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27 Oct 2004, 8:21 am

By John Gallin
Part 0-Introduction

It was said in the early twenty-first century that the meek would inherit the Earth because everyone else would go to the stars. In a few decades this was becoming a reality.

New technologies such as the 85% efficiency nanotech fusion reactor, neural net computer, uber-molecule neo-diamond hull, cryogenic hibernation cyber interface and vat grown frugality brand ‘beef’ (it’s meatier than meat!™) allowed humanity to expand to other worlds in a relatively short time.

Of course there were inevitable social consequences to this development, so many of the movers and shakers and eventually the bourgeoisie preferred living in a fantastically beautiful artificial gravity space station, or an ever-expanding habitation dome on Mars and eventually places like the overwhelming fungal world of Barnard’s star that Earth had became to humans what Newfoundland was once to Canadians.

“Sure Newfoundland is where Canadians first lived in the beginning, but who would want to live there now? Not much to see there besides trees and rocks and water and boring people who weren’t fit to live in Toronto”

As unjustified and bigoted as this prejudice seemed it had some basis in reality, Earth became little more than a slum and a Nature Preserve, apparently someone decided to take away the slum part.

Some totally autocratic and quasi-hidden interstellar bureaucracy decided that the world was repaired enough by our efforts in biotechnology and ecology and that the slovenly Earth dwellers had worn out their purpose.

Apparently the bureaucracy (I’m not sure what bureaucracy) had tried to kill off the relatively few Earth dwellers (2.5 Billion versus 97 Billion in space), we obviously weren’t strong or smart enough to go to space, or else we’d be there, we were just getting in the way.

They genetically engineered an alien virus, a quantum virus, smaller than nanorobots against which there could be no defense, they quarantined Earth beforehand and tried to force a shutdown of the planet-wide network. They succeeded fantastically in those regards. They deployed the virus in every city, military base and privately owned underground shelter worth mentioning in a National Astrocartographic coffee table book about planet Earth. The plan was almost completely perfect, the virus would attack human and only human nerve tissues, was quantum hardwired to never, ever mutate to feed on anything else and would starve out of existence after killing all of those pathetic squatters.

After the virus struck on April 27th 2190, the vast majority of humans on Earth were killed within 9 weeks of the deployment of the virus, only nine million survived and so came to call those few months ‘The Plague War’, they lived only to face a new nightmare, themselves and others like them.

Apparently the quantum virus failed to recognize certain people’s nerve cells as ‘human’ and didn’t even touch them, the only people left alive were those with a substantial mutation or deviation in the genetics related to their brains and nerves, leading of course to the virus not recognizing the chemistry of their nerve cells. People with ADD or one of the 31 flavours of autism, or Tourrette’s, or even in a few rare cases sociopaths and schizophrenics. There of course were many more people with lesser known deviations but those were the major ones.

At least once a month we’ll see the night skies light up; psychedelic volleys of neutron gun fire and explosions that turn night into day and day into Saharan noon. Apparently someone is fighting the bureaucracy for control of space, for vengeance for our lives.

But we’re not all dead. If only those apparent rebels knew.

But that is folly; we have to make due with what we have.

We are the disowned children of humanity, as always. These are our stories…

Part 0-1 Breeds

“Your life is the sum of a remainder of an unbalanced equation inherent to the programming of the matrix. You are the eventuality of an anomaly, which despite my sincerest efforts I have been unable to eliminate from what is otherwise a harmony of mathematical precision. While it remains a burden assiduously avoided, it is not unexpected, and thus not beyond a measure of control. Which has led you, inexorably, here.”

The Architect- The Matrix Reloaded 2003

Instead of ‘races’ like in Tolkienesque fantasy humanity in NERVE-WERLD is composed of ‘breeds’ determined by their neurological deviations, mutations or lack thereof. The primary disorders of survivors are ADD (with subsets like hyperactivity), Autism (and subsets thereof) sociopathy and schizophrenia (in descending order from most common to least common).

Old School Pure-strain formed the vast majority of humanity in our times and in Earth before the plague war. They have no mental disorder that violently jumps out like the often-reckless impulsivity of ADDers or the monk-like introversion of the classically autistic.

The Pure-Strainers before the plague war performed genetic alterations on themselves and others like them to limit the socially unaccepted and disruptive mental disorders like sociopathy and schizophrenia. They hardly ever modified or removed traits for ADD and Autism seeing as how they were often useful in a small segment of the population. Ironically this tinkering limited the number of survivors after the plague-war to under half of what it could be without such neo-eugenics. The current number of Pure-Strainers on NERVE-WERLD is apparently 0.

“I remember the pure-strainers, our magic was their mundane… they sought to erase people like us, and succeeded mostly… but war devoured them, because they refused to… what do they say it? Evolve, outside their tools”

Salford Bill, Schizo Shaman of the “Hye-Wigh-Putrol” Tribe, May 2193

“We’re detecting the plague in 58% of our cities after the unexplained shutdown, casualties have been clocked at 300 million, I repeat 300 million in the last thirty-six hours. Request immediate assistance from Apex Command, I repeat immediate assistance, Apex Command? I know you can hear me… Damn you!! !”

Anonymous Radio Operator, Audiotape found in Cheyenne Mountain

The ADDers (Attention Deficit Disorder) are well known and virtually omnipresent in any society (much more so after the plague war). They are virtually indistinguishable from the original Pure-Strainers except for the certain near pathological quirkiness unique to each individual. They are impulsive and quick thinking and as their name implies have intense trouble focusing on a subject they aren’t innately interested in. People with ADD can do virtually anything they want to but really shine in occupations where impulsivity and bravery are requirements such as hunting, piloting, adventuring (so many different kinds) and even (in rare examples) soldiering. Any occupation requiring supernatural patience such as a monk or congressman isn’t usually filled by people with ADD. They can however hyper-focus on things that strongly interest them like auto design or cartography… but only if it interests them.

The ancient bureaucracies hardly ever tried to eliminate ADD from the genome primarily because it was useful in niche situations, that combined with it’s relatively high ‘natural’ occurrence in the human genome it is relatively common after the plague-war. As a result 43% of the post plague-war survivors have ADD. People with ADD often require less sleep than pure-strainers and autistics due to subtle neurological changes ADDers are sometimes calmed down by moderate does of stimulants such as caffeine and Ritalin (specifically designed in the 1950s to do just that). 11% of the post plague-war survivors have an overlapping of ADD and autism.

There are two main subsets of ADD, classic ADD and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, which as the name suggests has hyperactivity (built in free pep pills, 24/7) thrown in for good measure. The difference is complicated but as a general rule, people with the hyperactivity thrown in tend to be better martial artists (enhanced speed, reflexes, constantly busy) and even worse senate ethics commissioners than people with classic ADD.

“It’s amazing what people think they know, four hundred years ago, everybody KNEW that phrenology was the science of the future, three hundred years ago everybody KNEW that eugenics was going to make the world better and saner, two hundred and fifty years ago everybody KNEW that lobotomies were the miracle cure for depression and schizophrenia, and two hundred years ago we all knew that ADD was an unmitigated disaster that society needed to cure”

Jane Morrison-Smith, ADD-Autistic Hybrid, Current Master Sergeant and Quartermaster, Citizen’s Defence Forces, Louisiana Backwaters 2195

“You see kids, people with Attention Deficit like me, and I’d wager a lot of people in this classroom have a genetic trait that causes the brain to crave stimulation and perceive fear differently than the old ones, it’s almost like we were designed for a technological neo-frontier society like—damn I forgot to feed my cat!! ! Wait here!! ! No wait, who wants to come with me to my house?”

Richard Tinford, ADD Schoolteacher, Montreal Suburbs 2202

Autistics are one of the most, intriguing, disturbing and inspiring segments of NERVE-WERLD. They have the most psychological variance; ranging from the profoundly emotionally and intellectually disabled rag-harvesters, death murmurers and omnipresent squatters you seem to encounter in every city worth mentioning to the incalculably brilliant and laser-focused savants that seem to dominate NERVE-WERLD’s industry, academia and politics (what’s left of it). Autistics suffer debilitated social skills (forgivable in an evolved society), oftentimes intolerances to certain stimuli such as the sound of crunchy food, the differing tastes in a sandwich, the feel of blades of grass or even their mothers hugging them. Some of them even have decreased intelligence. Others have brash advantages such as enhanced intelligence, laser-sharp memory, an amazing potential for original (read: devious) thinking and an astonishing resistance to pain.

In the last two centuries science learned much about the genetic origins and tried to eliminate it’s more troubling aspects from the human genome, with little success due to it’s convoluted and multi-gene nature. However the bureaucracies hardly ever tried to ‘edit out’ the more fortuitous forms of autism because it could be useful in niche situations. After the plague war ‘closeted’ autistics have begun to realize that their ‘disorder’ was the only thing standing between them, and sub-neural oblivion.

In the years following the plague war when human skeletons became as omnipresent as cow dung and it looked for a while like the human species was going to peter out from this planet, the autistic struggled to survive. In the Eastern coast of North America it was decided among a few autistic philosophers that it was the unavoidable responsibility of the stronger autistics to protect the weak in this forsaken world. As a result a decentralized quasi-religious philosophy arose in the self-proclaimed “civilized” world in the east coast of North America (direct democracy, scavenger’s guilds, high school) called ‘The Stewardship’. It is often unspoken, hardly ever preached and takes the most subtle (for an autistic) forms, one giving another autistic a large peach, or a cloak made of beach towels in preparation for winter or saying “Hey, Man I’ve found some pretty neat scrap down by the beach, old state trooper station… so want to check it out with me? The owners won’t mind, they’re dead… okay, I’ll take that as a yes”. Occasionally ‘The Stewardship’ has been abused for freeloading on one end, exploitation on the other, even violence as the feeble emotional safeguards of some autistics break down, despite all this it remains at large an exceptional example of how people can rebuild and prosper a culture even after the plague-war in spite of (or perhaps because of) widespread nihilism and madness.

Autistics account for 30% of the post plague-war survivors, 11% of the population in NERVE-WERLD has some overlapping between autism and ADD. One of the most fortuitous and relatively common forms of autism called Asperger’s Syndrome (so named because of it’s discoverer, a Viennese Physician named Hans Asperger) has relatively normal language growth and an almost always enhanced potential for abstract thought, it has roughly the same impediments as normal autism with regards to social functioning and emotional development. Aspergs (as they commonly call themselves) are arguably NERVE-WERLD’s most interesting and sophisticated (if occasionally arrogant, abrasive and Nietzsche-freaky whimsical) population segment, they often believe themselves to be the next step in human evolution itself. Although this seems arrogant, presumptuous and even purely bigoted Aspergs are responsible for rebuilding much of civilization (primarily for their own benefit) and establishing ‘The Stewardship’. Higher functioning autistics make good scientists, engineers, programmers (even hackers although functional computer banks are few and far between), artists, philosophers, technicians, technologists, even doctors. They are ill equipped for any occupation that requires social prowess, charisma or a particularly stable set of emotions. The drugs most often used to dull the undesirable effects of autism include anti-depressants and anti-psychotics (similar to the ones used on schizophrenics).

“Almost every child has heard the rumours, the fairy stories, the legends from the playgrounds to the memorial fields of seemingly ancient corpses; even Asperg children themselves hear the stories to remind them of the fallacies of arrogance. The idea repeated in each varied and conflicting tale tells of a culture- a philosophy of sorts that the Aspergs should rule all of NERVE-WERLD because of their alleged superiority apparently even to the ancients themselves. This book will, regardless of how absurd it may seem; attempt to discover some, any factual basis behind this hidden culture of Dark Aspergs”

David Randerson, Closet Sociopath, Author, 2200 Opus Magnum: Survival Horror Amidst the Dark Aspergs

“Why is there such an enormous disparity in the abilities of the autistics? At this point theorizing is pointless, society has been reduced to shrapnel and we are forced to deal with horrors the ancients just barely understood, horrors within ourselves alongside the despair of a world devastated by secret, silent warfare. This council has thus recognized that in order for most of the autistics to survive let alone thrive and find themselves, there would have to be a decentralized and durable, if perpetual social order of autistics striving for autistics to endure in this forsaken future”

Autistic Council V1.0 Declaration of the Stewardship, November 23rd 2190 New York Stock Exchange/Godforsaken Crypt

Sociopaths are a matter of controversy and debate, now and forever. The definition of a term like “Sociopath” is a matter of a debate; before and after the plague war, most political, scientific and social leaders (even the socially crippled autistic) define it as one of those terms like “evil”, “quirky”, “cult”, “left wing” “right wing” or “fascist”, it’s hard to define, but you know it when you see it.

That being said the traditional definition (and the most upheld one) since the 20th century is that a sociopath most often appears to be a charming, dashing human being, mostly often male. The catch is that sociopaths are apparently neuro-genetically incapable of feeling some human emotions such as guilt, pity or even compassion.

Genetic sociopaths before the use of neo-eugenics and social engineering composed possibly %1 of all human males, they were everyone from the cold, callous and apparently inhuman killers who became Hollywood icons to the reptilian, sinister and patently unethical corporate executives to the charismatic cult figures who could honestly care less about whether their followers lived or died.

Following the use of genetic engineering on human foetuses and embryos in the late 21st century sociopathy almost completely disappeared from the human genome. Whether this was ethically justified, or another example of the detestable practice of eugenics is a matter of debate, even today.

A small but hardy and well-distributed population of sociopaths survived both neo-eugenics and the plague war, 9% of post plague war survivors have sociopathy. Following the near total chaos following the plague war sociopaths quickly came to grab whatever the new world brought them. They formed raiding bands and plundered the weaker even though there were enough surplus resources in the ruined cities to support everyone. Some ensnared the other, more gullible breeds such as the autistics in ways that historians have reservations speaking of even today, raping, enslaving, vivisecting and even cannibalizing. Eventually the rest of humanity discovered their true nature and acted accordingly. Children are commonly told to distrust such creatures; entire towns are gripped in subtle, tense bigotry following the surreal nightmares after the plague war.

Some towns, cities and farming communities tolerate sociopaths with an uneasy peace; other settlements, on the discovery of a sociopath simply deport them and urge them at blade or gunpoint to never come back. Some extreme settlements have gone so far as to dispute the very humanity of sociopaths. Of course, following the atrocities of the Plague War people are reluctant to use death as a punishment. Regardless of this, sociopaths are at least as intelligent, charming and graceful as the original pure-strainers (at least on average), but without the pathetic limitations of ethics, morality, honesty or even instinctive guilt. Sociopaths wishing to participate in the larger cities of NERVE-WERLD (commerce, action, adventure) often pose as ADDers to remove the common stigma, at least for a short while; they are almost always eventually discovered by genetics, neurology, or their own depraved acts.

“Sociopaths are only considered human because taxonomists are lazy”

Blood-soaked scrap of sandpaper (origin unknown), Bloody Mescadero Mental Institution, Discovered 2191, by the founders of WolfHound

“Sociopath (noun, psychology); 1. This means I can kill an entire town of human survivors and feel perfectly fine with myself afterwards 2. The true next step, regardless of whether Dark Aspergs exist and what they’re saying 3. Meaning I am smart, capable and most importantly free; in all the ways you head-banging ret*ds are not.”

Enormous graffiti, attributed to Jack LaGrue; Master of Gunslinging, 2193

Schizophrenics in NERVE-WERLD, far from being the soulless, depraved killing machines of exploitative 20th century movies are the poets, dreamers, bards, shamans and ramblers of this forsaken, dark future , schizophrenia as far as anyone can tell is largely caused by the brain producing too much of the neurotransmitter dopamine, causing the human brain to essentially overload and betray itself, schizophrenics are often prone to delusions, hallucinations, catatonia, emotional anguish and occasionally outright madness.

Schizophrenics face a disturbing and uncertain future, even more than the autistics. The schizophrenics are so few and far between (primarily because they were genetically ‘edited out’ in the past hundred years like other ‘non-viable’ mind phenotypes) and their mental unpredictability makes it almost impossible to form any counterpart to the Autistic Stewardship. The Autistic Stewardship has debated in recent years whether they should extend their ‘membership’ and ‘services’ to schizophrenics. While the privileged and principled autistics debate the ethics, morals and costs of such; schizophrenics just barely survive, drifting at the edges of civilization and at the very edges of acceptance by the rest of NERVE-WERLD.

Schizophrenia can be controlled by the use of anti-psychotic and anti-depressant drugs (like autistics) and the use of psychiatric counselling. Of course; both are hard to find in the despair and horror of NERVE-WERLD. There are a handful of schizophrenics who have regulated their symptoms. Such individuals usually fight for the rights and self-improvement of their fellow schizophrenics.

About 4% of all human survivors in NERVE-WERLD have schizophrenia. This is surprisingly little because of the prolonged use of neo-eugenics. Almost all of them live in squalid, despairing conditions despite the overabundance of manufactured goods, consumables and other supplies. Some schizophrenics have learned to compensate for their weaknesses through their brilliance and creativity, unfortunately such people as “liberated” schizophrenics are rarer than albino coyotes.

“Dear ladies and gentlemen of the Autistic Stewardship. I come distributing statistics, articles and comparisons from the early 21st Century; in the years 1995-2015 HIV was an apocalyptic epidemic in sub-Saharan Africa. The African Nations; crippled by dictatorship, war and famine alongside the disease pleaded the richer and stronger nations for aid; for any kind of help against the collapse of their nations, of their populations, of their friends and family. The richer nations of the world responded through apathy, squabbling and occasionally outright callous ignorance. As a result HIV continued to spread and kill literally dozens of millions of innocent Africans. Only when their economic and political interests were fundamentally threatened did the richer nations intervene and devote vast amounts of money to find a cure. This is forever considered a source of shame for the government of the richer nations. The Stewardship; like the powerful nations of the time has a choice to help the weaker and downtrodden among them, not for gain, or power but because it is their responsibility as the strong and wise. It is a choice I leave to you, and you alone”

Geoff Steiner-Smith, Liberated Schizophrenic, Philosopher and Crusader; presentation to the elders and savants of the Autistic Stewardship: New York City: 2203

“Well yeah, doesn’t everyone hear them? The monsters? I’ve found that they’re a lot stronger and a lot more of them after all those innocent, nice people started to act crazy and die. Maybe the monsters were responsible for; you know; the plague. It would make sense if they manufactured that and infested everyone with it. What are you saying? You don’t see the monsters? Yeah, a lot of people can’t: I guess it’s just that the monsters appear invisible to everyone who can’t focus enough to see them shifting in and out, conspiring and trying to persuade you into fighting for them. All I know is that I have to fight these things… anyway I can…”

Taiga Clare; The Hunter of Boston: 2195

Other Breeds

There are a few other breeds in NERVE-WERLD who are either so rare, or so subtle as to be almost undetectable, some of these are rare because of neo-eugenics and genetic engineering (such as Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder) or are naturally, extremely rare (such as Rett’s Syndrome). Other breeds may be mistaken for similar breeds easily. Some breeds are so rare as to barely warrant a game of poker.

“You’re Asperg aren’t you… don’t be ashamed; I see a lot of people that way… I know you’re subtle… you’re a bit refined… I can tell… see your hair? Very bushy and thick, yet straight too… and your head is about 10% bigger than usual… I can see it in your facial expressions… please… let me paint you some day”

Ms. Yan; The Mistress of Murals; To Rutteger Macadam Smith; New York 2191

“There can be only one (in a hundred thousand!)”

Melissa (last name unknown) Rett Syndrome Angel; 2192

Blue Jay
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27 Oct 2004, 9:28 am

i like it. is this your work?


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27 Oct 2004, 10:22 am


I'm trying to make a neurology themed science fiction world...

Physically it's the same world as ours... only the toys are a little bit shinier and there are bodies everywhere... so it's not the same world as ours...

Aspergs have made so many good science fiction works... we should star in one...


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27 Oct 2004, 10:41 am

good stuff. is there more?

I'm trying to make a neurology themed science fiction world...

Physically it's the same world as ours... only the toys are a little bit shinier and there are bodies everywhere... so it's not the same world as ours...

Aspergs have made so many good science fiction works... we should star in one...

I quite agree. This is very Neal Stephenson (one of my favourite sci-fi writers) and I look forward to seeing it develop.

dunc :nerdy:

I'm usually smarter than this. <<my thingy



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27 Oct 2004, 11:11 am

I have found your story to be both intellectually stimulating and enjoyable. I can't wait for the continuation.


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27 Oct 2004, 1:33 pm

more please!

one point - i think you might want to check your definition of sociopath - i know DSM-IV have changed all the labels recently, but your sociopath sounds more like what used to be called a psychopath to me. please let me know if i've got this wrong!

VERY much enjoyed your work, feste-fenris.

and your name - feste the clown and the killer count fenris, by any chance?


Last edited by vetivert on 07 Dec 2005, 4:28 am, edited 1 time in total.


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27 Oct 2004, 1:48 pm

Not quite...

Feste the clown in Shakespeare's Twelfth Night; yes...

Fenris the wolf in Norse Mythology... even though I have Scottish Ancestry...

It's so good to meet a fellow writer...

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31 Oct 2004, 8:49 am

do any of you guys have any experience trying to get published? (or actually getting published for that matter) I'm doing my end of high school exams at the moment, but as soon as theyre done im gonna try and develop some stories ive done for english class (as well as write new ones), into a set of short stories with the intent of getting them published.

ps mine are all science fiction too


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31 Oct 2004, 9:36 am

only know about publishing in the UK, i'm afraid.

we have a reference book, called The Writers' Year Book, which gives contact details for agents, books, magazines etc, and hints re: publishing. don't know if you have similar where you are.

it's horrible process, btw - but you tend to get a bit used to it after your 9th rejection letter :(

if it's the same as in the UK, most pulishers won't touch a whole book of short stories unless you're an established writer. might be better to send them to a SF magazine - Locus, something like that.

and make sure you have them proof-read, and as many comments from others as you can!

if i can be of any more help, just ask.


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31 Oct 2004, 10:12 am

if it's the same as in the UK, most pulishers won't touch a whole book of short stories unless you're an established writer.

as in they literally wont bother reading them or they wont think its financially viable for them to publish them?


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31 Oct 2004, 11:11 am

the latter, i believe.



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09 Jan 2005, 7:19 am

{Here is the continuation of my story}

Part 0-2 Political Spheres

“Vampire Politics”

Autistic Cultural Term for the decidedly Machiavellian Struggles of Sociopaths and their predecessors

Ironically political manoeuvring continues among people believed to be too impatient, too unstable or thoroughly incapable of using political manipulation and subterfuge. Enlightened self-interest exists in all sapient entities and political spheres act accordingly.

The most important and most obvious political structure in post-plague North America is the Eastern Confederation it is enormous geographically; ranging all the way from Florida to Quebec; many political observers claim that “Confederation” is too organized a term and that the Eastern “Nation” consists merely of a convenient alliance between dozens of ruins and city states, still others claim that this is the best conceivable arrangement seeing how centralized, autocratic bureaucracies were responsible for the plague war. Regardless it is hard to accomplish anything in the Confederation’s Senate of 300 Senators for about 300 000 people (it is virtually impossible to do a census; we are rebuilding civilization step by step here), the Confederation has two military branches; the Citizen’s Defence Forces (a quasi-competent decentralized militia) and the Wolfhound Defence Agency (an elite Special Forces and espionage agency).

Every substantial town in the Eastern Confederation has some degree of police/military presence and a democratically elected mayor. Both seem to have themselves primarily concerned with defence against sociopaths, wild animals and psychotic robots. They are however, establishing hospitals, clinics and schools.

The economy and culture of NERVE-WERLD is slowly rebuilding itself, there is an almost limitless supply of manufactured goods and indefinitely preserved canned foods. A skilled technologist can find his skills in high demand but mainly for repairing, retrofitting and scrapping old or recently damaged technology. Cars require digital activation codes to start; which people normally don’t have. Virtually all guns have titanium-ceramic trigger locks with tri-stage digital encryption; involving 1024 bit codes which people normally don’t have. Old vaults/ ammo dumps/ shelters all have gates requiring a key-card or a specific human hand print; which people normally don’t have. A competent technologist can find himself very rich and demanded; or he can find himself very quickly dead. Smart technologists go for the safest bets; not the highest bidder.

Outside of the Eastern Confederation life is tougher, scarcer and more violent “The New Crazy West” consists of everything from Wisconsin and Louisiana all the way to the Libertarian non-state of Free California. In the “New West” towns are few and far between; there is almost no government beyond that of a town mayor, a figurehead king or a tribal warlord. Some of these local governments are benevolent, some are corrupt and some border on the fascistic. A few are being convinced to join the Eastern Confederation; most have politely refused but there are a few cities in Tennessee or Indiana who are sympathetic and have joined the Eastern Confederation.

It remains to be seen whether the Eastern Confederation will continue to grow and how well relations will go with Libertarian California; comedic commentators point out that nations, land and political ideology are the three elements required for creating war (the more things change… yada yada yada). Up to this point the few relations with the two factions have been civil, if strained. Very little has been accomplished for either of them in the negotiations though; it’s hard to set up trade or tariff deals when two thousand miles of bad road, wild animals, unpredictable weather, local governments and literally thousands of sociopath bandits with long knives and cut-off rifles stand in your way.

The standard currency of NERVE-WERLD is ‘chip’, salvaged obsolete computer parts containing gold and silicon crystal, one ‘chip’ is one thousandth of an imperial pound of salvaged computer chip or 0.454 grams of gold and silicon wafer. Chips are obsolete when compared to fiber-optic neural. One chip is roughly equivalent to a US Dollar circa 2000 AD. One chip will buy a survival whistle, ten chip will buy a reasonable meal with some wine, one hundred chip will buy a survival knife or wakizashi sword and a whole kilogram of chip (2250) will buy a stylish motorcycle with antigrav struts. In the Eastern Confederation prices are fixed; outside people barter and use varied currency substitutes (uncut diamonds, amethyst crystals, marijuana) oil)

Part 0-3 Cultural Life Continues Unabated

“Click here to see FREE faction-on-faction action! The hottest philosophical debates on the rotting clockwork web! No credit? No debit? No problem! No Futures!”

Mysterious graffiti on a nondescript wall; later attributed to Knihilists (apparently carved in with a box cutter)

Culture and philosophy continue to exist on NERVE-WERLD. Whenever technological salvage or efficient agriculture allow people to live beyond a subsistence lifestyle, people will try to understand the world and find their place in it.

Culture in NERVE-WERLD is based on two concepts; that of a “faction” or group of like minded people sharing a philosophy (these range from harmless church groups to unpredictable government task forces to cults lead by sociopaths) and that of a “DMZ” or demilitarized zone.

In 20th Century Earth a “demilitarized zone” basically means a wasteland or minefield that neither side crosses; in NERVE-WERLD it means the exact opposite; a demilitarized zone is holy ground which is almost always peaceful and almost everyone respects. Any place with profound spiritual or intellectual significance can become a “DMZ” and no one person declares when or not a place becomes such. A DMZ is created largely through consensus of the nearby people.

The vast majority of all DMZs possessed some importance before the plague war; a Town Hall, a courthouse where important legislation originated, a stadium where a very important game was played once, a surviving lecture hall at a pillaged university or a cathedral can all become DMZs through political consensus. To date the largest DMZ of all is Central Park (3.4 square kilometres) in New York City; now known as the “Plague War Memorial of 2190” and converted into a giant graveyard of five million people.

A DMZ is called such precisely because military groups and the like have no power there; no weapons, armour or big jackets (when indoors) are allowed within one. The only way to control a DMZ is to control the surrounding town and culture of one. All DMZ’s are clearly marked one way or another and carrying a concealed weapon in a DMZ can get you exiled (let alone perpetrating an act of violence there).

All DMZ’s have places near their entrances (if buildings) or the roads next to them (if parks) where you can deposit weapons, armour and coats called “coat checks”. More than one sociopath has grown powerful and rich by raiding the coattails of coat checks; or pretending to be a guard by a DMZ.

Factions, on the other hand exist whenever there is an ideological need or philosophical desire for one. Every town or farming community has at least one extending it’s hand (or tendrils) into the populace and culture; sometimes a faction controls a DMZ while most other times it simply has a headquarters in an old building (of little to no cultural significance).

Examples of Factions: Haliburton Brand Factionalization

"If you think there’s a solution – you’re part of the problem."

George Carlin on Activist Culture- 2001

This is a list of commonly encountered (but not necessarily omnipresent) factions in NERVE-WERLD; these will be listed from apparently oldest (those arising just after or during the plague war) to most recent. In a story or role playing chronicle set in NERVE-WERLD the characters will meet at least one of the following groups.

Tribals often form a cargo-cult style organization or cultural hierarchy such as the Hye-Wigh-Patrol tribe or the Fed-Ecks tribe. They can often (but not always) be traced back to an organization or philosophy from before the plague war.

A tribe always includes one chieftain and at least one Shaman (usually schizophrenic). Cargo-cult groups behave almost like the ghosts of the groups that existed before the plague war; performing rituals that used to have immediate meaning and pretending to hold the same purpose as the group they are based on.

As an example; the Hye-Wigh-Patrol tribe constantly scours the trading routs around Chicago for drugs, violence and worse as though they were honour bound knights or Samurai while using their wooden clubs as phony guns. Most children born into this tribe are given Southern or Anglo-Saxon names. This tribe has hardly ever met real sociopaths with real guns and it is commonly figured that they won’t last long against a raider band or even a well armed gang.

“Let’s use our phony guns as clubs!”

Civil War Re-enactors; The Simpsons

Raider Bands are based on one of the fundamental principles of the banality of evil; it’s easier (and more fun) to steal things from the defenceless than to buy or build them yourself. These groups are the post-apocalyptic equivalent of barbarian tribes or third-world mercenaries; they travel from place to place, taking what they can and burning the rest. These small, compact groups are composed almost entirely of sociopaths and it shows. They will often go out of their way; stealing entire caravans and pillaging small towns even though it would be easier to buy or forage for food and technology.

Their dictatorial organization and sociopathic personality traits make it so raider bands attack each other and themselves more often than they attack any nearby townships; they exist in a perpetual state of warfare between all of their neighbours and members. Alliances with a raider band (also known as sociopath tribes) are ephemeral and no one expects them to last long. The largest raider band to date numbered over one hundred people; it lasted two weeks before the back stabbing became truly epidemic; now it lists twelve members; a more realistic size for a group of sociopaths.

Every relationship between fellow sociopaths goes through several iterations of “does he know I know that she knows that we know we’ll betray them next week?”. Ironically sociopaths are so busy back-stabbing, counter back stabbing and generally behaving in a manner that would make Wall Street or Washington look sane by comparison that they cannot accomplish anything that will be around next year. This is the very nature of the banality of evil.

"No arts; no letters; no society; and which is worst of all, continual fear, and danger of violent death: and the life of man, solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short."

Thomas Hobbes- The Leviathan 1651

The Autistic Stewardship is perhaps NERVE-WERLD’s best example of non-state socialism; even though most of it’s members resent that term and rightly associate it with 20th Century abominations. The Stewardship for the most part is a network of soup kitchens and kindergarten classes as much as it is a centralized faction or philosophy.

It has influence of sorts everywhere; all the way from the border of Mexico to Atlanta to barbarian Newfoundland. The Stewardship originated in New York City a few months after the plague war itself; when it looked like the autistics; if not humanity itself might go extinct. A group of socially enlightened philosopher-kings among the autistics responded to the needless suffering and daily atrocities present after the collapse of civilization itself and decided that a decentralized organization of autistics, self-regulating, democratic and self-policing would help their sub-species survive; even in a twisted and dystopian world.

The stewardship is democratic to an extent that would inspire Jefferson himself; the most important hundred or so members are elected in a flurry of representative democracy and social commentary; at the top of their democratic structure there are five stewardship elders, each one representing a distinct philosophy. They can find so little to agree with each other on that the Stewardship cannot consolidate power or conspire. It is worth noting that Rutteger Macadam Smith; the current President of the Eastern Confederation was one of the founders of the Stewardship in New York City.

“The only problem with enlightenment is that if you think you got it; you don’t got it”

Lou “Bob” Dobbs; The Subgenius

The Lutheran Church is the last manifestation of conservative Christianity in the post-conformist world. The popularity of organized religion has slowly declined since the time of Nietzsche (with a few resurgences such as 50’s conservatism, 80’s Fundamentalism and the Kantian Moral Law Movement of the mid twenty-first century). At the same time; human beings need something to believe in as much as they need safety and something to work for. In the centuries when religion declined in popularity it’s role was co-opted by supposedly secular groups which presented a fanatical outlook such as extremist governments in the 20th and terrorism in the 21th century.

After the plague war there was resurgence in Conservative Christianity. Some people believe this is because religion makes people stronger and helps them deal with an insane, violent world more easily. Others however believe that powerless masses on Earth believed organized religion (Judaism and Islam, however rare in America still exist) would act as a sort of vengeance and counterpoint to ideologies like the Bureau which believed wealth and expansionism were the only ends in themselves. Whatever the case; every town of note seems to have a regular church service again.

NERVE-WERLD Lutheranism has a very folksy, humble, almost campy feel to it. A minister will as likely preach in a t-shirt and corduroy pants as he would in robes. This is understandable given how Jesus himself was a travelling folk preacher and Bob Dylan later converted to Christianity.

“Hey! Ms. Hill! The pastor was just talking about your high-school sweetheart! You know! Jesus…”

The worst thing you can ever say to a woman. Ever.

The Corps of Vigiles (corrupted Latin for ‘Body of the Vigilant Ones’) takes the name from the first Roman fire service that also functioned as a police force.

In the 21st and 22nd Century new buildings were made of fireproof composites and flame retardant carpets that were as likely to burn as they were to dance and sing a family friendly number when lightning or attempted arson struck them. Unfortunately old buildings from the 19th or 20th Century were still made out of the same incredibly flammable wood, bricks, stucco, plaster and tar they always were. In the plague war riots, looting, senseless arson and inevitable lightning threatened to burn down suburbs and everything immediately connected to them such as universities, libraries and parks.

Faced with all this chaos a few turned on the defensive, former firefighters, the occasional policeman, students at police academies and even teenagers who still believed in virtue and valour all consolidated and formed the Corps of Vigiles.

The Corps of Vigiles has no effective headquarters but have some presence in every town in the Eastern Confederation. They will act as an impromptu police force if one is not available yet. They have even defended towns against raiders, genetically modified animals and robots; however after all this they view themselves as firefighters first, policemen second and soldiers last.

"I am always amazed at how these men walk into fires, when the rest of us run from them"
Rudolph Giuliani; Aftermath of September 11th 2001

Governments such as those of the social democracy called the Eastern Confederation and the libertarian protectorate called Free California are a relatively new re-introduction to NERVE-WERLD. As Greek philosophers presupposed over 2000 years ago; governments were created after a period of total anarchy when groups of like minded individuals band together for the common good of themselves and that which they love (trade, democracy, wisdom, wealth, power).

The primary difference between the Eastern Confederation and Free California is their philosophy on economics; both have elections every four years, both have parliaments of around 100 representatives and both are struggling with inevitable long-distance corruption problems that one could expect from an enormous territory populated by only 500 000 people.

The Eastern Confederation follows the tradition of social democracy seen by nations like Canada, Western Europe and Japan; people are given relatively good social services like tax-subsidized medicine, education and dentistry. As a result of this the tax rate is 40% and people often complain about the government’s inefficiency while agreeing with the fundamental concept of social democracy. If someone becomes bankrupt or destitute there are options presently available.

Free California however follows a different and more pragmatic economic philosophy. California follows the libertarian capitalist tradition first proposed by Adam Smith; in Free California the economy is perpetually booming due to low taxes and lack of government interference; at the same time education is voluntary and social programs are rather limited (aside from market protections they are quite non-existent). In Free California people who are out on their luck, bankrupt from business dealings or schizophrenic (or what have you) have nothing left to do but scrap in ruins for a living until they can work themselves back up. The only government services paid for in Free California are police, courts and a small but respectable military. Free California considers the Eastern Confederation to be ideologically misguided and vice versa.

“Virtue, then, is a habit or trained faculty of choice, the characteristic of which lies in moderation or observance of the mean relative to the persons concerned, as determined by reason, i.e. by the reason by which the prudent man would determine it. And it is a moderation, firstly, inasmuch as it comes in the middle or mean between two vices, one on the side of excess, the other on the side of defect; and, secondly, inasmuch as, while these vices fall short of or exceed the due measure in feeling and in action, it finds and chooses the mean, middling, or moderate amount.”

Aristotle; Nicomachean Ethics 11. 6-7

Neo-Shaolin and similar martial arts philosophies originated, obviously in the Orient thousands of years ago. Martial arts is incredibly popular among oppressed or segregated people’s (women, Okinawan peasants, Billy Jack) and following the atrocities committed by sociopaths and well-meaning imbeciles a form of self-defence sprung up. Neo-Shaolin is the most popular and most powerful of those arts. Members are about one-third Buddhist, one-third Christian and one-third miscellaneous.

The official headquarters of Neo-Shaolin is Fenway Park Stadium in Boston, right at the gateway to the Crazy West. The sports arena has been effectively turned into an academy/dojo and the baseball field has been turned into artificial forest for Guerrilla training; hence Shaolin or “young forest temple”. Boston stands at the gateway to the less civilized spaces and thus Neo-Shaolin has both a convenient and defensible position for their work.

Initiates have been known to spend hours punching hard leather or burnished wood to build up calluses, followed by simple exercises in a sauna. Every evening in the hours before and after supper philosophical exercises are the norm, leading to discussions like “Is a Just War Possible?”, or “Does Kantian Moral Law Mean Anything After the Virus?”.

Neo-Shaolin believes that modern industrial society’s dependence on ammunition or energy cells led to the non-existence of a warrior code in recent centuries. As a result Neo-Shaolin rejects any weapon that needs a non-improvised ammo source such as bullets, shells, grenades, chem propellants, fuel or energy cells on the grounds that it makes people over-reliant on technology and when someone takes away or depletes the ammo supply; they would be helpless. Neo-Shaolin teaches some of it’s more advanced students and masters how to use throwing stars or hunting arrows as though they were bullets in a repeater rifle. The whole point of martial arts training is to maximize your ability to improvise in a worst case scenario.

Neo-Shaolin is quite obviously the most conservative faction in the Eastern Confederation; this is tautologically the purpose of a warrior code. One can be expelled from Neo-Shaolin for over-violent actions, lack of discipline, abuse of questionable drugs or sexual promiscuity. Neo-Shaolin runs a tighter ship than “soup kitchen” factions and expects a better standard of behaviour from it’s students than most “military academy” factions.

Neo-Shaolin is based on no specific “ultimate style” like in poorly done anime or martial arts movies but is instead based on mixing and matching the advantages of each distinct style. The autistic stewardship; for instance is looking to create a “controlled burn” rage style martial art with correspondence from Neo-Shaolin that combines berserker, Greenoch, Aikido and riot-cop. Collaboration on this fighting-style is slow but ultimately productive.

In order to maintain the purity of their martial experiment no bullets, guns, explosives or energy weapons are allowed within the Shaolin Monastery. Neo-Shaolin uses technological training aids like electronic scoring methods, sophisticated cooking appliances and computers in the library. That said; trying to smuggle illegal drugs or weapons into Neo-Shaolin is a good way to get addicted to prescription painkillers.

“Almost anything; a candy bar, a child’s toy, a paperback novel, a rotten lemon is an effective weapon if you know how and where to use it. Over-reliance on sophisticated weaponry since the Renaissance lead to the decline of the European and Oriental Warrior Codes- We however can resurrect it”

Overheard line in Neo-Shaolin Monastery; recorded by Frank Kettleford; California Spy—Kettleford appears to have voluntarily defected to Neo-Shaolin and may be freely sharing information with Neo-Shaolin—Figure 38-B shows Kettleford wearing a Shaolin Kimono in Orthodox style-LIQUIDATION OF COMPROMISED PERSONNEL ADVISED

Merchant Guilds represent the rebirth of capitalism after the oblivion of the plague war. Most cities with any surviving government or society possess goods such as basic drugs, first aid supplies, adequate canned food and basic amenities for life. However very few cities possess everything they want or need; this is where merchant guilds come in.

Even after the plague war certain societies produce certain things better than others; arctic cities have raw mineral wealth; but lack agriculture or the high culture of cities; Wisconsin produces vast amounts of dairy products but can’t manufacture sophisticated technology or vast amounts of metal… and so on…

Even years after the plague war; society has reproduced itself on a mercantile basis; Toronto and Montreal produce medical supplies; Detroit produces steel; Boston produces education and textbooks; New York produces manufactured consumer products, Pittsburgh produces cement and Washington D.C. accomplishes surprisingly little.

The official job of merchant guilds is to take the products technologists scavenge or manufacture and transport them to the best markets. They are concerned more with profit and enlightened self-interest than with any high-minded philosophical justification. Without them both nation’s economies would starve and disintegrate in weeks.

Merchant guilds possess the most sophisticated and practical non-academic network since the plague war;; also known as the merchant exchange. Caravans of distinct products or services are bought, sold and hired at distinguished prices. In theory would be quite easy to hack or mislead but in actuality virtually no one has usurped or mislead it. The merchant exchange is run by the Network Nomenclature; system administrators nobody really directly sees or talks to but everybody sees and recognizes their work. The Network Nomenclature make sure people see what is appropriate for them on and keeps out hackers, spies and saboteurs; every truck full of oranges or trade of tea from British Columbia is viewed and monitored by them. The inevitable question regarding such organizations as the Nomenclature is “Who watches the watchmen?”

“Among the various species or modifications of liberty, of
which on different occasions we have heard so much in England, I
do not recollect ever seeing any thing yet offered in behalf of
the liberty of making one's own terms in money-bargains. From so
general and universal a neglect, it is an old notion of mine, as
you well know, that this meek and unassuming species of liberty
has been suffering much injustice.”

Jeremy Bentham 1787- Defence of Usury

Military Forces are an inevitable necessity in a violent world; this is definitely a violent world. Some people want to pillage the monetary resources of newborn civilizations; some people want revenge and don’t know how to get it; some people are too stupid and weak-minded to accomplish their goals without violence and some people are blatant sociopaths. It is a tautology that society only works if the state has a monopoly on violence; these guys are the Park Places and Marvin Gardens of such a monopoly.

Even a town of only 100 people will have a small police force reporting to a democratically elected mayor or sheriff. The duty of such a police force will consist largely of drying out drunks, fending off stray dogs and addressing rumours of sociopaths in our midst; not exactly the stuff of police procedurals or mystery novels. In larger cities like Montreal, Chicago and New York a cop’s job is still filled with danger, intrigue and moral ambiguity. In all cases a police officer’s job is to preserve law and order; not advance the political interests of their patrons or electorate.

The line between police force and citizen’s militia is rather blurry but the general rule is that if a police force has sophisticated rifles such as scoped sniper devices or advanced submachine guns like MP5s; you’re looking at a citizen’s militia. A militia often does jobs which border on the militaristic such as defusing a hostage situation or obliterating a terrorist stronghold. That said they do have their legal and judicial limits.

The military forces of the Eastern Confederation have already been notified in this manual; the Citizen’s Defence Forces are an obvious equivalent to America’s National Guard and Wolfhound runs as an equivalent to America’s Marine Corp or Special Forces. Other nations arrange their military on similar lines. There are no large standing armies in North America as it is largely unnecessary (and arguably impossible) to take and hold massive amounts of ground anymore without more democratic than military means.

The Citizen’s Defence forces have a manpower of about 5000 people and a budget of about 12 Billion Chip. Wolfhound currently has manpower of around 1000 and an annual budget of 30 Billion. These organizations have relatively low budgets because the money is spent almost entirely on efficient administration, salaries and upkeep; both branches of the Confederation military use salvaged weapons, tools and bases conveniently left empty by the plague war.

Standard issue for police forces in NERVE-WERLD consists of miscellaneous pistols and combat shotguns; the Citizen’s Defence Forces use the AUG-Austrian machine carbine in 5.56 calibre and fragmentation grenades. Wolfhound uses the 21st Century G11 Carbine with 4.7mm ammo and necessary add-ons alongside anti-tank “thumpite” grenades. Energy weapons are issued on a “need to have” basis as are their equivalents (hazardous environment armour, gauss rifles, smart weapons etc).

”We shall not fail or falter; we shall not weaken or tire...Give us the tools and we will finish the job.”

Sir Winston Churchill, BBC radio broadcast, Feb 9, 1941

The Temple Grandin does for animal empathy what well… Temple Grandin did for animal empathy. Human beings since time immemorial need to train, domesticate and use animals for their purposes (hunting, war, farming, companionship) unfortunately lack of understanding of animal thought patterns has lead to truly indefensible practices (19th Century agriculture and ethically detached research being prime examples).

Temple Grandin herself was an American autistic in the Late 20th and Early 21st centuries who is considered the first autism advocate and the greatest animal welfarist of all time. Temple Grandin’s primary advantage was that she could empathize with the cows she was domesticating and could visualize in three-dimensional “bullet-time”. This led to her world-renowned invention of more humane cattle handling facilities in stockyards, farms and slaughterhouses.

The official story behind the Temple Grandin is that they are a semi-dependent splinter branch of the Stewardship that grew tired of the Stewardship’s self-righteousness and self-importance. Grandinites are effectively “animal welfarists for hire” whenever they are necessary for ethical or pragmatic reasons. If somebody needs a pack of stray cats relocated to a rat-infested slum so everybody wins, they call the Grandinites; if somebody needs their horse vaccinated from a dangerous mutant strain of anthrax, they call the Grandinites; if somebody needs to find out why wolves are behaving so strange in this particular province, they call the Grandinite; if someone needs a thousand head of beef slaughtered, you get the idea.

The Temple Grandin (physically located in more politically stable Harvard in Boston than in Grandin’s native Colorado) consider themselves veterinary surgeons on a regional or national level. They have catalogued some of the genetically engineered and mutated animals that show up from time to time referring to them as “evolutionary anomalies”. Grandinites can tell plenty about how the biotechnology and nanotechnology revolutions have simultaneously redeemed and usurped the ecology of North America; if you’d care to listen.

‘I am going to approach the subject of animals as property in a very concrete manner that is based more on neuroscience instead of philosophical concepts. First of all, an animal does not understand an abstract concept such as being property or non-property. It is going to experience an environment that humans can manipulate to the animal’s detriment or well being. The student essay that I could relate to the most was the one by Allen Yancy on Veterinarians and the Case Against Legal Personhood for Animals.” Yancy states that “although animals are currently considered property the law grants them rights.”

Temple Grandin; Animals are Not Things, Colorado State University, 2002

Knihilists are the piercing needle of oblivion into the veins of a dying world. There are some sociopaths who are so morally corrupt that other sociopaths simply refuse to mention them in polite conversation; petty thieves and vandals refuse to talk about murderers, murderers refuse to talk about rapists, rapists refuse to talk about child molesters and child molesters refuse to talk about child killers. At the bottom of the sewers of moral corruption you have terrorists and at the bottom of those sewers you find Knihilists.

The word knihilism comes from the word knight; meaning a feudal warrior who upholds a code of honour and nihilism; meaning “oblivion philosophy” in retro-partition Greek. The official definition of Knihilist is “a terrorist of oblivion who holds terror and oblivion as honour codes in themselves”. This is self-contradictory; as are the Knihilists themselves.

The basic concept behind Knihlism; as far as a sane person can guess is that civilization, humanity and even life on this planet are lost causes. The gaping maw of hungry entropy which devours entire universes and realities is the only contestant worth betting on.

Knihilists seem to lack any conception of self-preservation or individual will; the individual exists only to serve universal nihilism and advance entropy one or two more baby steps; they’ve advanced beyond suicide bombing decades ago and now work on more cunning, subtle ways to usurp or enslave human nature like infecting children with diseases that cause insanity or disfigurement, raping people who cannot properly defend themselves or joining a political cause merely to usurp it into vicious terrorism.

It is not exactly known how 21st Century ultra-terrorism turned into 22nd Century Knihilism; the official theory is that terrorism all over the world was energized by it’s own impotence; it accomplished so little actual political change in the Middle East, Europe and North America; civilians were becoming jaded and angry at suicide bombings, politicians were becoming ultra-conservative thus inverting the actual goals of terrorists. The only concrete accomplishment of 20th and 21st century terrorism was that a few grunts and bureaucrats were killed (and could be replaced with immigrants or trainees) a few buildings were destroyed (which could be rebuilt, bigger and more beautiful) and politicians became more conservative and defensive (thus negating and inverting the very rationale for terrorism).

From a logical standpoint; terrorism since Arafat was an unmitigated Vietnam-style disaster for both sides; it would have made more sense to forsake the politics of atrocity for a rational liberal approach. But evil never listens to moral logic; evil is precisely evil because it wouldn’t listen to moral logic.

Terrorism seemed to wonk out of existence around 2060 and politicians stopped preaching slogans like “homeland security” and “tough on terror”. In under a century people largely forgot about terrorism as they conquered the solar system. But terrorism slept and waited.

In the past century terrorism became more subtle, smarter, more stealthy and so profoundly evil that even the people who spend their lives hunting the monster are disturbed by the tracks. Knihilists don’t blow themselves up in a village square to take out civilians; they slink back into the shadows after a dozen kills at the middle of the night. Knihilists don’t burn down synagogues; they infect kosher food with a poison that causes temporary insanity. Knihilists above all DO NOT brag about their accomplishments on networks in plain view of the cavalry and marines; the only way to become a Knihilist is not to read books or pamphlets on websites but meet Knihilists on equal ground and prove yourself their equal by a truly sublime and subtle act (mass rape or murder, pederasty, cannibalism, nuclear sabotage). Knihilists do write books and propaganda but they are too insane for anybody who isn’t irrevocably warped to read; let alone understand (as an example; every known copy and of the Malfeax Manifesto was printed on some sort of parched human skin; sometimes only months old).

After the plague war the knihilists (who naturally consisted almost exclusively of sociopaths) set up shop among the human bodies and burnt out shopping centres. Every act of insane depravity like the arson of a Stewardship DMZ or the use of nerve gas against a Lutheran orphanage could be one of their own; attacking groups that believe in social welfare or individual creativity weakens their opposing worldviews and brings society one step closer to total collapse again. It is estimated that there are only 500 Knihilists on the entire planet but they are so cunning they are the biggest threat to humanity’s continued survival since the plague war itself.

Understandably; anyone who can read a newspaper or log on to even the most rudimentary network is afraid and infuriated by such sociopaths. The militaries of NERVE-WERLD treat Knihilists with the same degree of respect and compassion that pioneers gave to rabid bears. Killing a confirmed Knihilist; regardless of method or scenario will get you free drinks in any special ops bar worth mentioning. These people are the precise reason Wolfhound keeps an emergency supply of pulse-disintegrator weapons, cyanide hollow-points, depleted uranium flechette sprayers and weapons which don’t officially exist; even if they do.

“Theoretical violence, not truth, is the only resource left to us"

Jean-Joseph Baudrillard- Simulacra and Simulation- Final Chapter: On Nihilism, 1990

Dark Aspergs fulfill the same role in NERVE-WERLD that the Majestic Twelve and the Elders of Zion fill in our world. Intelligent, socially respectable people do not believe in them and the sort of people who do believe in Dark Aspergs make the theorized conspiracy look rational by comparison.

Conspiracy theorists (some of which are Asperg themselves) disagree over when the Dark Asperg conspiracy started or where it’s officially located (most proponents agree New York). The most popular story is that around the enlightenment era; right after Thomas Hobbes put down the foundation for liberal society an organization was founded; a secret society of “hypersensitive autists” who were rejected, yet valued by conservative society. Some of their founding members were lesser known philosophes who manifested some facets of “hypersensitive introversion” such as Jane Austen and Henry Cavendish were allegedly Dark Aspergs (this is a conspiracy theory, none of this can be proven or verified).

The few books which talk about the subject (mostly written shortly after the plague war) refer to the Dark Asperg subculture possessing vast amounts of political ‘leverage’ and information on everybody on the planet; they were so powerful that Thomas Jefferson, Nikola Tesla and Bill Gates all made coffee at their meetings. Friedrich Nietzsche’s philosophy of the ascetic intellectual as ubermensch only energized and radicalized this society into it’s current state.

The conspiracy theory also states that every technologically dehumanizing and ethically ambiguous advance since the 1765 Stamp Act on the American Colonies can be traced back to Dark Asperg influence. As an example; alternating current lead to the electrification revolution; and lead to an increase in the gap between technological haves and have-nots in Western Civilization; alternating current can be traced back to Nikola Tesla who, if not Asperg, had certain allegiance with their techno-ubermensch philosophy.

Every dehumanizing, Nietzschean or just plain weird advancement in culture, science and philosophy can be traced back to the Dark Asperg conspiracy (or so it’s proponents say)Wittgenstein’s extreme scepticism made it impossible for intellectuals to earnestly believe in anything besides basic rules of logic, and lead to a world where the laws of logic and physics are absolute and are the only thing an intelligent man can rely on; Andy Warhol’s discovery of postmodern irony made it difficult for people to appreciate their own culture and lead further towards a dehumanizing, technocratic world; Bill Gates’ monopolistic domination of an entire industry planetwide lead to an economic and social worldview that was a cross between Chinese bureaucracy, American capitalism, European social democracy and Russian Oligarchy.

Dark Asperg innovation leads to a world where every individual is a distinct universe in him or herself, information flows out of everything without cohesive meaning or reference overloading every nervous system connected to it and intelligence grows like brambles and rat’s nests over every system it can creep over. The Dark Asperg agenda is forced autism, social introversion, existential confusion and information overload on a global scale; a world where human beings are only physically distinguishable from their tools and systems; a world where individual ego is subsumed in a flood of quasi-rational analytical thought and sensory overload; a universal autistic nirvana, even if it is inverted nirvana.

The plague war (which was completely unrelated to the Dark Asperg conspiracy and took them totally by surprise) merely slowed down their progress on Earth and left them trapped on “the mudball” (as some space-faring elitists called it) most people hold that the fact that the plague war ever happened shows that Dark Aspergs do not exist. In fact the simplest rational explanation is that Dark Aspergs were invented as a convenient scapegoat like the Illuminati or the Elders of Zion to demonize a productive social group like the autistic stewardship. You can discount the past few paragraphs because Dark Aspergs obviously don’t exist. People who believe Dark Aspergs exist are apparently crazy, stupid or bigoted. Rational, productive people; regardless of where they are from do not believe in conspiracies lead by secret societies who nobody ever sees and can’t be proven any more that fairies. This entry never took place; we were never here.

“Now at midnight all the agents, and the superhuman crew come out and round up everyone that knows more than they do”

Bob Dylan; Desolation Row

These are only the most important factions or categories of factions; others exist as subsidiaries of factions (Doctors without Borders and the Red Cross still exist; but as subsidiaries of the Vigiles) or as very similar versions of other factions (Free Calfiornia has a Stewardship and a few churches, for example). Other factions are either sedate and quiet or so small that they don’t really matter (an old ladies sewing circle is technically a faction; but it’s hardly worth mentioning).