Chapter 191: In Which Our Hero, Played As A Fool By The Spanish, Plots Revenge

…and he uses the French as his unwitting partners

Gadzooks, I need to catch up…nay, get AHEAD on these Doclopedia posts. Here is the latest entry.

The Doclopedia #256

Altered (United) States: New Hampshire The Granite Golem State

In 1850, the history of the United States and the World was forever changed when Elemental Magic returned to the world in several spots across North America. By far the most important of these was the strong presence of Earth Magic in New England, particularly in the Granite State of New Hampshire.

By 1852 there were 5,000 men quarrying granite specifically for use in the creation of granite golems. 400 other men and women worked around the clock sculpting the 10 foot tall humanoid shapes and the 26 person Earth Mages Guild of New England was enchanting the golems as fast as they could. Every other day, 10 new golems came off the assembly line. By 1854, that number had tripled and by 1855 had tripled again.

Granite golems were soon powering everything from factories to trains. Mining, already made vastly safer by both Earth, Air and Water Magic, was made even easier by using granite golems. Later, these golems were replaced by concrete golems that used mine tailings as part of their makeup.

Shipping was made faster and cheaper by the using golems to power the ships with the assistance of Air Magic.

The state of New Hampshire prospered, as did all of New England. Periodically, the Earth Mages Guild would use their magic to clear the stones from rocky land. These stones would be moved to the great gravel and concrete factories near Manchester for processing. The mages would also reshape played out quarries into everything from ponds and lakes to flat farmland.

Over the next 100 years, no fewer than 5 presidents were elected from New Hampshire. The only other state to come close to that number was California (where Earth Mages extracted 68% more gold than was extracted in our world) with 4.

In the current present (1980), there are an estimated 160,000 Granite Golems working tirelessly across North America and another 400,000 across the world. Many of those were made in New Hampshire, which nowadays actually manufactures very few golems due to massive depletion of granite. Of course, this doesn’t matter much now for the third wealthiest state in the union.

Lord Doc Cross, Savior Of California

…well, it said “enter title here”

The Doclopedia #255

Altered (United) States: Nevada   “Robostate!”

 Two years into the Human/Robot War, the robots, who were winning, made the world an offer they couldn’t refuse: Give them a section of each continent that would be entirely theirs and they’d stop fighting. The humans agreed without hesitation.

In North America, the robots chose the state of Nevada as their homeland, mostly because they liked its shape. All humans were evacuated in less than 10 days and the robots moved in and set up shop.

 The entire state is ringed by an energy fence that only seems to affect humans and robots. Try to cross the border and you get disintegrated. And yes, the fence does extend across Lake Tahoe.

 The robots have built five cities and two spaceports in the state, but have otherwise left the rest of it to nature. All former human habitations have been obliterated. The Nevada robots trade with the robots in Uruguay, Australia, Laos, Spain and Nigeria, but not with Antarctica. Actually, Antarctica trades with nobody.

 So far, the robots in Nevada have made no effort to contact any other state, but once a year, on June 11th, several hundred thousand of them gather at the border with Idaho and stare north from one hour before dawn to one hour after dusk. Nobody knows why, but it creeps the hell out of the Idahoans.

Horses With Golden Hooves

….they cost big bucks to get shod

The Doclopedia #252

Altered (United) States: Missouri

For reasons not fully (or even partially) understood by anyone, on January 10, 1930, technology stopped advancing in the State of Missouri. At first, this was not noticed because most people figured that their brand new gizmo was just defective, but after about 6 months, several companies and the state government began investigating. Eventually, the federal government got in on it and the truth was discovered. If a device invented after 1/10/30 was taken across the border, it would instantly stop and no amount of fixing could help it. This fact, on top of the Depression, hurt Missouri badly and the state has only recovered in the last 25 years.

 Even though it has the third lowest population in the union, Missouri has the fifth highest tourism rate. It would seem that people really enjoy going there to escape the demands of the rest of the world in the year 2000. In fact, the state is the number one place for vacation homes.

 It is worth noting that when the people of Missouri travel to another state on vacation, they overwhelmingly choose California or New York City. It seems that they just can’t get enough of looking at high tech in action, even though most say they are glad not to have it in their state.

One good thing about being in technological stasis is that in Missouri, “Old Time Radio” is alive and kicking ass. The St. Louis Radio Theater Of The Air is just the largest and best known of 25 radio theater companies in the state. Although the companies saw some lean times during the 1950s-60s, in the 70s, interest began to grow and really took off in 1976 when Paramount authorized a Star Trek radio series featuring the original cast. A few years later, Star Wars hit the airwaves and things really took off.

 Missouri now has five high power radio stations broadcasting music, comedy and drama 24/7. Recently, these stations (all located near the Kansas border) have begun sending recordings of their programs over to Kansas so they can be put on the internet. The popularity of these shows rivals, and in some cases surpasses, anything on television.

The Doclopedia #253

 Altered (United) States: Montana

 The most interesting iteration of the Big Sky State is the one on Earth 109, where most of the state is a huge shallow lake with 164 large islands in it. Many of these islands are former or current mining sites, but even more are wildlife preserves.

The vast lake was formed at the end of the last ice age and is fed by the mighty Oskolopa River that starts in the eastern Canadian Rockies. Much water also comes from snow melt in the various mountain ranges that give the state its name.

The Doclopedia #254

Altered (United) States: Nebraska

 On an Earth that had a very active steampunk era followed by an equally active pulp adventure era, the machinations of a mad scientist caused the entire state of Nebraska to increase in elevation by 100 feet. Oddly, all rivers and streams flowing into the state still do so, but they flow STRAIGHT UP 100 FOOT TALL CLIFFS! Trying to explain how that can happen has driven at least 9 scientist mad.

Owing to the enormous expense of building roads into the state, there are only two ways in or out: Interstate 80 (west/east) and Interstate 29 (north/south).

Life in Nebraska actually goes on much as it always has, despite the weather being somewhat more extreme and the citizens of South Dakota bitching about all the shade they now get.

Purple Oxen Taunt My Grandmother

…and then she pops a cap in their asses

This new work schedule is seriously fucking with my ability to write, since it takes up my usual best writing hours. I’m 2 or 3 doclopedia entries behind, so I shall try to catch up later today. They might be shorter entries than I’d like.

It’s All Fun & Games Until You Get Your Head Stuck In A Bicycle

…especially if it’s moving

The Doclopedia #251

Altered (United) States: Mississippi   “Run & Hunt”

On Earth 5, the heavily forested state of Mississippi is the setting for one of the most interesting and extreme military training functions ever devised: The Mississippi Survival Run.

The concept is simple: qualifying members of various special forces units from both US and foreign military organizations are dropped off somewhere along the northwestern border of the state and told to be in Biloxi (at the state’s southern tip) in 15 days. Each contestant is given a small pack with minimal survival gear.

Sounds pretty straightforward, right? Guess again.

First off, the skin of all contestants is dyed a very bright blue. This dye is pretty much impossible to remove, but will fade rapidly after about 18 days.

Secondly, contestants are not allowed to use any motorized vehicle for travel. Any non-motorized transport is legal. Everything from skateboards to horses to hang gliders have been used in the past. It should be noted that contestants are exempt from prosecution for theft during the 15 days of the Run.

Thirdly, contestants must obtain five keys from various places (some urban, most in the wild) that they must turn in at the finish line. These keys are scattered around the state, making it impossible to just take a straight line from start to finish. Each key also unlocks a nearby box of food and juice. The five keys for each contestant are never anywhere near those of other contestants.

Fourth, contestants may not help each other and they cannot steal each others stuff. Leading a bunch of citizens towards another contestant is perfectly ok, however.

Finally, a bounty of $5,000 is paid to any citizen who brings a “Blue Runner” into the local police station or military base. Citizens cannot seriously hurt a contestant, just as a contestant cannot seriously hurt a citizen, but as General George Patton once said “You can bet there will be some serious ass kicking”. He would know, having been among the first group of men to run the course.

The Run always starts exactly at midnight and contestants are spaced 20 feet apart. Most years there are 30-40 contestants and they all get a 2 hour grace period before the citizens of Mississippi can start hunting them. Not surprisingly, in areas anywhere near human habitation, Runners wait until after dark to travel.

On average, about half of all contestants get caught. The people of Mississippi all love the Run and are very good at spotting Runners.

All winning contestants get medals and a cut of the uncollected bounty money. The losers get to try again next year.

How To Tame Your Pet Wolverine

…for starters, NEVER piss it off

The Doclopedia #250

Altered (United) States: Minnesota “Land Of Giants”

To: Lord Bradford Millington

 From: Lt. Theodore Roosevelt

Subject: Report on the investigation of Giants in Minnesota

My Lord,

Please forgive the lateness of this report, as we have been under some duress these past weeks. The number of Giants was greatly understated by our advanced scouts and, as these creatures are very hostile to humans, we have been constantly on the move.

 The Giants are all between the height of 28 and 36 feet, with the rare individual being up to 40 feet tall. They are in all other ways quite human appearing. It would seem that their clothing, at least that which they were wearing when the Snow Wizard botched his spell, enlarged with them. The same cannot be said for their homes or any other belongings. Their crops are larger than normal, but not of a proportionate size to themselves. However, Sage Sanders thinks that these crops will continue to enlarge every year since they are fertilized with the manure of cattle, horses, etc.

 Related to which, I must also report that their dogs, cats and livestock do seem to have enlarged in a proportionate manner. Two of my scouts barely escaped from a beagle the size of a horse and just yesterday we finally finished eating a young chicken half again as big as an ostrich. Cats, which now are at least the size of tigers, are by far the most dangerous creatures and we have killed several. We have sent many samples from the various Giant creatures back with this report.

 As stated before, the Giants seem to hate humans and attack us on sight. Fortunately, they lose interest in the chase if they lose sight of us. They speak a strange language that sounds somewhat like Swedish, but Sage Hallstrom cannot decipher it.

 We can also report that the Giants seem unwilling or unable to cross the borders of the state. We have twice been chased across the Minnesota/Wisconsin border and both times the Giants stopped at the edge and threw debris at us, but did not venture any closer. Nor do Giant creatures seem inclined to cross the border, as one group of Giants had a pair of hounds with them and they stayed alongside their masters.

 At the present time, I suggest that the Queen forbid entry into Minnesota, but not worry about the Giants moving into other areas. The present military levels in all bordering states seems adequate should any Giant creature come across.

 Our next foray into the state will be to find out if the Snow Wizard did indeed destroy himself and his castle when his spell went awry. I will personally be leading three soldiers and Sage Sanders on this three week journey. Fortunately, the Snow Wizard lived in a remote area of the forest well away from human habitation. I shall report our findings to you with all possible speed.

 We will continue our mission here until you indicate otherwise. I have attached a list of supplies and equipment we need, as well as requests for 3 more Sages and a dozen more troops to replace those we have lost.

 For Queen and Country, 

 Theodore Roosevelt, Lt., U.S. Army