Fringeworthy: Year Zero
The portal is located in a large dome-shaped limestone cave in what would be West Virginia on Earth Prime. The cave is artificially made, and the dome’s base is lined with rooms that seem to have been molded from the rock and not carved. The dome is 600 feet wide and 90 feet tall and is 300 feet underground. The surface of the dome is smooth, though it shows signs of stalactite formation. Based on the size of the stalactites, the dome was built approximately 20,000 years ago.
The dome’s interior is completely bare, as though all machinery and other equipment had been stripped from the dome and the rooms lining the dome. The rooms lining the dome are of different sizes and some have more rooms further into the limestone rock. There are shelves and channels formed into the rock, as well as what looks to be mounting brackets made of corroded steel, the only bits of metal that has been found in the entire dome. There is shaft that leads to the surface to a hidden entrance. The walls of the shaft are perfectly smooth and provide no handholds.
All the rooms were made for a being half as tall as a human being. They are short, only 6’ tall, and everything, shelves, doors, and the shelf brackets are all at a height convenient for a being of short stature.
The portal is located in an area that corresponds to the Germany Valley in West Virginia, Earth Prime. The dome is located near the town of Franklin, population 1,200, in the province of Virginia. Franklin is home to McNulty’s Tavern, the only tavern in the province that doesn’t care about skin color or race. Franklin was founded in 1798, and it is a sleepy little hamlet nestled in the folds of the Appalachian Mountains.
HISTORY OF ALT 0,2
It is 1870 and the Dominion of North American colonies occupy the eastern portion of North America, from the Mississippi River to the Atlantic Ocean, from Florida to Hudson’s Bay. Its 100 million inhabitants are steadfast in their loyalty to the Queen-Empress of the United British Empire, Her Imperial Majesty Queen Victoria. The Yanks, as they’re affectionately known, revere the memory of the Union’s founder, Sir Benjamin Franklin, the Dominion’s first Governor-General (1776-1783.)
La Republique Louisienne occupies the middle third of North America, stretching the Mississippi River to the Rio Grande and the Rocky Mountains, from the Gulf of Mexico to the Arctic Circle. With 8 million inhabitants, Louisienne is the breadbasket of the continent. A hereditary republic, La Republique Louisienne’s current ruler is Napoleon Francis Joseph Charles Bonaparte, the son of Napoleon Bonaparte.
The southwestern quadrant of North America is occupied by El Imperio de México, established in the early 1800s when the Mexico’s Viceroy, Crown Prince Ferdinand of Spain, revolted against his father’s rule. Aside from the British Empire, Mexico (population 200 million) is the most powerful country in the world. Prior to the mid 19th century Mexico was an almost entirely agricultural nation, and a poor one at that. The discovery in 1849 of the world’s largest gold reserve in the northern province of Alta California spurred a wave of industrialization and mass immigration from the Catholic regions of southern and eastern Europe that made Mexico Imperial Britain’s most successful competitor.
The northwestern quadrant of North America, extending northwards along the Pacific Coast from Alta California to the Arctic and eastwards to the Rocky Mountains, contains the Archduchy of Novy Rossiya. The current Archduke, Mikhail II, is related to the current Russian Tsar, Alexander II.
History of British North America
London, England, Benjamin Franklin, loyal British subject, is not only successful in negotiating with Parliament in revoking the Stamp Act in 1766, but in preventing them from passing the Declaratory Act as well. Instead he strikes a bargain:
The 13 Colonies will repay their war debt over the next ten years. If at the end of those ten years, if there is a portion of the debt is still owed, Parliament can issue a one time tax to pay off the remainder, with a 10% penalty.
He is able to do this as he has purchased several “rotten boroughs” and with them, their members of Parliament. His new mouthpieces are able to convince several influential members of Parliament that it is better to allow the colonies to trade freely, and to use the increased commerce to pay off the colonial debt faster than restricting the colonies to trade only with Britain. He also makes deals with these members that if they invest in certain good merchant captains, their returns will more than make up for lost trade. The “good merchant captains” that he pairs the members of Parliament up with, turn out to be the most scurrilous of the New England smugglers. Evading British trade laws with a MP as your backer, makes the profits that they make that much more sweet.
So the future Dominion of North American is based on Benjamin Franklin playing with what passed for dirty
British politics at the time, using fair means and foul to keep Parliament from angering the colonies, keeping the colonies as part of the Empire, and
increasing home rule at the same time.
Selling this deal to the colonies was a bit harder to do. The Continental Congress reconvened and Franklin laid forth the plan that had been proposed by Parliament. Part of the deal was that the Crown reserved the right to appoint a trusted Governor-General of the colonies. This person could be one of the colonials, so various names were drafted and submitted. Franklin managed to be one of the names submitted for approval.
Once back in England, Franklin used his rotten boroughs to make sure he got the appointment. After a majority vote, he returned triumphant as the new Governor-General of British Colonies of North America. Part of the act consolidated all the British colonies under one rule, including the Canadian colonies and the Caribbean colonies.
Franklin declared Philadelphia as the capital of the new colonial government, and set about creating an organization that would out last him for years. With the help of his son, William Franklin, they put forth a framework that would later lead to the Dominion of North America years later. In seven short years, he created the British Colonies of North America. Resigning due to ill health, he put forth his son William, as his replacement, to continue on with the good work he started. The Colonial Congress, debated long and hard over this, but in the end, the mantle was passed on to William Franklin, and he became the second Governor-General of the colonies.
To make sure his son kept his leverage, Franklin willed him his fortune and his interest in the rotten boroughs back in England. Franklin died five years later, watching with pride as his son guided the colonies onwards to self-rule. For the next 27 years, William Franklin proves to be a worthy successor to his father, and in 1810, he tenders his resignation to the crown. He also breaks with tradition and does not propose his son, William Temple Franklin for the office of Governor-General, primarily because he believed that the colonies should decide who next to govern them, and secondarily, because his son showed no interest or aptitude in the office.
The next Governor-General put forward by the Colonial Congress is John Quincy Adams. He serves for 20 years before resigning, saying, and “This office is a heavy burden. One that a younger man than I would bear with less effort.”
During his tenure, he advanced the colonies and proposed a consolidation of territories, turning the colonies from separate states and into provinces, each with their own governor. The governor for each province is selected by the Governor-General from a raft of nominees put forward by each provincial assembly. He also was instrumental in the purchase of Florida from Spain, and added that benighted land to the Crown’s possessions.
Jason Van Buren became the next Governor General, and it was under his term of office, that the colonies became the semi-autonomous Dominion of North America. This happens in 1845, and Van Buren serves for another 15 years before dying in office of a heart attack.
Alexander Scott Tayler becomes the new Governor-General, and its under his term of office, the Congress of the Dominion elected the first Prime Minister, Henry John Franklin, the great great grandson of Benjamin Franklin. He currently serves as Prime Minister of the Dominion of North America in 1870, as does Governor-General Tayler.
Despite the benefits of home rule and more freedoms as a Dominion, there has been trouble from the “Sons of Liberty”. This group formed by Samuel Adams in 1766, and never disbanded when the British Colonies of North America was founded. They have been agitating for total independence from the Empire, and their more violent members, have resorted to terror attacks against any and all targets. The group was outlawed in 1823, but has managed to survive after many attempts by the Crown to put a stop to the group.
Recently, the Sons of Liberty have joined forces with the slaveholding provinces, as the British Empire was considering ending slavery on the continent. In 1835, Parliament abolished slavery in the Caribbean colonies, mainly due to the fact that the Church of England was found to own slaves in many Caribbean plantations.
The slaveholding provinces have never trusted Parliament, and rumors abound that the an act abolishing slavery completely in the Empire was in consideration. Of course, any such act would have to be confirmed by Dominion Congress. Unofficial vote tallies indicate that such an act would pass the Congress, thus alarming the more influential slave owners. Talk of Abolition in any of these provinces could get a man lynched. The former governor of the Province of Virginia, James Buchanan, was impeached and removed from office by the provincial assembly, supposedly for malfeasance in office. In reality, Buchanan was an staunch abolitionist, and didn’t care who knew. It was only by dint of his wealth, and surrounding himself with freedmen, did he survive. He moved to the city of Franklin in the province and settled down to live his life as he saw fit.
History of La Republique Louisienne
After the dreadful harvest of 1789, there is general unrest in France, as the misguided policies of the crown have so far lead to disastrous results. In 1790, the Assemblee Nationale des Hommes Libres meets in Paris covertly, and plan to address the inequities of life under the rule of royal that is in cahoots with special interests.
In August that year, with grain production still not up to par, the Assemblee Nationale stages a demonstration protesting lack of wheat and bread. Marie Antoinette makes a fateful statement about the protesters: “They cry that they have no bread. They cry they have no wheat. Let them cry that they have no cake as well!”
La Revolution de la France Libre is a bloody one. Much of the nobility flees France, with several bound for the former French colony of Louisiana. La Nouvelle-Orléans swells with an influx of population. In France, the revolutionary government is formed along lines proposed by a young aristocrat. This aristocrat, Claude Henri de Rouvroy, joined the Assemblee Nationale and became one of influential leaders of the La Republique les Gens de la France.
La Republique was founded on the nascent ideas of socialism as Rouvroy had formulated them. “To each man, according to his wants and needs. No man shall own the land solely. The land is the property of the people of France, and not of one man… So to each man, a share of the land shall be accorded, from which he will do with as he wont… All men should strive for the betterment of his brethren, as they strive for his.”
The remaining nobility in France left soon after the formation of the new government. Including certain Corsican noble family…
The young Napoleon Bonaparte could not stomach what had happened to France, and sought solace in the young, thriving city of Nouvelle-Orléans. Here a man could make a name for himself.
With the wholesale exodus of French nobility to former colony, the Spanish crown, wisely decided to cede the land it found unmanageable to the people in residence under the guise of returning it back to the legitimate government of France.
With the British colonies on the one side, and the Spanish ones on the other, the then Duke of Louisiana, decided to consolidate the land “returned” to them. Here the young Napoleon found a place in the Armee de la Louisiane.
The Duke first tried to peacefully annex the various native nations north of Nouvelle-Orléans, but found them quite reluctant to cede their sovereignty. So the Amree was sent north to pacify them. This is where Napoleon became famous as an Indian fighter. He rose through the ranks until he ended up in command of the Armee de la Lousiane.
His greatest achievement was the annexation of the Sioux in 1812. The Armee met a fairly well armed (through British traders in the region) mass of Sioux, lead by Tecumtha. Before engaging in battle, Napoleon requested a parlay with Tecumtha. The two met with their trusted lieutenants and tried to come to some form of agreement, however this was meeting of two indomitable wills. Then Tecumtha proposed that instead of spilling the blood of thousands of men into the Missouri river that the two leaders fight, the winner having dominion over the land and the people.
Napoleon’s lieutenants where shocked by this offer, but Napoleon accepted it. “Perhaps this is the way it must be. If I am to risk all to gain all, I should risk my life to save all.”
The next day they met in a field with their troops surrounding them. Napoleon was armed with his sabre and main gauche, Tecumtha with a metal-banded war club, spear, and ax. The battle lasted for nearly an hour, both men bloodied and wounded. Napoleon finally disarmed Tecumtha and with his sword at other’s neck refused to take the other’s life. “To take his life will cheapen it! He fought for what was his and for his people. For this I grant him his life. You Tecumtha are a valiant and brave man. A man I would rather have at my side than as a martyr or spirit, fighting me from the great beyond. Join us in our great Republic, as an equal, and not as a vassal!”
When word of the nearly bloodless conquest of Sioux reached Nouvelle-Orléans, the tale of Napoleon’s personal battle grew with the telling. By the time it reached the Duke’s ears, the Corsican had fought ten braves with nothing more than a dagger. It had a different effect on other tribes as Napoleon gathered them under his wing with promises of equality and self-rule. “…But not as a separate nation. The Republic of Louisiana cannot allow separate nations to exist. You are either part of the Republic or you shall no longer exist at all.”
Like a triumphant Caesar, Napoleon returned to Nouvelle-Orléans at a front of a army made up of both French and Native American troops. The crowds were jubilant and the city partied like it never had before. Cries of “Napoleon notre sauveur!” and “Napoleon notre roi!” echoed across the quarters. Something that Napoleon took to heart.
In 1814, he was crowned as the ruler of the Republique de Louisienne. He ruled and defended the Republique from all attempts by the British to conquer it. He ruled the Republique for 25 years until his death in 1839 at the age of 70.
His son, Napoleon Francis Joseph Charles Bonaparte, was crowned as ruler of the Republique and still reigns at the time the portal was found and is 51 years old. The Republique is in an uneasy truce between the Empire of Mexico and the British Empire. It shares control of the Mississippi with the British colonies, but commands the mouth of the Mississippi with its capital city of Nouvelle-Orléans. However, the Mississippi is threatening to change its course and follow the Atchafalaya River, leaving Nouvelle-Orléans on a minor tributary. The crown has ordered that this should not happen and his engineers are working hard to keep the Mississippi river within its present banks.
The population of La Republique Louisienne is 80% Native America, 18% French, and the remaining 2% is distributed between Spanish, English, German, and other European nationals.