…final score, Aunt Pearl: 1, Sassy Bear: 0
People, Places & Things: Xenovirus T
Without Xenovirus T, the Dociverse (version A) would be…well, our world. Instead, experimentation by alien scientists turned the people and history of that Earth into one of the most incredible stories in this part of our galaxy.
The planet, which we will refer to simply as “T” (out of copyright concerns)(but if you’ve read the “Wild Cards” series, you’re clued in), was ruled by a small minority of families who had powerful psionic abilities, most notably mind control and telepathy. Via these powers, the families kept the rest of the planets people in a state of serfdom. This took most of their power, insuring that no one family could ever get an edge over another and take control of the entire planet.
But they sure as hell wanted to. See, they realized that the constant plotting and politics (which went on both between and within the families) was going to have a stagnating effect on their culture which might leave them open to attack by some other starfaring race. Even more importantly to them, they wanted more powerful psionic abilities because it made them feel godlike to use them. Simply put, they wanted to conquer their own world, then move on to enslaving the rest of the galaxy.
And so the great Virus Race was on. Each family had it’s scientists working nonstop to create a virus that would give powers to those that did not have them (in the royal families, where lives were very long and the birthrate low, only 1 in 3 children ever manifested powers) or increase the power that they already had. Work on the various strains of virus went well, but the aliens needed to test it on a large population other than their own. Fortunately, a planet full of beings with a nearly identical genetic structure was only a few light years away.
That would be Earth.
Below is a timeline of viral releases on our world and what the effects were.
2,500 BC: Virus T-1 released. Affects the minds of most humans. No useful psionic powers manifest, but the mass mind is opened in such a way that monsters of myth and legend are brought into being.
2,300 BC: Virus T-2 released. Drives 1 in 5,000 people mad, but otherwise has no apparent effect.
2,007 BC: Virus T-3 and Virus T-4 unknowingly released at the same by two different families. For 50 years, nothing happens. Then, on a single night, most of the world’s population has the same dream…a dream of another Earth, where magic works. As a result of this dream, tiny weak spots between the two worlds open, allowing a very few people to actually cast magical spells. Within 20 years, 90% of them are hunted down and killed. The rest go into hiding. The aliens are never able to replicate the effect of the two viruses.
450 AD: Virus T-5 is released. It has no effect on humans, but oddly does have the effect of mutating the brains of certain dogs and cats, giving them genius level intelligence and telepathy.
923 AD: Virus T-6 is released and exactly 3,542 people develop massive telekinetic and telepathic powers. Unfortunately for the aliens, these powers allow the affected humans to locate,identify and destroy them. Then, still mutating, the humans abandon their physical forms and, one assumes, leave this plane of existence.
1375 AD: Virus T-7 is released. Designed to have a slower and more subtle effect, it does nothing to the initial test subjects, but slowly alters their DNA, as well as that of their descendants. In roughly 300 years, people who are physically and mentally superior to most other humans will begin to be born. Still no great psionic powers though, so the aliens write it off.
1701 AD: Virus T-8 is released causes 1 in 2,000 people to develop incredibly mental or physical mutations…just a couple of minutes before they keel over dead. Back to the drawing boards.
1940 AD: The most famous virus, T-9 is released. Thanks to the intervention of a rebel alien scientist and a strange alien who keeps popping up throughout human history, the virus release is confined to a mere dozen locations worldwide. Millions die and millions more are physically mutated into “jokers”, but 1 in 3,000 develop superpowers. The aliens are overjoyed and go home to refine the virus.
2,004, AD: Alarmed by the proliferation of “supers” (both good and evil) on Earth, the aliens develop the T-10 virus. It is meant to destroy all psionic and physical superpowers…which it does…on their world…after the most “super” man of all goes their to destroy the labs creating it. Losing his own powers, he becomes a rebel leader of the formerly enslaved serfs. All of the great families are slaughtered and the human from Earth becomes king.
2,096 AD: Remember that T-2 virus? After millenia of hiding in the background, it finally mutates to affect homo sapiens and slowly begins shutting down all the other viruses…except the one affecting dogs and cats. Over the next century or so, humans get used to a more or less ordinary world. Just in time to develop the warp drive and go out into space. Of course, they take dogs and cats (whom they assume are all just normal animals) with them:)