On 19 September 1957, a nuclear weapon called Plumbbob Rainier was detonated 275 meters below ground at the Nevada Test Site in the United States. This was the first nuclear test conducted by the US where the explosion was entirely contained underground, producing no fallout. It was also the first nuclear detonation to open a gateway to the Netherscape, an alternate dimension more commonly referred to as the Basement.
The US sent in teams of investigators and military special forces to determine the nature of the Basement. The teams learned the Basement was not of this world or reality. The nuclear detonation had torn a hole through a fragile veil that separated the two dimensions. Later research revealed that brief alignments between the dimensions had allowed beings to cross between the two dimensions in the past, but only for short periods. This led to creatures of the Basement being mistaken for demons, ghosts, and monsters throughout Earth’s history.
Efforts to explore and map the Basement proved difficult and deadly. The physical features of the Basement changed unpredictably with each new expedition, and scientists deduced the dimension was psycho-reactive. Metals and minerals unique to the Basement were found, leading to increased interest. Additional nuclear tests were conducted. Some were for routine testing of nuclear weapons, but most were attempts to duplicate the conditions for creating a gateway to the Basement.
During expeditions in the Basement, many different creatures were discovered. These monsters were avoided whenever possible, but if any were engaged in combat and captured they were brought back to the surface for examination. Scientists realized the physiology of these Nether-beasts would not allow them to live on the Earth’s surface for extended periods.
Eventually the secret leaked out and other nuclear powers discovered the truth of the Basement. Nuclear testing increased worldwide. Atmospheric, exoatmospheric, and underwater tests were all conducted with the intention of trying to open a gate to the Basement; all met with failure. Only contained, underground tests were successful.
In 1963, all nuclear powers signed the Limited Test Ban Treaty, pledging to refrain from testing nuclear weapons in the atmosphere, underwater, and in outer space. Ostensibly this was for safety reasons. However, the truth is the nuclear powers were focusing their efforts on accessing the Basement and its apparent riches. Explorers also discovered they could enter gateways to the Basement on one part of Earth and exit through a gateway elsewhere on Earth. This led nations to seek secret access points into other countries. While most of the world watched the Space Race from the late 1950s through the 1970s, the real war for supremacy was being waged by the world’s foremost super powers to discover the truths of the Basement.
The ties between the two dimensions were strengthened with each new gateway created. This gave Nether-beasts the ability to live for longer periods of time on the Earth’s surface.
Many of the specialized teams sent into the Basement began experiencing strange illnesses. Eventually it was discovered the Basement could lead to permanent mutation, with humans taking on Nether-beast characteristics. These people were dubbed chimera. Some humans were able to deal with their mutations, while others succumbed to the Basement’s derangements.
Intelligent humanoids (called Nethermancers) were discovered – first by the Chinese, but eventually by most of the nuclear powers. Nethermancers possessed the ability to communicate telepathically with humans, but it was clear their intentions were hostile. Some early attempts were made to reason and negotiate with the Nethermancers, but all these attempts came to disastrous ends.
By the 1990s most of the nuclear powers realized the dangers of the Basement outweighed the potential gains. The Comprehensive Test Ban was signed by most of the nuclear powers in 1996. Only North Korea continued to conduct underground nuclear tests into the 2000s. In 2013, North Korea made contact with a powerful cabal of Nethermancers who ruled over large swaths of the Basement. For the first time, humans successfully negotiated with Nethermancers.
A deal was struck, whereby the North Koreans worked with their allies – which included radicals from Algeria, Pakistan, and Iran – to create more gates. Thousands of Nether-beasts crossed through the gates and worked in concert with their human allies.
Nations across the world came together to battle the threat. The US, Canada, Australia, much of Europe, and China formed the World Alliance. During the early years of what came to be called the Final War, the World Alliance initiated a series of programs under the umbrella term PROJECT CAPRICORN. Some of these programs dated back to early research on the Basement, while others were advanced military weapon systems.
In the end, the World Alliance resorted to nuclear weapons in order to defeat the Nether-beasts. While almost all the gates to the Basement were closed, most of Earth and mankind was destroyed.
The year is 2035. The world lies in ruin. The remnants of humanity fight amongst themselves as well as against the surviving Nether-beasts and the creations that emerged from PROJECT CAPRICORN, struggling to emerge as the victors in a desperate fight for survival.