Historians are divided on how it all began. Some cite a surge in disillusionment against the established authority. Others would argue that it started in response to the perceived undermining of traditional values and the culture of the former nation-states. Indeed, it cannot be argued that the re-emergence of nationalism in mainstream political discourse did not fan the flames of war; but in truth, the war began long before the Great Strike.
The key to victory lay not in the military might of the various combatants, but in the division of their peoples. The orchestrators of this conflict knew that in unity, their enemies would likely triumph in a long, drawn-out war of attrition. Even if they did not, a ravaged Earth was hardly a desirable prize for such lofty aspirations.
Stage one of the plan was to whittle away at their opponents with bee stings. This phase lasted many decades, preying on humanity’s natural state of anger and distrust. The first shots were not fired from a gun but from a keyboard. Cyberspace permitted the exchange of ideas in a manner none had previously seen. No longer were the people reliant on an established mainstream media for political commentary. The people became the commentators. In response, thousands of discussion forums, news websites and channels opened up for the free exchange of information. However, even ideologically opposed outlets were controlled by the Single Power. Purporting to offer their subscribers the truth, media services crafted echo chambers in cyberspace and sewed the seeds of rebellion.
The Single Power created artificial users and used them to spread divisive ideas across the Internet. Forums dedicated to the support of one stance were barraged with the rhetoric of another. Such a tactic encouraged others to join in with these virtual assaults, heightening tensions that would see online angst manifest in real-world violence. The Power tweaked its strategy to the most favourable outcome. No longer were risky covert operations and assassinations needed to topple inconvenient political figures. The people would do it for them, were the right incentives provided. When a candidate for election in one country was deemed a better choice than another, the online propaganda web would be spun against the former.
In all likelihood, the revolution took longer than anticipated. The Single Power poked and prodded throughout the years. Regions were destabilised, democracies were undermined, and fears were spread. Weakened governments tried to cling to power, supported by their allies in the now-diminished mainstream media. However, having been complicit in peddling disinformation in exchange for state favours it was inevitable that soon few would listen.
Instead, the people turned to this new form of media, unaware of the puppet master hiding in the shadows. The more the governments of the world pressed to reassert their authority, the greater the anger from the people. When outrage manifested in violence, the lack of any shock waves roaring through the corridors of power was telling; the traditional authorities knew their grip was slipping.
Governments which had lurched to authoritarianism attempted to end civil division through calculated aggression. Several resorted to false flag operations, orchestrating terrorist acts within their own borders and blaming them on whatever they could; a foreign power, religious extremists, political dissidents. Believing that flags and borders were unifying presences, nationalist rhetoric was ramped up in a desperate attempt to reassert the authority of the nation-state. The so-called Seven Powers met to discuss how to avoid the next global war. Little did they know, the Single Power had ensured it had already started.
While world leaders were locked in negotiations, a series of coordinated attacks occurred across the world. Although these attacks were the work of multiple groups, they were all guided by a single hand. It was evident that this war would be like no other. Blame has been levelled at any one of the Seven Powers for the commencement of hostilities. However, such assertions ignore that this war was fought between cross-border coalitions. Groups from the traditional political right and left engaged in open conflict. The power of the nation-state dissolved as people from multiple countries took up arms in defence of ideas, not necessarily boundaries.
Though nations still warred with nations, people were at war with people. Soldiers defected to one of the ideological militias, taking military equipment with them. ‘Fight or die’ became the familiar mantra. An individual was forced to pick a side. As hostilities increased, so did the frequency of the atrocities. Entire families were executed as cities were reduced to hollowed-out shells. At its height, there were no less than thirteen opposing belligerents in the war.
Meanwhile, the puppet master remained content to observe. Every death during the war weakened an enemy and strengthened the Single Power. After fifteen years of near-global total war, and more than one billion casualties, the Power finally made its move. With the military infrastructure of so many of the world’s former great powers weakened, no active opposition remained when the might of its forces thundered across the globe. The remaining cities were quickly occupied, and the war-weary citizens were subdued. Peace, and conquest, was achieved by the Single Power with minimal loss to itself.
However, the orchestrator of this war knew that even with now global dominance, a further conflict was unavoidable under an oppressive regime. Through a veil of benevolence, it commenced restructuring of the global political landscape. Borders were reinstated as semi-autonomous regions were established. New leaders emerged, and democracy was restored to the modern world. Slowly, the Union of Earth came into being to ensure humanity’s survival through the growing threats of nature itself.
Some areas continued to rebel against this new world order. States who had escaped the Final Great War saw no reason to join the Union of Earth. Their continued existence was permitted, but trading restrictions ensured that most were starved into submission. Only a few holdouts now remain. Meanwhile, the Union of Earth continues to grow in strength. Its space exploration project uncovered the secrets of Compound X5 to fuel its spacecraft. Humanity is now united as we explore the stars beyond Earth.
I write this today, merely a week following the first contact with a sapient alien species, the “Melorans”, because I believe that there is a reason to fear what is to come. Moreover, I write this knowing the possible penalty for doing so. A philosopher once said that those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it. We, historians, research a past often ignored by the citizenry and twisted by the authorities. When the dots are joined, the picture looks familiar. Already I see our media sewing the seeds of hostility towards this new species. So quickly has the anti-alien rhetoric begun, that I cannot help but wonder, is the puppet master still pulling strings?