It seemed like just another day in this never-ending war. The last few historians left (who needs history now, really) agree that it has been going on for at least 1500 years, but their estimates vary. Why does it matter, anyway. The leaders of the remaining superpowers are locked in this pointless struggle, with no breakthrough. I have no idea how the Vikings keep being so consistent over such a long time, but the Communists have had the same family (and principles) in power ever since the war began and over here in America we've hooked up our president to a computer so he could rule forever. What a brilliant plan that was... Each nation is powerful just enough so neither can fall. Every time a city is captured, it is taken the next day. When roads are build in order to help dry up the swamps, they are immediately destroyed. The only way to rebuild our Earth is for someone to win, but that won't happen. At least, that's what I thought until now.
Our forces took another city by dawn. Nothing was special about it, apart from the fact that it was the first time it has been under American control since the war began. It's not that it was heavily guarded, only it was never deemed important enough for capture. As a part of our new military "strategy", we had to capture it for the slight chance that an inhabitant over there could have any sort of solution to the famines. We didn't find a man, but we got the solution alright.
I was being escorted into a large house on the outskirts of the city. It was a big, empty mansion, abandoned for generations according to the locals, who think it is haunted and avoid coming near it. Nevertheless, we had to comb the entire town, so someone had to go there. I, a fragile and valuable scientists sent to the front lines to find some way to grow food in the irradiated swamps that make up most of the world now, am accompanied by a small squad to keep me guard against any sort of dangers. They aren't very smart (to be fair, most of the smart people left in this world aren't anywhere near combat) but they provide good company. As we enter the mansion I order them to split up and search the house. If they are to see anything unusual - they are to report it immidiately. All protocol, we have done it a hundred times in the past year alone, and yet I always excited by the fact that I am giving orders to these armed men.
An hour passes and we find nothing, apart from a sprawling library in the basement. While we should move forward to more important targets, the idea of so many books untouched for such a long time intrigues me, along with my guards. We decide to call in a code 4057, which means we found something of interest and will be taking out time exploring it. We didn't expect finding much from the books, but it is a good distraction from the situation outside.
The library is beautiful, modeled after the old ones that were in medieval castles. My guards all pick up some fiction books and start reading to their enjoyment, which surprises me as I never saw them take leisure in books. I go around the bookshelves, searching for something more interesting than mere stories, when an odd book strikes my eyes.
It is labeled "The Secrets of Life", without an author. The cover is colored with a strong crimson color and gold linings, and it is huge, at least 3000 large pages. I don't know what prompted me to pick it up, the fact that it could be what we're actually looking for or the amazing aesthetics of its cover, but the moment I lift it up from the bookshelf a loud, rumbling sound is heard.
All of the guards spring to their feet, clinching their rifles reflexively, and turn to me. The bookshelf in front of me starts to turn, introducing a new, secret tunnel that is unlike anything I've seen before. Even though this was probably built thousands of years ago, the hidden tunnel looks like it's from the future. It is a shiny, chrome color with light-blue wires running along the ceiling. We slowly make our way deeper into the ground, when a huge door comes in front of us. I walk to a control panel nearby and pull a big-looking lever, the only intractable object I can see, and the door begins to open slowly sideways, into the wall. Behind it lies a large chamber, empty apart from a huge machine connected to the wires we saw before. The machine is just a cube, around 5 meters a side, with a large screen on the edge towards the door. As I approach it, a keyboard comes out of the cube and the screen turns on.
The keyboard is covered in English, although by the font I can tell it's an old variant of the language. Apart from the letters, which are ordered in a formation I cannot understand (the top-most row starts with the unusual combination QWERTY), I see the numbers 0 through 9, four arrow keys each pointing a different direction, a large button with "Enter" written on it and another, long key with no label. I instinctively press the "Enter" button and a presentation begins on the screen.
Apparently, the mansion belonged to one of the wealthiest men alive in history. I couldn't really understand how he did earn his fortune, but it was something to do with Quantum Computers, a technology long outdated. In the year 2012, which was 1979 years ago, there was some international panic from a predicted solar storm which would "end humanity as we know it". The owner of this mansion built this machine, which is a huge database, to serve as a testament to human advancements in case civilization would be wiped out. The presentation goes on to explain how to navigate the database, and then fades to white as a nice looking menu pops out.
The screen presents me with four options: "Browse Categories", "Search Entries", "Replay Introduction" and "Export Data". Without hesitating I search "swamp vegetation", only to find an entry about the long extinct Eucalyptus tree, which was used in the past to dry up swamps. Apparently back in 2012 no one even attempted to grow food in marshes. I try to search for more solutions, but find nothing I can use. Just as I am about to give up and report the whole area so other scientists can drool over the historic database, I have one idea. An idea that proves to be the key to ending this war.
I simply search for "World War", and find 3 main entries. "World War 1" and "World War 2" were two large-scale conflicts in the 20th century that are as good as ancient history to me, but what catches my eye was an entry titled "World War 3". It describes a hypothetical war, identical to the one that has been going on for the past 1500 or so years - nuclear holocaust, completely global, likely never to end. And then there is a section named "theorized solutions".
Reading this completely baffles me. I mean, it seems so simple that I just can't believe nobody though about it before. In the time this database was composed, this third world war seemed close than ever with the rise of the country Iran as a dictatorship, which aimed to build nuclear weapons. To combat this while not starting a war so big, Western Civilization would develop "computer viruses" which disabled the nuclear facilities and halt Iran's advances.
Now, cybernetic warfare is nothing new, but a specific virus, launched in the summer of 2012, caught my eye. Codenamed "Phantom", the virus didn't target Iran's nuclear facilities, but rather the personal computers of the people who worked there. The virus implemented specific pop ups and advertisements in those computer which sub-consciously turned the workers and scientists against the government. Then, using undercover agents, the western countries sparked a small revolt, which usually would not make a dent to the government. However, as the revolt broke, the nuclear facilities' employees immediately joined, brainwashed by the virus, and thus the rebels got hold on nuclear technologies. The government quickly fell, and the war was averted.
The problem with using viruses was that now, important facilities can't be breached - virtual security is just that good. However, the Average Joe doesn't have access to that kind of security, so this plan could work. This could mean the end of the war. The rebirth of humanity. I explain the situation to my squad, and they all agree we must contact a high-ranking officer ASAP. We run outside, but as we enter the library we hear explosions above. We exit the house, only to be greeted by a missile launched from a drone up above.
As I lie near a bush, I manage to get a glance around. My guards are all dead, most of them mutilated beyond recognition by the missile. We must have spent a few hours down there, because it seems like the Celtics are launching an assault to capture the town again. As everything around me blurs out, I realize that with our death, the information of the virus will be lost until someone else visits this mansion, and now, seeing as it's mostly destroyed by the offensive, seems highly unlikely. If this war is going to end, it would be thanks to something else. It's funny, I just read how this "World War 3" is likely to never end, and as I was about to finish it, the same war made sure that it would keep on going. I look back at the mansion, now collapsing, before I black out, probably for good this time.
Source: EliteKill's comment