== The Petroleum wars ==

A series of skirmishes, border disputes and political instability that brought humanity to the brink of nuclear annihilation during the period of 2032 – 2039.

Though never referred to at the time, the Petroleum wars were a broad term given to describe the period and the two hundred and twenty six separate military and social conflicts that erupted within a single decade. The result was a new world order that saw a death toll running into the millions, famine on unprecedented scale and near total economic collapse. The aftershocks of the conflicts were to have severe repercussions politically and socially – and further divided the world into nations with significant technological advantage and those seen as no more than backwater satellite provinces.

Though the official end of the period is arguable due to ongoing political tensions, the start of the conflict is universally accepted to be May of 2032. This period known as ‘The Drying’ was a spontaneous and world wide event that struck a fatal blow to the established social order.

The Drying -  May 2032 Edit

During the Summer of 2032, the worlds known oil fields began to suddenly run dry. Production was dramatically reduced and demand soared. Though several governments had been aware that such a disaster was imminent, all evidence and projections had indicated that the natural oil and gas fields being exploited would last for at least another century.

The reasons for the event were never confirmed and the resulting fall out economically was to prove catastrophic. Within a matter of months, the recession had brought governments to their knees and anarchy only furthered the problem. Previously stable oil rich states were now totally reliant on reserves and the pressure on the superpowers to maintain their social structures without oil was immense.

Conflicts rapidly spread across oil rich regions and potential unexploited oil fields. The polar regions saw military conflict for the first time in a series of brutal skirmishes known as the Winter Wars. Africa became a hot bed of disease, conflict and strife and world trade in food and transport became prohibitively expensive.

Saudi Arabia was then hit by the South Pars Earthquake in Sept 2032 as the previously massive oil field collapsed in a series of sinkholes and earthquakes. The Saudi government was crippled, and many of its richer residents abandoned the country with much of its oil reserves. The resulting anarchy gave rise to a resurgence of civil strife and religious extremism.

Alternatives attempted and the Xingyi Fusion disaster – March 2033 Edit

Determined to avoid similar strife and under immense pressure to maintain living standards many of the governments of the world took to desperately increase alternative power methods. Fracking, solar, wind and nuclear power became mainstays and were hurriedly constructed – sometimes with horrifically poor regard for environmental and human safety. A long running EU project to create Fusion power suffered a major setback after a massive hacking attack, resulting in the emergency powering down of the facility. A mere two months after the attack, the Chinese government declared it had created a successfully functioning fusion reactor outside the city of Xingyi. However, the reactor had been created from stolen – and crucially inaccurate – plans and its construction had been rushed. With several safety features flawed or incomplete, the reactor went critical on New years eve 2032, obliterating the city of Xingyi and contaminating the area for miles around. The revised EU reactor went online a mere month later, despite massive protest.

The Dragon Wars – Aug 2033 Edit

Despite all the efforts of the major world powers to avoid being drawn into open conflict, several skirmishes had already been fought over small, strategic satellite states and several proxy wars. Russia and the US were especially pressed, and even more so as the Middle East once again began to fall into chaos. Worse to come however, when China – brought to desperation by economic woes and the Xingyi disaster – openly invaded the Phillipines to capture the resource rich islands. The resulting ‘Dragon wars’ were a series of open conflicts between the US and its allies and the Chinese and were the first instances of major powers reduced to utilising mothballed and experimental technology to power their forces – including the first instances of frontline wind powered warships in over 120 years.

The fall out of the Chinese wars resulted in a massive increase in tensions world wide, causing a domino effect of open warfare between major powers as each sought to defend or support its allies. However the continuing restrictions of energy reserves meant several major powers – including Britain and Russia – were highly reserved in the amount of support they gave. This resulted in a strange kind of allegedly open warfare exemplified by minor skirmishes, trade embargoes, cyber warfare and sabre rattling.

In the wake of the Dragon Wars – the UN officially disbanded, replaced instead by the Global Forum, which simply provided a neutral ground for the major powers to talk.

Corporate warfare – Jun 2034 Edit

By June of 2034, virtually every nation on Earth was involved in multiple war fronts, subjugated or left in anarchy. Trade continued to struggle on regardless and several large corporations began to profit sufficiently that they became major political players in their own right. France and Italy were both ‘bought out’ by corporate overseers, who then ran the countries like a company – including banishing undesirables in mass ‘lay offs’. Human rights were reduced to a privileged few and social tensions rose dramatically. With the European theatre worst affected by this surreptitious corporate takeover, the EU was formally forced to disband after Italy collapsed into total anarchy (and officially sold to Russia).

The wave of new social movements caused a massive upheaval politically, creating a wave of new ideals and philosophies, as well as the unwelcome return of fascism, communism and oligarchies.  For the first time in almost 80 years open warfare was prevalent across much of Europe, though much of it remained ostensibly ‘peace keeping’.

Media spin and Corporate profiteering resulted in a tremendous confusion as to precisely the nature of the conflicts involved – complicating and shrouding matters to such an extent that almost no faction involved knew truly what was going on.

With the collapse of social order, Europe’s trade became incredibly insular and expensive. Famine and disease rapidly took hold, only furthering the misery and suffering.

Island fortress fallen – Nov 2035 Edit

Britain somehow managed to escape much of the anarchy, but its Government was pathetically weak and continually shamed both itself and the nation in the face of Russian, European and Chinese aggression. After a mock invasion of the Shetland islands by a Russian frigate not only proved successful but was virtually unopposed, the British government was officially disbanded in disgust by the monarch with popular support. The Media and the government immediately pounced on this, declaring a ‘constitutional crisis’ and imprisoning the monarch. Stirred into a frenzy by a media that was playing both sides, the British public openly rioted to such a degree that Britain was nearly faced with civil war. It was only the complete ineptitude of the Government that saw the situation resolved quickly, when most of the ministers fled the country rather than stay to deal with the riots. The monarch was reinstated and Britain rapidly elected a new government. To the shock of many, this situation was suddenly sundered when the election was rigged by a large internet corporation, placing its own puppets in power in a shadow invasion. Furious, this new government was quickly found out and rebelled against. The British army gave its support to the rebellion and officially took control of the Government. In disgust of the actions of the media during the crisis, the BBC and several other media outlets were seized.

The United Divided – Jan 2036 Edit

With key allies under military rule, energy supplies and military resources stretched dangerously thin and ambitious enemies in all directions, the US government went into total meltdown. With confidence in the president at an all time low, the Republican and Democrat parties tore the USA in two, with each party presenting a president of their own. What followed was rioting on unprecedented scale, that when coupled with an overstretched military and over zealous militias, rapidly devolved into a second US civil war.

Sensing weakness, China attempted to launch attacks against key US allies in the Pacific theatre – but was repulsed by Japan with the assistance of the Destro corporation. The set back finally convinced South Korea to commit forces against the Chinese mainland. Though the attack was easily defeated, the North Koreans took the opportunity to strike, launching a nuclear attack against Seoul and Tokyo. However, North Korea had suffered even more dramatically than most by the energy crisis, and its missiles were in terrible disrepair. One struck Seoul, but failed to detonate. The other exploded in its launch bay. The resulting fall out of a nuclear attack raised tensions globally and Russia responded by sending ‘peace keeping envoys’ to North Korea to ‘assist with the clean up’, whilst simultaneously invading Alaska and Hawaii.

The US was too embroiled in its own troubles to be able to defend itself and instead turned to the unlikeliest of allies in the form of Canada.  In exchange for closer trade ties, the Canadians marched into Alaska in a campaign that was not merely a decisive victory over the Russian forces, but successfully captured several Russian vessels trapped in ice flows. In an unexpected move, the Canadian forces then used these to counter invade Russia itself, raiding coastal shipping and towns.

The USA was eventually able to resolve its differences with the critical battle of Houston, whereby Democrat forces decisively broke the back of Republicans with the capture of the Republicans primary oil reserves.  Almost all the Republican leadership abandoned their countrymen to find shelter amidst the Corporate factions in exchange for sizeable payouts. The few that remained agreed to surrender, as much for the good of the country as in shame of the actions of their peers. Though tensions remained high, the Democrats were magnanimous enough to reinstate several of the Republican leaders who had remained and this provided enough of a compromise to allow the country to stabilise after nearly 9 months of bitter fighting.

The Bear fractures – Sept 2036 Edit

Russia had held relatively well under the strains of economic recession, the energy crisis and the subsequent fighting that had followed. Utilising significant reserves of resources it had enjoyed the status of the preeminent Super power for the past two years over the shaky Chinese Republic, the fracturing US and the divided EU. However, much of its strength was based on a well maintained campaign of misinformation, coercion and outright charade. When the attempt to take the remaining Alaskan oil reserves resulted in abject failure, the carefully crafted lie of a stable state began to unravel. Despite shocking attempts to hold the country together, the Russian federation looked ready to come apart under the weight of its own size, with multiple oligarchs and military governors carving feudal kingdoms of their own, often at the cost of stealing the countries valuable reserves. The Russia government responded with a brutal crackdown, abandoning several of its further flung military expeditions to focus on maintaining its own borders.  The effort was successful, barely avoiding all out civil war, but at the cost of thousands of Russian troops operating in foreign territories being captured, ransomed, or killed.

The Monsoon War – Aug 2037 Edit

As matters continued to worsen, the energy crisis became even more critical as the last few known oil fields ran dry. Three high ranking Indian officials – already dealing with famine, social strife and constant border skirmishes with Bangladesh and Sri Lanka – made an international announcement in the Global forum, showing evidence of a shadowy conspiracy operating in the early stages of the 2030s that had apparently been responsible for destroying the world’s remaining oil supplies using some kind of virus. Two of the officials were killed en route to the announcement, but a third was able to deliver the speech. Though their evidence was incomplete, there did appear to be some signs of a link between corporate and political factions developing and spreading a contagion responsible for spoiling natural oil deposits and chemically converting natural gas into unsuitable compounds.

Following the announcement, the last official was killed in a fatal car crash on the way to his hotel. Though initially blamed on religious extremists, evidence was uncovered that the crash had been the work of Pakistani secret service agents. Worse, papers were uncovered implicating some members of the Pakistani government. Pakistan angrily refuted the claims but was met with international scepticism and condemnation.

India however, took matters a stage further. Using the revelation as a means to distract a disgruntled populace, India declared war in Aug 2037. However the summer proved to have a particularly heavy monsoon, preventing either side from being able to operate effectively.

In response, India and Pakistan both armed their nuclear stockpiles, each demanding the others surrender. Eager to prove their continued strength, the Chinese also readied to launch an invasion of India and Bangladesh. This provided a domino effect, with country after country readying nuclear weaponry. The world held its breath.

The situation was finally resolved when India was convinced to stand down. The reasons for the Indian governments plea for peace were never clear and remained a mystery for years afterward. Theories were rampant, but no direct answer was ever given. Pakistan took full advantage, demanding reparations and the ceding of disputed borders, but the Indians accepted the terms willingly. The Indian government resigned within hours of the surrender, and was replaced with a moderate regime supported by a number of Corporate factions – notably a massive increase in support from Solarus Enterprises.

The Great Famine – 2038 Edit

With energy supplies strictly controlled and political and military spats frequent, the world was struck with a new crisis in the form of a series of horrifically potent storms, droughts and floods. Crops across the world were devastated, leading to one of the worst famines in recorded history. Vast areas of land previously set aside for development were re assigned for farming and many governments instituted both rationing and a campaign of ‘self growing’ to encourage citizens to grow as much of their own food as possible, selling off any excess.

The shift in priorities saw a lull in fighting globally, moving the continuing war efforts to the realm of Cyberspace and propaganda. The resulting Net War was one of the most bitterly fought theatres of the Petroleum Conflicts, particularly between the rising power of the Corporations.

Despite this, and to the surprise of many, the Christmas of 2038 marked one of the more memorable moments of the Petroleum Wars. In an act of charity that confused many, several countries whose self grow programs had been more successful gave much of their excess produce away to their less fortunate neighbours. Even countries who were still nominally enemies were given significant food aid by their rivals, with the slogan ‘In It Together’ leading the popular charge.

The Empire strikes back – April 2039 Edit

The spring of 2039 was again marked by a slow rise in tensions as efforts were made by several powers to consolidate and quietly expand their borders at the expense of their neighbours. Riven by strife, disease, famine, recession and the ongoing energy crisis many smaller countries were simply no longer able to resist. Following an attempt by the IpSos Corporation to conquer the island of Barbados, the president of the islands made a plea to the assumed defunct Commonwealth of nations. Though largely seen as merely a holdover to tradition, the newly hawkish British government was surprised when Barbados requested not merely assistance, but to rejoin the British nation in exchange for protection and energy supplies. Britain had recovered reasonably well from the worst effects of the Petroleum wars, benefiting from joint Fusion power projects with Germany and Poland. To the surprise of many, the British Prime minister agreed and immediately threw the IpSos corporation forces from the island nation. As though a signal to others, the British found themselves given similar requests by many other nations of the Commonwealth. In most cases this was out of a combination of fear of invasion and the promise of shared energy and food resources, but by April 2039 the British seemed to have gained a taste for the matter and some efforts were made to actively encourage former colonies to rejoin the ‘Second British Empire’ utilising a combination of threats, promises, propaganda and nostalgia. Though many refused  - such as Australia – many others happily accepted or were left with little alternative.

The British were not the only major powers to experience this coalescing of nations. The USA too received several requests, as did Brazil, Russia, Germany, France, Australia, India and Iran. This resurgence in Political power over Corporate also convinced many of the Corporate powers to withdraw from the national arena, returning instead to the background battlefields of economics.

Though far from formalised at this early stage, this set the foundations for many of the great superpowers and alliances of the Sedis Era. Aside from the Second British Empire, there were the beginnings of the European Federation, the American Basin, the Democratic states of America, The Soviet Empire, The Sino Conglomerate, the New Indian Raj, the United African States, the Pacific Rim, and the Alliance of Caliphates.  

The annihilation of Kiev – Dec 2039 Edit

Even as the battered nations of the world readied for a new round of conflicts and gathered about what few energy resources they could muster, a disaster of unprecedented proportions struck the city of Kiev. Currently under the control of the Soviet Empire, the city was wiped off the map by a sudden meteor strike.

Initial fears reported a potential nuclear attack, however no other nation claimed responsibility and no other attacks occurred. Despite this, several media outlets connected to arms manufacture and sales reported the disaster as a direct strike against the Soviet Empire. However, despite repeated efforts to turn the tragedy into a new war calmer heads prevailed. The truth was quickly established and the devastation was widely reported on alternative channels.

Contrary to the calls to attack a weakened Soviet state, or for the Russians to strike back while they could, several Governments actually offered to assist in the rescue efforts. Though untrusted, the Russians were ill prepared to argue with the offers and an international rescue force was prepared through the Global Forum.

The relief effort was further supported by a specially organised charity funding event that garnered international support. Though wider in scope than merely the disaster at Kiev, the shocking devastation was used to galvanize support. The Russians remained highly suspicious, but were grateful for the effort. The meteorite was located by a team from the relief force, and samples taken. The rock was found to be composed of only one mineral – itself unusual – and the mineral appeared to generate a steady magnetic field and static electrical output.

The Miracle Mineral – March 2040 Edit

The new mineral – named Sedis 9 after the test that confirmed its abilities – was discovered to be photosynthetic and thermoelectric, generating energy from heat and sunlight. The rate and efficiency at which it did this were astonishing. Almost immediately the Soviets claimed the rock in its entirety, a claim the Global forum refused despite repeated threats. The Forum – tired of constant warfare and economic ruin following the Petroleum crisis - proposed dividing the rock between the various nations and alliances of the world, indicating there was more than sufficient material to power vast swathes of territory and they did not wish to see it used to simple fuel another war. The Russians were especially opposed to the notion and threatened to destroy the Forums headquarters if necessary – once again bringing the world to the brink of nuclear conflict.

At this stage, Solarus Enterprises stepped in. It had been their scientists who had discovered the means to utilise and harness the abilities of the mineral and their scientists who had been suffering the effects of exposure after it was discovered the mineral was toxic to human life in a similar manner to asbestos and arsenic.

They claimed ownership of the rock and had hidden it away in a secret location until a deal could be brokered. Unable to retrieve the rock or to match the expertise of Solarus’ scientists, the Russians eventually agreed to come to talks.

The Sedis Agreement was signed in March 2040, brokered by the Solarus corporation. In it, it detailed that the rock would be processed and its operation run by the Solarus corporation at any agreed site for each of the national powers – acting in cooperation with that nations own science and energy divisions. Though tensions remained extremely high and more than a few attempts to seize material were made by various national powers and corporate factions, the operation was successfully implemented, with energy supply levels rapidly approaching similar to the output and usage of pre 2030 levels. Economics and trade swiftly began to recover and tensions continued to ease despite some minor incidents.

The New Space Race –Sept 2040 Edit

As life slowly began to recover with the introduction of readily available and cheap energy, the nations of the world started looking for other means of circumventing the Sedis Agreement. Though continued attempts were made to supplement and even exceed Sedis 9 energy output with Fusion, Nuclear and other technologies, most governments instead turned to exploratory missions to locate more of the substance. The Sedis Agreement had specified that all Sedis 9 discovered on planet Earth would be held, processed and operated by the Solarus corporation for the benefit of the discovering nation. However, the Agreement specified nothing of extra planetary deposits.

Knowing now what they were looking for, astronomy agencies began searching the solar system for potential mining opportunities. To the surprise of many, deposits were found on Mars and a rush of new space programs were instated to install new mining colonies on the red planet. Even as those colonies were finally established, other deposits were located within the asteroid belt, within Jupiter orbit and even on the Earth’s own moon.