Hi, the timeline (attached in PDF because the formatting refuses to come over) revolves around the appearence of superhumans in 1980 and continues to the present day, as the backdrop for a novel. Comments would be welcome; please place them at http://www.alternatehistory.com/disc...ad.php?t=82868
1979 First recorded appearance of a Superhuman; BURNING GIRL. The reports
are not believed, but both the US and the USSR launch covert investigations
into the incident in Sudan
1980 The first American Superhuman, FIREMAN, appears in New York.
The first Polish Superhuman appears. By the end of the year, he will be the
leader of a growing protest movement against Soviet rule.
Saddam Hussein launches the Iran-Iraq War.
1981 The United States launches the first of several probes into the sudden appearance of superhumans, of which there are now at least nine within the US’s borders. FIREMAN becomes the most popular American superhero, but legal issues arise almost at once, despite the Mayor of New York officially deputising him as a police officer.
The CIA investigation of BURNING GIRL concludes that she is missing,
The USSR, facing a major armed revolt by Poland, sends in the troops.
Polish troops deploy and fight back, while East German forces mutiny and
refuse to obey orders. After a battle in which a Russian army is unable to
stop the lone superhuman, now calling himself KATYN, the Russians deploy
a tactical nuke against him, killing him and devastating Warsaw. The NATO
alliance panics and slaps major sanctions on the USSR, but does nothing to
prevent the Russians from reasserting their control over a rebellious and
furious Eastern Europe.
The Russians begin their own search for a superhuman.
[In this timeline, the disintegration of the Soviet Union is much rougher than
in our timeline, with Eastern Europe almost in a state of armed revolt. The
fundamental issues of the end of the USSR won’t change.]
1982 The British fight the Falklands War with Argentina. The destruction of HMS
Invincible accidentally creates a new superhuman, INVINCIBLE, who
attacks Argentinean shipping and their positions on the Falkland Islands.
INVINCIBLE later becomes the first British superhero.
The US Select Committee on Superhuman Affairs concludes that
superpowers seem to appear almost at random, normally appearing duringtimes of extreme stress and granting their beholder fantastic powers.
The RED BANNER, the first Russian superhero, makes his debut. He is
later involved in fighting in Afghanistan.
Iran’s ‘Operation Ramadan’ – the attack on Basra, Iraq – fails. Unbeknownst
to either the Iranians or Saddam, the stress of the war caused an Iraqi Colonel to either the Iranians or Saddam, the stress of the war caused an Iraqi Colonel (Abdul Al-Ramah) to become superhuman.
1983 The RED BANNER saves the lives of several dozen people after Soviet fighters downed Korean Air Lines Flight 007 on September 1, 1983.
Regardless, President Reagan declares the Soviet Union to be an evil empire
and proclaims his determination to outspend and outproduce the USSR.
President Reagan encourages the first all-American superhero team, the
Americans, to form. FIREMAN is the duly elected leader.
Dr. Wouter Basson a.k.a. "Dr. Death" begins human experiments for the
South African Defence Forces (SADF) in Transvaal, South Africa in an effort
to determine the biological nature of superhuman powers.
1984 The first American supervillain, JIM CROW, appears in Mississippi; a white
supremacist with powers that include flight and super-strength. He is
eventually defeated by FIREMAN and jailed for life.
President Reagan wins re-election as conflict against the USSR (Europe and
Afghanistan) heats up. The Soviets play scorched Earth in Afghanistan, but
have to be more careful in Europe, not least because of the handful of
The FBI Superhuman Task Force concludes that there are around seven
hundred known superhumans in the world, four hundred of them Americans
or allied. Twenty-seven American superhumans are officially designated as
‘supervillain-class’ and sentenced to a range of punishments, generally life
The SRT (Superhuman Response Team) is brought into service, comprised of
the best and brightest soldiers in America. Their mission; to take down
superhumans who pose a major threat to the nation or the world.
Dr. Johan Koekemoer, Rand Afrikaans University, unveils the creation of
"boerbul"-class superhuman soldiers, aimed at cracking down on dissent
within the apartheid state.
1985 The CIA’s secret superhuman organisation becomes active, using a group of superhumans with ‘dangerous’ tendencies as living weapons. These include SLAUGHTER, a superhuman serial killer and rapist, who was originally taken down and jailed by FIREMAN.
Mikhail Gorbachev becomes Chairman of the Communist Party and de facto
head of the USSR, looking for a way to end the USSR’s impossible
commitments. Within the year, he commits himself to unilateral withdrawal
from Eastern Europe and Afghanistan, leaving devastation in the latter. This
proves too much for hardliners in the Kremlin and they attempt to kill him,
only to be foiled by RED BANNER. Within the year, the USSR will no
Dr. Schalk van Rensburg announces a biological weapon aimed at inhibiting
superhuman genes in black populace, for Project Coast in Johannesburg,
South Africa. The weapon is of questionable value, but within the year, it
will be used widely. Dr. Schalk van Rensburg, Roodeplaat Research
Laboratory, conducts illegal human experiments in an effort to isolate the
genetic makeup of a superhuman, drawing major international condemnation.
In the next five years, South Africa will conduct even more tests aimed at
causing or preventing superpowers, all of which will be almost useless.
1986 The ACLU challenges a series of superhuman-related legislation drawn up by Congress and President Reagan, including compulsory registration and government service for superhumans. In a related case, they also challenge the right of courts to use telepaths to extract evidence; public opinion is very much in favour of not having their minds read.
The ‘Pure Humanity’ terrorist group makes its first appearance.
The fake superhuman ‘Zed’ is accidentally killed by FIST, a superhuman
who was working for the police, under the impression that ‘Zed’ was a
DC Comics win the lawsuit against ‘Superman,’ ordering him to stop
wearing a Superman outfit when out fighting crime. The following year, all
major comic book publishers will have their own superhuman mascots,
bearing the names of fictional heroes.
[It would be interesting to know what effects real superhumans would have
on the superhuman comic book industry.]
President Reagan creates the Superhuman Defence Initiative.
1987 RED BANNER resigns from Russian service and vanishes somewhere within Central Asia.
SLAUGHTER’s activities within Central America become public knowledge
after an investigation by award-winning journalist Betty Danvers. The result
is widespread horror, mainly directed at Vice President George Bush, who
oversaw the entire program.
The UN Commission on Superhuman Affairs attempts to block the use of
superpowers on the battlefield, but fails owing to resistance from several
1988 FIREMAN quits government service after flying to Panama, tracking down SLAUGHTER, and beating him to death. His press conference, after waving the remains of his enemy’s body in front of the cameras, places all of the blame on Bush, now standing as a candidate for President. Despite an attempt by Reagan to take all the blame, Bush’s campaign effectively self-destructs and Michael Dukakis wins the election.
[The CIA use of dangerous superhumans is a little cliché, but one I feel
would happen; Bush, as former Director of the CIA, would certainly have
been involved. GHWB losing the election probably means that his son won’t
have a shot at the White House himself.]
Despite an offer to resume his duties as leader of the Americans, FIREMAN
refuses to return and chooses instead to travel the world. His decision
effectively spells the end of the original team of Americans, as most of the
other members either resign, desert, or move on to other positions.
The Iran-Iraq War comes to an end. Colonel Al-Ramah is promoted to
General by Saddam, who remains unaware of his powers…but not of his
The Superhuman Defence Force (SDF) comes into existence, composed of a
group of Latin American superhumans dedicated to keeping the United States
out of Latin America. US superhumans, in particular, are banned from Latin
1989 Michael Dukakis’s first act as President is to sign the ‘Superhuman Imposture Act.’ The Act, which forbids anyone from claiming to be a superhuman without actually possessing powers, is hailed as the first step to recovering control over the situation; the departure of the Americans is believed to have encouraged a new wave of super-crime spreading over
The Marine Barracks at Camp Pendleton, California, are attacked by an
unknown superhuman, acting for undetermined motives. After killing nearly
seventy Marines, the intruder is subdued by the brave actions of a lone
Marine, who lost his life in the attempt. The intruder, whose identity was
never discovered, was executed two weeks later by the SDI.
[Superhumans are not invincible or all-powerful; a trained and determined
group of normal soldiers can still take them on.]
"Lung De Chuan Ren" (a.k.a. "Son of the Dragon") sparks international
attention with his bold defence, deemed an insurrection by the PLA,
protecting the pro-democracy leaders in Tiananmen Square. President
Dukakis covertly supports the defection and safe transport of several leaders
to the United States, Hong Kong and Taiwan. Deng Xiaoping launches a
"State of Emergency"...
Liu Jiaguo takes on the role of "Supreme Deity" in Xiangtan, Anhui
Province, launching a "reign of terror" over the region, with his abilities of
flight and strength. PLA officials are called in to deal with the crisis...
Li Ping, member of the "Supreme Deity" sect launches an attack on the
Chinese Politburo, killing 27 members before being stopped by PLA troops,
sparking international attention....
Saddam Hussein is killed by General Al-Ramah, who assumes the title of
Protector of Iraq.
[Operation Just Cause, the invasion of Panama, is not launched in this
1990 Al-Ramah, whose superhuman nature is by now well understood, bullies Kuwait into assuming a subordinate place to Baghdad, effectively as a puppet state. This causes, for a few months, considerable uncertainty in the world oil markets and ends with oil prices rising until they finally level out with the Treaty of Mecca, 1991. The Saudi Royal Family and Kuwait agree to share the burden of paying off Iraq’s huge debts, reluctantly surrendering to Iraq the leadership of the region.
President Dukakis’s ineptitude when faced by the crisis is roundly criticised
within the United States. Although the SDI remains in existence, critics are
already wondering if the unit is actually capable of living up to it’s
[Without the invasion of Kuwait, the outside world is unable to find the
common ground required to contain Iraq. Saddam’s military force, now
under the command of someone saner than Saddam, can be used much more
effectively to bully Saudi Arabia and Kuwait.]
Premier Deng Xiaoping announces the "Fifth Modernization", police and
military measures authorizing broad police and military powers to crackdown on superhumans. Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International protest the measure immediately.
Gen. Carel Boshoff, SADF, and Dr. Manie Opperman launch the creation of
Orania colony in Karoo, South Africa in an effort to create an "Afrikaner
redoubt" based on SWAPO superhuman raids...
1991 A Saudi girl, on the verge of being stoned to death, develops superpowers and rampages through the streets of Riyadh before finally being brought down by the American SRT. This proof of the House of Saud’s impotence leads to new riots in Saudi Arabia, many of them directed at America and in support of Iraq.
Al-Ramah and Israel sign the Paris Peace Accord, which is renowned as the
most cold-blooded and cynical peace agreement since Hitler and Stalin
divided Poland up between them. Al-Ramah effectively sells out the
Palestinians and the remainder of the Arabs in exchange for peace with Israel and some covert assistance from time to time. There are riots across the Arab World, but Al-Ramah’s superhuman status prevents him from being killed and he rips apart assassins with his own hands. Ironically, the mass
migration of Palestinians into Iraq, Egypt and Saudi helps to bring peace to
Cuba is taken over by a rogue superhuman. Before the SDI can be called in
to remove the super-powered dictator, the SDF intervenes and kills the
Cuban, liberating Cuba in the name of Latin America. This act, which causes
them to be regarded as heroes, leads to the SDF urging Panama to renounce
the Torrijos-Carter Treaties and occupy the Canal Zone. They do not refuse
to allow US shipping to pass through the Canal, but they refuse to allow
warships to pass through, and renounce the part of the Treaty that allows the US the right to take control at any time.
1992 President Dukakis and his running mate, Bill Clinton, are challenged by Richard Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld. Although Dukakis was believed to have done well during the first year in office, his limited response to the Middle East crisis, the Panama Crisis and the soaring cost in oil (and the damage to the economy) costs him his job. Clinton would later be regarded as the ‘best President America never had.’
[The irony here is that as the democrats held the White House during the
Gulf Crisis, they now face a Republican challenge and lose the election, a
reversal of Bush41’s loss to Bill Clinton. The entire period of history in
which Clinton was charged with sexual misdemeanours and threatened with
impeachment is wiped from history.]
The US formally withdraws from the Organisation of American States after
the OAS starts moves to place the SDF on the OAS payroll.
China, in the middle of an attempt to suppress unrest, is challenged by a
superhuman. China’s own superhuman force attacks the superhuman, in a
pitched battle that devastates Tiananmen Square, Beijing. Although the
government forces are victorious, it soon becomes clear that unrest is
spreading rapidly, some of it clearly superhuman in origin.
"Dr. Death" uses superhuman inhibitor weapons in Johannesburg, after the
ANC is legalized, sterilizing 14,000 black women, sparking international
fury. South Africa is spreading such research far and wide, including sales to
such diverse recipients as China and the Vatican. Regardless, the success of
such experiments is always limited at best.
1993 At the behest of President Cheney, Congress passes the ‘Active Superhuman Act,’ requiring registration of every superhuman who uses his or her powers on a regular basis.
Condoleezza Rice, a Professor of Superhuman Studies, is appointed the latest Director of the SDI and granted vast new powers to deal with the chaos. All superhuman-related incidents are now the responsibility of the SDI, superhuman crime is automatically treated as a federal offence and all
superhuman task forces (powered and non-powered) are folded into the SDI.
The US launches a heavy nuclear program, aiming to satisfy all enemy
requirements domestically as soon as possible. Apart from hundreds of new
nuclear plants, the US invests heavily in new military hardware, space technology and genetic research.
[The presence of a new superpower (hah) within the Middle East and
dominating the world oil supplies forces the US to work to avoid the oil
dominance sooner than OTL, using a much larger platform of nuclear
engineering and space technology. The presence of superpowers will push
forward research into genetics.]
1994 After an unsuccessful attempt to kill him by units of Islamic Jihad, Al-Ramah moves tanks to the borders of Saudi Arabia and demands they hand over the man responsible, Osema Bin Ladin. Osema, who had been attempting to recruit a force to resist Al-Ramah with the House of Saud’s quiet blessing, is handed over and is beheaded in Baghdad by a relative of a little girl who was killed in the bombing.
[Osema Bin Ladin and AQ will not become the major threat they are in this
timeline, instead, Bin Ladin will meet his death in Baghdad.]
The public SDI team is deployed to Saudi Arabia to join the defence of
Saudi, assuming that the Iraqis invaded.
Condoleezza Rice, in her annual speech to Congress, asserts that there are at least five thousand known superhumans in the world, some of them rated as very dangerous.
1994 (cont.)- Han Dongfang organizes "Radio Free China" radio broadcasts from Taipei, Taiwan, sparking international attention. Chinese authorities accuse the United States of covertly funding the radio broadcasts.
1995 Pure Humanity attempts to blow up the headquarters of the SDI, but fails, in the process revealing the existence of a dark undercurrent of American thought, both religious and anti-government, directed against superhumans. Several superhumans are assassinated in the years to come, while others are forced to defend themselves, risking further indignities.
A bullied nerd in a Washington school, almost drowned by a gang of jocks,
develops superpowers and kills half of his school before being brought down
by the SDI. This prompts calls for registering and segregating superhumans
from normal humans, although the SDI - nor any other government agency –
has not been able to locate any evidence of just who will become
superhuman, or why.
Unbeknownst to the rest of the world, Iraq develops nuclear warheads and
the missiles to deploy them.
[Without the sanctions or the Gulf War, Iraq would have probably developed
nukes sometime in the 1990s.]
South Africa, consumed by race war and a series of bloody coup attempts,
staggers on the brink of complete collapse.
1996 The trial of the former nerd becomes the event around which the election revolves. The State Government (and the parents of the dead pupils) want the nerd to be treated as a mass murderer and fried; his defenders want him to be treated as a legitimate case of self-defence. The trial, including a guest appearance from FIREMAN – his first in years – rapidly becomes a media circus, but the expert testimony from several superhumans leads to the decision that while the deaths of the jocks was self-defence, the other deaths were not.
[To a certain extent, FIREMAN has become a celebrity, not unlike all the
actors who spoke in favour of or against certain politicians in OTL.]
President Cheney is re-elected.
The South African Civil War comes to an end following a bloody and
shocking slaughter in Pretoria when rival groups of superhumans go head to
head in the streets of the city. The new government pledges itself to heal the wounds caused by the war, but the war crimes trials become a political
embarrassment to almost every major power involved in superhuman
research. Thousands of whites flee the country, taking with them everything
they own, while renegade superhumans from both sides lose themselves
within Africa. In the years to come, superhumans will carve out a series of
states across Africa.
1997 The incident sparks a great deal of public interest in superpowers and how to develop them. Despite attempts by Director Rice to discourage them, there is a rapid rise in people attempting to sell various products that might cause superpowers, and – more practically – organising incredibly dangerous stunts in the hopes of triggering an ‘inner superhero.’ Most of the attempts fail.
Apart from that, Rice focuses on the spread of superhumans in Africa and
Central America. Wherever they appear, superhumans cause disruption and
danger, in some cases literally taking over Third World countries. The SDI’s
covert team has been deployed several times to Africa, in hopes of restoring
the status quo. The only tangible benefit of all the research into superhumans has been a cure for the AIDS virus.
Premier Deng Xiaoping dies in Beijing; Chinese Politburo launches national
martial law crackdown in an effort to prevent "superhuman insurrection",
sparking international attention.
1998 With help from a handful of superhumans, the new space station is lifted to orbit and placed carefully in LEO.
Iraq opens its borders to other superhumans, inviting them to become part of a different superhuman nation. To all intents and purposes, Iraq is well on its way to becoming a superpower.
North Korea, on the verge of collapse, launches an invasion of the south,
spearheaded by seven North Koreans who had developed superpowers.
When they see Seoul, their brainwashing starts to weaken as they realise that the communists lied to them, and when challenged by the multinational
superhuman group, end up assisting the international force to dispose Kim
and organise a new dawn for Korea.
Following a major superhuman battle, China launches the ‘Great Reform’
program, a grim recognition that the world has changed and they have to
make some accommodation to the protesters.
1999 The Russian Federation, now under the control of President Putin, sends enough supplies to the Northern Alliance to enable them to defeat the Taliban and occupy Kabul. The Russians are on their way back to great power status.
The US successfully tests a kinetic bombardment weapon from the Freedom
The United States begins covert talks with Iran.
China-Taiwan Treaty signed. The PRC promises not to challenge Taiwan’s
independence provided that the ROC doesn’t declare independence.
Zhongnanhai Massacre; 10,000 members of the Falun Gong cult, assisted by
several superhumans, attack Zhongnanhai, home of the Chinese Communist
Party headquarters, led by psychic Li Hongzhi.
The war crimes trial of ‘Dr Death’ ends in farce when it is revealed that
several foreign nations, including America and Britain, were very interested
in the experiments and even funded them to some degree. The named
include Vice President Rumsfeld, a known believer in controlling and
restraining superhumans. Half of the charges are rapidly proven to be
unfounded, if not outright lies, but Rumsfeld’s reputation would never
recover. Regardless, he makes a good showing in the 2000 election.
2000 The election is a close contest between Vice President Rumsfeld and Michael Rogers, the democratic candidate. The contest is decided when FIREMAN speaks in favour of Rogers, who is a pure as snow compared to Rumsfeld. Regardless, there will be few major changes in the United States between 2000-2004; foreign policy is being allowed to drift as new power sources come online and the oil dependency weakens.
14-year old Buddhist monk Ugyen Trinley Dorje, leads Tibetan nationalist
uprising in Lhasa, Tibet after displaying psychic abilities and talents, while
resisting capture by PLA officials.
‘Dr Death’ vanishes under mysterious circumstances.
2002 The terrorist group ‘Future’ makes it’s first super-powered strike against the United States. Future claims to stand for the rights of superhumans, but tends to slip into what is effectively outright racism, directed against normal humans.
BURNING GIRL reappears in the Sudan as leader of a largely-female cult,
including at least a dozen superhumans. In less than a year, her force has
effectively destroyed the warlords and taken control of the Sudan. Several
attempts by Egypt and Libya to recover the situation fail.
2003 Condoleezza Rice is removed as Director of the SDI following a suggestion that all known superhumans should be tagged and monitored, regardless of their active or inactive status.
2004 The run-up to the 2004 election sees party infighting on a scale never before seen in the United States. Hilary Clinton attempts to put herself on the democratic ticket as Vice President, but is challenged by many, including Rogers himself. Bill Clinton isn’t much help. The republicans aren’t much better off; their candidates may not have the burden of being in office when Future made its appearance, but they are still tinged with several scandals. The republicans win by a very close margin.
[Hilary Clinton won’t have Bill’s legacy hanging around her neck, but she
will still face the fact that it was the Democrats in power when Future made
2005 The US receives intelligence that suggests that Future is based outside the United States, perhaps in Central America, or even Africa. SDF involvement is suspected.
Chen Yonglin and Fei Liangyong, leaders of the Federation for a Democratic
China (FDC) announce a return to China, landing in Beijing, amidst threats
of assassination. As superhumans, they believe themselves safe.
General Xiong Yan announces the formation an underground democratic
resistance movement in San Francisco, California, sparking international
attention. Later in the year, the General and his compatriots move into
Mexico, over American objections.
2006 The House of Saud finally gives up the ghost and dies, following an appearance by a second superhuman, this time a radical preacher who was due to be beheaded. As chaos spreads across the region, with various
religious groups seeking to take control of Mecca, Iraq invades and occupies
President Haverford is blasted in America for failing to intervene, despite the presence of American troops in Qatar and the UAE. The UN may condemn the invasion, but without American support, they cannot prevent Iraq from formally annexing Saudi Arabia.
2007 The European Union, facing serious oil problems, formalises the European Superhuman Defence Team and EUROFOR.
[The European Union, remembering Warsaw, is much more of a military
power in this timeline. The Blair Years never happened; instead, Thatcher
never launched the Poll Tax and remained in office until she retired. Tony
Blair lost the challenge for Labour’s leadership and vanished into obscurity;
France, facing several superpowered terrorists, went Right in 1998.]
Iran and the United States come to an agreement, but many in the United
States are uncertain that it is even needed, now that oil isn’t such a life or
death matter. Iraq is still chewing on Saudi, but no one anticipates that they
will fail; ruthlessness and a good intelligence network ensures that any
insurgency movement is destroyed before it gets off the ground.
2008 Global superhuman population estimated at seven thousand.