Thursday, March 24, 2011

[Aftermath!] GURPS Operation Morpheus, Session 7, Cut Scenes

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Session Seven: "Your Horoscope for Today" "Weird Al" Yankovic (April 6 - June 6, 2104)

Cut Scene: Read aloud over the shoulder of an unknown and unnamed journalist, amid coughing and wheezing:



The planet-wide catastrophe known, in popular parlance, as "The Ruin," had its roots in the mid 20th Century. During this era, despite rapidly increasing world population and decreasing availability of readily accessible natural resources, "planned obsolescence" and similar attitudes were the norm. Obviously, this type of attitude could not have been supported forever, given the changing conditions in the world.

The gap in wealth between the "haves" of the Western and Soviet Bloc nations and the "have nots" of the Third and Fourth world nations grew at an ever increasing pace (in an almost geometric progression). Even the most insensitive Governments and Multinationals soon came to realize that things could not continue as they were for much longer. Fortunately for them, and more so for the poorer Third/Fourth World countries, the introduction of the Fusion Reaction power units in the mid 1980s, as a result of the return of the U.S. to the Moon and the establishment of sustainable Moon bases, made the necessary changes not only possible but feasible as well. With power "to burn," the possibility of "Lifetime" production was assured (this term was generally applied to products which, according to their manufacturers, would last a "Lifetime" without requiring more than minimal services and/or spares). The introduction of some primitive versions of Conversion Reaction units in the late 1980s, about the same time as the fall of the Soviet Union into the separate Russian states, speeded up this process greatly - though it was by no means uniform in degree of acceptance or success throughout the world at the time of "The Ruin."

Despite such technological advances, the world was by no means free of some of the problems which had plagued it since the beginning of recorded history. For example, by the early 1990s, though few, if any, people starved to death through lack of food anymore, there were still great differences in the wealth of the "have" and "have not" nations of the world. Many of the citizens of such countries resented the "second class" status that this implied to them. Such great differences in wealth were not just international in scope - they existed within even the most affluent of the First/Second world nations as well. Exacerbating these tensions even further was the continued dominance of the USA after the USSR dissolved. With such a high degree of world-wide tension, it was almost inevitable that a series of brushfire wars should break out on a more or less regular basis in the less developed regions of the world: The war in the Sudan from 1983 to 1999; the Civil War in Afghanistan from 1990 - 1999; Iraq invading Kuwait, touching off Operation Desert Storm in 1991; the Bosnian conflict from 1992 - 1996; the Rwandan Genocide in 1994; Chechan War from 1994-1996; the September 11th 2001 tragedy, subsequent invasion of Afghanistan to meet the Taliban and Al Queda in battle; and finally the  US lead coalition invasion of Iraq in 2003.


Thus it was not at all shocking when, in August 2003, a strange plague broke out in the Middle East (initially Israel). The fragmentary reports that were received from that country seemed to definitely implicate the involvement of Al Queda and Hamas terrorist organizations. In any case, the UN imposed an immediate quarantine - as the plague had no known vaccine. It was also increadibly virulent, killing anyone contracting it. Ninety to ninety-eight percent of the population of a given area seemed to do so. There was a great deal of speculation as to whether the survivors were immune or were merely never exposed to it. This matter was never satisfactorily resolved. The population of Israel was virtually wiped out within three weeks of the outbreak of the plague, though (with almost poetic justice) it spread without restraint to the surrounding Arab countries almost immediately. It did, however, fail to penetrate the great deserts cutting these regions off from the continents of Africa, Asia or Europe.

Just before the final collapse of the Israeli government, they launched "Operation Armageddon" against all Islamic states (with the exception of their ally, Egypt) which had ever shown hostility towards Israel. This attack used both Neutron and "Dirty" Bombs. One of these strikes was targeted on Red Square, Moscow, in the belief that the Arabs had been incapable of launching such a biological attack without Russian technical aid (a claim never proven nor, on the other hand, disproven). Evidently the ECM on the Israeli Missile was much better than the Russians expected and it hit dead on target - with only 60 seconds warning - wiping out the entire top civil leadership (who had been attending a meeting in the Kremlin at the time).

The Russian Military Commanders took "Emergency Control" but showed admirable restraint under the circumstances. They did not launch a retaliatory strike of their own. As Marshal Pyotr Mikhailovitch, the head of the Military Junta, said on Russion Television, "There is no point in shooting a corpse." For a while things seemed to calm down. Everybody seemed to realize how close the World was to the brink of fatal destruction and backed off at high speed. There were even several overtures by the Russians in the UN with a view to revamping that body to give it the "teeth" necessary to ensure that such a "regrettable accident" could not occur again.


This possibility was not to be. In December 2003, the "Scourge of God" plague (as it had been popularly tagged) had died out in the Middle East, evidently having been "programmed" to do so after a certain time period (further increasing suspicions, never proven, that it was a "tailored" agent). It now re-appeared. This time the target was the United Kingdom. The UK government attempted to suppress the news of the outbreak by passing it off as a new strain of influenza. Evidently, they hoped to be able to find a vaccine before anyone was the wiser and, in the meantime, to get "essential personnel" out of the country "just in case." Within a matter of a few days it became obvious that the "minor flu epidemic" in the UK was really THE plague - but even though an immediate quarantine was enforced, it was too late. Fragmentary reports coming from the disintegrating UK government via the BBC Overseas service indicated that a radical branch of the IRA, the D-IRA, was responsible for the release of the plague, and some inconclusive evidence of a D-IRA/Al Queda link was given. Whether this was the truth or merely an attempt by the Government to find a scapegoat is not known - but one of the first things the Government did after the imposition of the quarantine was to intern all residents of Irish extraction (those the Mobs didn't tear to pieces first) and summarily execute all who were even suspected of IRA sympathies!

It was at this point (about 6 days after the first outbreak of the "Scourge" in the UK and about 3 days after the quarantine of that country) that the Russian Military Junta acted. They launched a uni-lateral "surgical" strike on all major population centres of the UK - using the new "Super Neutron" weapons (which had practically no blast and cuased an infinitesimal amount of fallout - but which irradiated wide areas, wiping out most living things), planning to make optimum use of them so as to "sterilize' the whole island. Their intention was evidently to stop the spread of the plague to the continent - and thence to Russia. They would have probably succeeded if the British had not concealed the original outbreak. Not only was their "sterilization" rendered ineffective thus, but many of their missiles were obsolete and missed their targets due to guidance system malfunctions - one of these haywire missiles landed near the French city of Calais, causing massive casualties.

The French, hot headed as usual, reacted with a "hair trigger" before the Russians could explain. They assumed that the massive launches the "Over the Horizon" Radar was picking up in Western Russian was the beginning of an all-out nuclear war - and so launched their entire nuclear arsenal on Russian targets. At this point, Franco-Israeli co-operation paid off, as the French delivery systems were fitted with the same ECM devices that the Israelis had used to take out Moscow, and all of their more up to date missiles got through, again with minimal warning time for the Russians. The Russian missile base commanders immediately jumped to the wrong conclusion themselves. Assuming that the missiles were from a US retaliatory strike, they launched the remainder of their missiles at the US and her major allies. When the DEW line and US satellite-borne radar systems detected the Russian "birds" on course for the US, the president gave orders for the immediate launch of all US strategic assets. Shortly thereafter, a Russian Missile penetrated the District of Columbia ABM defenses and impacted on the White House lawn.

Fortunately, due to the Arms reduction resulting from various treaties, only 25% of the US and 35% of the Russian population were incinerated or killed outright! WIth so much of their Homeland destroyed (and not yet knowing of the spread of the Scourge beyond the UK) and thus with nothing else to lose, the Russian armed forces immediately invaded Western Europe, China (using TacNukes heavily against the imperial Chinese Army) and India. When it became obvious that the plague had spread to the continents (the Russians at first thought by cross-channel winds), they moved their main thrust towards India and SE Asia. Some spearheads of this advance reached deep into Oceania and Australasia before collapsing in the face of the spread of the Scourge of God.


While all this was going on, the rest of the World - which for the most part was not directly affected by the "Wet Firecracker War" - was finding for itself that the quarantine measures invoked against the UK government had been ineffective, as the Scourge of God had by this time appeared at several sites on every continent. While the local goverments did their best to discover a serum that was effective against the plague, nothing would stop it - and, although some measures proved efficient in slowing its spread, nothing seemed to stop it. In fact, no antidote or serum was ever reported to have been discovered although it was noted, statistically, that members of the armed forces of those nations with advanced CBW warfare capabilities had a definitely higher immunity rate than the general civilian population (for every 1000 soldiers, there were about 10 survivors; while for every 1000 civilians there were only 4-6 survivors).

As most people could see that no attempts to stop the spread of the plague were having any real effect, only imposition of martial law and strict use of the death penalty for any violators of such measures could even keep up a semblance of law and order. After all, with everyone under a death sentence, what could courts and law enforcement agencies threaten lawbreakers with? Soon, as the inroads of the plague spread, even police and military personnel began to "bug out," trying desperately to find somewhere, ANYWHERE, to hide, a sadly futile effort in the overwhelming majority of cases.


With the "Resources Boom" of the mid-1980s and the early 1990s, as well as the defeat of the "Liberal" (Conservative) Government in the middle of this period, Australia entered a period of unparalleled economic growth and development coupled with a marked degree of progress in social welfare programs, making her the envy of many less fortunate countries. She managed to avoid the majority of the problems associated with automation and computerization which had caused such inequalities  elsewhere by simply reducing the number of hours in the working week and ensuring full employment - rather than maintaining the old system and letting the number of unemployed rise drastically as their jobs were taken away from them by the advance of technology that was maintained (mostly by default) elsewhere in the world.

Thus, by the 1990s, Australia - while not by any means a world power - was a very wealthy country, with her wealth fairly evenly distributed amongst all the classes, rather than concentrated at the top end. It was against this background that both the Commonwealth government and private businesses poured funds into applied and basic research in many differing fields - resulting in many new developments in such fields as medicine, genetic engineering, nuclear physics, artificial intelligence, and many more mundane areas. The primary beneficiaries of these research programs were the Australian universities, which greatly expanded their facilities for all areas of endeavor.

Thus, when the Scourge of God plague was first unleashed, Australian research and medical teams were amongst the first to apply themselves to the discovery of a serum to cure the disease, and many of these brave men and women died in Israel attempting to do just that. With the seeming disappearance of the plague with the death of the great majority of those affected by it in the Middle East, some research was continued in Australia (and, of course, elsewhere) but it proved frustratingly fruitless, as the disease seemed to be almost certainly a man-made one - whether the accidental result of some genetic engineering experiment or one deliberately created for military use could not satisfactorily be determined. The major obstacle to research into a serum was that the disease/virus or whatever seemed to have no genetic "signature" for the researchers to trace. Also complicating research was the fact that the disease only affected one species - homo sapiens sapiens - Humans! With the recurrance of the plage in the UK research efforts were redoubled.

About three days after the Wet Firecracker War between the US, Russia and France, the first case of the Scourge was reported in Melbourne and, though the Commonwealth government immediately sealed off the city with troops and declared Australia-wide martial law, they realized that the only hope was to increase the research effort. The government was aware that any center of such research would be a prime target for mobs of rioters either out to get "them Scientists who started it all" or to "get the cure from them Scientists who're hiding it." In either situation, the fear was that the rampaging mobs would destroy the nation's last hope. THis fear was proved correct in Melbourne (where no troops could be used to bolster police and security personnel at Flinders, La Trobe, and Melbourne Universities) - Mob attacks overwhelmed the defenders and hundreds of staff and students were lynched for refusing to tell where "the cure was stored!"

In the major cities, the Federal government provided armed forces detachments, upgrading the equipment and numbers of the university based armed forces training units and creating a "Citizen Volunteer Militia" out of the remainder of the staff and students - backing up this by constructing computer controlled automated defenses for the stage when the university security forces would be too depleted by plague and "enemy action" to fully man the walls.

Several minor breakthroughs were made, but they merely increased the incubation time of the Scourge, having no effect on those who had the disease and not preventing anyone from contracting it. Evidently rumors of these successes reached the ears of the Russian Military Commander of SE Asia and he immediately launched an all out attack to secure for Russia the serum which he believed existed.


Realizing that their only hope lay in capturing the various research centers in Australia, the Russian High Command put the remnants of their military might behind the effort. They massed most of their remaining air transport assets and loaded up as much infantry as possible on them, issuing them parachutes and telling them to jump "or else," the remainder of their Far East Fleet, plus as many commandeered merchantmen as were available were used to transport heavier units - including the remnants of the Soviet Marine and Naval Infantry units in the whole theatre. Finally, the few remaining Orbital Marine units were dropped on key points within Australia to "pave the way." The whole force probably amounted to fewer than 200,000 men. Some never made it to Australia, going down with their ships in the naval battle of the "Second Coral Sea" - where the Royal Australian Navy and the remnants of the US Pacific Fleet inflicted heavy losses, though they were unable to turn the invasion fleet back.

The Russian forces that were finally landed in Australia were larger than the small Australian Regular Army - but were not large enough to decisively defeat it - especially given the fact that the Russians were totally cut off from their supply bases (such as they were) in SE Asia. Even so, they were concentrated in New South Wales and close enough to Sydney (one of their major objectives) to cuase a great deal of trouble. In fact, the Royal Australian Army was unable to prevent several Russian spearheads penetrating deep into the city, where they attacked the University of New South Wales. The University defenders there broke and ran. The Russians found nothing of use and demolished the whole area. They were also able to attack Sydney University - but were force to withdraw by SUR (Sydney University Regiment), the University Reserve Batallion there. Finally, in the face of gradually increasing loses on both sides due to the Scourge, the whole military effort just petered out - and darkness decended.


As has been mentioned above, Sydney University was one of the major scientific and research institutions in Australia (and in the world) before "The Ruin." As such, it was chosen by the Commonwealth government as a "Regional Survival Centre" and "Regional Government HQ" (along British and American lines) for post-nuclear survival. Thus, under the guise of expansion, many deep underground facilities were built at the University during the 1980s and 1990s. When the Scourge of God plague was loosed on the world, the University was a natural choice for a center of research into the finding of a vaccine for it. As the Commonwealth government realized that such a target would prove irrestistible to mobs in the inevitable breakdown of law and order that the onset of the plague would cause, they tried to ensure the security of the University by beefing up the attached Army Reserve unit (similar to the US ROTC or UK TAVR), Sydney University Regiment (or, more commonly "SUR") from an understrength Light Infantry Batallion to a mechanized batallion (+). To this they added detachments of Regular Army troops - mainly specialists (such as armor, artillery, army aviation, RAAF ground support aircraft, and some new "Warbot" units). A militia was organized from amongst those University staff and students who were not members of SUR. This basically consisted of issuing them with arms, teaching them which way to point them, and then showing them how to pull the trigger. Added to this was a comprehensive arangement of computer controlled defensive weaponry in several rings of fortified bunkers designed to defend the more important sections of the University, as well as the University perimeter in general.

Despite their apprehension at the possible effectiveness of these defensive arrangements, they proved quite useful. As civil authority and law and order broke down, the University did become, as predicted, a target for mob attacks. These attacks were initially ill-armed and organized, but as the desperation of the civilians increased, more and more planning was put into them. Military arms from over-run Amry units and/or from deserters increased the effectiveness of these assaults. Several, in fact, managed to breach the computerized defense perimeter and surge into the interior of the University, but internal manned defenses and the mobile forces of SUR and the Regular Army detachments managed to seal off these breaches and stop the mobs "dead."

As these attacks increased in their ferocity as the Civs (non-university or non-military personnel) became more and more frenzied, a new factor entered the situation - the approach of Russian invasion forces. These forces devastated MacQuarie University and totally destroyed the University of New South Wales when the University of New South Wales Regiment (UNSWR) simply "bugged out" in the face of their assualt. This left Sydney University the only "Uni" left in the Sydney area. As if this wasn't enough, the fact that the Russians had found no plague cure at either of the other two universities made them sure that SU was the "correct target." They thus launched an all-out effort against it. Despite the losses to the defending forces due to both previous assaults and the Scourge, the Russian forces were even worse off. They were tens of thousands of miles from their rapidly collapsing supply bases. WIth the help of their attached Warbot units, the University defenders managed to repel the Russians.


This valiant defense enabled the University research teams to work right to the end although (it is presumed) without any success.

Oh, my .............................................

End Cut Scene.

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