This world has a history mostly parallel to Earth-Prime until the late 1950s, when a meteor shower brought an extraterrestrial oomycete to Earth. Almost unnoticed at first, by the early 1970s, it had infected most of the planet and food shortages had reached critical levels. The EPA, created by Richard Nixon to have a government agency completely under his control and given an overwhelming mandate to protect the environment, directed and orchestrated a massive program to create sealed, completely controlled environments, colloquially termed “greenhouses”, to produce food, or at least to sustain base stocks uninfected by the alien parasites. Similar programs were implemented in other advanced nations. Even so, food shortages and riots resulted in the deaths of nearly 90% of the world’s population by the early 1990s, with the rest living in cramped cities surrounding the greenhouses. Extremely draconic laws are required to keep the population controlled, and preservation of the “pure” environment of the greenhouses is considered a higher priority than virtually any number of human lives. While national borders theoretically remain intact, the actual social structure of the world is more akin to that of networks of city-states, linked by shortwave radio. The world between these isolated city/greenhouse complexes is one transformed by the “blue slime” into an alien, unearthly, landscape.
The portal opens in the sub-levels of G-Complex Cincinnati, local year 2012. Fear of “infection” is chronic; the first-in team was flagged by the particle scanners that fill the complex. One member was killed by flamethrower during the ensuing chaos; the others managed to retreat through the portal and return with appropriate gear to “pass” long enough to gather more information. Currently, IDET is trying to insert a xenobotanist into the complex without arousing suspicion. Retrieval of biological samples from this world is strictly forbidden by IDET regulations. (See also Incident Reports 4789-012-345A and 4789-908-677D, detailing American and Chinese military personnel attempting to gain access to this world under false pretenses. It is possible not all such access attempts have been prevented.)