ASH: Alternate Timeline - Cybertank ASH

Dave Van Domelen dvandom at
Mon Jul 2 10:17:11 PDT 2018 has all the miniatures that
this timeline justifies.

    //||  //^^\\  ||   ||   .|.   COHERENT COMICS UNINCORPORATED PRESENTS
   // ||  \\      ||   ||  --X---------------------------------------------
  //======================= '|`          ACADEMY OF SUPER-HEROES         
 //   ||      \\  ||   ||            ASH Universe Alternate Timeline
//    ||  \\__//  ||   ||          Copyright 2018 by Dave Van Domelen
                              Cybertank ASH

     The first twelve thousand years of history for this alternate universe
are identical to the history of the "Mainline" ASH, but it diverges sharply
in 1998.

10000 BCE - The offshoot of humanity later to be called Homo Sapiens Magi or
     simply Magi discover their inborn ability to manipulate the laws of
     nature.  They begin to build an empire.

9000 BCE - Golden Age of the Magi.  Society similar to medieval times evolves,
     but more dependent on magic for everyday life.  The Council of Twenty
     ensures that magic is never abused to the point of endangering reality.

8700 BCE - The Thirteenth, later known as Omega, splits away from the Council 
     of Twenty and begins to amass followers.  He believes in less restrictions
     on the use of magic.  Civil Wars break out several times among the
     non-Magi followers of each side, but the Magi refrain from combat.

8663 BCE - The Causality Wars are triggered when Omega directly attacks the
     Council of Nineteen by traveling back in time to kill them as youths.
     Soon all times are embroiled on these wars, and huge chunks of history are
     rewritten.  The embodiment of Time itself takes a role in destroying
     several of the combatants on both sides.  Soon all signs of the Golden
     Age have been erased, as if it had never happened.  The few remaining
     fullblood Magi retreat to the Astral Planes which are immune to the
     ravages of Time and causality.  A few people with some Magi heritage
     survive in the new timeline (known as Partbloods), and they swear never
     to use their powers again.

8000 BCE - No archaeological proof survives that the Magi ever existed by this
     time.  The world reverts to a more primitive state while technology that
     works within the natural laws is slowly developed to replace magic.
     Partbloods hide their ancestry and thin the blood further by carefully
     not marrying each other.  Meanwhile, the Magi in the Astral realms
     begin to see themselves as gods and demons and start to seek followers
     in the real world.

4000 BCE to 1000 BCE - Magi genetic traits, being not bound by normal laws of
     genetic selection, appear seemingly at random in some individuals, Magi
     Sports.  These Sports perform acts that are the basis of legend.
     Certain Partbloods, having no knowledge of the oaths sworn by their
     ancestors, begin to develop ritual magic.

1000 BCE to 1400 CE - Ritual magic is perfected, but emerging Christianity
     limits its practice.  The rules of Alchemy begin to bridge the gap between
     the Five Pillars of Reality and their breaking.  Several Sports develop
     impressive magical powers, but still nowhere near those of the Purebloods.
     During this time, many Purebloods have begun to lose interest in Earth,
     and explore other realms adjacent to their Astral abodes.  Priestly magic
     (which depended on contacting Purebloods) fades during this era.  Simon
     Filius (aka Iago Montessi) codifies magic in _Cosmoclasty_ near the end
     of this era.  In 79 CE, four supernormals from 2026 arrive, having
     unpredictable effects on the timeline.  Two of them leave in 81 CE, the
     other two in 82 CE, but they create a divergent timeline.

1400 CE to 1800 CE - Persecution of Sports, Partbloods and even those merely
     suspected of having magic powers is endemic.  Most Partbloods are killed
     or driven underground, as are many with merely the potential to pass on 
     the gene.  Magic goes into a major decline, and figures of legendary 
     prowess are uncommon as Sports decline in frequency.  The Jotun
     colony "The Kingdom of Z" makes its first attempts at invading Earth, 
     opposed by the inspiration of the literary Don Quixote and his 

1800's - Spiritualism becomes popular and many Partbloods are able to come out
     into the open.  As transmission of the Magene is partly a function of the
     desire of the parents to have such powers, more Sports are born and
     Partbloods give birth to children inheriting stronger powers than their
     parents.  The Kingdom of Z begins meddling more heavily in European
     politics, collapsing the government of Spain.

1900 +/- 10 years - Discovery of Modern Physics, with Statistical Mechanics and
     Quantum Physics, as well as Relativity.  Oddly enough, some results are
     difficult for certain scientists to reproduce, as if the initial findings
     were simply what the observer wanted to see.  However, this is passed off
     as sloppy procedure and the sciences develop as they did in "our" world.

early 1900's - Many scientists and inventors defy Physical Law with their
     finds and creations.  However, few can reproduce the results, despite the
     fact no one can find fault with the methods of some of the scientists.
     And the inventions work, despite violation of the Laws of Thermodynamics.
     Most are ignored as crackpots and charlatans, but a few critics look for
     another answer.  Most notable among these is Nikola Tesla, who himself
     was labelled a crank by Edison and others.

1938 to 1947 - The First Heroic Age.  Although most of the heroes are simply
     rough'n'ready detectives and mysterymen, some have genuine powers, like
     the teleporting Johnny Angel.  Others have devices that are impossible by
     standard physics, like Beacon's Light Lance (which was the basis of the
     technology used by Doublecross).  A paper by Nikola Tesla is found that
     proposes that the laws of nature are mutable in the presence of a strong
     enough will.  Like much of his writing, it was ignored in his day, but
     the heroes flying around give it new weight.  The Edison Project is
     started in order to find a Superweapon using supernatural effects, but
     produces no results and goes deep underground during the Cold War.
     See for more.

1947 to 1967 - Members of the Edison Project work in secret on the basis
     laid down by Tesla.  With the help of a few Partblood sorcerors who
     told them certain ancient lore, project scientist propose Homo Sapiens
     Magi as an offshoot of humanity.  A test is devised to determine the
     amount by which an individual could warp the laws of nature, combining
     Quantum Mechanics and Statistical Mechanics.  Theoretically, an individual
     with Magi genes could cause a result to happen more often than it should 
     (for example, speed up radioactive decay), and this could be measured.  
     The Tesla Index is developed to describe the amount of ability a subject
     has.  However, technological limitations prevent this test from being
     very useful.  Anyone who registered as having a significant deviation from
     zero was pretty obviously not normal already.
          Meanwhile, engineers who didn't care as much for theory as results
     begin pushing the limits of the laws of nature.  Some of them (who would
     later test quite high on the Tesla Index) develop revolutionary devices
     that can do amazing things.  Unfortunately, there is a limit on how far
     they could go without making a device only they could use.  By this time,
     almost everyone has a small amount of Magi blood, so limited "Supertech"
     (as it was called) can be used by anyone.  But the most advanced of the
     supertech can only be used by those with high Tesla Indices.

1967 to 1976 - The Second Heroic Age.  Great numbers of Sports are born during
     and after WWII, owing to the Owens Effect (which is what scientists
     called the tendency of the Magene to manifest when the parents wished
     for the ability to do superhuman things).  Some of these Sports have high
     enough Tesla Indices to manifest superpowers, but most rely on various
     forms of supertech, like Powersuits and miracle serums.  A peculiar quirk
     resulting from the Owens Effect being triggered by superheroes led to the
     fact that most of these Sports have fixed powers, instead of the regular
     ability of Partbloods to perform magic.  In fact, most of those with full
     powers have abilities *almost* within the range of science to explain.
     During this era, the term Pseudoscience moves out of the realm of insults
     and becomes the semiofficial term for the study of phenomena like
     supertech and magic as they affect the Natural Order.  For more details,

1976 to 1986 - A dearth of Sports is caused by the desire for "normalcy"
     inherent in the 1950's.  Many heroes of the Second Age retire or die as
     the result of either combat or the side effects of their own powers.  The
     field of Pseudoscience becomes formalized as Violation Physics, and the
     rules governing it become almost as well understood as those of regular
     Physics.  The Five Clastics are "rediscovered" and applied to Supertech.
     "Straight" scientists are careful to not let Tesla effects enter their
     experiments and certain individuals are found who have negative Tesla
     Indices and act as "Anchors" for the physical laws.  These Anchors are
     often employed by major labs to hang around and keep things normal.
     Supermarket tabloids stick to gossip, since the paranormal is real.

1986 to 1997 - The children of the 70's come of age, and among them are some
     of the most powerful Sports ever seen.  Many of them have the potential to
     use real magic in addition to whatever unique powers they have.  Several
     Purebloods begin to interfere with Earth again, notably the Presence and
     the demon Naobata.  Other Purebloods who had been worshipped as gods sent
     portions of their essence back to Earth to power Avatars and seek new
     worshippers, such as Set (who powered both the hero Set and the villain
     Sutekh) and Odin (who powered Valkyrie back in the Second Era).  A
     partial list of characters can be found at

1997 - The "Godmarket" opens, as it is colloquially called.  Various demons
     and godlings make major pushes for worshippers, using everything from
     the miraculous (Ethopia suddenly becomes a garden paradise, the Human
     Immunodeficiency Virus vanishes in an instant) to the hopelessly mundane 
     (one demon buys souls via telemarketing).  Mystics begin to suspect 
     Something Big is about to happen.

1998, July 6 - The Causality Wars bleed over into modern times, apparently the
     "Something Big" that the mystics had been predicting.  Millions upon
     millions die as their chosen gods drain them of lifeforce to power
     themselves in combat with other Magi.  Entire Third-World countries, more
     susceptible to the lure of the Godmarket than more cynical developed
     nations, are nearly depopulated overnight.  Only a desperate gambit led
     by the world's most powerful mages, both good and evil, saves the world
     from total destruction as godlings start taking energy from even those
     not worshipping them.  However, the cost of this salvation is high: every
     single person on Earth with even a hint of the Magene disappears from the
     very fabric of reality.  Unlike in the Mainline ASH universe, those 
     involved in the plan decide it's worth the effort to catch even those 
     who are not currently on Earth, such as the lost-in-space Solar Max.
     This results in an even stronger Barrier.

1998-2000 - The world economy, overly dependent on supertech and those who make
     it, nearly collapses.  Many people blame Supernaturals for the carnage,
     not knowing they were the saviors.  Also, as a result of the Godmarket 
     being correctly blamed for part of the troubles, there is a resurgence 
     in fundamentalist versions of the monotheistic religions (Christianity, 
     Islam, etc).  The world population in 2000 is estimated to be 2 billion.

2001-2010 - The world recovers, in part because no government remaining is
     willing to take strong action against the Pranir smugglers, traders from
     elsewhere in the galaxy.  Internal turmoil in the Planetary Confederation
     also helps the Pranir gain access to Terran markets.  Non-supertech
     technology advances in leaps and bounds, but unevenly.  The former main
     supplier of illicit supertech, the nation of Khadam, recovers from their
     massive losses (76% of the population had the Magene) by becoming the main
     port of call for Pranir ships, a sort of interplanetary Hong Kong (only
     without the high moral character of that city's opium days).  It starts
     to become clear that there are no more supernormals being born to
     replace those who vanished.  While Anchors survived past 1998, they
     have little to do other than help shut down some of the more dangerous
     lingering supertech and magical beasts.

2011-2017 - The race is on to find ways to exploit what little supertech
     can still be made to function without the help of supernormals, and
     concern over the looming Planetary Confederation drives the world's
     governments to coalesce into a small number of super-states, such as
     the North American Combine, the Eurasian Union, and the Muslim
     Coalition.  China enters an expansionist phase as a faction of the
     old Anchorite conspiracy seizes control.

     Important dates: 
     August 12, 2013 - the Big One hits Southern California and kills 
     thousands, mostly in urban areas.  Los Angeles becomes known as Lost
     Angeles and never really recovers.
     March 15, 2014 - Doctor Developer is conducting salvage in SoCal and
     in addition to rescuing the children that would become his apprentices,
     he also uncovers a lost Artificial Consciousness in a sealed bunker
     that was broken open by the quake.

2018 - The United World body is established, replacing the United Nations.
     It has no more power (some say less) than the UN had, but is more powerful
     in two important areas: Extraterrestrial sanctions, and the Net 
     (which some wags point out is almost extra-terrestrial anyway).  
     Worldwide standards for computer commerce are established, and on paper,
     steps are taken to halt Pranir smuggling.  Of course, in reality, the 
     Pranir barely break stride.  Too many buyers, and even if the Combine
     and Union officially oppose the importation of untested alien tech,
     none of the super-states is willing to risk that someone else will get
     Santari tech working for them first.

2018-2022 - The Anchorites largely move to Chinese territory and focus on
     eliminating various mythical creatures left behind in the wake of the
     Godmarket.  In the process, they expose a conspiracy by a trio of 
     powerful animal spirits to subvert the government.  This grants a 
     strong sense that the government has the Mandate of Heaven, and
     China begins openly trading with the Pranir in contravention of
     international treaties.  The United World founders, becoming little 
     more than a forum where the Combine and Eurasian Union complain about
     Khadam and China.  The Muslim Confederation simply refuses to 
     participate, and neutral Australia starts to consider whether they 
     should explicitly align themselves with one of the major world powers.

2023 - Doctor Developer is ceded the city of Detroit and several counties
     around it as a private enclave in which to test out his ideas on 
     municipal (and social) engineering.  Rumors abound regarding what he
     might have paid in exchange.

2024 - The first of the Demon-class Artificial Consciousnesses is unleashed
     upon the Net by Khadamite scientists.  It is only much later that 
     anyone outside Khadam has proof that the release was an accident, but
     the genie is out of the bottle.  The United World has demonstrated 
     its impotence againt any real threats to the Net, and most nations are
     forced to fall back on communications systems that are too low-
     bandwidth for ACs to penetrate.  Any ACs created by non-Khadamite 
     nations are confined to "cybertanks" that let them interact with the
     world while being incapable of leaving their tank.  

2025-2035 - While a handful of human natural geniuses such as Doctor
     Developer are able to continue analyzing and integrating Santari tech
     with Terran, it has become clear that only the cybertank-ACs are
     fast enough and tireless enough to make significant advances.  This
     is exacerbated by the ever-present threat of Demons, so communication
     between humans is limited to what can be carried on "sneakernet," 
     and even Khadam starts developing its own cybertanks alongside 
     "Imp" class ACs intended to slip through smaller pipes.  China simply
     buys weaponry outright from rogue Santari Houses, and introduces a
     significant number of cybernetic improvements to their soldiers.
     There is little use of fossil fuels by this point outside of the
     occasional "classic car" enthusiasts, and the Moslem Confederation is
     marginalized on the world stage.

2036 - With over a generation having passed with no supernormals born, the
     Interdict status placed on Earth by the Planetary Confederation is
     downgraded to "protected primitive culture" status.  With the Interdict
     over, the Galactic Warrior Corps withdraws from Earth, leaving only a
     token presence behind.  This is meant to deter the most blatant of 
     illegal trading, but the Corps is forced to focus its attention on
     problems closer to home.  Corps representative Delta Rose warns Earth's
     governments that their use of Santari-derived technology, especially
     cybernetics, may leave them vulnerable to legal action that would
     give one or more of the Great Houses an excuse to take ownership of
     the world.

2037 - Mysterious construction in Detroit is revealed to be the Mk I 
     Ontological Guardian Roving Engine...or OGRE.  Powered by a dedicated
     cybertank, it gives new meaning to the term "cybertank."  

2037-2045 - The North American Combine produces OGREs alongside other 
     lesser forces based on Doctor Developer's designs, although the
     original Mk I remains on station in Detroit as a testbed.  It is
     more intelligent and flexible than the ACs used in production model
     OGREs, and insists on being addressed as Jennifer when in social
     situations.  Surprisingly, "Jennifer" is considered a fellow person
     by the residents of Detroit, and the aging Doctor Developer hands
     much of the day to day operation of the city over to the cybertank.
     The Mk II becomes the standard Combine weapon, with most of the 
     production run of Mk I OGREs either upgraded by having their more
     experienced cybertank brains transplanted, or used as platforms for 
     training human troops in anti-OGRE doctrine.  No one seriously 
     believes that the Combine will remain the only super-state with 
     OGREs or something like them, after all.

     Meanwhile, other nations rush to catch up.  The Eurasian Union's
     cybertank brains are too unreliable to be trusted with so much
     firepower, however, and they focus on human-operated weaponry and
     anti-OGRE tactical doctrine.  Khadam claims to have developed its 
     own Triton-class mobile cybertank weapon, but few think that even 
     the aging mad scientists of that nation would put a Demon or Imp in
     charge of physical weaponry.  The United World finally ceases to 
     exist even on paper, and Australia is absorbed into the People's
     Republic of China with no small amount of partisan rebellion.
     Eurasian Union member Japan hosts some of their most advanced 
     military units as a check on Chinese expansion.

2046 - House Kasca shows up in Earth orbit claiming ownership of the
     planet, having bought out the ownership contracts of every cyborg
     on Earth as well as the intellectual property "stolen" by human
     reverse-engineers.  While a disunited world debates what to do, 
     Scarlet McKay (aka Doctor Developer II) and Jennifer reply forcefully: 
     using carefully hoarded remant supertech that would still function, 
     Jennifer enters orbit and destroys two-thirds of the Kasca fleet 
     before herself being lost in a hyperspace explosion, ending what is
     later called the One Day War.

     The remainder of the Kasca fleet flees, and the political and military 
     disaster that follows effectively eliminates Kasca as a Great House, 
     sending the PC into disarray.  Proof that supertech still exists
     is used to reinstate the Interdict, and the fact that Terrans did so
     much with Santari tech in half a century convinces most of the powers
     of the Planetary Confederation to stop giving Earth more toys to play

2046-2060 - Earth is effectively isolated, aside from rare Pranir smugglers.
     The Combine introduces the OGRE Mk III, and Khadam reveals an actual
     working Triton.  Overly dependent on tech transfer from the Santari,
     China falls behind the curve and loses control of several outlying
     territories, including India and Australia, both of which join the
     Eurasian Union.  With no external threat, the super-states begin to
     engage in limited warfare over territory in Africa and South America,
     both continents nearly depopulated in 1998.  The more numerous EU 
     forces are generally an even match for the terrifying might of the
     individual OGREs, especially given the difficulty of rapid deployment
     for the cybertanks.  Eurasian cybertank research focuses on the older
     sense of the term, static strategic and tactical planners meant to
     get the most benefit out of their mobility advantage.  The OGRE Mk IV
     is introduced in 2053 in limited numbers, but has minimal impact on
     the strategic picture.  

     OGREs dominate the South American theater except for the east, but
     the challenges in getting them across the Atlantic reduces their impact
     in Africa.  Most conflict in Africa is between Khadam's hovercraft
     forces which do well in the desert north, and the more mixed forces of
     the EU which dominate sub-Saharan Africa.  The Combine maintains 
     scattered enclaves on the continent anchored by OGRE Mk III tanks. 
     China mostly maintains a defensive posture throughout this time, with
     occasional skirmishes on its border with the Moslem Confederation.    

     News from other worlds is sparse and untrustworthy, but indicates that
     the Planetary Confederation is undergoing a "cold" civil war in the 
     wake of one of their most powerful Great Houses being humbled.  The 
     lack of contact is due far less to enforcement of the Interdict, than
     to no one willing to risk sticking their neck out while matters are so

2061 - The OGRE Mk V is introduced, upsetting the delicate balance in the
     South American theater and threatening to do the same in Africa once
     it is revealed to be capable of limited amphibious operation.  China
     begins massing walker mecha operated by "brain in a jar" cyborgs on
     their borders, and Khadam's Tritons threaten to move northward in
     response to Combine/EU battles expanding past sub-Saharan Africa.  
     There are rumors that Jennifer survived the war of 2046 and has been
     hiding in plain sight as a newer model "testbed" OGRE Mk VI in Detroit, 
     as relations between the Combine government and the city-state 

     Anyone could spark hostilities with anyone else, but what if that's 
     just what one of the other Great Houses of the Santari is waiting


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