The Fall

 

The story of Haven begins long before its founding in the autumn of 1948. It would be fair to say it has its roots in the initial outbreak of the plague that would eventually bring the human race to the brink of extinction. And while an exact date of the development of the virus BSD1897 – colloquially referred to as “Gomorrah” – cannot accurately be determined because of limited access to Nazi archives, it is suspected the scientific team responsible produced its first working prototype in a Berlin laboratory sometime in late 1942 or early 1943. It has long been speculated the purpose of the virus was related to a German effort to produce some sort of supersoldier, and the fact that some of the initial patients were members of the Wehrmacht goes some way to supporting this hypothesis.

            At what point control of the virus was lost and mutation began is uncertain, but these developments would appear to coincide with an outbreak of influenza in prisoner of war and concentration camps situated in Germany and Poland at the time that Nazi scientists expanded the scope of their initial drug trials. It is believed that during this period they moved to conducting tests on Jewish internees and Allied POWs (in a clear contravention of the Geneva Convention edicts regarding the treatment of prisoners of war). As a result, sometime around mid-1943 Gomorrah assumed an airborne vector and the spread of the virus became exponential. Within months it dispersed throughout the populations of the Germany and Poland and beyond the borders of these countries into the rest of Europe and parts of the Soviet Union west of the Urals.

            By 1944 the virus had consumed Britain, most of North Africa, the Mid East, and large portions of Asia and the Indian sub-continent. Attempts to halt the disease met with little success. As infection rates escalated, governments throughout the world resorted to the implementation of increasingly drastic measures to reduce contamination. Massive quarantines were instated but proved fruitless. The closing of borders and enforced restriction of movement across the globe were equally ineffective. Intensified medical research to find a viable vaccine proved a dead end. Whatever the means of its transmission, the virus continued to spread at a rapid-fire pace.

            As mortality rates skyrocketed, chaos began to sweep much of the civilized world where the virus had taken hold. Governments collapsed as populations dwindled and the manpower necessary to maintain even basic services was stretched beyond the breaking point. Panic reigned; and with the loss of centralized leadership, citizens began taking matters into their own hands. It is at this point where we see some of the most devastating consequences of the plague. All sense of propriety and moral circumspection was abandoned in the interest of survival.

            There are few eye-witness accounts of these times, but rumors of mass executions, the fire-bombings of entire towns and villages, eradication of anyone even suspected of contagion, and similar extreme measures are not to be discounted. Though these factors are not inconsequential and should not be dismissed, far and away the bulk of the deaths are attributed to the virus itself. Those not killed outright by Gomorrah or by the panic of survivors invariably fell victim to other diseases, including and especially cholera, dysentery, typhoid, influenza, malaria, and tetanus. Famine also played a role in the high mortality rates experienced across the globe, with Africa, Asia, South America, and the Soviet Union being particularly hard hit.

            It is estimated that initially as much as ten percent of the world population manifested immunity to the virus. However, as a result of the aforementioned factors, this number was greatly reduced – especially in third world countries where the infrastructure to deal with such a medical crisis was already severely compromised or simply non-existent. As a consequence, we see the demographic makeup of Haven's population reflective of populations that were more economically and technologically advanced at the time of the outbreak. Where state-of-the-art hospitals and medical practices existed and the finances and instruments to deal with major domestic crises were well-established, mortality rates of Immunes were significantly lower than in places like Africa, Asia, and South America.

            While few Immunes of continental Europe survived the Fall and ensuing chaos, a substantial portion of the Immune population of Britain did manage to reach Canada in late 1944. Those who did not succumb in the subsequent fighting that took place in North America during the period between late 1945 and the signing of the Articles of Peace in 1948, were later a part of the exodus to Haven. The largest numbers of survivors, however, originate from the populations of Canada, the United States (including Hawaii), Australia, New Zealand, the South Pacific islands, Japan, and South Africa. Despite this, Haven remains ethnically and culturally diverse – largely because Immunes from other parts of the world had either previously migrated to North America, or because in the wake of the plague's spread to their regions of the planet, they were able to escape and reach the North American continent before the second phase of the Fall.

            By the time of the Battle of Cypress Hills in Alberta – the last major land conflict between Immunes and Hitler's Nazi vamp forces – it is estimated the entire Immune population had fallen to a mere 1,000,000 men, women, and children. Following the battle this number was further reduced to approximately 800,000. Roughly 200,000 more died before the exodus to Haven, victims of the extreme deprivations of the concentration camps that had been established in Alberta and northern Montana. During the Pacific Ocean crossings to the Central Pacific island archipelago previously known as Aipotu – which took place over the period of late 1948 to early 1950 – more loses were sustained, and in the year following the creation of Haven's first settlements there were still further casualties.

            One year after the official founding of Haven the Immune population is estimated to have shrunk to a level of approximately 500,000 before stabilizing and beginning an upward growth trend that has since continued. The vampire population at this time is assumed to have been only marginally greater than its current 200 million.

             According to official Haven government census figures for the year ending in 2004, the population of the islands stands at 2,056,721. More than three quarters of the current inhabitants of Haven were born in the republic. With the passing of each year, the number of those who knew a life prior to the establishment of the republic grows smaller and smaller, making the securing of historical accounts of the pre-plague world ever more urgent.

            The Haeden University's Margolliean Camera contains several hundred wire recordings of pre-war recollections from citizens, now filed under the university's Living History Program. Further firsthand accounts can be found in the Haven Archives, housed within the West Block of the Haven Parliament buildings on Wellington Boulevard.

 

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