1898. American President William McKinley issues an ultimatum of war to the Spanish government to give Cuba its independence instead of simply declaring war as a result of strong, isolationist elements within the United States. Spain concedes, thereby preventing the Spanish-American War.
History does not significantly alter itself from our own until the onset of the Great War. This is started not by Archduke Franz Ferdinand's assassination, but by the British and French invasion of German Togoland in August 1914. The Lusitania is not sunk and the Zimmermann Telegram was never discovered, so the United States lacked a direct reason to go to war and remained neutral.
Germany still surrenders, however; perhaps due to the failure of Vladimir Lenin's October Revolution (which would have led to the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk and the beginning of the U.S.S.R.) resulting in Russia remaining an empire under Tsar Mikhail. However, during this period of civil unrest in Russia, many provinces declare independence or are annexed by other nations. Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, and Kyrgyzstan all become independent nations, while Georgia and Armenia are absorbed by Turkey.
Under an alternate Treaty of Versailles, the European Trade Organization (ETO), a parallel of the modern European Union, is established instead of the League of Nations. The ETO leads Europe into a period of strong economic stability causing the Weimar Republic in Germany (which had not been hit by disastrous war reparations) to remain in power. The Nazi Party and Adolf Hitler disappear into obscurity as a result of this prosperity, preventing the exodus of scientists who would later work on the Manhattan Project, including Albert Einstein. Interestingly, Germany still hosts a grandiose 1936 Summer Olympics to promote its prosperity, despite a Russian boycott.
On the other hand, Russia becomes stagnant and isolationist and, citing anti-imperialist propaganda from the ETO nations and a fear of infiltration, initiates a communications blackout with the outside world in 1921. In addition to this, Russia constructs a wall, which comes to be called the "Red Curtain", across its entire Eastern European frontier. At first consisting only of barbed wire, it later becomes reinforced with concrete.
A mysterious explosion in Siberia, a radon slick poisoning the Volga river, and an environment-changing cold front moving out of Russia hint that unnatural forces are already at work inside the country.
America prospers throughout the 1920s and 30s as certain factors prevent the Great Depression, including the veto of the Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act by President Herbert Hoover, quickly negating the losses of the Wall Street Crash of 1929. With the Depression non-existent and the Second World War effectively prevented, Franklin Delano Roosevelt fails to gain re-election in 1940. Roosevelt loses to isolationist Republican Noah Grace, the fictional protégé of Robert Taft, who portrays Roosevelt as a dangerous warmonger because of his policy of supporting the United European Defense (the military wing of the ETO). Grace ends up becoming the first president to serve three consecutive terms.
Under the Grace administration, the American government continues to stoke isolationist sentiment, eventually monopolizing all broadcasting (Grace's "Evening Conversations" are the equivalent of FDR's famous "Fireside Chat") and closing its borders. Military spending is also increased leading in particular to the development of a VTOL aircraft similar to today's V-22 Osprey. America still develops an atomic bomb in 1944 despite the exodus of foreign scientists such as Albert Einstein never occurred, which is detonated in Alaska.
Many familiar events of the era still happen, including Amelia Earhart's Transatlantic flight in 1928, and Jesse Owens' four gold medals at the Olympics.
Meanwhile, ominous changes begin to occur in Eastern Europe. Rumors of towns (and later whole cities) being destroyed within a single night, begin to surface. An abnormally large number of Russian refugees begin to appear in neighboring nations, all of whom mysteriously die shortly after arriving. All questions directed at the Russian government in St. Petersburg receive no reply. In the late 1940s, a group of MI6 agents begin surveying Russian air waves in the Ukraine and discover that from the thousands of radio stations that should be broadcasting to millions of citizens, only one program is found: a looping propaganda message pleading
"Brotherhood, Strength, and Fortitude...in the face of the angry night."
In December 1949, the Chimera break through multiple points on the Red Curtain, and sweep into Europe. The civilian population in the ETO countries (Britain included) are lied to and told that the Russians are the invaders, but this claim is quickly made suspect by subsequent events.
Despite the implementation of the UED's advanced plans for a Russian invasion, the Chimera prove too strong and conquer all of continental Europe a few months after the start of the invasion. In the latter half of 1950, they invade Britain, burrowing under the English Channel. Defensive plans prove useless and the British and Irish isles are overwhelmed in three months. Scattered military bases and outposts in the north populated by the remnants of the British army continue to resist.
In 1951, America responds to pleas for aid by launching Operation: Deliverance; a strike force of U.S. Army Rangers is sent to help liberate the country. Shortly after landing, the entire force of 5,000 men is wiped out, except for one man, Sergeant Nathan Hale....