This is the 116th in a series of 365 Flash Fiction stories I’m writing. You can find out more about the challenge here.
Tyrant’s Cause, by Jonathan L. Lawrence, 26th March 2013
Word count: 664
The third age of mankind wasn’t born in space, like the old Sci Fi shows tell it, no, the third age of mankind was born on Earth.
It was born out of world war three. It wasn’t as bad as was feared, only twenty seven nukes got to their targets. The great and bountiful array of missile defence systems, some of which the public knew others top secret, prevented most of them going beyond the upper atmosphere.
What caused the war, who were the major players didn’t really matter. All those nukes going off high in orbit, they altered the world as we knew it. See, in the end the radiation shortened our lives, the electromagnetic pulses wiped out much of our tools and knowledge.
The third age of mankind existed in a kind of perpetual countdown. The remaining population was reducing by five percent in average every three years. That number could only go up as cancer rates soared.
Even as the countdown bit, life wasn’t pretty. Only the hardiest of crops and animals survived, plants and animals that hadn’t previously been a regular feature of the human food chain were now prominent. Money meant nothing, and all those cushty jobs in the cities less still.
Police forces became militias, just barely better than the roving marauders they were meant to protect people from. With the fall of mass communication government devolved to local pockets.
It wasn’t all bad, examples of technology that still worked were extremely valuable. If you were looking for power, any and all technology was valuable for when the electromagnetic interference passed. Even if that was reckoned to be seventy years away in most places across the world.
The world was in dire straits, those lucky enough to survive knew nothing but pain and suffering.
It was inevitable then that someone saw opportunity. Thirty prominent figures went to enormous expense to meet up. Together they devised a plan to rob the remnants of the old rule, and the new rule of their power. They systematically carved up the world into thirty distinct regions, roughly evenly split in resources and people.
Together they amassed an army greater than any could withstand and they washed over the world like a tidal wave.
It took twenty years for the final hold outs to be quelled, the world was brought under these tyrants control.
Each ruler had their own approach to governing their region, though fundamentally each operated under feudal system, with their power maintained through a disciplined military force.
Life was tough for the people of the regions, many and severe were the costs of the tyrants. However over the decades they implemented a new trading system that kept the people fed for the most part, provided gainful employment, and hastened the return of industry. Industry was more focused, the priorities being agricultural recovery, water processing, and energy. Of course the tyrants found the resources for military technology, and luxuries sometimes at huge costs.
Though many of the tyrants ruled with an iron hand, there was a lot of dissent at people’s unhappy lots.
Only a tyrant could challenge a tyrant though. And after decades of working together, as the ties that bound them broke, they frequently did. War became common, and it was deadly. With huge human resources at their disposal, and only limited technology, battles were decided by the number of men in the field of battle. Casualties were high, but the cost insignificant to the tyrants themselves.
Within two decades two of the original tyrants had fallen, their territory going to the victor, with concessions to supporting those regions that supported their efforts.
This is a world of tyranny, where power is held by violence, and enslavement and a future that seems as bleak as it is terrible. Change seems unlikely, but the spirit of man is not so easily broken. The fires of rebellion are burning away, ready at the first sign of weakness to burst into life.