This is a modified political timeline, from 2012 (2009) to 2042. I made this with Neotokyo (the game I mentioned a few posts back) in mind, so it’s a little steampunk, and has a few technologies that will definetely not be mass produced within 30 years.
Also, I said this was modified. This was all overlayed over a previous timeline. Mine is better. Agree. Bits marked with * are mine, and bits not marked with it are either there temporarily, or from the previous writer.
ENJOY YOUR CRAPPY FUTURE
1: Political Timeline
2: State of Play, 2042
3: Weapon Details
4: Cybernetically Enhanced Combat Forces Details
5: Ghost Details
6: Military Timeline
7: The Future of Small Arms
8: Service Rifles
9: Japanese Domestic Politics, 2042
*2009: North Koreans execute second successful nuclear detonation. Tightened restrictions are somewhat countermanded by ongoing economic support from China and Iran.
*2010: A lingering period of recession, among other causes, leads to debt crises in several nations, including China, the United States, France, Germany, Iceland, Spain, Italy, Belgium, Greece, Ireland and others. The first first suffered manageable debt without crisis. Iceland defaulted on its loans, and began to recover. The rest, besides two exception, used the influx of money-market loans and mild austerity to ride the crisis to an eventual end, then began to recover. Greek sovereignty was overturned by the IMF in 2011, which proceeded to issue nonsensical austerity measures which served only to destroy tax income and GDP. A German-lead U.N. peacekeeping force occupies the country in 2013, and imposed a harsh rule. Ireland suffered a similar fate one year later.
*2011: United States begins gradual pullout of Iraq. U.S. standard-ops in Afghanistan continue for two years afterwards. Both Iraq and Afghanistan are given token support for several decades. Iraq develops a stable government and quickly rebuilds its future with generous doses of foreign investment. Afghanistan quickly recedes into civil war, but the bloodshed serves to catalyze the government and develop the nation’s unity, if by genocide and division.
*December 2010-2012:The Arab Spring begins a trend towards popular unrest and democratic revolution in unstable nations. The age of wizened imperialism begins.
*2014: Early adoption of methane hydrate fuel, in conjunction with alternative fuel sources and increased efficiency in developing nations reverses the demand for oil. Certain oil exporting nations, mostly those that did not possess democratic states -including Iran and Saudi Arabia- are unofficially boycotted. Oil from these nations continues to be sold on the international market, but at a drastic discount. Notably, this destabilizes Saudi Arabia which had relied on the high profit margins of oil to placate its populace (the issue is resolved with marked reforms and enhanced representation for tribal leaders).
*2016: The Russian Federation is usurped via bloodless coup, which is challenged by an unpopular rebellion. The ‘new’ tsarist regime has the support of the mafia, influential businesses, and a majority of the public. This is partly because an impeccable and high-profile businessman provided extensive evidence proving his indirect lineage to the Romanov family, but mostly because he was an impeccable, high-profile businessman who usurped the government to reign in its corruption and disregard for human rights. To lend the modified government legitimacy on the international scene, several secessions were made notably reduced nuclear arms, crackdowns on organized crime, and Chechnyan autonomy. Besides the token gestures, the Russian monarchy (the claim to Russia being the third Rome was discarded) opens its Methane Hydrate reserves to foreign investment, the arguments against it (in-profitability and danger to the environment and individuals) were silenced. The former being disproven and the latter ignored.
*2014-2015: Seeing the occupying armies as, well, occupying armies, the Irish form organized ‘counter-terrorist’ groups which target U.N. peacekeepers, Englishmen in particular. The Greeks prove to be more docile, but with twice the population or Ireland, Greece is a far greater administrative challenge.
*2017: Skirmishes along the North-South Korean border lead to a small-scale incursion by U.S.-South Korean troops. The U.N. countermands the action, and prevents a direct war. However, the U.N. resolution was voted on shortly before U.S. troops captured a North Korean prison facility. 23,000 half-starved men, women and -quite literally- children are freed, most having been imprisoned for minor infractions, or for crimes committed by relatives, and this in addition to the 5000 other refugees fleeing North Korea. The event not only damages U.N. prestige, but contributes to its partial dissolution 4 years later.
*2019: A primitive nuclear device (dirty bomb) detonates in outlying Nottingham. No warning was issued, and no credible organization claimed responsibility. 32,000 deaths were later attributed to the attack. An English investigation links the attack to Irish militants. Though the validity of the report is questioned, public anger and violence is escalated. The U.N. is slow to act, but passes harsher measures towards Ireland in late 2020. Mass starvation ensues.
*2020: As imperialism and racism are viewed with increasingly sympathetic eyes, the Russian throne capitalizes on this for its hardball foreign policy. Several former Soviet States are annexed using debt forgiveness as leverage. In addition, the threat of violence, lead only partially by Russia, are used to resolve the Isreali-Palestinian quandary.
*2023: Democratic elections are held and honored in mainland China. These elections are in place to elect local government figures, as well as national and provincial figureheads. Moderate gains in human rights accompany the elections.
*2023-2025: Starting with the simultaneous pullout of the United States, Japan, South Korea, and Mexico, faith in the U.N. falls as much as its membership. The original intent of the pullout was to force the creation of an international body far more capable, but key issues have delayed the creation of the global confederacy.
*2024:Iran, as a milestone in its modernization program, opens its borders to foreign investment. As
2025: The Central American states of Honduras, Nicaragua, El Salvador and Panama merge to form the Central American Republic.
*2026: The financially beleaguered state of South Africa renounces its military capacity in favor of an armed populace.
*2026:Though the Balkans and other areas of the world remain stable, in Isreal, the West Bank is again the scene of intense violence.
*2027: China invades Vietnam. This is the first post U.N. war, and the beginning of an era dominated by direct imperialism and mercantilism. Small numbers of soldiers equipped with augmented reality visors are part of the expedition. They prove somewhat effective, but do not justify the cost.
*2029: The Waterman Process successfully lowers the greenhouse gas proportions in the atmosphere to safe levels, and its inventor, Dennis Waterman, wins the Nobel Prize for Chemistry. The caustic byproducts of the method are regulated and processed. Due to the need to distribute dozens of facilities throughout the world, an international organization is formed; this increases hope for a replacement to the 32 member U.N.
*2033:The ‘Communist’ regime in China goes through its second round of elections. Falsely advertised as a regime change, a full-scale rebellion manifests in Vietnam, accompanied by smaller bands of well-armed ethnic fighters in Xinjiang, Tibet, and Mongolia. Though Russia does not support either side in the war, it takes little action to prevent its firearms being sold to local militants. In addition, smallscale Western organizations, without the blessings of their governments, supply the Vietnamese. This leads directly to contention between China and its neighbors.
*2035-2036: Korea is forcibly unified by a Russian-South Korean-Japanese-American taskforce. The war is resolved quickly when a nuclear warhead is nearly detonated in Seoul and several other cities. Since the weapons’ design is commonly attributed to Kim Jong-Un, and because he commited suicide the same day, North Koreans almost universally threw down their arms. “His last command was for the people to outlive him.”
*Small numbers of cybernetic spec-ops were used in the Korean Unification. They proved highly effective, and were chosen to be the form that Japan would model the Self-Defense force around.
*2038: Hugo’s prediction proves correct, if just barely. The formal formation of the Eurasian Union, the geographically largest political entity in history, though that’s partly because it was formed out of the largest political entity of its time. The new union is built on the confederate model, and each of its member retain a high level of autonomy. Russian is universally taught as the second language.
2040: An assassination attempt on Japanese Prime Minister Higashiru Miho is stopped within inches of completion by the National Security Force. An investigation reveals the attempt to have originated from a rogue Special Operations unit inside the GSDF. The leader of the attempt, Captain <Name Deleted>, was found guilty of treason, but was pardoned by <Name Deleted>, a government official known to be on friendly terms with the GSDF.
*2041: The Eurasian manned mission to Mars, termed the Mir II, launches. Speculation arises as to the profitablity of civilian colonization; an area that could completely reverse the decline of capitalism. Support for a U.N. substitute to manage interplanetary and international politics, to manage and regulate armies, to limit war, to build a missile shield, and to define the approach to oncoming technologies (among many, many, other things) is almost universal, even in dominant countries.
2041: By order of the Japanese Prime Minister, the National Security Force forms Group Six out of elite personnel to uncover and eliminate threats to the Japanese Constitution.
2042: GSDF Special Operations Group 43 (Codename: Jinrai) has been established from Japanese nationalist hardliners, with the aim of returning Japan to the days of the Empire, when it ruled by military force over a huge expanse of territory. Group Six operators are immediately dispatched to eliminate threats to the nation.
State of Play, 2042
*the three decades between now and 2042 have shattered the old order. The collapse of the U.N. and reemerging opportunities for imperialism have been the catalysts for a world divided by force and practical divisions. An increasing focus on local needs is contrasted by the need for nations to preserve their macroeconomic status; a crossroad which has been handled across the spectrum. Seeing the absence of the U.N. as temporary, powerful nations see this period of time as a ‘land-grab,’ and are establishing small empires. Small nations have banded together, at least militarily, to dissuade forced assimilation. Limiting population increase has been a necessary step, but it has begun to propel humanity into an age in which capitalism fails to function properly. Social change, being led along the understood lines of industrialization, is the great factor in developing nations; change which has not always been handled properly. For the post-industrial nations, society is shifting via cybernetics and its answers to deap-seated moral quandaries. The U.S. can be thought of as going through its fourth ‘roaring-twenties.’ Larger nations are forced to commit atrocities to maintain their armies and influence, while smaller nations are bullied by their oppressors. Most nations have curtailed liberties, though most limit it to clandestine hits on dissidents. There are few ‘havens’ in the world that strongly resemble life 30 years prior, but people adapt, and most are accustomed to this new, less idealistic world.
*I don’t know much about Japan, and even less about its government. I can say that Japan would be in a great position, tucked to the side of the continent and with a strong economy, to act as a global brain-drain, thus explaining its strong intellectual position. We can also assume, with Japan being the progenitor of a lot of the cutting edge products consumed globally, that it’s still in possession of a strong economy, unfazed by the drop in global growth.”Increasing population” does sound like a joke, but we’ll assume that the Japanese have foregone their prejudices and begin to allow refugees into the country en masse, or else are producing large quantities of androids which count as people from an economic standpoint.
*That’s not to say it’s not troubled though. Technological advancement has spurred social shift, the influx of foreigners into the too-often racist Japanese society proves troublesome (it doesn’t help that the immigrants are given the lapdog jobs), among other things. The first modern Japanese invasion (of Korea) has shown that cyborgs are nearly unmatched on the battlefield, cyborgs which the Japanese have a near-monopoly on. Knowing that Japan could become the single greatest nation on Earth has understandably led notable portions of the public, as well as key military figures, to lust for a ‘freer Japan,’ unbound by the laws forbidding foreign intervention, and a lessened reliance on the U.S. So, there’s plenty to fight about in the Japan of 2042.
Sorry for breaking the fourth-wall.
Throughout the course of operations, special forces and security groups may be required to secure items known as ‘ghosts’. This is a code term to hide their true function.
Do not proceed to read beyond this point unless you are cleared to level 8. All level 7 and below personnel must exit the area immediately before proceeding, with punishment for accessing information while uncleared defined by National Intelligence Archive Regulation GX-4/585.
The items known as ghosts resemble android torsos congruent with the androids manufactured by Tahki Media Group’s subsidiary Zanshin Laboratories. This form is to allow easy concealment within the storage areas. Inside the ghost is a Penning-Chu Trap, a superconducting magnetic loop which suspends a gaseous compound of composition <CLASSIFIED LVL 9> which acts as a quantum computer with approximate array size of two(2) billion qubits. These items are extremely potent computing tools. Their main use is in a combat capacity, as they are the only devices with the computing power to brute-force the digitally signed encryption keys that protect cyberbrains from exterior insurgency. When used on-field, they can be devastating to enemy CECFs. However, usage of the quantum computer is locked to specialized personnel and cannot be simply used by any person who picks up the ‘ghost’. Additionally, the ‘ghost’ can also connect to the Shogun satellite network, allowing immediate localizing of enemy forces in the user’s zone. Due to these components, the ‘ghost’ is heavier than a standard Zanshin robot torso and weighs approximately 45 kg plus or minus 0.3 kg. For this reason, CECFs are recommended for ‘ghost’ retrieval operations. Additionally, CECF cyberbrains allow easy synchronization with the ‘ghost’ which is useful for tactical reasons. The ‘ghost’ can by located by a Shogun beacon of waveform <CLASSIFIED LVL 9>.
2026: Aboard the Russian space shuttle, astronauts discover the first useful material that can only be manufactured in space. The raw material is a critical component in therm-optic camouflage systems, invented several years later. The reliance on space-manufacturing limits production, and puts the new technology firmly within control of governments.
2038: Scientists working at Innsbruck, Austria, create the first large-scale quantum processor, utilizing a suspension of lithium ions in a modified Penning trap. Doctor Wallace Chu wins the Nobel Prize for Physics.
2040: A GSDF sniper attempts to assassinate the Japanese Prime Minister. The shot misses and its location is tracked by NSF personnel.
*The changes in warfare have been both subtle and extreme. In the traditional sphere, designs have been perfected, and reinforced. Standard ammunition has been largely replaced by caseless rounds, which are cheaper to make, have slightly higher performance, faster rate of fire, and don’t leave casings on the ground. Aside from some mild design changes, most firearms are identical to those used a hundred years prior.
*On the cutting edge however, superposition firearms, designed to hold rounds in the barrel itself, are beginning to be adopted by the military for specialty purposes and personal defense. I’ll gloss over the mechanics of its operation (they’re freely available online), and instead describe its characteristics. High rate of fire, muzzle-loaded munitions, short range, and high cost. Most damning for the new technology is that its reliance on difficult-to-manufacture electronic components render these weapons useless after strong Electromagnetic exposure.
*Now, to characterize the modern battlefield. Munitions have improved notably, to the extent that the amount of armor needed to deflect an attack is too great for practical use. A greater reliance on active countermeasures, and a decreased reliance on physical armor have shaped the vehicles and tactics of the modern battleground. Light, highly mobile vehicles with powerful offensive capabilities (usually missiles, because of a lessened strain on the vehicle) are supported by heavier and more traditional artillery and heavy armor. In addition to powerful cannons and missile launchers, tanks use high caliber armor-piercing small arms, which pose a moderate threat to enemy vehicles and are not easily stopped by a finite supply of counter-missiles.
*Tracks are still more suited to open plains, but the mechanized divisions of advanced nations are more likely to walk than crawl. ‘Spider tanks’ utilize a series of legs -typically 4, but heavier models use up to 10- that allow easy maneuvering over rough terrain. On roads, the legs are locked into a position which allows wheels on the ‘feet’ of the tank to move. Spider tanks are especially useful in urban situations, certain models being light enough to glide over rooftops or between traffic.
*Air and naval forces are similar to their predecessors, navies being slow to age and replace, and aircraft having little room for radical improvement. Increased use of VTOL, unmanned (and often unpiloted) drones, and a diversification of navies are mild changes that have been noticed.
*With military grade personal body armor improving steadily, and with opponents being increasingly metallic, high caliber rounds are beginning to come back into favor. For spec-ops units that field the highly advanced prosthetic limbs or exosuits, recoil is easily handled. Calibers of 7.62 mm and 12.7 are quickly becoming the norm. Once the domain of outlandish action movies, soldiers really do sometimes stand at the end of a corridor with a gatling gun ready to spin.
*This has raised -and hardly without precedent- fears of an invincible army. Though this has always been the case to a certain extent, never before in history has it been possible to convert every single soldier into a machine impervious to civilian weaponry (though this is decades away at the soonest).
*One last technology, active camouflage, is beginning to make its mark on warfare. Active camo acts as an ‘invisibility cloak,’ displaying an image ‘through’ an object. This equipment is incredibly expensive, and is confined to military/police use.
*Actually, there are two kinds of active camouflage. The first, and more readily available, uses hundreds of thousands of one-pixel cameras that transfer the signal to an LED on the opposite side of the object. The extreme amount of work to produce, tailor, and harden, render these suits as valuable as a specialized worker. Also, this technology is generally suited only towards visible light. To cover the IR spectrum would likely multiply the cost tenfold(and outrun the current extents of the technology). So, this version is perfectly visible to units with IR, does not let light travel through (and so casts a shadow), and is slightly off to even an untrained eye.
*The other technology, PerfectSight, is more advanced, and more promising, but limited by the means of its production. SilverWater -a weighty material that can only be produced in the absence of gravity- is the active material in its construction. However, PerfectSight is far more promising a system, since it allows light-waves to travel directly through an object. It converts incoming light into a higher wavelength, then reconverts it on the other side. It produces almost perfect visibility, on a wide range light spectrum. However, it, also, is prohibitively expensive, and there are as yet no civilian companies that produce SilverWater.
*Wizened imperialism: Formerly, powerful states would bludgeon their way into a sovereign nation. This is and always will be horribly ineffective, as Afghanistan and Vietnam illustrate. With the increasing instability of illegitimate regimes inherent to the 21st century, several interventions were orchestrated to replace faltering regimes. This lent the imperialists credence as peacekeepers, which encouraged the populace to comply with mandates. In such a way, more than a dozen democracies and slave-states were formed.
*Cybernetics system:Due to fundemental differences in the structure of the decentralized and ever-shifting human brain and the centralized construct of modern computers, direct integration between the brain and an augmentive AI is impossible. However, with augmented reality visors -or a direct connection to sensory organs- serving as an interface, a computer can be located on or within a person which is used to facilitate communication, heightened awareness, or carry out any of the other functions that computers handle.
*In addition, prosthetic limbs (and, occasionally, organs) have reached a level of quality and reliability that certain models outperform the human equivalent’s by a factor of 10. Unfortunately, proper control of said prosthetics is only attained by continual practice for nearly a decade. The soldiers of tomorrow are recruited young.
*Exo-suits offer the military an alternative, especially with the ease of replacement, but are typically only used in a civilian capacity. Combat/radiation-shielding and the complex computers needed to maintain basic mobility add excess weight, bulk and cost which is less necessary in direct prosthetic designs. Mainly though, exo-suits are an extreme liability on the front-lines, since they can only safely add to a user’s strength and dexterity, can only supplement certain basic tasks, and occasionally destroy the user’s limb.
*Besides these advancements, there is ongoing research to develop sapient AI, as well as a structure -‘affectionately’ known as a cyberbrain- that can autonomously sustain the human brain. No official breakthroughs have been delivered in either area, and the latter is generally considered impossible, or else impractical.
*Androids, also, are at a primitive but workable state. Higher-end models are able to hold a conversation, prepare most dishes, or operate motor vehicles, to name a few examples.
*The new economy: With global population edging towards equilibrium, and developing nations joining the exalted league of ‘first-world nations’ capital production is beginning to dry up. Only at the beginning of the trend, the percentage of GDP dedicated towards producing capital has decreased by 20% since 30 years prior. Without a major increase in marketable products, high unemployment has become a monolithic threat which will soon engulf the world. Capitalist nations are defenseless against this. Socialist nations simply have the government absorb the loss of the individual; an unsustainable arrangement.. However, communism, with its promise of 100% employment, has become a promising alternative, with some nations actually adopting it via democratic process.
*I’m sorry for trotting all over your original timeline. In my defense, I’ve made it more realistic, and more steampunk (as in the actual definition,which is an adjective describing a society which has attained a high level of technological achievement, but which has found little salvation from it), while also keeping a dose of ‘the people can triumph!’ and ‘the good guys win too, sometimes’ in there. I’d say this is a better general outline for the universe; a good point to advance further writing, which I might do myself.