President Lyndon Johnson and Vice President Hubert Humphrey observing the flight of one of the first mutant soldiers sent to Vietnam. (1968)
"Night, here comes the night,
Another night to dream about you.
Night, each lonely night,
The only time I'm not without you.

Once more, I feel your kisses.
Once more, I know what bliss is.
Comes dawn, my darling, you're gone
But you come back into my arms each night."

--- Jackie Wilson, "Night" ---


On its 29th orbit, a little over a day and a half after its launch, Sputnik's elliptical orbit reached a high point of approximately 956 kilometers from the surface of Earth. There, it struck, and broke, the shell that had surrounded Earth for unknown centuries, perhaps even millenia. This shell, now called the "Net", was composed largely of a previously unknown substance, energized through unknown means, and protected Earth from unknown radiations that now poured down onto the surface of the Earth and caused serious biological changes in the humans on its surface. It gave many of them powers far beyond what human capabilities were previously thought to be. Some were simply improved a little, making them hardier and healthier. Some were filled with unearthly energies, making them far surpass the average human.

In the intervening decades, there were many changes to society resulting from these energies - Congress' pitched battle with the Supreme Court and especially Chief Justice Earl Warren to (either) "defend the rights of baselines" or "disempower American citizens who happen to have become or been born mutants" (depending on who you listen to) leaps to mind. But these larger social issues passed by certain peoples, and as the old saying goes, "Life is what happens when we're making other plans." Some people used their gifts for evil, deciding that the mutants (or "Gifted") were destined to rule over mankind - other Gifted opposed them and worked for reconciliation between mutants and baseline - still others were happy with the powers fate had bestowed on them because it allowed them to take what they wanted, get revenge on anyone they liked, and in general live the life of a victimizer and criminal. Others just tried to get along with their lives.

At first, the public was skeptical about the existence of these mutants - for several years, although media attention increased, the public remained basically stubbornly ignorant of the situation. Finally, official acknowledgment of the situation arrived in 1968 with the World Health Organization's groundbreaking "Metahuman Report", which compiled news stories, statistics and the rudimentary scientific data which had been compiled from around the world. From that point on, the "mutant question" was an acknowledged part of the political and social landscape. By the present day, it is a known factor in the world.

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