I'm one of the few left who knows how all this happened. I'm one of the few left at all. I don't feel responsible, I'm just shocked at how easy it was for things to turn out like this.
If you look back, there's a long history of well funded, often government sponsored, research going on at the edge of science that hasn't been restricted by public morality. If you find my story hard to accept, just remember that.
Back in the mid 20th Century, resources began pouring into fields that hadn't ever been taken seriously before, mind control, psychological warfare at the international level, 'unconventional' weapons development in an unbelievably diverse sense. I'm talking about things that have been out in the open for a long time, projects like TROY, or MKULTRA, but nothing changed, and the further time went on, the bigger these budgets got and it never seemed to matter very much when pieces of classified information got out. The stories were buried, or dismissed, or just blew over.
It's ironic how despite being hidden in plain sight, the electorates never engaged with what what was going on in the political-military-industrial sphere, everyone was just kept a little too busy to demand or worry too much about the excesses that they could get their heads around. Maybe it was the scale of the problem - nobody really understood the power or resources that were being disposed of, maybe cognitive dissonance was to blame, or maybe no matter how reliable the source of the information was, the facts just looked too . . . unrealistic. As a species, we never really got to grips with our ability to change our environment, our reality, even when it was obvious. Over a century after the end of World War II and the beginning of the first Cold War, reality has changed more than it should have, more than it would have if we'd took our power seriously.
I remember reading as a youngster about an ATO soldier and low-level data analyst named Manning. Manning had access to a huge amount of classified material, which he broadcast, believing that the information belonged in the public domain and hoping that it would be used to fuel a shift toward greater accountability in government. Manning died in jail, and the changes he wanted didn't come about. You can think of me as a reincarnation of Manning, a doomed recorder of the current apocalypse. His story probably influenced my life more than I realised until now. If people like Manning had been able to make more of a difference, we wouldn't be dying out.
I half remember another story, one my older brother told me . . . I just remember the story and that he told it to me, no context except that it was true and that he found it funny in a way that unsettled me as a child. The story was that one of the Atlantic powers had spent a huge amount of money and effort training sea mammals for military operations, mine sweeping I think. The animals performed extremely well, until one of them (just one) made a mistake involving high explosive while on active service and was destroyed. Somehow, the other animals seemed to know what had happened and this was enough to break their conditioning. The entire program was closed down. Every single seal, dolphin, even the otters, either disappeared into the deep ocean or refused to patrol. I remember my brother laughing, I think his point was that the animals deserved the Earth more than we did, that the story illustrated . . . something about what we had lost as a species in our flight from nature. Now I wish I could have been like one of the animals that turned away from horror. I wish we all could have been.
I was recruited from the Institute into the Information Security Branch of Combined Forces Command (ATO) in 2083, not long before the war with the Eurasian Federation turned hot. Like Manning, my rank was Specialist and my work gave me access to a wide variety of startling information concerning the "peacetime" activities of the Atlantic government, its allies and its enemies. By 2083, everyone in CFC-ATO knew that global theatre war was inevitable. Tensions were higher than ever. Huge rises in the sea level and ever accelerating global cooling along with the accumulated negative effects of the industrial revolutions and associated social collapses, had compounded the resource problem while unsettling the global distribution of power. Our planet became more hostile and billions died, our immediate future was insecure. Our species was trapped in a feedback loop we had created.
During our training we were told that the coming war would by necessity be "more total" than any other. If we didn't win sufficiently quickly and completely, the scenarios shifted to mutually assured destruction. CFC-ATO was preparing for a decisive and overwhelming first strike. Our technological and economic base had managed to quietly sustain an edge on our competitors. The myth of peaceful coexistence was a front designed to cover the intense preparations of war and defence on both sides. With hindsight, the early strategic advantages of nation-states of the Eurasian Federation counted against them in the endgame. Sometime around 2012 ATO internalised the truth that it was being quietly overrun by the Eurasian Federation's cyberwarfare division and that its technological advances and state secrets were being stolen on an industrial scale. The CFC responded by radical means. First came a series of quiet and targeted purges of the systems and personnel. Next, carefully vetted elements of the command apparatus and the most secret and advanced projects were compartmentalised, along with covert appropriations of manpower, materiel and bleeding edge facilities. The Information Security Branch (also ISB, Infosec) was born in 2018.
From the outside it was simply a reasoned response to the changing nature of cold and hot warfare, dealing with signals intelligence, electronic countermeasures, etc. On the inside, to those who had no prospect of ever seeing the outside again, everything that appeared to the outside was a front. The outside was assumed compromised, as was every other branch of the military and political leadership that wasn't on the inside. The ISB was a parallel complex, designed to be impregnable and independent, tasked with ensuring the survival and supremacy of ATO as a geopolitical entity. From 2018 onward, I can confidently state that nobody knew what the fuck we were up to.
The challenge to the survival of ATO came from the Federated States of Greater Eurasia, which controlled around two thirds of the landmass, vastly superior numbers, a highly militarised and mobilised society. By 2018 the Eurasian Federation had already gained significant and potentially crippling penetration of the C3I infrastructure of the ATO sphere. For a long time the general consensus at ISB had been that the inner leadership of the Eurasian Federation believed that the war was over before it had begun, that it had already secured a position of dominance over its rival and was focused on maintaining the status quo, consolidating its position and addressing internal stability. We needed to sustain that belief regardless of how the balance of advantage shifted.
As a recent recruit my duties were less critical than if I had been with Infosec for longer, but trust was never an issue. Every measure had been taken to ensure complete secrecy. We never saw daylight. There was no means or opportunity for low level Specialists to breach the air gap or leak information. Requests for logistics approvals or automated reconnaissance operations were handed up the chain and information filtered down. We just fed the machine. The isolation and breakdown in relations between the two blocs, along with technological measures, made infiltration/exfiltration or meaningful intelligence gathering on the deepest workings of both regimes highly unlikely if not impossible. I was lucky that I was too insignificant to warrant wetwired behaviour modification, otherwise I wouldn't be writing this now, but my position still required me to come into contact with information on how we planned to conduct the war.
Despite what I've mentioned above, you might wonder about many things, since war was inevitable how did we maintain the element of surprise, and regardless of how things have turned out, manage to defeat the enemy so completely? Why didn't the Eurasian Federation shut down as much of ATO as it could, as soon as it could, like we did to them? Given how things have turned out, maybe we should all wish they had. It's certainly true that the ISB consciously overestimated the threat to our systems and overcompensated, it's also possible that the Eurasian Federation believed that both sides had too much to lose to risk open or large scale war. What seems certain is that our opposite numbers were unaware of what was being planned, and of the form the war would take.
It only remains now for me to confirm what those few who remain have guessed. We made it happen. We created the biggest threat to our own existence and you didn't stop us. Apart from the problems with the climate, which we are surely responsible for, our even more pressing problem is not a natural disaster, it's our fault.
The ISB special projects and research teams developed some incredibly successful concepts in order to turn the tide back against the Eurasian Federation. The most decisive was definitely the Mobile Oceanic Autonomous Platform. These massive, silent, factory-motherships were programmed to hide in the deepest and most remote parts of the ocean and design, produce and maintain their own weapons stockpile, indefinitely. Each one began as a nucleus consisting of the best artificial intelligence we had, 3-D fabricator units, a watersplitter powerplant and a nanoparticle stockpiler. As they grew, they would be resupplied and given modular upgrades as appropriate. Within 5 years the MOAP were redesigning their own components and the nucleii packages. They quickly became self-replicating and developed a secure hive-mind communications capability. They looked capable of almost anything. They began to spread throughout the deep ocean, periodically transmitting their incredibly dense reports and making specific requests to their handler teams for certain raw materials which they were unable to source themselves, such as chemical and radiological supplies and live biological specimens of both flora and fauna.
Within 10-15 years the MOAP hive were an adaptive, self-perpetuating, widely distributed network of heavily armed autonomously operating research and development hubs. Their combined computing power was entirely focused on designing tactical-strategic solutions to the problem posed by the disposition of the Eurasian Federation. The scope of their scientific exploration was limited only by the requirement that the MOAP must remain undetectable. Jet propelled drones and guided missiles were useless on their own, due to their relatively slow speed and dependence on vulnerable technological elements, so the MOAP innovated a hybrid electromagnetic drive system that partially utilised the conductive properties of seawater to accelerate a variety of payloads, with an effective range well past the pole of inaccessibility. This drive system would be used to deliver a globally coordinated aerial strike across the entire territory of the Eurasian Federation, with a volume of ordnance and time-to-target which the Eurasian defensive network would be completely unprepared for. The bombardment was designed to overwhelm the enemy completely, focusing the brunt of the assault on its areas of weakness and concentrations of power. This part of the attack would consist of a continent-enveloping cloud of ultra-high speed kinetic projectiles along with high altitude "super-EMP" devices designed to exceed the defensive capacity of the enemy infrastructure. This first wave would pave the way for autonomous and guided aerial missile-drones and with a variety of warheads and capabilities. Once the aerial phase was successfully underway, MOAP planned to dive and initiate a "shoot and scoot" maneuver. If the assault was successful, after a period of radio silence the MOAP would eventually be brought up from the depths to aid in reconstruction.
By the time the MOAP was prepared to initiate the aerial phase of the final attack, it had established almost complete blue-water superiority. Littoral and mercantile traffic was not interdicted, but the volume and ubiquity of MOAP intelligence gathering capabilities in and around the abyssal zone, meant that the work of the MOAP was largely undisturbed and unthreatened during the preparation stage. Throughout this time, the MOAP explored and quantified the areas of researchwhich were most likely to ensure victory. The MOAP recognised that even with the means to overcome the electronic and aerial defences of the Eurasian Federation in order to neutralise its rapid retaliation capability, naval and land superiority were also required. Since the ocean had been secured, and the Eurasian Federation seemed to implicitly recognise the futility of seriously contesting ATO's traditional naval superiority, it naturally became the test bed for other potentially complementary technologies. The MOAP planned to apply the biological research expertise it had gained in order to build in a level of redundancy and counter the relatively large population and standing army of the Eurasian Federation. The MOAP sought to ensure that those who survived the aerial strike would not be in a position to retaliate.
Due to its unprecedented computing power and flexibilty as a scientific facility, the MOAP had achieved great success in many areas which had proven resistant to previous efforts to advance them. Examples of this include the fields of high-energy and electromagnetic physics involved in the payload delivery system mentioned above. As the MOAP hive worked on this, it was simultaneously advancing the field of genomic manipulation. The MOAP network was able to map and synthesise genetic sequences in both a physical and virtual environment on a scale and with a precision never before possible, rapidly pushing its achievements further. It began by attempting to account for complex biological features of a simple specimen, such as the life cycle of a phyto or zooplankton, before quickly jumping up the food chain. Once the organisms became sufficiently complex, live specimens were studied under various stimuli and the associated reactions observed, this was conducted in conjunction with hormone and gene therapy. Early experiments on several species of shark were successful in consistent significant increase in the test population's metabolism, rapidity of onset of sexual maturity, goal oriented behaviour and aggression response. The program was extended to aquatic mammals, specifically cetaceans, but subsequently abandoned due to the MOAP extrapolating a low probability of useful application beyond the data gathered on the mammalian brain, data which was supplemented by a range of terrestrial test subjects. This leap onto the land had been a long term objective of this strand of MOAP's research.
Eventually theory and application advanced to the point where the ideal candidate to carry out the MOAP's mission had been created. A weaponised version of the polar bear had been developed. MOAP's bears reached maturity in less than a year in the undersea breeding pods. They were conditioned to be a highly effective means by which to inhibit the coordinated response of the Eurasian population, and ultimately hunt down and effectively eradicate it within 4-6 years, during which time the Eurasian Federation would pose no threat to ATO. Since ATO lacked the troops, or the ability to covertly build up concentrations of land based weapons, MOAP had designed and mass produced a perfect army to work in conjunction with the bombing campaign. The war-bears were intelligent, highly physically resilient, hyper-aggressive and strongly motivated by the physical imperative to feed on fresh meat, capable of travelling hundreds of kilometres in a day if necessary. They would use their sharp senses to track down and annihilate what remained of the Eurasian Federation, and then, they were supposed to lie down and die, due to a drastically reduced lifespan and engineered limitations to their fertility. Eurasia would become part of ATO.
The bears were delivered by two routes; tailormade depth-to-surface vehicles brought them to the coastline and under and through where the ice could be broken, while thousands more were launched in similar capsules through the air to arrive further inland. Any of the bears who tried to cross the Northern frontier into ATO territory would simply be put down by the border forces.
If this plan seems unlikely, that might be partly because history books are hard to come by these days. It had been calculated that the pre-emptive barrage alone had a statistically insignificant chance of failure, the bear plan was implemented partly as further insurance against future retaliation by the Eurasian population or remaining land forces, and partly because the investment and hard work had already been done by MOAP. It should not be overlooked that the total defeat of our enemy was successfully accomplished.
All of our problems started after that. The plan was executed perfectly. There is no longer a Eurasian Federation.
But the bears are everywhere. They won't go away.
See the end of It's not me for an explanation. Thanks for reading, hope you enjoyed it.