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- "...And the lights went out all over this world. They will not be lit again for some time to come." --Yunzhong Hou
Most humans had been wiped out. No city or village had been spared. Society, economy, and politics would never be the same - ever.
But in the week after the Cataclysm, few people considered how it had changed their lives. They would first need to survive, find their friends and their loved ones, and gain wealth and prominence in this new world.
Humanity entered a Week of Wandering, in which the quest for survival eclipsed all other needs. Society had fallen apart, but it would soon emerge again. The old nations were gone - new states began to rise in their place. Vigilante justice replaced law and order. Cities and communities were nearly all destroyed; billions of lives were lost; is it no wonder that crime became rampant.
The initial crime wave did not last long. People soon realized that with so many people eradicated from the face of the earth, that there would not be any significant reason to steal, or to commit many other crimes. There was a sheerly overwhelming amount of unused wealth and material in the families in which no one survived, and therefore it was apparently as if everyone in the world suddenly received a sudden gift from all those who had died. It was as if their relatives and friends had all perished, and they had left them an inheritance.
Once people realized this, they did not so eagerly steal covertly, and began to steal overtly. After all, there was no law to bring the contents of the deceased's wills to fulfillment. Anything that was not used would be lost and wasted. Everyone had more than enough to content themselves, despite the fact that the majority of everything ever made by humanity had been lost.
The New Society
In each city or region, some humans managed to survive, however. They found others who like them had managed to survive, and formed temporary settlements where they met. In this way the scattered survivors managed to reestablish a competent society, as each realized that the survival of the others was crucial to his/her own survival. Crime had fallen to an all-time low, with people simply taking what was needed and no fight over what existed.
In each of these New Societies, a democracy arose, as no particular group or person held much power over any others. With the rise of these New Societies came leadership and organization, and over the next few days these became more elaborate and larger as communities wandered around for help and merged with others. This development was aided by the contribution of Ham Radio operators who sent distress calls to their vicinity.
Food was everywhere, and so was everything else for that matter, except for people. As the leadership organizations of each of the New Societies strengthened, they thirsted for more people. They began quests to other places, homing in on the ham radio distress calls, accruing people of various subject areas of training along the way. Before long, some of these New Societies had become rather competent.
Formation of States
The rise of New States began in the void of political order. Some of the associations were quite obvious, such as the survivors of the former United States banding together to form the new United States. Elsewhere, such as in the Balkans, such patriotism was not evident; attachment to other groups with people of similar ethicity became more prominent. Warfare broke out in these regions, and in border regions, as radicals found that for the first time their goals of Pan-slavism or whatever could finally become a reality.
In order to protect their peoples from such dangers, the leadership of the New Societies banded together more closely. Communities became ever larger, in some places approaching thousands. Before long, military vehicles and instruments were being used in these minor skirmishes. It was a sad consequence of human nature that after suffering and losing so much in the Cataclysm's initial effects, their first thought would be crime; and their second, war.
Meanwhile, the corpses of the dead, unburied, putrified, and with the coming of the molds and flies came plagues of all kinds. Before long, the ruins of the world's cities had become an infestation of such plagues, and because the survivors had to return to them for survival wares, they became infected. Before long, many people had become sick, and many others had died. The untreated horrors of the twentieth century--hemorrhagic fevers, plague, influenza, typhus, cholera, and more--were all unleashed amonst the survivors.
The cure for this difficulty was, unanimously, the moving away from the cities and dependence on villages and the countryside, where such diseases could not develop. But the consequence was the loss of the goods that they needed. And even so, many of the New Societies were wiped out. Those that survived were also decimated.
Some of the more ambitious and calculating leaders of the New Societies began shipping medications. Others launched battles. More used their rhetoric to urge world unity. Battles did break out, but their scale was minor. In most cases a community surrendered after suffering single-digit casualties, such was the degree that they found survivors important after the Cataclysm. Many others wanted to join with their fellow survivors to form a united world. Still others were pleased by obtaining cures for their suffering brethren.
Before long, one man had established superiority, after vanquishing a socialist New State and a democratic New State, both of which were unable to quickly respond to the threat that an organized leadership could muster. This one man was called the Hegemon (meaning Ruler of the World) and his possessions the Hegemony. He was an amiable ruler who knew when to be ruthless and had a strong grip on reality and practicality.
And the platform that he ran on when he attempted to gain the favor of the survivors, was that he would ensure that such a Cataclysm would never, never happen again.
And he could do that. Even before he had fully established his control over the world, he had laid down the foundations for a rapid advancement of society, similar to the Stalinist era's Five Year Plans, that would sacrifice consumer goods for capital goods and bring the crushed world industry back to life. For he himself was paranoid, afraid that he would die should another asteroid hit the Earth.