Welcome to The Rift.
In the fall of 2012, scientists at the Large Hadron Collider in Geneva, Switzerland, embarked on a new series of high-energy experiments. No one knows exactly what they were attempting to do, but a little after 3 P.M. on a Thursday afternoon came the Big Mistake. Something unexpected happened, and in the blink of an eye, many possible universes all condensed into a single reality.
In some of these universes, little had changed; it didn’t make a big difference which team won the 2011 World Series, for example. In other universes, there were more important divergences: The Gray Emissary, who was carrying gifts of advanced technology, wasn’t’shot down at Roswell in 1947, the Black Death didn’t devastate the known world in the 14th century, the dinosaurs didn’t die out, Nikolai Tesla did conquer the world with a robot army, and so on. The Cold War went nuclear in 83 percent of the possible universes, and in 3 percent of the possible universes, the French unloaded their entire nuclear arsenal on the town of Peshtigo, Wisconsin, because it had to be done. When reality stabilized again, an instant after the Big Mistake, the familiar Earth of the 21st century was replaced by one formed from many different realities.
The year is now 2162 (or 151, or 32,173, or Six Monkey Slap-Slap, depending on your point of view). It’s been a hundred and fifty years since the Big Mistake, and the Earth is a very different place. The ruins of the Ancients (that’s you and me) litter a landscape of radioactive deserts, mutated jungles, and vast, unexplored wildernesses. Strange new creatures, such as beetles the size of cars and superevolved badgers with Napoleonic complexes, roam the world. The survivors of humanity gather in primitive tribes or huddle in trade towns that rarely rise above the technology of the Dark Ages. Even the nature of humanity is now different, because generations of exposure to radiation, mutagens, and the debris of other realities have transformed humans into a race of mutants who have major physical alterations and potent mental abilities.