Background & Terrorist Attack
1991. WIth American oil production dropping off, and the situation in the Arabian Strife looking further and further from resolution, the United States became more and more concerned about ensuring a secure flow of oil. Its attention turned to the Southern American country of Venezuela. A series of failed trade deals brought rising tensions, and soon it became apparent to the President that military action was needed.
It began with a naval embargo off the coast, cutting off the country’s supply lines. Soon, however, the situation escalated. A now-disputed Venezuelan torpedo attack on the USS New Jersey prompted a full invasion of the country and the installation of a puppet government which would, naturally, be more open to the idea of free trade with the United States.
The surviving leadership of the Venezuelan government planned a retaliatory strike on a population center. At the ‘92 Minneapolis Superbowl, a crude nuclear weapon was deployed, poisoning the surface of the city and unintentionally irradiating one of the worlds largest trade routes.
Hundreds of thousands die immediately or in the following days/weeks from injuries and radiation poisoning. Millions more would die in the following years as knock-on effects caused a global famine and ecological disaster.
Minneapolis-St. Paul as it was has been destroyed, and has been reborn as something else entirely.
After the bomb hit, the power and then the heat went out, leaving the cities cold in the middle of a Minnesotan winter. Tens of thousands froze to death as people piled into the subway and Endbringer Shelter system, seeking warmth and shelter from the fallout. From there, they started digging, expanding to deal with the flood of people moving in, resulting in the creation of an underground ad-hoc system of tunnels and man-made caverns underneath the ruined heart of the city.
While the United States was responding to the ecological disaster that was the poisoning of one of the largest trade routes in the world and the mass evacuation of population centers near the river, Minneapolis itself found that it was being relegated as a secondary priority, and many felt that they had been effectively abandoned.
Faced with this situation, the people of the city worked together to survive, and managed to eke out an existence in the early days of the disaster. Later disaster recovery efforts found a population that largely felt they had limited trust or desire to work with authorities.
In the decades since, the center of the city has continued to exist mostly underground, the surface being a long-term health hazard. The US government has funded massive rebuilding efforts, and the city serves as a major hub of the restoration and remediation efforts that continue down the Mississippi, as well as a new-found industrial center.
Politically it has become a hotbed for extremist movements, and the US’ grasp of the city and it’s population is tenuous. While some parts of the city see enormous wealth funneled into them, much of the city is dirty and dangerous. The Mall of America might have reopened, and no less than four major-league sports teams might be playing in arenas and stadiums now, but these sorts of politically motivated vanity projects haven’t bought the hearts and minds of the residents.
In this situation, a growing number of factions that range from political parties to outright terrorist groups are the real powers in the city. The tension varies between Weimar Germany and low-grade civil war; militias are frequently seen, enforcing order where the US finds itself incapable.
The PRT, Swordfish and other groups see the city as a place needing a gentle touch, politically the situation is too fragile to risk letting more hot-headed or “problem” Heroes operate in this powder-keg.
While the city itself suffered from the immediate effects of the dirty bomb, within days fallout-contaminated soil washed into the Mississippi River. Even while disaster recovery forces were mobilizing, the run of the river from Minneapolis to the Gulf of Mexico was inundated with radioactive fallout. The fallout continued washing downstream, with large amounts deposited as sediment along the riverbed, but the majority would wash into the Gulf of Mexico.
In order to minimize the dangers of short-lived fission products in the water, a state of martial law was declared along the entirety of the river, with evacuation orders for all non-essential residents. Millions were distributed throughout America, filling shelters, stadiums, auditoriums, and other facilities almost immediately (Unfortunately for the residents of Minneapolis—which needed these resources far more urgently—by the time they could be bussed out, the spots were taken).
With hundreds of powerplants taking feedwater from the river for cooling, a decision was additionally made to shut down all industry and power generation along the river. This resulted in an immediate loss of 5% of American energy capacity, with nationwide rolling blackouts coordinated to keep the grid online.
90 days after the attack, radiation doses were low enough (but still well above “safe” levels) that remediation efforts could begin. Power plants were brought back online, and the US Army Corps of Engineers began dredging work to remove contaminated sediment from the river. However, this was a massive undertaking that could take decades to complete, and with the vast majority of American exports—particularly foodstuffs from the Midwest—transiting the river that was now unusable, it was imperative to get something opened as soon as possible.
Initial operations took place starting at New Orleans and working upstream. However, it quickly became apparent that existing machinery was not nearly enough to handle the task. A national priority was set, to build dredging equipment and ships to haul the fallout into the Gulf where it could safely be made Nemo’s problem. The Mississippi River Rehabilitation Project, more commonly known as “Liberty Ships 2”, would unfortunately take years to ramp up.
In the four years it would take to fully reopen the river, millions starved globally in a mass famine. The Gulf fishing industry was decimated for a decade, and the whole affair is regarded as the greatest ecological disaster in history.
Recent documents released have shown, in addition, that the US government stopped the publication of certain data in order to facilitate opening the Mississippi sooner. This resulted in potentially thousands being exposed to more radiation than necessary. However, some justify the measure, pointing at how much damage was caused every day the river remained closed.
Today, the river contains hundreds of automated radiation monitoring stations. Should an unsafe rise in radiation be detected, river traffic is shut down until the levels lower. Regular dredging operations continue to ensure longer-life fission products are safely disposed of offshore.
The US had fucked around with Venezuela, and it had found out. Given the unprecedented disaster the Minneapolis attack had on both American and global society, it was important to ensure the next “intervention” went differently.
In 1994, the US launched a military invasion of Panama, in order to depose Manuel Noriega’s regime. Following the arrest and trial of the dictator, elections were held that showed 70% of Panamanians supported US annexation. Thus, on July 4, 1994, the country was officially made into a US territory.
While the US charged Noriega with racketeering and drug trafficking as justification for the invasion, most sources allege that America saw potential foreign control of the Panama Canal as too great a threat to national security. In addition, in 2001, it was reported that the US may have faked the election results it used to support the annexation. The claims were widely discredited and the reporter later committed suicide.