No-one knows exactly when the New Breed came into existence, though there are many informed theories, some of which even approach the truth. Of uninformed theories there are many more, spreading and replicating mainly through the Internet but sometimes via word of mouth – and with the same general attention to detail as devoted to a game of Chinese Whispers in a group of drunken teenagers.
Some would have it that the New Breed were all born on the first of January, 1990, at midnight. They would also have it that their powers all manifested at midnight on that same date in 2008, despite the recorded fact that all powers manifested virtually simultaneously; no-one saw it on the news before manifesting themselves, for instance. Those same people will tell you that everyone manifested their powers simultaneously at midnight everywhere at once, which only highlights the saddening lack of basic knowledge of science among people today.
Another theory holds that the New Breed were actually born two years earlier, on February 29th of 1988; this is not true – but it is closer to the truth. Nor is it true that they were all born on January 1st 2000 (or 2001, for the more millennial-conscious of the conspiracy theorists) and aged unnaturally quickly to appear adult in 2008. Other significant dates are also posited, with a greater or lesser following, depending on the general leanings of those following them. Some even refer hopefully to the passage of Halley’s Comet through the Solar System in 1986.
The truth is known only to a very few – and not all of it is known even to that few. The New Breed were actually all born during a singular event that occurred a little after 3 PM Greenwich Mean Time, on July 11th, 1987. That much is known – but the significance of that moment is not known. It is suspected – but suspicion is not knowledge, especially in the scientific community. Because the truth is quite literally unknowable and unprovable.
For at that moment, between 3:15 and 3:16 PM GMT, an entire minute passed during which time the world population held absolutely steady. This is not to say that no-one was born and no-one died – far from it. But in that one minute, exactly five hundred people died – accident, old age, murder, suicide, disease – and exactly five hundred babies were born. This represented an average death rate, but an overall halving in the birth rate for that period.
And throughout that entire minute, the world population held rock-steady at precisely five thousand million people – five billion, to use the American idiom. Before, the population of the world had never reached that figure. Since then, it has never gotten that low again. But in the space of that minute – in that frozen moment, all over the world – the five hundred individuals of the New Breed were born.
It was only a momentary blip in the charts. Even today, such a thing would be immeasurable. We did not have the data-gathering capacity, still don’t. On Earth, we probably never will. It would require a totally contained, totally controlled, totally closed environment to do so. Still, it was only a blip. But it was a blip that changed the world.
Two more incidents were to jar the lives of the New Breed; the second of these, of course, was the cataclysmic moment when they all acquired their powers. This, at least, went well-recorded. The initial moments of at least a dozen New Breed finding out about their powers the hard way were recorded on video and are even now making the rounds of the internet, despite the frenzied efforts of perhaps every government on Earth to suppress them.
The first of these incidents, however, went unnoticed by all but the New Breed themselves. Not that they called themselves by that name; they had no powers, no inkling that they were in any way different or abnormal or had any abilities different from their peers. As far as they knew, they were normal. Well, as normal as any eleven-year-old feels.
For that moment fell in 1999, on the 21st of April; all the New Breed were nearly three months short of their twelfth birthdays. That day was nothing special, or so it seemed. They certainly didn’t pay much attention to a few scientists on the news, talking about “Six Billion Day” due to fall sometime in October (it was later revised to be the 21st of April, but by then it was too late). But between 7:57 and 7:58 PM GMT on the 21st (which by definition extended into the early hours of the morning of the 22nd in Australasia and eastern Russia) every New Breed child experienced a waking (or sleeping) dream. The objective duration of this dream was approximately one minute, during which time the world population experienced another unnoticeable blip; once more, for that minute, the population held rock steady, with the birth rate falling to match the death rate. And after that minute ended, the world population had passed six billion.
It is not yet known whether the children born during the 1999 minute will prove significant in the future, but the UN projects the world population reaching 7 billion in February of 2012 (and if that isn't an ominous date, I don't know what is ...). The children born in 1999 will be almost 13 by then; it may be educational to see what has become of them.
While the external duration of the dream – waking or sleeping – was only a bare minute, subjectively it was much greater. All of the affected children in that time experienced a powerful dream lasting from thirty minutes to several hours. All of them dreamed about wielding great power. Some dreamed about living, some about dying. Some dreamed about conquest. Some dreamed about apocalypse.
But the moment passed, and so did the dream. It was dramatic enough to be remembered, but not so spectacular as to be taken as a life-changing experience. In time, as these things do, it passed into the realm of ‘that funny dream I had that time’.
And then came the final, most defining incident of all. In early January of 2008, in response to some unknown trigger, the powers activated. Shortly before 9:45 AM GMT on the 3rd of January (which made it 2:45 AM in New York and 7:45 PM in Sydney – and 11:45 PM on the second of January in Los Angeles – not to mention 9:45 PM in Hawaii) all five hundred New Breed, everywhere, manifested their powers. It did not take a minute. It did not take a second. Between one instant and the next - the powers were there, ready to be used.
Five hundred individuals, scattered across the world, each just twenty years of age, gained an immense measure of power. There was no warning. There was no explanation. There was no way back.
The results were … life-altering. World-altering.
This is their story.