The world of 2050 in many ways resembles that of 2015, with a few significant changes…
The World of VALKYRIE
[By Scott James Magner]
You’re about to enter a world of constant, ground-shaking conflict, dominated by building-sized engines of war known as Valkyries. On the pages that follow, we’ll introduce you to the world, its major political and military factions, and some of the key players in its formation.
The world of 2050 AD is for the most part the world outside your windows, with a dash of speculation, a touch of world building, and a whole lot of awesome thrown in. The goal of this game is not to model earth’s dark-future, but to have today’s military vehicles fighting alongside giant mechanized war machines in a way that not only is cool, but also plausible.
We’ll go a bit deeper into the backstory in other documents, but here’s what you need to know about the world to get started.
Everything new is old
The state-of-the-art military technology you’re familiar with exists in the world of VALKYRIE, but it’s no longer the ruler of the battlefield. Tanks, APCs, and combat infantry changed a lot in the 20th century, and have continued to evolve in the 21st. But thanks to breakthroughs in biomechanics and servo technologies, by 2020 AD the United States of America was fielding troops in powered exoskeletons alongside main-battle tanks.
Air support was still a key factor in any engagement, but with infantry units able to go toe-to-tread with armored units, “peacekeeping interventions” were more and more common, and cleaning up the battlefield afterward became almost as important as claiming it in the first place. As more and more powered armor was deployed, conflicts escalated faster, and only the US’ firm stance against “empire-building” prevented the rest of the world from taking steps against them.
Most of it, anyway.
Falling off the edge
In the summer of 2020, terrorists attacked a city in northwestern China. After an initial period of indiscriminate bombings to get the world’s attention, they seized a railroad depot and collapsed any building taller than two stories around it. For three days and two nights, they issued demands to the world from inside their improvised bunker, which went unanswered, but not ignored.
Two forces of soldiers in powered armor converged on the site- one force belonging to the United States, and the other comprised of scavenged and reverse-engineered suits fielded by the People’s Republic of China. The Chinese got there first, but either didn’t know about or didn’t believe the terrorist’s threats about nuclear weapons. Whether it was an accidental detonation or a last defiant act by the besieged terrorists, the result was the same. 6 million people died in an instant, and the world no longer worried about what the US was going to do next.
They started worrying about China. The PRC immediately declared war on Kazakstan, believing them to be not only the terrorists’ backers, but also the source of the nuclear weapon. Within a month they had deployed their remaining “Dragon Suits” and conquered half the country, only stopping when a combined force of US powered armor and Russian Federation conventional forces drew a line in the sand and forced them to retreat.
But the true cost of the war took years to calculate. Fallout from the blast devastated the Siberian heartland, turning once rich farmland into a barren wasteland. Petroleum fires burned out of control for many months, and what was left of the Caspian oil shelf was so thoroughly irradiated that to use its output for any purpose was ecological suicide.
In anticipation of a full-scare war between the Russian Federation and the newly christened “Shining ” (composed of the former People’s Republic of China and a re-unified Korean peninsula), the United States deployed the first “true” Valkyries as a warning to both sides. Towering above the battlefield, these walking engines of destruction sent a message not only to the two warring countries, but to the world
Step out of line, and pay the price.
The war was brief, and most scholars agree that everyone lost. The Russian Federation remained intact, but agreed to plebiscites along its southern border which ultimately established a series of buffer nations between itself and a much reduced, much chastened China. No longer a communist stronghold, what was left of the former People’s Republic re-invented itself as a mercenary nation, extending its protection to many independent Southeast Asian nations in exchange for money and food.
But the United States suffered as well. For over a decade they had been the primary enforcers of “world peace”, but once they unleashed the destructive power of the Valkyries they became not the world’s protector, but the monster under its bed. When the first Russian Valkyries were deployed against Japan in 2035, US assistance was politely declined, and then made largely irrelevant when Japanese Valkyries half their size defeated the Russian invaders in less than ten hours.
From Then till Now
Following China’s example, the United States, the European Union (now a full political entity, rather than the economic one of the late 20th and early 21st centuries) the Russian Federation, Japan, and the hastily assembled Association of African States formed their own spheres of cooperative protection, making national borders a quaint, but largely irrelevant, construct of the past.
In 2048, two more players entered the world stage. When Israel declared itself “now and forever independent” on its 100th anniversary, Arab states in the region formed the Democratic Islamic Califate in response. While neither state has declared open war, the border between them is patrolled by not only the latest generation Valkyries, but also advanced armored vehicles and powered infantry units with many times the destructive capabilities of their forebears.
Whether a faction fights for an ideology, dwindling resources, or basic survival, they all have one thing in common.
They’re not afraid to take the next steps in warfare.
The Power Factions…
The United States of America
As the pioneers of Valkyrie technology, the US has a long tradition of using them whenever—and however they wish. Alone among the world’s major powers, the US has nearly infinite resources, and the will to protect them.
But not all is perfect in the “land of the free.” While the nation is entirely self-sufficient, recent crop failures and the loss of several economic centers to extreme weather incidents have stressed its citizenry nearly to the breaking point. Almost unthinkable in the previous century, food riots are a daily occurrence in areas hit hard by drought and economic privation, and only the government’s insistence on maintaining a basic living allowance for all citizens has kept the country strong.
Many blame the country’s skyrocketing military budget for the nation’s woes, but every time a “rogue” faction attempts to invade North America, US Valkyries are there to repel them with the latest weapons technology. No other nation on Earth has Valkyries as advanced, and the strength each frame carries makes them equal to a much larger equivalent force in any engagement. US ground and support forces are just as advanced, making the arrival of US troops on a battlefield enough to give any nation pause.
Around the world, the United States is an uneasy ally to all but the most extreme governments, with a history of deploying Valkyries without warning—and frequently without permission.
The Russian Federation
While some say that the Russian government is weak and disorganized, few who have faced their Valkyries in battle would agree. Even with half their sovereign territory irradiated and all-but uninhabitable, the Russian Federation is the latest chapter in a centuries-long story of hardship and perseverance.
The people of the federation are much like its military tactics—slow to start, but an unstoppable juggernaut once fully engaged. Most battles with Russian Valkyries are over within a few minutes as their solidly-built frames literally run their opponents into the ground. In particular, US Valkyrie pilots are instructed to “leave nothing in the tubes” when fighting Russians, in hopes of keeping their technological advantages—and pilots, out of the hands of the “Istrakovna,” the infamous scientist-soldiers of Sergey Istrakov Institute for Applied Sciences.
The Russian Federation’s losses in recent years have been quite public, but they are never too far from the leading edge of military might. Their scientists are nearly the equal of those in the US, and since their territory covers several continents they have ample resources to meet any need—as long as they’re not too picky about where it came from, or what’s written on the outside of the boxes.
With hard-charging tactics, heavily-armored Valkyries, and the will to win at any cost, The Russian Federation is a formidable opponent in any battle.
The European Union
Now a political entity rather than just an economic one, the member-states of the EU have taken a different path to battlefield dominance than most world powers. While their military might is still primarily reliant on Valkyries, the top scientific minds of Europe apply most of their ingenuity to designing newer, faster, and more advanced vehicles than their “neighbors” to the north and south.
This philosophy of innovation pairs well with their overall philosophy of conservation and austerity. The European Union promotes an open environment for the exchange of scientific knowledge, made possible in large part due to having the strongest economy in the world and cheap, renewable energy in abundance. While some would argue that so many cultures could not co-exist amicably for any length of time, what was once a trade organization is now the most stable governmental body in the world.
When a tornado hits in Spain, German and Dutch relief convoys are there within hours carrying Italian doctors and French supplies. This same efficiency carries over to their combined military forces. Each EU garrison is stocked with an impressive army of Valkyries, tanks, and artillery, but being able to double, triple, or sometimes even quadruple their fighting forces within an hour makes even the boldest invaders think twice before attacking.
With both the latest-generation Valkyries and superior vehicular forces, the European Union is a force to be reckoned with on any battlefield.
No modern nation-state has undergone more change in the last 35 years than China. While technically losing every war they’ve fought in the 21st century, the Chinese military is still strong enough that most world powers maintain a staging base near China’s “official” borders.
But their true success is in reinventing themselves as a merchant-protector. Where the United States intervenes seemingly at will around the world, China’s long standing alliances and trade deals always include a mutual defense clause, giving them the legal right to deploy their “Dragon Suits” in allied countries with little-to-no oversight—often to the detriment of other foreign powers.
While the Chinese no longer engage in empire-building, their sphere of influence extends far beyond China’s recognized borders. While their currency is nearly worthless outside China, the Chinese have successfully negotiated deals with mega-corporations for a variety of processed materials in exchange for granting their business partners “rights of residency.” These contracts effectively make anywhere a corporation maintains a physical facility Chinese soil, which carries with it two important advantages. First, factories are subject only to Chinese environmental safety standards; and second, Chinese Valkyries to defend them.
In fact, it could be argued that China’s number one export is trained Valkyrie pilots, a position the Chinese are happy to reinforce with their dogmatic approach to combat. Willing to take massive losses to inflict crippling damage on an enemy, Chinese Valkyries make up for a lack of technical sophistication with overwhelming numbers and a seemingly suicidal recklessness on the battlefield. And given that the average age of their pilots goes up every year, it seems to be a very successful strategy indeed.
While the United States is usually recognized as having the most advanced Valkyrie technology, a strong argument can be made for that title belonging to Japan. While the two nation-states have never formally deployed Valkyries against one another in a major battle, archival footage of the “Three-Cornered War” shows Japanese suits that are smaller, faster, and more reliable than their American equivalents, while still packing considerable firepower.
In the years since that conflict, Japanese frames have been largely absent from the world stage, save for occasional skirmishes with the Chinese across Southeast Asia and the Pacific Rim. Even then, the Japanese forces usually attack under cover of darkness, leaving little record of their presence besides the smoking ruins of opposing Valkyries.
The few witnesses to these conflicts report the Japanese forces running circles around their opponents, seemingly taking twice as many shots as their beleaguered foes. How this translates against the latest American frames is unknown, but since no one has tried invading the Japanese home islands in decades, it may be some time before anyone can say for sure how they’d stack up on the battlefield.
One thing that is known is Japan’s fierce refusal to either showcase their latest designs, or allow any international observers access to their production facilities. Whether they fear another invasion, or simply desire to be left alone, the fact remains that Japan’s commitment to peace is only matched by their ability to wage war.
New African Union
Unlike the European Union, the New African Union is a government in name only. Mostly concerned with stopping the exploitation of the continent’s resources by outsiders, the Union’s member-states contribute funds and raw materials as able and necessary to maintain an army of Valkyries that can strike anywhere on the continent within a few hours.
Largely untouched by the ecological woes of other parts of the world, Africa as a whole has actually benefited from disasters in both Russian and China that nearly crippled both counties in the past. With food, oil, and energy to spare, the NAU has raised the standard of living across the continent to the point where they can no longer be dismissed as a “third-world,” while still maintaining unique regional cultures and diversity.
However, the recent defections of Egypt and Sudan to the Islamic Califate, and Algeria and South Africa to the European Union have some analysts speculating that the NAU funding has taken a serious blow. The lack of new Valkyrie designs coming out of NAU labs lends some credence to the theory, but they have never relied on superior firepower to win engagements. Instead, NAU pilots use delaying actions and positioning to defeat more advanced Valkyries, proving that even in this modern age of warfare, there’s still a place for guerrilla tactics.
Democratic Islamic Califate
With regional alliances like the European and New African Unions fielding Valkyries to defend their natural resources, it was only a matter of time before the “owners” of the world’s largest and most profitable oil fields started doing the same.
What was unexpected was how rapidly the organization became a theocracy, and how seamlessly various Arab states came together to form a stable and functioning government. And with the recent collapse of the Egyptian government (and that country’s subsequent transfer of allegiance), other predominately Islamic countries in the region may soon seek shelter under the Califate’s umbrella.
With nearly unlimited energy resources, Califate forces rely on swarm tactics more than alpha strikes. Their battle groups are comprised mainly of well-made, but inexpensive Valkyries based on older designs requiring little to no upkeep. And while this might seem a recipe for disaster on the modern battlefield, the Califate’s results are impressive.
It’s still too early to tell what changes the addition of Egypt’s advanced manufacturing capabilities and infrastructure will make to the Califate’s order of battle, but the world has definitely taken notice of their recent aggressive deployments along Israel’s and the Russian Federation’s borders. Analysts report massive fuel convoys moving across the Arabian Peninsula day and night, making open war on one or both fronts a virtual certainty in the coming months.
Under pressure to join the European Union following the breakdown of their relationship with the United States, Israel’s 100th anniversary in 2048 was marked not only by celebrations, but also by their successful and spectacular defense of the Jordan Rift Valley from not one, but three invading forces.
After driving a combined Saudi-Russian army back across the Dead Sea, Colonel Adina Ben Alizava stood on the chassis of a downed Russian Valkyrie and gave the most-viewed campaign speech in history.
“My opponents in Jerusalem believe that joining ourselves to another Western power is our only hope for survival, and the opponents we just defeated believe that we have none. But I stand here unafraid of the Arabs, the Russians, and also the Americans. This is our land, paid for with blood, and I will not give one centimeter of it away without a fight, nor will I surrender our culture for a handful of promises and magic beans. I have fought Israel’s battles for 20 years, and whether it be in the cockpit of my Valkyrie or in the Knesset, I will keep fighting for 20 more. Let any who would oppose me, oppose Israel, look into the future and see the truth. There is only one path for our country. Independent, now, and forever!”
With these words, Prime Minister-elect Alizava threw the region into turmoil, and ushered in a new kind of Valkyrie combat. While the hastily-formed Democratic Islamic Califate began focusing on swarm tactics and constant border raids, Alizava’s defense forces doubled down on speed, surprise, and air-support, keeping her promise to not to yield any ground without a fight. In the last 20 months, they have successfully defended against at least 50 known incursions, all the while producing top-of-the line Valkyries to create a virtual wall of steel and determination around Israel that so far remains unbroken.