“It has always been in the nature of man to search out answers. We cannot help it, we are curious creatures. Curious, and sometimes, not as cautious as we should be. So it is, so it has always been- and with this, we pushed the scales too far. Our curiosity has become our undoing. No knowledge comes without cost; now we face the price of our quest for understanding.

Gather together, hold your loved ones, pray for each other. Pray for all of us. It is time to pay the Piper, and we can only hope the fine is not too great.”

~The President of the United States, during his Final Address to the Nation

Monday, July 27, 2076: Scientists working with the newly-upgraded LHC-mkII begin a new experiment. The world, it turns out, ends with a flash and a whine.

An unpredictable reaction between sub-atomic particles results in a release of energy so swift and overpowering that it creates a micro-tear in the fabric of space-time. For a moment, it seems as though nothing is wrong. Then the micro-tear becomes a tear, and then a fracture, and the world crashes to its knees.

Gateway to the Multiverse

The tear in space-time created by the explosion in the LHC-mkII opened the dimension of the damaged space to other, undamaged dimensions. Parallel universes, hundreds of them, were intersected by the wide gash, offering glimpses of Earth-that-might-have-beens. Some were empty, howling abysses, legacy of some planetary disaster or change in the cosmos that had left the Earth unformed. Some were lush Edens, sparkling utopias, representations of the best humanity could have approached. Some were wastelands, toxic air billowing just beyond the breach, once fertile land burned black and lifeless. Some were wild, with no trace of humankind at all.

As the tear expanded, fracturing and widening and fracturing again, more and more of the parallel Earths were exposed. Before the true consequences of the catastrophe were understood, the scientists were elated. They studied as many of the fractal paths as they could, taking notes and observing, delighted by the new worlds that had opened before them.

Disaster

But the world wasn’t meant to support such a break in reality. The day of the accident, massive earthquakes shook the globe, starting at the point opposite the LHC-mkII and spiraling outward. For the first week, it seemed that perhaps one round of quakes were the worst the world would face. Then they happened again, and again. They were growing in intensity, and that was not all. Great rifts began to open in the ground. Previously dormant volcanoes began to rumble once again. Yellowstone Park lifted ten feet in a day. The quakes brought tsunamis that ravaged coastlines- entire islands were swept clean. Others vanished beneath the waves like they’d never been.

Earthshatter