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Literature / Vivere Militare Est

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The symbols whispered tantalising promises. They promised to unlock the secrets of the universe and what lay beyond. Images of alien worlds, twisted and fantastic, burned themselves into her mind. She was drowning in a sea of infinite depth, the darkness engulfing her. The whispers grew louder. Then orbit around a burning planet, floating in the void as great black ships spewed tendrils of flame on the hapless surface. The whispers became screams, the screams begging for food, begging for peace, begging for freedom...

Vivere Militare Est is an alternate timeline originating on created by rvbomally, with plenty of contributions from other members, which explores an alternate World War II where the supernatural (insistently referred to as "preternatural") definitively exists. Although fundamentally different from our world from the outset, the only large changes start appearing in World War II, when Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan attempt to use cosmic horrors to win the war. This plan backfires when the Allies use their own preternatural forces, which forces the two sides to a stalemate.

The post-war era sees the establishment of the Preternatural Containment and Regulation Association, an organisation founded by the five great powers to fight the growing supernatural threat. The bulk of the timeline is set in 2015, several decades after the end of the war, and large parts of the world are under the effective control of supernatural entities or their human acolytes. Meanwhile, the five great powers of Nazi Germany, Japan, the United States, the United Kingdom, and Soviet Union are busy trying to curb the influence of their rivals.

An extremely detailed map of the world can be found here.

As stated before, you can read the timeline here. Warning: membership is required to view it.

Vivere Militare Est contains the following tropes:

  • The Alliance: Whilst significantly weaker than it was during its peak of power in World War II (as the Soviet Union was still a part of it), the Allies continue to exist, in the form of an intergovernmental alliance between the United States, the other countries of the Western Hemisphere (save for the rogue states of Paraguay and Haiti), the United Kingdom, and some European countries.
  • All Myths Are True: Played with to whatever afterlife exists in this universe and back. Most mythological creatures exist, but they're just as likely to bear only a passing resemblance to the stories as they are to have their folklore behaviours and weaknesses. The PCRA tests myths and legends in laboratory conditions to separate the true ones from the superstition.
  • Alternate Universe: It can be said. This universe largely mirrors our universe in most matters, with the only notable exception being the existence of the supernatural.
    • In addition, many "gods" encountered in the world of VME originate from universes where mundane laws of existence, such as physics, are completely inexistent. This constitutes the in-universe scientific explanation for the existence of a fair number of "godly" powers beyond human understanding.
  • Apocalypse How: The ancient seafaring peoples of Lemuria, Mu, and Atlantis had their continents sunk by a massive preternatural computer, named in-universe as a rune cogitator, situated in Mysterious Antarctica, which basically controls the entire universe like a puppeteer controls its puppets. Prior to its finding by a PCRA team, the cogitator had been last used by the Elder Things. Guess what they used it for.
  • Badass Boast:
    Captain Medina: I am the thief, the king’s mirage, the fennel-carrier, the clay sculptor, the wind-messenger, the mother-grower, the deceiver, the hope-planter, the war-hero, the rebel against the gods. I am the food-of-eagles, the chained one, the bringer of light, the accuser of el, the smith, the forethinker, the twice killed and twice born. I am your saviour and you - Jean Weygand - you and your kind are to be the instrument of my retribution - my revenge.
  • Badass Israeli: Despite having an even rougher start that included a civil war, Israel has managed to land itself in an even stronger position, with its own small sphere of influence and having annexed the Sinai and West Bank. They're also a leader in alternative (in this world meaning non-preternatural) energies and their golems are less costly in gastplasm than most other comparable preternatural military hardware. Having unearthed a few powerful artifacts useful in containing Kemet and occult groups also helps. All this without half as much foreign backing as in our world, and with a pissed-off Nazi Germany constantly trying to hobble them.
  • Balkanize Me: Several examples:
    • Italy is split between North and South. While South Italy is an American-aligned democracy and a member of the PCRA in good standing, North Italy is a rogue state on the level of our world's North Korea.
    • Instead of imploding in the '90s, Yugoslavia was divided after WWII, between a German-aligned Croatia and a USSR-aligned, Serbian-dominated rump Yugoslavia.
    • In the Middle East, Lebanon is split between the Israel-occupied South and German-backed North, Jordan is split between a number of opposing factions due to Occult groups, Israel, and the government's inability to address either, and Syria's southern tip seceded as Israel-backed Souadia (notice a pattern?).
    • Malaya and Kalimantan (North Borneo) never united to form Malaysia, though Brunei inverts the trope by having united with Kalimantan.
    • North and South Vietnam, whose war ended in a draw this time.
    • And the biggest case would be China. Not only is it divided between the Communist North and the Nationalist South, but several outlying regions were carved off: Sinkiang (a Soviet puppet), Manchukuo (a Japanese puppet), Taiwan (now part of Japan proper), and Tibet (never annexed due to Communists and Nationalists being more preoccupied by each other to bother).
    • And then there are the Middle African and Indian Containment Zones, both of which have collapsed into anarchy and are rife with warlords, micro-states, roving ethnic militias and cults, and all kinds of preternatural activity. India is stated to be home to several competing governments, backed by different powers and each claiming authority over the entire subcontinent, with its status as an exclusion zone due almost entirely to bickering between the great powers over which one(s) to recognize.
    • Inverted with Egypt/Kemet, which swallowed up several North African states.
  • Black-and-Grey Morality: The preternatural states of Kemet (more so than the others), Haiti, and Paraguay, as well as rogue human states like North Italy and North China, are vehemently evil in nature and are led by madmen or evil "gods" (a term very loosely applied in this universe). However, the five great powers and their spheres aren't exactly representing the moral good, with the Third Reich, Japan, and the Soviet Union openly torturing "enemies of the state" and other assortments of political dissidents, opponents of the state, undesirables, criminals, as well as the aforementioned felons' children and relatives, in order to produce "enriched" gastplasm, necessary in almost all powerful thaumaturgic weapons, or turning them into revenants, animated corpses fighting for the glory of the state. The PCRA also tortures people, including children, to death, although they at least have the excuse of protecting humanity. The United States and Great Britain aren't spotless either.
  • Crapsack World: This world is not a nice place to live in. Various malicious supernatural entities run amok, the great powers of the world are more concerned with undermining each other than fighting the threats and three of them could be considered outright evil, and it's implied that the dead face a bleak afterlife regardless of how they behaved in life.
  • Cult: Many of the occult groups, like Thelema and the Order of the Black Sun, are like this.
  • Cybernetics Eat Your Soul: Literally. Any attempt to make preternatural-powered cybernetic implants end up literally leeching gastplasm from whoever they're implanted on.
  • Egypt Is Still Ancient: Invoked by Akhenaten, who restores Egypt's ancient name of Kemet, abolishes Islam in favor of making himself a god-pharaoh, and sets out to turn back the clock to ancient times, which he regards as the time when Egypt was at the height of its glory and had the rest of the world bowing to it as opposed to being a squabbling plaything of the superpowers.
  • Eldritch Location: The containment zones, especially New Zealand. Everything single living creature in the area is preternatural and probably hostile to human life.
  • Fantastic Drug: Mentiflex makes you super smart and can even give people psychic powers. It also eventually drives you insane trying to consume as much knowledge as possible.
  • Fantastic Nuke: While regular nuclear weapons do exist in this setting, despoiler bombs are the great world-ending threat. They're computers, powered by enriched gastplasm, reciting explosive spells thousands of times faster than a human can. The explosion consumes the souls of anyone caught in it, becoming even more powerful. The United States used an early one on Kyoto in an attempt to force the Japanese to surrender during World War II. The site is still unstable by 2015.
  • Five Rounds Rapid: A common "mistake" of various PCRA rookie personnel is to use conventional weaponry against the preternatural. In the beginning of the timeline, it has been thoughtfully explained by the Director why "shooting the sucker in the head", whilst a natural tendency, does not and will not work, due to the various supernatural beings' different laws of physics.
  • Gashadokuro: Weaponized by Japan. Between famine, disease, medical experiments and mass slaughters even worse than in our world, the IJA managed to stockpile an impressive (read: horrific) number of them before being forced out of China.
  • Ghostapo: The Nazis were the first to use the occult in warfare. It also results in Stupid Jetpack Hitler thanks to Magitek.
  • Golem: Israel utilizes them in their military.
  • Go Mad from the Revelation: There are many runes and symbols that can drive you insane. Pretty much all thaumtech relies on something that breaks the human mind, so all artificers (those who study/engineer with the preternatural) are insane.
  • Halloween Episode: The Halloween special is an AU version of the VME universe where the revelation of the preternatural kicked off not during WWII, but during the Syrian Civil War in 2014, when fighters for the Islamic State beheaded prisoners at an ancient ruin site and accidentally activated the runes there, causing them all to be possessed by demons. This AU is, unlike many Halloween specials, a little bit less nasty; at least Nazi Germany ain't around anymore.
  • Hell: From what little we see, the afterlife is far from pleasant, which is why a lot of souls try to stick around on Earth. The PCRA and governments claim that this makes killing ghosts for their gastplasm an act of mercy.
  • Horror: The universe as a whole falls in the Cosmic Horror Story camp, but pretty much every subgenre has its place in this setting. That abandoned cabin out in the woods, ancient tombs, and the foundations of creation are all bad places to go poking around. In-universe, horror movies are mandated by the government to be Anvilicious about the dangers of poking around with the occult.
  • Insistent Terminology: The PCRA's mission is to catalog and understand the preternatural. They tend to use "scientific" terms for everything; the supernatural is "preternatural", Magitek is thaumtech/thaumturgy, Eldritch Abominations are theopotent entities, etc.
  • Magitek: Gastplasm, the "substance" souls are made of, is used to power everything from plasma weapons and flying discs to cars and home computers. Computer chips have runes laser-etched onto them. Your home appliances and smart car understand you as well as a human being, but you may have to have it exorcised and the controlling spirit replaced if it turns hostile and tries to get you to start offering sacrifices to it.
  • Mysterious Antarctica: The very first post of the world-building thread takes place there, and alludes to something terrible being unearthed from it (the quote at the top of the page is from that post).
  • Nepharious Pharaoh: The Black Pharaoh, an ancient undead preternatural creature that hates all mortal life, and claims to be the Real Life example Akhenaten.
  • Ouija Boards: Are a load of dingos' kidneys.
    rvbomally: Even in a world where ghosts and demons actually do exist, some things are just bullshit.
  • Our Ghosts Are Different: While they aren't described in much detail ghosts are occasionally mentioned as a minor preternatural threat, to the extent that captured ghosts are kept in museums. They are still a threat to civilians though because whatever they experienced in the afterlife has driven them all violently insane.
  • Our Souls Are Different: Souls are made of gastplasm, which is used by humans to power preternatural technology. Everything living has it, but the gastplasm of humans is more potent, even more so if it is "enriched" by torturing the source to death.
  • Our Vampires Are Different: They exist in hives, and actually have a Hive Mind. They still need blood, and are weakened by ultraviolet light.
  • Our Werewolves Are Different: They don't actually look like wolves (their howls are thought to be responsible for the association), they're allergic to silver but sufficient conventional firepower can bring them down, and they mostly exist to spread their Viral Transformation to other humans (even their body hair are actually barbs designed to spread the infection). Oh, and they have spiderlike mandibles.
  • Our Zombies Are Different: There are several different kinds of animated corpse. Even in the democratic nations, you can donate your body to the military to be converted to a revenant after death.
  • Powered by a Forsaken Child: As Children Are Innocent, their souls are more potent than those of adults.
  • Pragmatic Villainy: The modern day German ,Soviet and Japanese governments are far less extreme than their 40's version but very far from being pleasant.
  • Sea Monster: The Japanese awoke several different kinds from the sunken ruins of Mu to use against the American Navy in the pacific theatre of World War II. Of course, they call them Kaiju.
  • Shout-Out:
  • Token Good Teammate: The Deutsches Reich are probably the least evil occult group. They view human sacrifice as distasteful and allow it only as an absolute last resort, and hate the Nazis as a racist corruption of German ideals. Of course, there are a couple of other cults that still manage to hold the moral high ground over the Nazis, Soviets, or Japanese.
  • Weird Historical War: The second phase of World War II, and every other war since.