To the sound of the War of the Worlds overture.
On 11th September 1997, there was an explosion that ripped apart the fabric of the city of Oxford. The electro-magnetic blast originated in the physics department, levelling most of the buildings around it and causing total power loss throughout the city and its suburbs. The final death toll was estimated to be 4,217 and included almost half of the staff and students at Oxford University and Oxford Brookes. The cause of the blast has never been revealed.
In the wake of the devastation, it was clear that Oxford University was no more, and in fact the city of Oxford would have to be completely rebuilt. The Labour government, already stretched for cash, called on the business community to come together and build a new city for the millennium. In the largest feat of Public Private Partnership (PPP), Millennium was built in record time to be opened in the Millennium. It consisted of hundreds of shiny new skyscrapers, an efficient road network, a monorail connected to the national railway network and the M99 Motorway connecting to London, Birmingham, Bristol and the North East. The centrepiece was the Millennium Dome, as proposed by the Chairman of the Labour Party, Peter Mandelson, with a statue of the late Princess Diana at the centre of the roof.
No explanation has presented itself for the explosion, although there are plenty of theories: an experiment gone wrong, sabotage, terrorists, aliens, a government conspiracy. Following so closely on from the Oklahoma bombing, the IRA has been very quiet, and peace talks seem to have progressed further than error (although many talk about funding from the US being cut drastically). Meanwhile, the world held its breath when two passenger aircraft caused devastation in New York when they crashed into the twin towers which subsequently collapsed. The president of the United States, George Bush, immediately declared war on Al Qaeda and Osama Bin Laden, and the rest of the Western world followed suit.The war in Afghanistan was swift and brutal. While many were shocked at the American's behaviour, the European members of the United Nations still remembered the similar devastation in their own back yard 4 years previously and backed the subsequent war on Iraq, albeit with some resistance. However, the worst was yet to come when World War 3 was only avoided by diplomacy of the greatest degree. At 5:47 BST on July 17th 2002, a nuclear warhead was launched from near the village of Sahid directed at UN ships in the Arabian Sea. However, a brave US pilot crashed his fighter into the oncoming missile sending them both crashing into the hillside below without setting off an explosion (although two families were crushed beneath the wreckage). Consequently, the UN has been granted leave to inspect weapons in 19 Arabic and African countries, and a period of disarmament has started in North Africa and the Arabian countries. However, the conflict between Israel and Pakistan continues unabated although recently the American Jon Scerner has flown to Israel to attempt to restore peace talks. Back in Millennium City, much of the framework has been put into place, and it has become a thriving centre for business and the elite. The road system has been built along the lines of New York, with Avenues and Streets, although many buildings are connected by innovative bridges so many executives never need to touch the ground (especially when Daymon complete their helicopter control centre (HCC)). Ground floors are filled with cafés, bars and restaurants, although these have also spread to bridge floors and, of course, the top floors of some buildings. Modern houses, from terraces for the cleaners to vast estates for executives have all been built, and an efficient road network. Lower level workers from the same company tend to live in the same row of buildings, and an efficient monorail has been designed to carry them from their home to their place of work. Unfortunately, there is a an underside to the city, the bums, the homeless, the dispossessed. Some are survivors of the original Oxford blast, either choosing to live in the old city, just without money or even gone insane; others came to Millennium City with dreams which just blew away; others were already homeless and moved in after the explosion hoping to loot the old city. Gangs have formed, and protection rackets. The rich pay scavengers for parts of the city and no official force can keep them out. Archaeologists and historians move in to slowly try to restore famous buildings and monuments, only to find them smashed and looted while their backs are turned. Luckily few people see the underside. Two groups are of especial interest. One is the Ancient Order of Aeon Rites, a group of mystics who have existed in secret in Oxford since 1873 when Master Agrippa found ancient manuscripts in Egypt. Agrippa and his first apprentice Mark Waters discovered that Oxford had a particularly potent resonance and embedded the Order within the university, taking its apprentices from among the students. Unfortunately, most of the experienced members of the Order perished in the blast, leaving behind only inexperienced apprentices. The second group are some survivors of the blast who were affected by it some way. Some have developed psychic powers, others incredible physical feats but either way they have found themselves inspired to do great things. There is no organisation as such, and it is hard to tell who has gained powers, especially since one subgroup, the Stalwarts, have powers which are rarely obvious. However, they are force to be reckoned with, for good or ill.
This is fictional setting. Although it may feature real people and places, they are mentioned in an entirely fictional manner.