Neon Angels (on the Road to Ruin)
The World We Inhabit
Man, where the fuck do we even start?
Probably in 1944 – that’s a good spot to start. Obviously, World War II is where superhuman bullshit first came to light. Surprising everybody, though, Nazis weren’t involved in any way. Shit, neither were Americans or Japanese or Maquis or Brits. The first documented superhuman was a twelve-year-old Egyptian girl named Rashana. Her powers manifested suddenly, and were (of course) of immediate interest to the warring nations.
The Allies got to her first, and over the objections of her parents, used her to plan a surprise attack. She parted the Mediterranean Sea for several hours, opening the way for a sudden and unanticipated ground invasion into southern Italy. The strain killed her by the end of it, but it basically won the war on the European front – the sudden headway into a previously fortified position and the propaganda value against a deeply religious populace proved quite potent.
After that, the research and the dissections came. The experiments attempting to replicate Rashana’s abilities were uneven and full of tragic failures. Other superhumans appeared, at an increasing rate. An alien species – the Kasshien – made incidental contact in the 1960s, with Kasshien space police engaged in a shootout over San Francisco as they attempted to apprehend a dangerous space fugitive. It was covered up heavily, but more people were aware than governing interests might have liked. Twenty years later, the Kasshien returned openly and set up embassies in New York, London, Algiers, and Seoul.
A vast monster rose out of the Atlantic Ocean and rampaged through London in 1989. It was stopped by a group of superhumans in fucking costumes, sponsored by the British government – the Legion. The model set by the Legion was emulated by other governments. The Vigil in America, the Aurora Project in Canada, Metajietai in Japan, Los Guardinales in Mexico, and dozens of others.
It was also emulated by criminal outfits, and by terror cells. Small nations seeking greater power and influence sought out their own superhuman champions. Large nations funded military divisions and special police forces consisting of – and designed to combat – superhumans.
The collapse of the U.S.S.R. in 1992 led to dozens of small, unstable satellite countries in eastern Europe and western Asia, with access to weapons stockpiles and extensive data on the causes of and uses for superhuman phenomena.
The Shikayn made contact with Earth in 2001, becoming the second alien species to do so. Unlike the Kasshien, they didn’t crash in like the Kool-Aid man and Wild West the place up – they sent respectful messages to various world leaders asking for private meetings to discuss humanity’s future in the stars. Their arrival led to a revitalization of space programs throughout the world, and the technology they shared led to the International Space Elevator being constructed in New Zealand.
A man who looked suspiciously like David Bowie, proclaiming himself to be “Lucifer, the Prince of Darkness”, made a series of talk show appearances in 2013, wherein he spoke at length about his long business relationship with the powerful televangelist Shrewsbury family. The Shrewsburys were days later implicated in super-crime, their bunker-like West Virginia estate raided by the Vigil.
The machinations and conflicts of ancient gods led to the entire world becoming “South” for a few months in 2014. It got better later. Most people have only vague memories of it, and couldn’t begin to explain what happened or why it mattered.