A Pearl in the Wastes
The Earth is recovering from the remnants of a nuclear war in the long past. Eight hundred years or more have passed since the last bombs fell and the Earth’s ecosystems are in recovery.
But things are different. The sheer amount of debris in orbit has caused climatic change, and some of the radiation has given rise to new human powers. Most of humanity died in the initial exchange, which occurred in the early 21st century.Some on Earth’s surface survived through perseverance. Some nations managed to seed space with colonies, manned satellites, and even simple one-man reentry vehicles – an eloquent testament to the vainglory and futility of former empires.
With the weaponization of space, the Kessler Syndrome was all but guaranteed. (Kessler Syndrome: With enough objects in orbit, any collision would create more debris causing an unstoppable chain reaction of repeated collisions.)
When the war broke out, nuclear launch platforms targeted the surface and each other in a race to the bottom. The result: a band of low-orbit debris so dense that even sunlight can barely penetrate certain latitudes of earth’s skies.
The planet’s climate has changed significantly, with temperatures from tropic to tropic falling. Now equatorial conditions have gone from desert to plains and grassland with overall temperatures and rainfall more akin to early 21st century British weather.
Sunlight is relatively scarce, but the area has become much more humid than before as rainfall levels nurture far greater levels of plant life.
Due to years of ambient radiation, lack of sunlight or any human caretaking/destruction and an extreme greenhouse effect, plant life has grown wild and run rampant. Many species of plant have evolved to be carnivorous in some capacity and prey on the available animal life for sustenance since sunlight has become faded and scarce.
Some plant life has even become sentient and mobile, moving them up the new food chain as apt predators. Dangers that were once thought to be ridiculous and out of fiction have become very real, though few ever survive the encounters to have any clear tales of them.
Since the fall of man and near-complete annihilation of all life on Earth, only the most resilient creatures have survived — survival of the fittest at its most defining moment. What was left of domesticated animals have become feral and wild animals have become more aggressive since the population of prey has become in short supply.
The effect of radiation has done much to improve the predatory nature of the animal population: larger, more powerful variations have emerged with an intelligence much above simple animal instinct have come to prey on Man. Creatures have been known to tactfully hunt and prey on the few remnants of Mankind to the point of wiping out upstart settlements. While having to compete with plant life and Mankind, some animals have come to turn into something akin to nightmarish creatures out of necessity.
Some humans survived in a savage state, but the change in temperatures and sunlight levels has caused a change in skin coloration. Where the local residents (once called “Africans”) had high levels of melanin to shade against sunlight damage, the current “New-Born” residents have a paler complexion, possibly resulting from some radiation effects generations ago as well as natural effects.
The tech level varies from stone age in some places to roughly medieval. The Bunker society has tech up to 20th Century or even early 21st. From time to time, a few humans have developed psychic powers, such as the ability to see others’ thoughts or move small masses of objects and so forth.
On the surface of Earth, three remnants of humanity are relevant to this storyline: The Bunker, The Pearl and The Spire. To the party, The Pearl is but a rumour from the east — something majestic and too unreal to entirely believe — and The Spire is nothing more than a space elevator left over from the Pre-War Era situated at coordinates 0,0 — unreachable in the middle of the Gulf of Guinea.