Playing Civilization brings about the most curious of urges. I wondered about how the least-advanced nation would see my ridiculously-advanced civilization. Here, it's a narrative. More of a practice in first-person writing, if anything.
As I write these words in stained parchment stolen from a Russian beggar, I cannot help but grimace at what will happen to it. They will find it, next to my corpse. They will then cackle as they read it, then publish it as another show of their superiority over a poor, overworked man who could never keep up with the times. I always knew they would rule the world. Since the Beginning. But not this way. Lord, I had hoped it would never come to this. Behemoths of steel roar outside, knocking aside troops using equipment that they themselves haven't used in centuries.
Perhaps it would be best if I started at the Beginning. 4000 BC. I did not know what the number meant, nor why I was suddenly standing atop a hill overlooking a thousand men and women. I just knew that 4000 BC was the date. I knew that the years would get smaller, until they reached zero. Then they would rise again.
I didn't understand. I still don't. All I knew was that I was a leader to my people. And I led. My tribe was quaint, but friendly. We grew quickly, every child born in the dirty shacks were we slept a miracle. But within a year we realized that we couldn't stay like that. We had to move. 500 men came together, making weapons from rocks and sticks. Those Warriors went out, to the East.
Exploration went on, us learning of every nook and cranny of the piece of land we lived on. We expanded, more villages littering our continent, slowly but surely. Soon we met another tribe, the Russians. Their leader was a beautiful woman, who has yet to lose any of her looks. She smiled from her throne, held up by great brown beasts, and stood. We shook hands, and with that Russia gained her first ally in us.
She told me of other nations, empires far to the East. Amazed, I followed her to her capital. My people did well on their own, putting leaders in my spot to let my country flourish as I was gone. People were happy in my land, if quaint. Not much technological progress was made, but we had our culture, our people were happy, and nothing could take that from us.
But from myself, happiness was wrenched away when I saw Moscow. Buildings of great stone, taller than even the hills of the western coast, were filled to the brim with elite troops holding great bows.
"What are they all for?" I couldn't help but ask. She smiled grimly and told me, simply, that it was better to be safe than sorry. "Why? Your city is so great, what could threaten you?"
And so I learned of the Barbarians. Clad in white, those men built horrible shrines to death and battle. I witnessed a raid by these men on Moscow in my brief stay, and I saw just how much damage they could cause.
"They are rabid. I need a great force to keep them down," she told me. I could not help but agree, seeing these men tear apart the countryside on their way to the city. "If you would like to remain here, you may. But your people will need you. My shamans say that the times ahead will be tough. You should be there for your nation."
Her shaman was wrong, but in my Capital, I noticed curious things as the years passed. My men, trained for battle against the horrible Barbarians, died of old age. The women grew old, wrinkled, and soon followed. The children became men, trained to fight Barbarians, becoming Warriors... then died of old age.
I would go to a small creek near the Palace and look at my reflection. Not a single wrinkle on my face that hadn't been there. I was not aging. Not like my people.
Decades passed. Then centuries. Soon the Russians divulged the secrets of their bows and arrows, my men becoming adept in the use of that weaponry. During that time, I did not know who led Russia. Maybe Catherine still led at that time, maybe not. When an envoy from an unknown group arrived with a cadre of Russians, I learned.
There were four like me. Catherine still lived, her men handing me a letter from herself. But the unfamiliar men, whose faces were kind and their eyes squinted happily, told me of three others. Gandhi of India, Elizabeth of England... and Him. They were all ageless, men and women who led their people from the Beginning to that day. These men, unfamiliar, from His land, spoke to me of a meeting, organized by themselves. Catherine had agreed, and her men told me that it would be wise to go, too.
In the middle of the continent, near the city of York I was told, we met. Five seats, the English Queen's needlessly extravagant, were arrayed around a curiously-shaped table. Gandhi told me that it was circular.
I did not understand the concept, but... He told us about how his new Catapults- craft made for throwing ordnance from great distances- had such shapes on their bottoms to help them move. Elizabeth had frowned at him, but Catherine seemed amazed at the possibility.
Were I to know of the future from that point, I would have palmed my face as I learned who would live and who would not. Alas, I did not, and spoke to Him of the advancements his people lived with. He was giddy, inviting me to see his great capital.
Always polite, I agreed. After seeing his city, I vowed to make my people great. Houses, buildings as tall as mountains greeted me there, a great bronze figure triumphantly standing in the coast... I knew I would never be able to match him, but a seed was planted. Rage, bitterness. It was unfair. He was given people who were diligent but still gleeful at the prospect of advancement, resources that were just what he needed.
When the year 0 passed, I had been to every nation of the world. Arrayed around one landmass, we knew nothing of the beyond, only that we were the world until proven otherwise. None volunteered to explore, even if He put together a small fleet of likewise minuscule ships. As it was, those ships were never used for anything but the transfer of resources from his homeland to the continent. The seas were dangerous, we all knew. Too dangerous to tread, and even He understood.
The Five, leaders of their nations, soon fell apart. Our yearly meetings stopped near 1100, when Elizabeth, in a fit of jealousy, declared war on Him. His government was Democratic, the people's wants being put over his. It would seem ridiculous nowadays, but back then it worked fine... until that point.
His empire was not vast like the English. His people did not know how to fight, not having done so in millennia after the Barbarians of their lands had been wiped out; it had only one, poorly-trained division of young men who did nothing but laze every day. His cities were peaceful, but only his Capital and a handful of settlements near it and Russia were prosperous enough to give their lack of preparation for war a reason.
The small contingent to retaliate for the declaration, sent to York, was quickly ripped apart by English horsemen. The catapults weren't ready for battle, or they were too timid. Regardless, the English advanced onto a small town by York and took it with minimal resistance. His treasury was empty at the time, and thus no reserves could be raised.
Nothing happened for years. Decades passed, and the English were sure they had scare Him off. But then his empire fought back. Weapons that shouldn't have existed were dumped off of steel ships. Enormous metal cylinders were armed with gunpowder and shot into enemy formations, the enormous cannonballs tearing English Longbowmen and Horsemen apart. After York's fall, his forces, advanced but inept at warring, ran into the Armies at London. Thousands died, but the English held the line.
With that display of power over the technologically advanced nation, other nations' fears were assuaged. War began between all nations and Him. I do not know what happened, but at that moment, something snapped within the man. Russia was the second most advanced nation on the planet at the time, but her forces were still simply too far behind. Russian Archers were well-equipped, but they could not hold a candle to his Pikemen. Sevastopol was lost, armies swarming from one of the major cities under his rule to blitz through Catherine's defenses.
His Knights were nothing to laugh at, holding back any attacks from strongholds they could not break. They would sit and push back counterattacks by Catherine's Legions in one side of the continent, then smash English Warriors in the other. Soon the two nations sued for peace, intent on not losing any more.
But the damage had been done.
I did say that the world was at war, did I not? Gandhi remained at peace, but I did not. My declaration of war came as support to Catherine. I had been friendly to Him over the centuries, so I am sure he felt quite betrayed. But how much, I was not able to tell. Fighting a war on two fronts, feverishly defending against English thrusts in the southern end of the continent, where one of his cities was left nearly undefended for years as forces shuffled around under it, he could not afford troops to hit me with.
But his navy was unused. I still remember the day when I was fishing with a young man, the caretaker of one of my many bear cubs, and I saw this black mass in the distance, entering my capital's bay. During that time, we were still stuck in the ancient times, buildings of rock and mud brick being the only things available to live in. The quality of living was still high, however. I had four cities in total, and all had able granaries and markets. My capital had a simple makeshift aqueduct, but it got the job done.
So, with low buildings spread through many kilometers, nothing was in the way when people looked for what was making that smoke that was diluting slowly in the sky. Like a moving bonfire, the source shifted, closer and closer, atop that black object. I hustled to move the small boat I was on to the coast, but there was no need.
The Cruiser stopped in the midst of the bay, slowly puffing. Over the next several days it did nothing, before doing a circle around the bay and leaving. Many breathed sighs of relief, which were sucked back in when another ship closed in.
There may have been no less than five cruisers on a permanent rotation, frightening my people as they rode in, observed, and left as another arrived, but it always seemed like the same ship. They had no identification, only the large letters on the side, spelling out a message better not written down.
He was insulting when he wanted to be, especially when insulted, himself.
Soon I broke. An envoy was sent, and he had no choice but to accept the peace I begged for. His people would take nothing less. However, the Cruisers never stopped, as they weren't actually trespassing into my territory. At that point, it was obvious that those ships would soon do more than sail aimlessly.
The peace lasted. England was too wounded to be arrogant, Russia was bleeding from the loss of two major cities, and I was too afraid to do anything. In 1640 the news came from His land... they had breached the last technological barriers they could see, and were entering completely new fields of research. The change was nearly instantaneous throughout his cities, blocky tenements being torn down in favor of great sleek skyscrapers.
Following His naming convention, I had finally led my people beyond the simple caveman stage. The Medieval Age was just as difficult to advance in as the Ancient, but at least, I thought, we were at around the same technological level as the rest of the world.
Sadly, the rest of the world was becoming much too advanced to comprehend in the years after that breakthrough. News of revolution came decades afterwards, speaking of His decision to throw aside his Democratic system. "The new system, the system that will lead humanity to a greater beyond, is Communism," the sure, deep voice rang through his cities' radio systems. The news did not reach us backwards peoples in the West until His plans had come to fruition.
News of enormous ships dwarfing the greatest of Galleons came in close to those of enormous metal birds. Delhi was torn apart by these birds, called "planes", before being taken over by enormous, self-moving cannons.- tanks. England fell within the year to masses of tanks, each able to take hundreds of men by itself and go on fighting. India came soon afterwards, planes destroying its armies in the plains- although it went out gloriously, with tales of archers who had shot down planes with their mere wooden equipment. Those were most likely lies, given the equipment used by His troops, but it gave them hope.
It did not at all help, though. India was torn asunder, and Gandhi's corpse was found under the remains of his half-built monument to the gods, Stonehenge. Elizabeth had been found dead on her capital's streets, making it obvious that the death of a nation brought the assured death of its leader.
It was no surprise, mere weeks ago, when the cruisers that usually moved about in my capital's bay left for good, to be replaced by what could only be called battleships- for they are ships meant for battling, and only that- that happily dumped tanks throughout my countryside. Planes came from above, and I did nothing as Washington was bathed in fire under the cries of "Tora! Tora! Tora!"
Riga used to be one of the most well-off cities in the Russian Empire. Now it's the last one left. Catherine is mere meters away, dozing on the bed. Even if her mindset is more modern, her people millennia ahead of mine, she fell under the animalistic desire all women have for honest, honest Abe.
--Abraham Lincoln, first and last Despot of America. Yours truly, to whomever takes this.
Honest, honest Abe...