|The Immortal Kuang Empire|
Empire ~1830-5000 in a timeline derived from the Shoukakegawa original timeline. Kong Manjian, an ambitious chrononaut from the Tianjin Concordat, returned from Ex Tempore to find a in his opinion primitive and barbarian world in 1811. He used his timeship to gather valuable information about the future, moved back a few years to Malacca and set to create a fortune. By 1820 his commercial empire dominated the Malay Peninsula and parts of Indonesia, and the Dutch were his firm supporters. He introduced advanced technology and bootstrapped a local high-tech industry. When the British attempted to wrest control from the Dutch in the region they were defeated by primitive guided missiles. In the Dutch-English colonial war ended in 1824 with the total defeat of the British navy, causing them to lose most of their colonial holdings in the east, including parts of India.
By 1840 “The Immortal Kuang” was the de facto ruler of the regions and his agents controlled the enormously powerful Dutch East India Company and through it parts of the Dutch government. By now he had transformed Malacca utterly, turning it into the most prosperous and advanced city on Earth. He attracted the best scientists available to recreate the technology he needed and steadily expand his empire. Despite several assassination attempts he was steadily expanding his power worldwide; the rumors surrounding his person had begun to coalesce into a person cult unlike anything seen before. He as seen as the living embodiment of Progress and Power.
In 1846 the Indochina war broke out between the Kuang-supported Dutch and an alliance of France and Britain. This time there was no stopping the advanced weapons developed by Kuang, especially since he had made use of his timeship to find out where the enemy would be weeks in advance. Within two months the other colonial powers found themselves entirely defenseless, with their enemies communicating using encrypted radio globally and equipped with frightening biological weapons. London and Paris were devastated by anthrax missiles and Preussia forced to ally with the Dutch. In the new political order two world seemed dominated by the two poles – the Netherlands controlling Europe, and Malacca controlling the eastern hemisphere.
While Kuang expanded onwards, conquering, buying and infiltrating entire countries the Netherlands steadily got embroiled into fierce European conflicts. Kuang gave them support, but always at a price. Eventually he stopped giving direct support, and in 1868-70 the Franco-Dutch war ended with the unconditional surrender of the Netherlands and the destruction of Amsterdam. By now it did not matter: Kuang controlled most of the world economy through his East India Company, his faithful were everywhere, he had the total technological dominance – including nuclear weapons and caches of doomsday viruses. Kuang never did declare a global empire, but rather made sure the local rulers knew his will on no uncertain terms. Over the next century nation after nation requested to join his East Indian Federation.
After reaching a suitable technological level, Kuang more or less disbanded scientific research. The universities were closed; the faithful began to preach the end of science. He understood the risks of uncontrolled information technology, AI and free nanotechnology to his power and kept them to himself. Using his near-monopoly on nanotechnology and limited AI he began instituting a regime of global surveillance. His faithful, now becoming a zealous police force acting on his command, were used to weed out any discontents.
As his grip on Earth became firmer, Kuang also changed. The once young and ambitious conqueror had become global emperor. As he no longer had any worlds to conquer he grew increasingly paranoid and fascinated by aesthetics. It was this combination that made him truly unique in the history of all mankinds; unlike most dictators, who even with advanced life extension treatments couldn’t remain focused for more than a few centuries, Kuang lasted nearly 3000 years. One secret was without doubt the uniquely strong security systems he employed as well a judicious use of time travel to correct more serious mistakes, but a contributing factor likely was his ability to channel his genius towards artistic diversions.
Over the following centuries Earth was an essentially static world. Once a high material standard had been reached and the population stabilized at 7 billion, the only change was in culture and art. Kuang strongly promoted creative expression, and supported the constant creation and re-creation of new and old styles. Despite the near-total political control, the Empire enjoyed a many centuries long cultural renaissance.
Kuang feared time travelers, and had specially trained agents and nanoweapons sent wherever they were observed. He was also fearful of anybody being able to discover phasing, and made sure all the available equipment was kept out of reach of anybody. Whenever a time jump occurred, he would jump back in time before it to undo it. This of course resulted in “abortive” timelines where Kuang vanished (while the most current timeline always had Kuang reside in an untampered timeline); these abortive timelines appear all to have ended in disasters as the static humanity collapsed within a few decades after Kuang’s disappearance.
The end came in 5033. A Strigae incursion to acquire some interesting art made Kuang jump back before it to undo all possible effects. In the abortive timeline where he left, civilization collapsed and nearly died out when the already ending interglacial turned into an ice age. But 90,000 years later, technological civilization re-emerged. This civilization underwent a singularity, became sentient software and expanded into the universe. At some point phasing was discovered, and explorers began to move back (some also ended up at Ex, where they joined the virtuality). When the explorers arrived in the Kuang Empire, Kuang tried to undo them by jumping back before their arrival – but unlike the Ex Tempore incursions that always returned home, these explorers forged backwards in small steps. When Kuang returned home, he found a timeline that has been subtly affected by these posthumans. He immediately jumped further back, and then jumped home – finding an ever more effected timeline. In addition, the Kuang of this timeline also jumped back, with the same results. Suddenly nearly a dozen Kuangs were rushing backwards in time to stop the invasion. As they approached the year 2000 it became increasingly clear that they could not stop them. One of the Kuangs then chose to unleash all his power rather than to let his empire mutate outside his control: the nanodefenses of Earth was turned against all life, and in a few days the biosphere was wiped out.