Part 36: 1974 A.D.
1938 was a year of technical innovation. A new model of aircraft carriers sailed out of port, the pride of Jerusalem's navy. The year before, a rocket testing facility had been built in the deserts of Arabia, and a brilliant scientist had a breakthrough on a design for turbojet engines. So ahead of its time was this advance though, that there was no practical use for it. The other systems needed to make it work were still years from being perfected.
1938 also saw the signing of a treaty between Jerusalem and Leon. Leon had lost much of its territory to the Scots Union and yearned for a chance to regain their lands. A strong alliance had now been forged between Jerusalem, Orleans, and Leon.
Jerusalem was not the only nation seeking allies, however. The Scots, in order to help counterbalance the forces arraying against them, signed mutual assistance treaties with the Confederate States of Nicholia and Russia.
King Baldwin also faced a challenge from a major workers strike which had to be forcefully put down.
Tensions continued to grow in Europe and King Baldwin decided, reluctantly, to send expeditionary forces to both Leon and southern Orleans. Both allies welcomed the presence of troops from their much larger and more powerful supporter, although the Scots of course sent a strong protest to Jerusalem. The first troops arrived in February 1939.
The Eagle Division landing in Leon
They had arrived just in time.
War broke out on the 9th of June 1939. Confederate troops, resenting the foothold that Leon had wrested from them in Nicholia, moved into the lightly defended provinces, occupying them in short order. The Scots joined the CSN in their war against Leon, and on the 11th, Jerusalem and Orleans came to the aid of Leon. Russia declared war the next day.
Jerusalem's front with Russia also caught on fire as the Russians launched an offensive to help keep the Kingdom from coming to the aid of Orleans and Leon.
Overconfident Scottish forces immediately launched a massive attack on both Orleans and Leon, with troops charging out of both the Scottish Aquitaine and Occupied Germania. Unfortunately for the Scots, neither their army nor their military doctrine matched that of the allies. Furthermore, both the Aquitainians and Germans resented their Scottish overlords and aided the allied forces.
The Allied counterattack began in early July, and by late August the Scottish retreat had become a rout. It was a shocking and completely unexpected military reversal. Troops from Orleans had crossed into Germany, and the Scottish positions in the Aquitaine and Brittany had been reduced to three cut-off pockets.
The Russian's poor technology and mass infantry charges availed them poorly against Jerusalem's superior military. Although the Allied advance was not as impressive as that in western Europe the Russians were being forced to fall back all along the length of the front and Jerusalem's armies were being held back more by the inhospitable terrain then enemy resistance.
Jerusalem also launched a landing on the Scottish Garrison in Malta. With the Mediterranean bottled off by Leon and Jerusalem, it was almost impossible for the Scots to reinforce the lightly defended island. Jerusalem's first attack in July was repulsed, but a follow-up invasion in August succeeded in taking the fortified island.
By October of 1939, the Scottish position on the continent was collapsing. The Aquitaine had been fully occupied, and troops from Orleans and Jerusalem were steadily advancing into Germania. The Germans, too, were rising up in great numbers and forming a provisional government to oust the panicky Scots.
By the end of the year Berlin had fallen, millions of Scottish troops were in captivity, and Allied planes were striking Scottish cities like London and Southampton. As quickly as that, Laird Mccullough's plans for world dominion had fallen apart. For a time he plotted apocalyptic revenge, a drawn out war to retake the continent and carry death to his enemies. But the ruling class of Scotland was a more practical bent, and had had enough. There was no way to win this war now.
On Christmas Eve, 1939, Mccullough was seized by coup plotters and hung outside the Parliament building. Young King James IX was restored to. Although the Union might have held out indefinitely on their island fortress, the dream of a global Scots empire had come crashing down and peace feelers were sent out to allied forces.
The cease fire took place on all fronts on New Years day 1940. Peace negotiations dragged out for several months. It was clear that the Scots continental empire had ended, and a new Republic of Germania was formed. The Scottish Aquitaine was annexed to Orleans, and Leon retook the lands the Scots Union had stolen from. Jerusalem also kept the island of Malta. The real sticking point came from Leon's territories in Nicholia. Although Leon was inclined to attempt to continue the war, Orleans and Jerusalem convinced them that the land was de facto lost to the Confederates. A cross-Atlantic invasion of the CSN would be a endeavor of vast proportions. Thus, in the end, the Confederates were allowed to keep the land that had started the war.
In the end the war was known as McCullough' War, after the ill-fated dictator who discovered his army was not as tough or as willing to fight as he had dreamed.
Peace returned to the Earth. For a time.
But the hearts of men and nations were still filled with greed and ambition.
In the spring of 1947, scientists working in the deserts of Arabia perfected and tested a terrible new weapon: the Atomic Bomb. But Jerusalem was not the only nation working on such terrible new devices. The Confederates and Federals in Nicholia began to arm themselves with hundreds of bombs to deter an invasion from the other. Neo-fascist Scottish spies, dreaming of revenge, stole blueprints with which to perfect their own bomb. Agents of the Byzantine Emperor tested a bomb on a remote island in the South Atlantic. By 1958 even the Chinese were arming themselves with nuclear weapons.
No one dared to start a war. No one dared to breathe. A fiery sword hung over the world. Many in the Kingdom of Jerusalem turned to fearful, almost medieval religion. They dreamed of Apocalypse, of Revelation, and the return of Christ to Earth.
In 1963, a small vial of clear fluid was carefully labeled XA-1005C in a Scots laboratory in Cornwall. It was never intended to be used. It was also far more potent then its creators imagined.
The last war started on August 18th, 1973 with a Russian attack on Chinese Siberia. The Scots and Confederates came to the aid of their Russian allies, and on September 26th, a Scottish nuclear warhead exploded over the Chinese city of Shanghai. The Chinese returned fire. By October 1st, a hundred and fifty million people were dead.
Russian troops cross into Chinese Tibet
A Chinese atom-bomb annihilates Edinburgh.
The neo-fascists who had taken control of Scotland feared a world where their enemies would dominate their shattered island, and so a small cabal within their ranks released XA-1005C into 'the wild'. It was expected to have a 40% lethality rate, enough to cripple the rest of the world and give Scotland time to recover from nuclear devastation. But the airborne plague mutated quickly and triggered a slow decent into madness and aggression before it killed.
And the living shall envy the dead
Jerusalem's soldiers try to restore order near Antioch.
The first mass die offs from XA-1005C began in the spring of 1974. Maddened, desperate nuclear exchanges followed. Global darkness, radiation, nuclear winter, and massive crop failure followed.
Jerusalem is struck by a Confederate hydrogen bomb on May 7th, 1974.
And when he had opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven about the space of half an hour.
And I saw the seven angels which stood before God; and to them were given seven trumpets.
And another angel came and stood at the altar, having a golden censer; and there was given unto him much incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of all saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne.
And the smoke of the incense, which came with the prayers of the saints, ascended up before God out of the angel's hand.
And the angel took the censer, and filled it with fire of the altar, and cast it into the earth: and there were voices, and thunderings, and lightnings, and an earthquake.
And the seven angels which had the seven trumpets prepared themselves to sound.
The first angel sounded, and there followed hail and fire mingled with blood, and they were cast upon the earth: and the third part of trees was burnt up, and all green grass was burnt up.
And the second angel sounded, and as it were a great mountain burning with fire was cast into the sea: and the third part of the sea became blood;
And the third part of the creatures which were in the sea, and had life, died; and the third part of the ships were destroyed.
And the third angel sounded, and there fell a great star from heaven, burning as it were a lamp, and it fell upon the third part of the rivers, and upon the fountains of waters;
And the name of the star is called Wormwood: and the third part of the waters became wormwood; and many men died of the waters, because they were made bitter.
And the fourth angel sounded, and the third part of the sun was smitten, and the third part of the moon, and the third part of the stars; so as the third part of them was darkened, and the day shone not for a third part of it, and the night likewise.
And I beheld, and heard an angel flying through the midst of heaven, saying with a loud voice, Woe, woe, woe, to the inhabiters of the earth by reason of the other voices of the trumpet of the three angels, which are yet to sound!
Darkness and nuclear winter descended upon the Earth. Those few left alive prayed fervently for Christ's return.
He never came.
The very last human being, a twelve-year old girl in South Africa, died on July 22nd, 1978.