The Sacrifice of Angels is an alternate universe in which a dimensional rift of unknown origins briefly joins an alternate universe engulfed in the nuclear war of an alternate 1992. It is during this event that several nuclear warheads are detonated in the present universe destroying much of the world, further decimated by plague an nuclear winter soon after.
Divergence from OTL, THE EVENT
Divergence point is May 20th 1940 when a massive series of dimensional rifts open above the planet Earth connecting it to another timeline. In this world Hardliners and Not Mikhail Gorbachev came to power in the USSR. The cold war escalated into a smallish (about 1,000 devices) nuclear exchange in 1992. And at precisely the same moment accident or on purpose the rifts opened in the paths of 156 nuclear devices.
Over Europe the disaster began early in the morning it was 6am in Berlin and the Führer had been working so late it had become early the next day. Suddenly he is distracted by a white light outside his office window and looks out. The rift fills the sky and as he watches five tiny streaks of light appear over his capital. They are the last thing he ever sees. Five fireballs expand in the early morning sky and the thousand years Reich burns. Hamburg, Munich, Dresden, Bonn and half a dozen other cities are also destroyed. Germany was the heart of the Cold War and so it is hit hard.
In Moscow its hours later and Stalin is meeting Molotov to discuss the war in Europe. They two face a rift and rush to the deep bunker under the Kremlin. They never make it, halfway down the bombs explode and the elevator crashes to the bottom. Molotov dies in an instant but Stalin lives for hours, screaming for help that will never come. Across the whole country cities dies yet the destruction is strangely random, many cities are hit but then so are areas far from anywhere, but then how could Russia know they would have been the heart of its war machine?
Elsewhere in Europe damage is less severe than Germany but it happens, Manchester, Madrid, Nice, and Naples all burn in fire. Horrors yes but not on the scale of Germany. The worst happens elsewhere. In backward China cities flash into ruin, killing Japanese aggressor and Chinese defender alike. In the Middle East unknown oil fields flash into fire and Palestine is totaled, every major city destroyed. And America? What of her?
Hell comes here a few minutes later; the President is awoken to learn of the assault sweeping the world, it is the last thing he ever hears. Washington, Los Angeles, San Diego, Chicago, swaths of the Dakotas, and Miami are are destroyed yet strangely not New York. It doesn’t matter, because the Government is dead, along with 20 million fellow citizens. Then the final indignity, it is not a nuclear weapon but a conventional one, a small air to ground missile over New York. The Statue of Liberty falls…
In less than twenty minutes THE EVENT cost 200 million lives, destroyed seventy cities and changed history forever.
Of the big Six powers at the time only Britain and France are substantially unhurt, yes cities died but these are pin pricks compared to the others. Germany is devastated; industry, supply routes, and most importantly the central Government are gone. The German horde has no home base, no chance of resupply and its deep in enemy territory. The British and French may have been hurt, but Germany is far worse off. The British turn and fight while French forces elsewhere counterattack. The fighting lasts a week and is bitter but in the end the German Generals led by Erwin Rommel see sense, a cease fire is declared and the German army returns home to save what it can.
The USSR is even worse off, like Germany it was a central dictatorship with no clear line of succession and unlike Germany no strong military to hold things together. The purges have done their job too well. Within day’s anarchy reigns, Kiev and the Baltic states take their chance and separate. Government breaks down, troops go unpaid, railways are cut by the wilderness bombs and soon it’s every town for itself. Slowly but surely things fall apart.
Japan herself is unhurt but her armies are not. Too many troops died in the Chinese Holocaust, over the next week or so Japan begins to withdraw to lick her wounds. The Generals who order this commit suicide and an isolationist movement begins to grow in the country desiring a return to the long isolation when Japan cut its ties with the rest of the world.
The United States is hell. The government is gone as are most major ports and the railroads are cut. Like Russia central government begins to break down but here at least the state authorities survive. Governors work to hold their states together, to feed the population to maintain order. Quickly one country becomes fifty; some remain much as they were. Times are hard but not devastating, for a few of the worst hit though anarchy reigns, rioting sweeps the east coast and the mid-west.
The world is hurt but might have begun to recover in a few months if that had been the end of it.
Plague and the Great Winter
Most of those who died in the cities were burned to ash so for the first few weeks disease was not a problem. After about a fortnight though this changed, many people with blast and burn wounds began to die and others fell sick with radiation poisoning.
In Britain this was bad but a local problem. Martial law was in force and massive medical resources were directed to Manchester along with returning troops, there was little they could really do but they did at least see the bodies were buried avoiding an epidemic. As yet no one knew what the blasts were but one thing was obvious a lot of poison was in the air. Prime Minister Churchill ordered an evacuation of the area around the city, it didn’t help those already affected but it did stop things getting worse. Manchester was to remain un-entered until after 1960.
France followed a similar pattern at first but war damage combined with Radiation blowing in from Germany meant the problem was much worse. Cholera spread in many areas but for the most part things just about held together.
Germany was hard hit but it was under strict martial law under Rommel. Here to plague is a problem but things just about stay together at least for the first two months.
Russia is coming to pieces anyway and epidemic is everywhere, unburied dead lay in rivers and sewers and there is almost no medical care. By week four casualties are over 100.000 a day almost 700,000 a week!
In America too damage was hampering efforts and though far less than Russia a figure of 10,000 a day cannot be whole discounted.
Then to add insult to injury nature takes a turn…
It began in the cities of Germany during mid-July, the victims began to develop horrible blisters all over their bodies which burst and oozed infectious puss. The pain was enough to drive people mad and death was slow as blood oozed from the body in a long lingering death. Within a week it was in the water, by August it was everywhere in Germany. The disease was named “The blistering fever” but soon became known as “The living Death”. It infected about 40% of any population and of those 40% everybody died. Certainly no one was ever found who recovered from it. The horror of the disease was such that the victims were shot on sight but it was too late.
The virus got across the border into France and still occupied Eastern Europe; from there it spread to the Ukraine and the Middle East. Ironically Trotsky had returned to Russia in July and had managed to pull together a skeleton of a central government. The disease took ten days to incubate and got into soldiers being sent to restore order. From them it got everywhere.
France passed it to England and though heroic efforts kept it from spreading into the water it still hit London where half a million died. Relatives caring for victims came into contact with fluids and fell ill themselves. It probably got to America on an aid ship but there too it spread like wildfire. By early September it was all over the world. Millions died everyday, until finally the onset of the worst winter in two centuries froze the disease to death. In six weeks “The living Death” killed almost a billion people, many of them young people the world could not do without. It had done what the bombs could not do. It had halved the population of the world.
Ironic isn’t it that what saved the world from plague was almost as bad. The dust thrown up by the bombs had already made summer 1940 cold and wet but as October ended the temperature fell hard. In Europe there was soon six feet of snow everywhere and killing frosts as far south as Paris. Even south of this it was bitterly cold in areas unused to cold weather. Except in a few places like England the plague had left the harvest in the fields and now it was destroyed. Famine swept the continent killing many who had avoided the plague.
Around the world it was hard, in India the monsoon was far worse than usual in the Middle East rain mixed with oil fires into a poisonous brew. In Russia whole areas were cleansed of humanity as those who did not die in plague died in cold. In China the rains failed and men ate men to survive. This was to become a problem all over the world. America’s heartland could feed itself but could not get food to the cities and so the population starved.
For five months the world froze, in England, France and Germany along with the British Empire strict rationing kept the people fed but elsewhere things fell apart fast. Faced with no food neighbour eyed neighbour and wondered. Records are sketchy but it is obvious cannibalism was widespread in those weeks.
In April 1941 winter finally broke and the next summer was mostly normal. The world was not however. It is estimated that by May 1941 (EVENT plus one year) the population of the world was down to less than half a billion. For the most part Western Europe was in best shape but elsewhere things had fallen apart. There was no fuel for power stations and in most places precious little to eat. Russia was almost completely destroyed its population probably no more than a few million. By the time Commonwealth forces re-established contact with Asiatic Russia in the 1960’s this consisted of pre-industrial even prehistoric regressed city-states along with a few farm settlements. The Ukraine and the Baltic States had survived because they had been able to break away before serious fighting and plague tore the remaining infrastructure down. Vladivostok also had survived since the Russian military had seized control and managed to maintain order.
In the East Japan had survived on imports from Manchuria and Korea and also dodged the plague. As many as five million people had died however and the army had still been destroyed in China. Unable to keep control Japan had been forced to withdraw from its satellites an event that led to another orgy of suicides. China was hard hit but the Chinese were numerous and the country vast. The communists had been hit harder than the nationalist forces that were able to establish some control of the country by 1950.
India had suffered a famine but not as bad as it could have been. What had occurred both here and in the other colonies was a reassertion of local control with links to London badly disrupted. The empire had tasted freedom and the seeds had been sown for the rise of the Commonwealth in the later 1940’s.
The Middle East was badly hurt by the bombs and the plague but conditions were not as bad as they could have been in fact the winter had bought more rain than the area had been given in centuries. For the first few years after the EVENT crop yields actually rose.
South America was virtually untouched by the disasters with the exception of local revolutions and the end of American business influence. Strangely enough Canada and Alaska had also come through all right. Perhaps this was not so strange though, these two places had managed to maintain government and were used to cold winters, people died yes but not in the number they could have.
The United States was badly hurt. Benefit of national government and with local areas keeping what food they had to themselves many had died. This only got worse over the next year as all out civil war burst upon the land; A war that was to last almost ten years.
Germany and France were hit hard by plague and winter but central government had endured well throughout. Germany though was already badly hurt and had begun talks with Britain about a survival alliance. In Britain strong leadership had held things together and by mid-1941 a semblance of normality had returned to the country, as it had to most of the Empire.
The first few years
The years 1941-45 were not good years to be alive. Outside of the British Empire and a few areas like France and Japan things were bad. Thankfully the plague never returned and indeed no one ever figured out what it was (the most popular theory is that it was a German bio weapon, released by the bombs and mutated by radiation), but the loss of infrastructure had led to a complete breakdown of civilisation over almost a third of the world. Almost two thirds of the world population of May 1940 was not alive in May 1941, and another twenty million would die over the following years from war, starvation or other consequences.
The winters of 41, 42 and 43 were hard though not in the way 1940 was. In fact 1940 was probably no worse than the winters of the “Little Ice Age” the only difference was that there was no effective means to keep people alive through it. After 1944 conditions normalised and for the most part things settled down.
To walk down the streets of London in 1945 would be little different from 1935. There were fewer people present but for the most part things were broadly the same as they had been then. There had been little progress in technology but the people were clothed and would seem comfortable. In fact most people in Britain were better off than ten years earlier since lowered demand had slashed prices.
Germany was devastated but Rommel’s Government had already begun rebuilding efforts, and while the Germans had lost their new empire they had survived. France was also fairly prosperous but was suffering a crippling insurrection in North Africa which was soon to strip it of much of its empire. Eastern Europe was also doing okay. Most infrastructures were intact and the people were at least being fed the only thing of importance in that era.
Japan was already becoming isolated and moves were being made to make the country self-sufficient. Japan was no worse off five years after the EVENT but nor was it much better.
Elsewhere, the world was dark, war raged in America, Russia was barren and trade had collapsed in many areas.
The issue of cannibalism is still a sensitive one, and exact figures are hard to come by. Officially it was never a problem in Europe and the British Empire, but most acknowledge families may have supplemented rations with joints cut from frozen bodies. Certainly there were no mass outbreaks as happened elsewhere. It definitely took place in Russia, and despite emphatic denials the United States. Bones are still being found today with human teeth marks on them no matter what the government in question would wish to be the case. Elsewhere it was known to occur on a fairly large scale, though for the most part it appears people ate only those who had already died, rather than killing specifically for meat. While some did exist, reports of massive cannibal tribes are usually exaggerated.
The Death Toll
The total death toll from the event and the aftermath will never be known but as a rule the following estimates are considered to be fairly accurate.
- THE EVENT itself: 200 Million
- Post EVENT/pre-plague: 50 million
- The Living Death: 975 million.
- The Great Winter: 457 million
- Other/aftermath: 27 million
This gives a total: 1709 Million.
Estimates vary but range from 1200 million to around 2000 million. A figure in the middle of this is probably close.
The EVENT was probably the defining moment of this world’s history; it destroyed the power of Germany, America and Russia and sowed the seeds for the rise of the Commonwealth. It also slashed the population leaving a strangely empty world and it was to remain so for many years. Russia remained abandoned well into the 1960’s and even today the population is no more than a few million. America was to suffer ten years of civil war and another forty of isolationism before finally returning to the world’s stage.
The EVENT also spurred an interest in Space Travel both to investigate the EVENT itself, by examining the Rift sites and also by a feeling that humanity had too many eggs in one basket. THE EVENT came close to wiping out the whole race of men and a determination rose to ensure this could not happen again. In 1956 a British Astronaut walked on the Moon and a new era began.