Future Tense

Summary: In an alternative timeline, Futurist Italy leads the Axis Powers, prepared to inflict their future upon the world.

When the Arditi del Popolo assassinated Mussolini in 1921, Gabriele d'Annunzio and the Italian Futurists seized the country in the chaos. They spurned the past that the Fascists admired, preferring cruel, sleek modernity. The country was remade in the likeness of an Art Deco war machine, its heritage another casualty of the political upheaval following the Great War.

The Italian elites had long desired a third coast, justifying the colonial seizure of Libya. Seeking to avenge their defeat at the Battle of Adwa at the hands of the Ethiopians, the recently-purged military changed their organization and doctrine. With new technologies came new opportunities, and the old, useless doctrines of the Great War joined the rest of the purged culture in damnatio memoriae.

Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie's forces met the Italians as they invaded from the coast. They were clad in sleek body armor similar to the Arditi of the Great War, breastplates of seamless metal and engraved lines. Their faces were covered by sleek, almost Roman masks beneath almost medieval looking helmets. In the hands of each trooper was not a bolt-action rifle, but instead a Caproni centrifugal carbine. The aircraft company had miniaturized centrifugal machineguns into a smaller size, with a small motor and overall structure like an American Tommy gun.

The Futurist shock troops marched across North Africa, but their true influence was aesthetic. In Germany, a Futurist-influenced politician deposed an Austrian art school dropout. An Imperial Japanese Naval officer, attracted to the reactionary moods and modern aesthetics of the Italians, launched a coup in Tokyo. After the failure of the Business Plot in America, business elites began funding their own Futurist parties. Even in the Soviet Union, the Futurist aesthetics were adapted to Party needs.

The world needed a spark, an inciting incident to cover the world in blood. It would soon have one.