1987 During a joint public conference in East Germany with Ronald Reagan, Mikhail Gorbachev is assassinated by his personal aide. Beamed live across the world, the brutal assault with a ceremonial pen lasts only seconds before security steps in and feeds are cut. Worldwide, stunned audiences hang by their television sets. News Anchors sit in silence. Thirty minutes later, sirens ring out near urban centers. In the United States, the Emergency Broadcast System sings a two-tone song and advices a non-explicit shelter in place command. No word is heard from President Reagan. Congress is roused, but established military doctrine takes precedence. Moscow mirrors the action, bringing the commanders of their armed forces to national leadership. West and East Germany go to war. Small arms fire escalates into artillery barrages, which escalates to air strikes against naval and air bases, conventional from NATO, and chemical from the USSR. A brief lull is punctuated by vague threats passed on established deconfliction lines, until Moscow begins a full armored assault against West Germany. With its air bases effectively disarmed, NATO offers a brief warning before launching a barrage of tactical nuclear weapons against the armored line. The silence following the blasts holds for six hours, before the deconfliction lines are raised again and a precarious ceasefire is established between superpowers. In the ensuing weeks, the irradiated stretch of land between Berlin and Poland becomes the defining humanitarian disaster of the decade. Pictures of the destruction, of permanent shadows, of radiation-sick children, and civilians reduced to scarred, deaf-blind-mutes reverberates in the collective conscience of the world. Both superpowers hold their ground under martial rule. The Vatican is the first to respond. Extending remarks to Moscow Patriarchate, they call for joint disaster relief from NGOs and organize volunteer groups to venture into the newly formed demilitarized zone. This group becomes known as the Coaxial Initiative: a non-homogeneous, non-secular alignment of Abrahamic faith groups that, after a series of miracle-like rescues from collapsed structures, begin a campaign to de-escalate the ceasefire. Three years of campaigning and martial law reaches an end in 1990, when the Coaxial Initiative, now rebuffed with the spiritual alliance of several other faiths not typically rebuffed by hierarchy, manages to bring strategic planners of both military institutions together to sign what becomes known colloquially as The Mutual Pact of Zero Sum Engagement, after the scorched earth of former East Germany becomes an undead reminder of the stability that mutually assured destruction provides. With the urging of the Coaxial Alliance, power is restored to political leaders. Both Washington and The Kremlin begin an immediate push to modernize and rebuff their nuclear, chemical, and biological arsenals, while simultaneously reopening political, social, and economic lines. One by one, treaties, from Strategic Arms Limitation, to Partial Test Ban, are eliminated in favor of mutual defense pacts with the full might of both superpowers behind them. Increased economic activity in the USSR gradually leads to an increase in the quality of life. The Soviet Union begins to strongly distance itself from individual economic and spiritual regulation, becoming Communist in name only. In both nations, the Coaxial Alliance has gained political following. Local politicians begin to platform along religious lines and see major successes. In the United States, the neoconservative movement is abandoned in favor orthoconservatism. Abortion is all but outlawed. Capital punishment is reinstated nationwide, along with mandatory minimum sentencing, particularly for “societal transgressions” such as narcotics offenses and sodomy. Federalism grows in strength. Following a spree killing of lawmakers on capitol hill by a “deranged homosexual” armed with a mini-14 semi-automatic rifle, the second amendment is put under legal review, and eventually repealed in a mass overhaul of the Constitution, along with several restrictions on the first, fourth, and 22nd. In 1997, the USSR aligns itself with NATO in a contentious Trans-Quadrant Partnership as grassroots theocratic movements arise from Athens to Helsinki. Joint military exercises in the Middle East and Southern Africa, often utilizing tactical thermonuclear devices, secure oil and uranium supplies for the newly made hyperpower. During this time, anti-establishment subcultures writhe in the shadows of the newly unified with “subversive and disturbing” art, music, and intellectualism. In 2001, India launches a strategic assault against Pakistan over the threat of the nation’s nuclear arsenal development. Threatened by India’s bravado, China retaliates against Indian missile-sites, and Israel takes the opportunity to decimate Iran’s military-industrial complex, although they refuse to acknowledge it publicly. With pressure from the Soviets, NATO turns a blind eye toward China annexing Bhutan and aiding North Korea’s push into and recapturing of the South. In 2004, variety entertainer, televangelist, and senator of Indiana, Gabriel Shaw is elected president of the United States, primarily funded by the Coaxial Initiative, now the Panaxial Initiative Group, a multinational theological think tank and campaign sponsor. In 2005, Konstantin Mendeleev, a former Russian Orthodox bishop, is appointed Presidium of the Supreme Soviet in USSR parliament, also endorsed by the Panaxial Initiative Group. The rest of the world follows the precedent. By 2010, a dipolar world has emerged, with the People’s Republic of China controlling the vast majority of Asian nations by force, and the Trans-Quadrant Partnership absorbing loosely all of Europe and North America under a shared banner of moral and spiritual alignment. In 2012, proxy wars between these new powers flare up in Southern Africa over uranium supplies, and in the middle east through “people’s revolutions” against the puppet governments installed a decade earlier to secure oil supplies for the TQP. These conflicts coupled with severe drought brought on by record temperatures results in famine sweeping through large swaths of Africa, South-America, and South-East Asian nations. The developed world shuts its borders to those feeling the strife. The world feels smaller by the day. In urban centers like New York City, curfew is often imposed, but sparsely enforced. Organized crime finds purchase, a bleak and pragmatic response to the hard edge counterculture that it coexists with in the underground, both fueling, and warring with the subversives. Cuts in social programs results in vast swaths of slums lying alongside luxury skyscrapers for the social elite. Infectious disease is common. The local government exists solely as stooges for criminal or religious entities, with little ground between them. Social order is maintained through the iron fist of the NYPD, a weapon wielded by whichever faction has bought enough votes to hold office. In 2018, that faction is Trinity Church, in the form of mayor Lissandra Harlow, a staunch aristocrat who ran on an anti-corruption platform. A union buster with years of missionary work in Sudan, Harlow is intent on bringing order to the port city traumatized by years of gang violence. While fires rage in nations excluded from the new world order, prosperity is promised across the TQP: a new era that will banish degeneracy and secure the future for a world aligned under shared faith and a vision for utopia.