As the old poem says, the world did not end with a bang but a whimper.
And then it just kept shuffling on, and on, and on...
The time and reality that Ravine comes from is a despairing one. In the year 2320, a group of researchers had discovered a cure for a seemingly incurable disease. Except that, as it turned out, said cure mutated into a major airborne virus that spread throughout the world, killing the living cells in the human body. 5% of the world’s population died within the year.
Over the course of six months, the world population was slowly being annihilated. Mass suicides and murder and looting weren’t unheard of, neither were they uncommon. In spite of this, the global powers banded together to create a humanity conservation program, allowing a small number of the world’s population to be preserved in an ocean reserve. The lottery for secretly selecting families to be taken to the ocean reservations began shortly after, and the project itself was nothing more than a rumor to those not involved or invited.
Eight OASIS reservations were divided to ensure a racial and intellectual balance for when the world ended. Conveniently, OASIS reservations had been in progress for about 50 years prior. Originally intended for a different purpose (creating underwater cities and exploration), they had been repurposed for humanity’s survival. They have not yet been dropped into the ocean ridges, where they remained stable among the underwater mountain system.
Within a year, 20% of the world’s population has been eradicated by the Plagues. Quarantine Zones had been placed for those who have been selected for the lottery, but they had not been told that they are part of a conservation project. They were, instead, told that they were riding out the global infection. However, it was estimated that it would take at least 200 years for the virus to die. Maybe more.
By 2326, over 80% of the world’s population had perished, while the surviving 1% remained in quarantine cities, on standby to enter the stasis reserves. One year later, the conservation program was a success, but may have had some anticipated side effects. With most of the world’s population dead, the remaining 9% worked on either making peace with their final days, or volunteer in the effort to try and preserve humanity via the OASIS reservations in a final act of philanthropy. There have been incidents of some of the researchers killing one of the lottery candidates in order to take their place for themselves or a family member. Due to the urgency of the situation, many turned a blind eye in order to continue their progress, rather than waste time with trials and justice.
2328 was the year the world “ended”. Humans were in stasis for 153 years. Of the 1% who have survived, .0009% of the people actually remember the Forgotten World (which became that aforementioned “anticipated side effect”).The year of the Collapse was 2481, when the 1% woke from their stasis with the system set back to 0.
298 years have passed since then, making the current year 2779.
However, due to the Collapse and no one knowing how long the original humans were in stasis, the official year is unknown. Even a few functional robots that remain had issues calculating the dates since the Collapse. This makes the known year 298AC (After Collapse).
Those that do remember the Forgotten World have no idea what started the Plagues, but the Dead Cell Theory insists that it was the result of research for a terminal disease. Questions about what disease the cure was supposed to be intended for is unknown.
Underneath this dying world are other worlds. Worlds that do belong to the dead and the suffering. These are the Zones, governed by the wretched souls from the Plagues and the wretched New World the Collapse had bred.
And of the reapers, known as Psychopomps...