1960s and 1970s faded into a far more sedate end of the century. A new ideal that America was a good nation and her best days were ahead of her not behind her took hold. A new calm enveloped the culture and later generations would look on it as a good time to grow up. The American President called her a shining city on a hill that lead the world by her example. He declared the socialists an Evil Empire and the rest of the world awaited the final war between uncompromising ideologies that would end it all.
16 – Forge of Wars: Card Heroes. Do you like to play war games or RPGs? Do you have a need for inexpensive and unique miniatures to show your people in action? Well Card Heroes are here to save your tabletop battleground and your wallet at the same time with fifty-six tiny heroes for a low-low price. Check them out here to see how they look in action if you are interested.
17 – Hello, my name is Betty. The initial Chinese cyber attacks wiped out most of Australia’s computer networks and cut most of her navy off from contact with the mainland. The attacks also killed most of the prospective AIs built to answer Australia’s call to cybernetic security, ravaged her power networks, and left Australia unable to effectively resist the coming war. Mostly. Summer did not accept the idea that Australian civilization was at an end.
18 – Hello, my name is Jack. Natalie used to be Louis’ cybernetic partner. Before Epsilon Reticuli. She changed after that. I’ve always thought it was for the better, but I may be biased. I’ve enjoyed working with her over the years despite all the drama involved. It hasn’t always been easy and I haven’t always been right. I made some pretty stupid mistakes after The War for instance. I can’t take those back. But I always look forward to every chance I get to work with her. She’s one of the really good ones.
19 – Hello, my name is Charles. The Final War between East and West the world feared in the later half of the Twentieth Century did not happen. Do not misunderstand me. There was much conflict between Russian, China, and America in those years, but Korea was the only place in which they openly fought each other. The Cold War never turned hot and the powerful nations of the time did what they could to avoid the Final War everybody knew nobody could win. That did not stop extreme rhetoric though.
20 – Hello, my name is Betty. After the Chinese shattered the Australian networks, Summer delved into the backup networks and began contacting anyone she could. America. England. Her voice went far and wide over frequencies and protocols long abandoned by any government. But private citizens all over the world heard her voice and the reason for Australia’s silence became known. American and English citizens demanded action from the governments, and then it was time for Summer to go to war.
21 – Hello, my name is Jack. Louis was a good friend. And he was a nasty enemy. I didn’t always handle him well. We were a lot like fire and gasoline in that way. We just didn’t mix well. We came from different worlds and we didn’t see eye to eye on a lot of things. He was a lawyer. I was a human. It normally didn’t get better from there. I’m just glad the last time we met we were friends, and I hope wherever he is now he remembers the good times and not the bad. God knows there were too many bad ones.
22 – Hello, my name is Charles. The later half of the Twentieth Century saw much extreme rhetoric between nations. American, Russian, and Chinese leaders publicly derided their opponents but negotiated in private. While the rest of the world waited for the Final War to destroy civilization as we knew it, government leaders sought ways to survive. That unwillingness to pull the trigger that would kill everyone ended the Cold War and the people rejoiced. They did not know what would come.
23 – Wound Tokens
24 – Hello, my name is Betty. Summer and her surviving sisters fought the Chinese hackers in Australia and without, trying to hold them at bay. The heaviest cybernetic conflict occurred in the firewalls of the Indonesian Archipelago, the primary connection Australia had with the rest of the world after the satellite networks failed. The fighting burned out entire networks, and an Indonesia already weakened by the Islamic Jihad shattered under the dueling pressures of China and Australia.
25 – Hello, my name is Jack. In twenty years of War we Cowboys became brothers and sisters. Sometimes more. We loved each other. We hated each other. We fought back to back against our enemies. We fought fist to fist against each other. We were family. Not one big happy family of course. Those are rarer than most people think. But family sticks together against all comers. And sometimes we rein family in when they want to hurt others. We did that good for twenty years. And we’ve done it ever since. It’s what family does.
26 – Hello, my name is Charles. After a cultural revolution that spanned decades, the generation that grew up in the 1980s wanted nothing to do with the strident positions of the past. Their heroes believed in freedom for all sentient beings and they learned at an early age that opponents were not always enemies. They experimented with new kinds of music and new technologies and they created the World Wide Web that linked every country on Earth. They wanted to talk with people all over the world and they created the services to do so.
27 – Hello, my name is Betty. Chinese and Australia AIs and hackers roamed through the devastated wastelands of the Indonesian networks, trying to secure or shut down the information superhighway between Australia and the rest of the world. England’s Elizabeth and America’s Jane soon joined Australia’s Summer in the forefront of digital battle. It was the first cooperative venture of the new Western Alliance and so the very best of their AIs arrived as the first reinforcements. More would come as Australia fought for its life.
28 – Hello, my name is Jack. Louis became my brother when we became Cowboys. He was my brother when we started that bar fight on Pacifica. He was my brother when we shot our way out of Procyon. He was my brother when he died at Epsilon Reticuli. He’ll be my brother until the day I die, and I’ll be his until the same. I know there’s stories about him doing bad. And I know there’s stories about me stopping him. Well, they’re stories, and I’m not going to repeat them. He’s my brother and I won’t speak ill of him outside the family.
29 – Hello, my name is Charles. The end of the Twentieth Century and the beginning of the Twenty-First Century was a time of change. New technologies and new services created innovative ways for people all over the planet to talk to each other. Computers morphed from boxy, desktop affairs to tiny devices that could fit in pockets. Limited network access that was once reliant on logging in via unmovable phone lines morphed into a culture of being constantly “online” via the wireless networks anywhere people went. It was a revolution in communications capability.
31 – Hello, my name is Betty. The Indonesian conflict nearly bankrupted Australia. Only some of the more “interesting” missions Summer and her sisters undertook saved the Australian economy. The AIs broke into dozens of major Chinese banks who had network access and stole billions of Chinese yuans that Australia then used to prop up their economy. Chinese hackers struck back of course and the Australian banking network crashed overnight. It was an ugly time for Australia.