The Crown of Flames, Prolouge
  Following Excerpt from Chapter 2 of The Rise of Twilight by Aexen Ley'Stan;

As stated in the first chapter, to understand what is happening it is integral to understand what has happened. Cause and effect cannot be denied. The falling of pebbles can shape empires. To understand the thing that has effect all of our lives so harshly, we must understand the environment from which these events came. To understand the phenomenon that is Ragnarok, we must understand the political and historical contexts from which it all begin.
The political climate of Earth for the last hundred and fifty years before Ragnarok has been one of constant shift.  For fifty years, the powerful nation of the United States of America had been embroiled in an extended off and on conflict with the eastern nations under the influence of Islam, a powerful religion of the time. The struggle fluctuated from open war to political grand standing. It might have gone on that way for years to come, the nations stuck in a web of paranoia and fear, kept alive by acts of random atrocity on the part of the Islamites. In fact, all indicators pointed to such an outcome were it not for what would happen in the year 2051 A.D.
An unknown group of terrorists destroyed a holy city known as Jerusalem using atomic weapons, a taboo of warfare since the great wars of the twentieth century. Jerusalem was a center for cultural mysticism for several thousand years, an iconic for more than one world religion.

When the city was destroyed, the globe descended civil chaos. The Islamites blamed the Hebrews, a rival religion in the area. The government of the United States  accused its principle Islamic rival, the nation of Iran. Groups of American anti-government terrorists accused the American government of engineering the attacks. The United States went to its allies and demanded that they joined it in a war as in the past. Many nation abstained, for fear of being drawn into another endless war as in year passed. Spurned, the United States commenced an invasion of Iran on its own.  Most of the world watched with avid interest, and then in utter horror as the first wave of U.S. Forces invaded and then were destroyed as the Iranian government deployed a tactical nuclear strike, killing millions of soldiers in a single night. In response the U.S. Government launched its own nuclear strike, destroying Iran's capital city and numerous industrial targets. These events shifted the situation greatly. Now convinced of Iran's guilt in the Jerusalem bombing, the nations of Germany and Australia joined the side of the United States forming the Western Coalition. Meanwhile, the Iranian government, which had gone to ground before the U.S. counter-strike, built up a huge cloud of patriotism and anti-American resentment by painting itself as the righteous guardian against, rallying its people and the surrounding nations into a United Islamic Coalition. The U.S. Then accused the nation of Russia of supplying Iran with nuclear arms, which brought Russia into the war on the side of Iran. Turkey, resentful of the U.S., And with a strong hatred of Germany and a history of Islamic influence, sided with Iran as well. It was at that point that the war was truly joined.

The war, from all accounts, was brutal one. Iran bolstered its forces with a massive volunteer army from its sister nations and with arms from Russia. The whole nation entrenched itself, resorting to the trench war fare of centuries past, becoming a single defensive bastion. Germany invaded Turkey, and Turkey did likewise with Germany. Australia, using American weapons, began an invasion of the Islamic Coalition states while America began a highly unpopular forced conscription of its populace in a rushed attempt to replaced its lost army. Many pacifists, Islamites, and young intellects defected to the neutral nation of Britain.

The war lasted for seven years in all. The the fighting dragged on, more and more nations were pulled into the conflict in one way or another. It would have gone on for longer without victor if it were not for the Year of the Plague. Early in the year of 2058 A.D. A disease known as the Ebola virus mutated into an airborne strain. The disease, a horrible one that rots a primate from the inside out while driving them mad in the process, had plagued underdeveloped nations for years. When it became an airborne disease, it spread like wildfire. It also became known as the Laughing Death, known for the laugh like cough it produced early in victims.

The disease burned upward from its place of origin, infecting several Coalition nations first. From there, it spread to the Alliance nations. Iran and the Coalition died from the inside out. Turkey, with its government focused on a campaign of genocide against the German people, burned into nothing quickly. Germany, intent on doing the same to its Turkish enemies, suffered the same fate. The Russia metropolis cities went up quickly, while its rural countryside returned to a dark age state by cutting off communication in hopes of avoiding the plague. The Laughing Death came to America on the corpses of its dead sons and daughters. The outbreak reaching a critical level, combined with public resentment directed towards the increasingly totalitarian federal government, ignited a swarm of civil wars which brought the mighty nation to its knees. The nation that was the United States is recorded as coming to an end early in the morning on a winter's day in year early months of 2059, when a group of terrorists and revolutionaries calling themselves the Washingtonians detonated a hydrogen bomb within the city of Washington D.C., killing the entire upper level of the United States Government in a matter of seconds.

So it is with that, that World War III, America's Last War, The War of the Ages, came to a horrible and chaotic halt.
Were does that leave the people of Earth? Most of the war nations had been destroyed by the Laughing Death. Australia had avoided infection thus far, but reports of the virus had begun to creep in. The nation of Britain, via forceful quarantine and luck had avoided the plague. The nations of France and Spain where beginning to crumble under the disease. While 2058 became known as the Year of the Plague, the year of 2059 became known as the New Year, or the Year of Genesis. Why? Not a week after the U.S. Government came to a burning crashing end, a young American born computer programmer and entrepreneur, by the name of Michael Adams, in tandem with a German quantum physicist named Jacob Goethe, quite by accident, invited a  machine that could think.

The two were working on a new base programming language based, rather loosely, on quantum mechanics, as opposed to the binary system. Quiet without knowing how or why, the two soon observed at their toy operating systems, prototype system designed to handle huge amounts of data at high speeds with minimum interface, began to act on their own. The systems downloaded and created files without being commanded. Before long, it began to leave its creators messages. The two inventors were joined by a third, an expert in advanced robotics named Oliver Pit, with a few months of work, they created the first  being of a species that would be classified as Homo Novus – The New Man.

The three quickly sold the services of these new beings to the various plague crippled nations as a new breed of worker. These Novus could go into plague ridden areas and care for the sick as well as maintain order and law, but unlike previous robots, they could act without awkward command from a home base and come up with quick and creative solutions. Even with the Novus to help, the strain of the plague grew so bad that most of the old governments fell apart in the end, but, because the Novus were there to help, most of these collapses were gentle and peaceful. One of the first acts of Novus kind was to save humanity!

Most of the ailing governments eagerly paid for the services of the Novus, while the three fathers of the race began to build multiple factories to keep up with demand.  The three offered the Australian government their service for free, but the government, blaming Britain's neutrality for not ending the war quick enough to avoid the plague, denied out of resentment.  The nation managed to weather the storm of the plague, but only barely.
The Novus themselves, when not helping with plague, had begun to develop their own culture. While Novus think like humans, they have the ability to download and learn data much faster than human do, giving them and amazingly quick maturation rate. Adams, Goethe, and Pit, had also begun lobbying the British government for Novus rights.

In the year of 2062, three years after the Year of Genesis, most of the remaining civilized governments of the world, along with the brightest minds of the ungoverned regions, met in the city of Vienna for what would become the First World Congress. Several electronically linked stadiums, and forums holding millions of interacting people sat down to decide the shape of the new and suddenly empty world. For months politicians, philosophers, workers, artisans, and entrepreneurs debated and talked. It was decided that, after much debate, all of the territory represented would be given to private owners under the protection of a limited government devoted to the protection of the rights of the people. The government would be made up of a collection of regional states under the control of a Central Republic. The state government would be made up of the representatives of the people, who in turn would make up the federal government. The government would be made up of a volunteer force of police, soldiers, and courts. All to be paid by a willing donation of the people under the protection of the government.

Another decision reached by the World Congress was that of the rights of Novus. The Novus, with great and heartfelt gratitude from their human neighbors, were granted full rights as volitional beings and declared, to a man, as people. The three fathers of Novus kind rejoiced along with their many children, but some Novus felt resentment that they had wait to be recognized as such at all.

Australia was conspicuously against this decision.

In the following years, the new World Republic grew. One of its first projects was to deal with the barbarian kings that had set themselves up during the chaos of the Laughing Death in the old nations of Russia, America, and Africa. After the bandits were put down, the now true World Republic entered a new golden age. Without government intervention, trade flourished and science revolutionized itself time and again. The Novus began to repopulate the now lifeless North American continent. Novus engineers, along with the help of Oliver Pit, developed a way for the Novus to reproduce outside of the factories, giving them a true status as an independent species through nano-bots. They also created a small carbon-fission generator which not only allowed the Novus to refuel their energy cores on food, as opposed to having to shut down and recharge for fourteen hours at a time, but also revolutionized energy production, allowing for a near limitless amount clean and cheap energy.

While the Novus were making leaps and bounds with nano bots and fission, humans had begun to giant huge success in bio-engineering. Particularly bio-tools, the engineering of lifeforms to do the work of older electronic appliances. Bio-engineering also gave rise to genetic enhancement of the human race. While this new form of medicine was used to cure a wide array of disease (including the old Laughing Death) it also gave rise to a trend of functional and superficial genetic enhancements, with some people using it to obtain super-human abilities, while others used it to make small and sometimes alien cosmetic changes.

For nearly eighty years, the world remained peaceful as science and capitalism paved the way for a better and brighter tomorrow. Infections start small though, so it would be a long time before small problems festered enough to grow into disasters. A genetic mutation in one small virus ended a war and an old world order. So then something that started just as small would turn the new order on its head.

As the decades passed on, the quality of both human and Novus life high in the extreme, certain trends had begun to take root. One, of course would be those that would come to call themselves the Humanists. These were humans who had, for any number of reasons, come to resent the Novus. Despite the now ridiculously long human life spans science had created, the Novus could live indefinitely in theory. They were far less prone to disease. Some Humanists felt that the Novus should be stripped of their immortal stasis, while others felt that they should serve humanity instead of coexisting with it. They were originally tools of man, and that is where they should stay. While only a small minority in the beginning, the Humanist grew in strength and size, playing off of feelings of ignorance and jealousy.

Another group would be the bio-cults. While bio-engineering was accepted socially even in  extremes (after all, what harm was a set of gills or a better metabolic system?), some groups began to treat self-mutation as a mystic experience and ritualistically mutated their bodies into strange and fantastic shapes. While tolerated, these groups often spurned normal human and Novus contact, and as such, often sat on the fringes of society.

Finally came the Anti-Humanists. These were Novus who had grown resentful of the treatment of themselves, their forefathers, and their race by human kind. They were to the humans what the Humanists were to the Novus. They saw humans as weak and inferior. They, as obsolete biological throwbacks, did not deserve their status and power. Most prominent among the Anti-Humanists was the radical group known as the Sons of Adam, lead by an ostentatious Novus who called himself Adam Prime. The Sons of Adam sought to replace and subjugate humanity with Novus kind, as per Adam Prime's warped understanding of evolution.

In the year 2117, Australia had become a hotbed for Humanist sentiment and bio-cultism. During that year, a failed bio-tool engineer named Hans Zanzibar was fired from his last real job.  He was an incompetent engineer and was unable to cooperate with his coworkers, several of whom were Novus, due to his wild temperament and radical Humanist beliefs. After being fired, he fell in with an old friend, this friend had also been a bio-tool engineer, but he had dropped out of the field and become a mystic and a bio-cultist. The two fed off of each other. Hans Zanzibar was known as a extremist and an eccentric even among the most staunch Humanists. Hans Zanzibar left with his friend and fell in among the bio-cultists. There Hans Zanzibar reinvented himself personal and physically as Hannibal Kaiser. Under his new name, Hannibal preached his wild Humanist philosophy to other bio-cultist. His form of Humanism held that not only were Novus inferior, but they were unholy. Biological beings were spiritually superior to the Novus in every way. In fact, all electronic and metal technology was a perversion. It was also holy for man to abandon his ridged and unnatural shape and return to a more natural and animal-like form. To further these goals, Hans Zanzibar and his old colleague  designed and created their first and only successful bio-tool. A lobster-like arachnid that, with proper stimuli, could attach itself to a host and then begin to change its host's genetic code and body structure. These creatures, known as Transcenders, were passed along in back ally bio-cults , and came pre-packaged with Hannibal's beliefs.

Soon, Hannibal's curious blend of radical Humanism and bio-cult mysticism caught on is Australia. Within a year, he founded the Church of Carthage. Hans felt a kinship with the Hannibal of old. He held mystic fantasies that he was the Hannibal of the ancient Punic wars, reincarnated and destined to reenact the battle of old, and take on the Novus the same way the holy beast-riding Hannibal fought the “proto-mechanized” society of Rome. Only he was to win in his fight. He felt he was the holy spirit of nature's vengeance against the Novus, just as the Laughing Death had been against the industrialized capitalist societies of old. His theology spread like fire among Humanists and bio-cultists. Within a two years he was the most powerful single man in Australia.

By the year of 2120, the Sons of Adam had become not as powerful as Hannibal's religion, but far more numerous. Playing off the resentment of the Novus at having been treated as a product in the early history of their race, along with very real fears represented by the rise of Hannibal Kaiser, the Sons of Adam became a powerful radical political group and party,  their ranks bolstered by the fears and hatred of Humanists like Hannibal, and enforced by their paramilitary arm, a group of soldiers, mercenaries and thugs known as the Irregulars. Adam Prime was often always seen in public at this time in full military costume (he had never fought a battle once in his life), surrounded by at least six, specialized and weaponized Novus, often dirty and under poor maintenance, and all bearing the insignia of the Irregulars.

Hannibal saw Adam as a perversion of nature and the soul. Adam saw Hannibal as an emblem of a past age and an evolutionary throwback. At first it started with vandalized churches along with beaten Novus businessmen and workers. From there it was Carthaginian clergymen gunned down in the street and Sons of Adam members found with their skulls crushed in (one of the only ways to truly kill a Novus) and their bodies ritualistically posed and dismembered. It was never really known who struck first. The atrocities began at the same time and escalated identically. Before long Humanist rioters would toss home-made EMP bombs into Novus maintenance clinics, killing everyone inside. Irregular thugs would attack Carthaginian churches, blocking the exits and then firebombing the worshipers, often laughing as their enemies burned to death.

In 2122 what started as a ideological battle became a a gang war. In 2123, what started as a gang war, became an intercontinental organized crime battle for domination. In 2125, what had been a horrible crime syndicate problem turned into a full fledged global civil war.  Armies could not fight battles because until 2125, there were no armies to fight. Police who attempted to stop riots would either be betrayed by Irregular agents or Carthage zealots, and would often die in the cross fire. The courts could not try and single criminal because the jury would either come out biased against, biased for, or break down into riot. By 2126, the World Republic was falling apart.

2127 was when the war was at its high point. Atrocity was not a question of if, but when. At one point, the Sons of Adam launched a warhead armed with a weaponized version of the Laughing Death into he heart of the city of Sydney. The problem was that most of the high-ranking members and passionate devotees of the Church of Carthage had modified their DNA so much that the virus could not take hold. The only causalities of the outbreak were the innocent bystanders, most of which did not support or sanction the war. The Church designed a breed of beetles that emitted a faint electro-magnetic pulse and fed on metal. Alone they were not a harm, but the beetles would descend upon North American cities in massive locust like swarms. Most of the Irregulars and Sons of Adam members had EMP-protection installed, so the swarms only ever killed older Novus and non-combatants. For weeks the streets would be lined with dead bodies as the beetles ate, and bred, and died, before moving on to the next city.
Massive sentient mechanized spider tanks would roam the European countryside, firebombing any human settlements they came across, often collecting the corpses as food for the Irregular troops.  The Wolves of Carthage, a breed of acid spitting snake-like burrowing reptiles would often burrow under a city in a massive pack, often eating away at the structural supports of the roads and buildings. After the resulting earthquake stopped, the Wolves would rise to the surface and begin to use pack hunting tactics to hunt down, kill, and eat every human and Novus in the city in a wild feeding frenzy and blood-bath.

Anarchy ruled the land, but it was not long before those who believed in freedom and civilization would no longer tolerate being victims. Soon, the old army and police, along with intellectual supporters of the former World Republic willing to help and fight, banded together to form the Army of the Republic. The Army lacked the near immortal sentient weapons that were the Irregular fighters, and they also did not have the numbers to fight the monstrous hoards under the command of Hannibal. What they did have were the smartest and most dedicated men, human and Novus, of the old Republic. The Army would use guerrilla tactics to wreak havoc upon the supplies of both the Sons and the Church. Often, during a pitch battle between the two opposing forces, the Army would strike at the flank of one combatant, and then at the exposed flank of another, whittling away at both, and then retreating when the two forgot each other and turned on them. Even with this though, the Army could not hope to stop either Adam or Hannibal. In the end, the two fought each other to a weary standstill and neither the Army or the other could break it. In 2131, the Sons of Adam and The Church of Carthage called a truce under the banner of the Army of the Republic. Representatives from each faction met at a much smaller and far more grim Second World Congress at Berlin, which, at the time, had been reduced to rubble by Sons of Adam fire bombings and multiple attacks from Hannibal's Wolves. At the Congress, a new system was worked out. The Army, not having to strength to topple either Hannibal or Adam Prime, while both being struck in a similar situation, was forced to compromise on a plan to partition the globe. The Sons of Adam were given North America, while the Church was given Australia and some of the Pacific island. The remaining territories were to be united under the Confederation of Free People. The Confederation was to be a more rigid reconstruction of the old model of the World Republic.

As part of the treaty, the Sons of Adam were to de-weaponize the Irregular troops, while the Church was forced to put down their engineered bio-weapons and monster armies. All three camps were to disarm beyond the basic police force. The Confederation was given a special exception though. They were, as part of the treaty, allowed to create a specialized paramilitary force, known as the Presidium. The Presidium was to act as a special operations force that would handle difficult, complex, and international matters were a normal police force could not go. It would consist of teams of specialized Novus warriors and capable human fighters and technicians of all sorts. A member of any of he three new nations could join the Presidium, provided that they were capable and dependable. It was, perhaps, the secret hope of the army of the Republic that the Presidium would somehow manage to uphold the old ideals of freedom and reason that had been lost within the borders of Adam's growing police state and the madness of the new Carthage theocracy.

All three camps grudgingly signed the treaty of Berlin. Hannibal had his monsters put down... but never destroyed the original genetic codes. Adam ordered the Irregulars  to disarm and de-weaponize, and many did... the rest ran to ground, supposedly outside of Adam's control. The Army of the Republic disarmed themselves and went back to the task of living. For twenty years the Earth went on, rebuilding what had been lost in the first Novus war. Twenty years of relative peace within the Confederation... and twenty years of silent festering in its two sister nations.  It is after this twenty year pause that we begin to see the first signs of Ragnarok...

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writing Nyronus
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The prologue of a new Science Fiction novel I have begun working on. Prologue sets up the story of the world up to the point the novel takes place.