Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Vampire: the Apocalypse

Or so the story goes, The Triumph of The Kindred happened in 2081. It wasn't any one event, though in the first years, everyone was eager to take credit for it. For us, then, the petty differences between Sabbat and Camarilla and Anarch had died away. The humans were as divided as ever, but civilization still progressed so that we, the self-styled lords of the Earth, could live ever-more comfortably. Our triumph was one of spirit; we could exist and feed freely (still not openly) but without the constant fear of another Inquisition. For a few years it was a paradise, but if the eldest of us needed any further proof we were the damned, when the world became ours, the world began to die.

It started with a chill in the air. It was against the science of the time and some of the last, best parts of humankind looked into it. As a whole, we were more worried about that curiosity leading back to us. With a few brief meetings about researching the matter ourselves, those curious few kine were given a satisfactory answer and trotted back to their virtual pens to keep researching the next phase in creature comforts and everyday convenience. The kine started wearing coats and our best minds never got past the entertaining foreplay of politicking to turn their full attention to it.

When crops started failing, we weren't interested. These perturbations were common enough; it meant hardships for a slice of humanity, but not for us. They had impressive computer systems to find and address these things and keep the world spinning as it should. The machines took a conspicuously long time, but at this point most of our kind relied on retainers to handle these things, never realizing that the placating lies we sold to them were being fed right back to us. The famine continued, but what is time to the ageless? Given just a few more years, perhaps we would have become concerned, but by that time the literal collapse had started.

History becomes difficult to recount at this point. Instantaneous global communication began failing just as we began to rouse ourselves from a waking torpor and separate rumor from fact. Renovation and repair industries were booming, even while construction was struggling under massive failures. We played the game we'd played for years; investing in winners and divesting ourselves of losers without a thought of the implications. It wasn't until the older, allegedly sound buildings began collapsing that we started taking notice.  The very strength of the world was failing. Mortar and stone that had stood for thousands of years and should have stood for another hundred were collapsing under their own weight. Skyscrapers and their miraculous alloys were fracturing and corroding. Circuits were rusting in their casings. I was personally fortunate to watch the last of the massive airliners briefly take to the skies before buckling over an interstate. After that, the planes were grounded and never took off again.

As the human governments became dimly aware of what was happening, some panicked. Their militaries began to realize that the next war would indeed be fought with sticks and stones, and attempted to use their best weapons while they still had them.  Nuclear missiles were fired, but only one—the third and last—detonated...without finding its intended target.

Just as the the explosions over Hiroshima and Nagasaki ushered in The Atomic Age, that bomb welcomed in The Last Age. For some decades, a brief time, we found our eldest at the forefront of all society. We needed to communicate and trade with one another as much as the humans did. Electronic records were long gone, as was most of the power necessary to use them. Most books that weren't specifically preserved were unreadable. Those of us who sailed the seas, broke horses, and oversaw plantations were now the sole source of the world's pre-industrial knowledge and through that we'd reached a new--if different--golden age, one where we would be the rulers of mankind in a more benevolent Renassiance.

That was not to be. The famine continued and deaths continued in the millions. The crumbling of modern security and medical infrastructure compounded the issue. Some hospitals and elderly care centers were simply locked up as supplies dwindled, vehicles died, and workers left, letting the bodies rot within their walls. Closer to home, many of the younger generations of vampires vanished quietly; the regressive society made them redundant to their elders and though none would dare say it aloud, concern was growing about blood supplies in the dwindling human population. You see, no one had yet discovered the worst trend; the humans were losing their fertility.

As if starvation, disease, and strife weren't enough, conception was becoming very rare. Most attributed it to the declining living conditions. Others realized it earlier and created camps to breed the fertile. After centuries of watching humans churn out more humans in the blink of a kindred eye, the process seemed much slower when we were waiting for results. Results that weren't coming. There weren't any broodmares or studs; those who conceived and brought a child to term were lucky. Those who did so twice were exceptionally lucky. There were no resistant genes. No miracle cures. No pattern except for a steady downtrend in population—human and undead.

By now, society had reached a new equilibrium amongst crumbled cities and castles alike. A bulk of human memory was now kept in the minds of the eldest of the kindred, who were shepherding the diminished first generation of post-apocalyptic humans. An oral history of the fantastic previous world of their forefathers sprung up, one that remarkably enough failed to capture the technological wonders of the late, great 21st Century.

Simple structures built of scraps and remnants sprung up by waterways comprise most human settlements now. Some are close enough to trade with others. Many keep hidden from bandits. Most imagine themselves the last remnant of humanity. In the next hundred years or so, one of them will be correct.

The last, and perhaps most horrifying, change in the world of The Kindred is the Stargazing Torpor. After the hunger and the rage that comes from starvation, it's said that unsated vampires will stagger outside under the stars. There, they'll collapse, staring straight up with a gaze that can't be disturbed by anything, not the undead strength of another undead, not blood, fire, or even the sun itself. Most of those who are found are given a veil and have dirt or rocks heaped upon them in an impromptu cairn. It's said that the stargazers are still aware, that they still feel the biting cut of the too-cold wind, and that they're the only ones who can gaze into the unseen night that's set over the world.


SkilTao said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
VanVelding said...

I clicked the wrong thing on your comment man, I'm sorry. I was not paying attention and I can't find a way to bring it back. :(

But I remember that you asked about "elderly" care centers and about if other animals were affected by the breeding thing.

I'll admit that I may not have needed to point out the elderly bit. I think I was leaning too hard on that.

As for the animals, I hadn't really thought of it. By the time anyone shows up late enough to the party, there isn't much story to tell. If the topored even awoke at all I'd imagine the "everyone is fucked" clause of the mysterious event would either prohibit animal feeding or have preemptively made every blood-bearing animal extinct.

SkilTao said...

No worries. If you really want to see "I like it, it reads well" again, blogspot auto-forwarded a copy to me.

It's pretty awesome that "stay asleep and hope aliens save you" becomes a legitimate plan at that point.