Nutopia: a world in ruin. A world of hope.Edit
Without a doubt, the most pivotal movement in the early 21st century was the accelerated curve of technological advancement known collectively by trend watchers and futurists the world over as the Technological Singularity. As it rushed onward, much debate was had whether the sweeping changes it would doubtless bring would create a New Eden, or a Hell on Earth.
The truth would be something less dramatic. Technological advancements of those early years mingled with the wounds of history and grew into events that precipitated radical, unforeseen shifts in the global political structure. The notion of a Corporate state, once the province of speculative fiction, became stark reality. Not every existant state was gobbled up by the entities of industry, but a good portion of what had once been ruled by monarchs, dictators, parliaments and presidents stood instead beneath CEOs and Board Committees. The world over instability spread, but the uneasy malaise between the new Corporate States and their traditional counterparts was assuaged somewhat by the wonders of modern technology.
Safe gene-modded crops fed millions who would once have starved, and the construction of a world wide infosphere allowed media complacence to be broadcast directly into the homes, if not heads, of much of the species. While questions were asked about the cost of the seeming peace, about the slow death of privacy and self determination in the name of safety, most ignored these troublesome issues. After all, as the Inquisitor said, "where is there freedom of choice where men are bribed with bread?" The technologies that might have liberated man from the bondage of war, famine, disease, or even death itself stagnated, bottle-necked and rationed by corporations and governments alike. There was no profit in a cure to the ailments that shaped human conflict, only temporary treatment could generate repeat business, engender dependence. Some in control acted in order to stay in the black, others simply to stay in power, the ends long ago forsaken in favor of self sustaining means. The Curve, once seemingly inexorable, found itself slowed.
Still humanity crept closer to the Singularity, although the global limbo seemed to be drifting more towards a hellscape than a utopia. Finally, however, the tension that had been steadily building right along with the curve burst its seems, and the world devolved into a planetary conflict. In an event commonly referred to as The Fall long standing hatreds between governments, corporations, and the subjects of each erupted into violence. Border conflicts went hot, riots spilled into the streets, cities burned, entire militaries mobilized and became engulfed in conflict. It was a global cataclysm of war on a scale history had never seen before, and one that the species was lucky to emerge from.
The humanity that dragged itself through the other side of the firestorm saw a world changed in a matter of months, or in some places a matter of seconds. Most corporate states were in shambles, torn apart by infighting and revolutionaries of a hundred different creeds. The U-States hadn't fared much better, many shutting their borders in an effort to quell internal distress, or simply in fear of the new world beyond their walls. The setback to the evolution of the species was a major one, the Singularity kneecapped with thermonuclear force.
Many call the time after The Fall "ACE", After the Common Era. Humanity has had 25 years to settle into the ashes of its old form, but whether a heaven or hell will be made of the wreckage remains to be seen. The men and women who make their lives in the ruins will be the ones to determine, in a very real way, the course of Humanity. Will The Fall merely be the catalyst for a slow, agonizing extinction? Or will we struggle through the birthing pains into a new being, finally attaining the next step in our combined journey. These are questions that will be answered by the choices of individuals with the will to decide who and what they are, what they want the world around them to be. This is the world of NUtopia.
Recorded from an interview with noted hiver luminary Anton Tokarev from his home in Spire
It's 25 ACE, after the common era, after the Corps fell.
Well, they didn't fall, we toppled them. After a hundred years of toiling and striving we finally got back what we wanted. We got back our freedom, we became relevant again.
The Corps were ironclad. We were well and truly theirs. Those of us that weren't taken in the night and modded beyond recognition for some impossibly niche task were worked to death compiling data. We created and slaved and toiled for a system that existed to perpetuate itself. New skin colors and hair styles that none of us would ever see. Our minds were worn down to nothing for the pleasure of one tenth of a percent of the population.
They were well protected from all forms of attack. Their 'bots and Mercs protected them from the few unincorporated nations and from each other, but they neglected their foundations. The Global Network was truly ubiquitous. Its transmitters float in the stratosphere and permeate the crust; our Earth is a literal infosphere. The formulations of a rebellion flowed along the back channels. It allowed us to execute perfectly coordinated insurrection. One day the cogs, the gears that moved their massive industries and bureaucracies, Us, rose up. We moved outside their machinery and brought it down.
There were losses. In some places atomics were detonated in their silos as the last spiteful acts of newly impotent CEOs. 'Bots were given liquidation orders, Mercs set loose. 5 years of strife followed, and with it went 5% of the earth's livable surface. 1, 201, 372, 459 people died. We know because everyone was tracked. It was one of the first things we did away with. We've actually got kids being born now without transponder chips, and they'll never have them. The Unincorporated States still exist, and many ran to them after The Corps Fell. Some people simply couldn't handle a life without someone else determining its structure. A surprising number of us, however, stayed in the wastes.
We are creating something new amongst the wreckage of the past century. There are of course dangers, simple scarcity being the biggest threat. For this we have The Delvers, individuals of unique capability and motivation who dive into forgotten supply depots and ammo dumps, plumbing the treasures of the last age. Some protect our communities from still roving 'Bots and Mercs, and from those of us who find it easier to prey on isolated communities than contribute.
It is a new age; we are for the first time in the history of the species a globally connected collective of true individuals. We are clawing our way out the ashes of the worst atrocity this planet has ever seen like a new born phoenix, and we are creating something wonderful.
We are, for perhaps the first time, Human.
This is the world of Nutopia. At some point in the early 21st century the world’s governments were almost entirely supplanted by powerful corporations who where more than happy to step in when traditional authorities couldn’t keep up with the implications of the technological leaps and bounds that the young millennium saw. However, the age of progress grew into a nightmare.
The corporations grew ever larger and more powerful, and more and more paranoid. They themselves then fell to the inexorable march of technological progress, the world wide infosphere they had created serving as the soil in which a global rebellion took root.
The survivors of the terrible rebellion and the age of oppression that preceded it are of a new mind They value freedom in its purest forms, and know well the dangers of unchecked power.
For all the hatred we pour on them, it’s important to note that without the Corps we could never have gotten here. It was their technology that facilitated this next step in history. It was the lessons that they taught us, lessons that all saw and none can forget, that brought us out of the darkness.
Humanity has no doubt had its share of dictators and tyrants, but this is the first time that the whole world was integral in their destruction, and evidence of that war is etched across the surface of the planet. Abandoned cities and nuclear craters serve as surgery scars to remind us of what we had to do to excise the cancer of oppression and forced subservience.
Source unknown, supposedly a communique issued on a sealed military channel, allegedly by infamous CSC pilot Red Widow
Back before the Fall, you were the shit. The finest, most psychologically stable, tried and tested not to go insane even as the lab techs crammed more and more implants into your skull, overloading your brain with information. Unwaveringly loyal, unceasingly lethal. You fought in the Hidden Wars, the conflicts that didn't exist in the official records. You dueled with rival companies' Mercs in arctic wastelands, in desert heat, in space and underwater. When the shit really hit the fan, they brought you out to suppress riots back home and you watched the little men scream and run from the mere sight of you. You felt divine. And why not, do you believe in God? Now imagine that God spoke to you, personally. She upgraded you, made you stronger, had you enact her will. But it was more than that. She was always there, with words of love and encouragement and comfort. Then the fall comes and God falls silent, murdered by usurpers, the enemies of civilization.
Then they approached you. The new victors. The communities. The God killers. They invited you to their new free utopia, their uplinked, organic, low-tech, democratic little enclave of peace and prosperity and hope...
And you took one look at that and said fuck it. Fuck the anarchists, the globalists, the oh-so-helpful new government officials and their let's-get-along tripe. Fuck the way they look at you as you stroll down the market street. Fuck the inquisitive Operators and their "so where were you in -32?". Fuck'em and let it all rot.
So you and your unit left. For the wasteland, where true freedom is won with the railgun barrel and the hydraulic claw, where you wander the old ruins of your former makers for maintenance and spares and kill your old comrades who have gone insane from isolation and abandonment. When death is around the corner, that's when you're truly alive. This is how it's always been.
And you're happy. There's Jane, and while the both of you left your humanity on operating tables, sometimes when you make camp for the night and catch a few minutes downtime, you interface, and online your avatars looks just like you did in basic training, 50 years ago. And you smile at each other as you embrace, and you think... This can go on forever. If you can fight and if you can win... You'll be immortal.
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"Merc" is the blanket term used to refer to the most elite, most heavily modified, and often most brutal soldiers the corporations had at their command. The name is derivative of the fact that many of these corporations had Private Military Companies on the payroll for security, or even as wholly owned subsidiaries. As advances in warfare and the way it was fought continued to blossom, the sacrifices that militaries asked of their best men became ever more extreme. The extensive body modification now common after the Fall was pioneered amongst the armed forces of the world first. Extensive research into prosthetics yielded replacement limbs and even organs indistinguishable from their original counterparts, or even with improved capabilities. The most extensive modifications naturally found their way to those with need of them in an operational capacity. Special forces who could look into the infrared spectrum at will, mountain troops with enhanced endurance and EOD technicians with blast resistant endoskeletons.
Northrop Grumman were the first, however, to successfully implement the most extreme modification available in terms of cybernetic and biological modification. An Illium-Russo Conglomerate fighter ace was badly injured in a simple car accident, to the extent that not even the most advanced cybernetic augmentation could save her. Under dubious circumstances she was transported to an American medical facility. There her brain, brain stem and a few inches of healthy spine were sustained in a specially designed cask. The system allowed the pilot to control the entire airframe with her mind, changing course and lining up targets at the speed of thought while being able to pull incredible maneuvers without fear of blacking out, the only restriction on agility being the strength of the airframe.
The Cerebral Suspension Cask (or as it is or commonly known the "Brain-in-a-jar" or "Headcase") was a breakthrough of such magnitude that it, and its descendant Upload technology, warrant their own discussion. Suffice to say the military applications were incredible. Experienced troops could come back from nearly any injury, could download their memories for use in the training of other personnel, and had more command of their given chassis than any unmodified pilot. Vehicles were designed with the capability of CSC pilots in mind, leading to a great increase in the power and complexity of land and air vehicles. The process and its results were proven most publicly in a famous incident during the NATO wargames, when that same Illium Pilot, flying a never before seen variable geometry, linear aerospike propelled stealth aircraft disabled fourteen veteran (but unmodified) pilots in conventional fighters in less than five minutes in a "cannons only" dogfight.
As corporate control strengthened, the corporate mercenaries at their command made more and more use of what would become their signature modification. Pure human piloted military vehicles became alternately rarities or relics. Even non-CSC pilots used extensive uplinks to their cortical stacks to achieve the same effectiveness, and they were not preferred, their bodies took up space that might be used for armor and ammunition after all. Even the infantry began to change in major ways, bodies specialized for their given rules to such extreme degrees that they were barely recognizable as human. Armacor made famous through a television series their Paladin assault teams, 9 foot tall power armored knights fighting crime, saving hostages and shooting away to the rooftops on high powered grapple lines. The truth of the late night abductions or the messy espionage raids would only become known later. Illium went the biological route, turning the various Russian special forces into purposefully terrifying genetic hybrids. MVD trackers armed with dog noses and bat ears could hunt by a number of unlikely means, while genetically bulked hulks could tear a normal man limb from limb with ease. The Spetsnaz, ever in love with the capability for a surprise attack, even took to a number of non-standard modifications like venom injecting fangs or claws, or skin that could excrete slippery or acidic coatings.
Regardless of their shape or size, "Merc" became the term that referred to these extremely modified corporate troops. Those that remain active, still under the sway of corporate hard coding and brainwashing or simply possessed of a bloodthirsty attitude, are the most dangerous threat to physical survival that any Delver is likely to face. Conversely, those that have overcome their training and wish to assist in hauling humanity from the ashes can be an incredibly powerful ally.
Mercs After the FallEdit
During the fall the central command structure of the mercs collapsed nearly instantly which prevented them from organizing any credible resistance. By the time a provisional chain of command was re-established it was already too late: the corporations had lost, they just refused to admit it. Before the collapse of the last holdout of organized corporate resistance, many surviving mercs were given a standing order to destroy any rebels encountered. Now nearly two decades after the fall very few still follow that directive, as most of them have realized that the new world order is here to stay and there is nothing they can do about it anymore.
Soon after the fall the scattered merc units began to re-organize, and at first the last order of their now mostly dead corporate masters were a natural thing to follow as the new settlements were poorly defended and raiding was very rewarding. But soon thing began to change the settlements began to have better fixed defenses and more trained militia. Sensing the change in the winds there were increasing amount of mercs that hired their services to defend the settlements. Things took an turn for even worse for the mercs with the appearance of delvers, the delvers competed for the same salvage and spare parts as the mercs. While the delvers weren't as well equipped or experienced as the mercs, their greater numbers began to wear down them down. The last nail to the mercs coffin was the organized an common defense for settlements and first after-fall cities, based around fast VTOL transports that could rapidly deploy reinforcement to any settlements under attack.
These days an slight majority of the mercs are either hiring themselves to the settlements for maintenance or equipment or are part of delving teams. In any cyborg city like The Junkyard or similar you can guarantee that in the bar there is an old, beat-up hardshell merc going on about the "good old days" to anyone who will listen. They tell stories about their pre-fall exploits under the corporations and stories about vast, invincible, unstoppable, burning and pillaging hordes of state-of-the-art killing machines. Those honest-to-flying spaghetti monster raider mercs that refuse to trade or barter are an dying breed, but while no means rare they are slowly being wiped out by delvers or simply by the lack of salvageable spare parts.
When the corps ruled Mercs were, as now, the greatest fear of the common citizen. Massive vehicles and and armors that prowled the streets and leveled homes on a whim. There were, however, a more secretive kind of hired muscle employed and engineered by the corporations; Biomercs.
Designed and deployed for missions where a 126 ton thinktank just wasn't the right tool for the job, Biomercs were the Corp's hitmen and assassins. Rigged with the latest and best biomods and cybernetic parts most Biomercs would never pass as human. Animal limbs and organs along with weaponized appendages created perfect snipers and close range massacre artists. They specialized in pin point precision and high speed attacks.
Perhaps even more frightening were the covert operatives. Externally a normal human, and internally shielded so that cursory scans will turn up nothing amiss, covert biomercs were the ultimate tools of deadly infiltration.
Nowadays Biomercs are becoming less and less common. They were by their nature on the bleeding edge of genetic modification, and needed constant monitoring and medical assistance when not in the field. Most died or went insane after the fall from simple withdrawal symptoms. Those that managed to survive by finding caches of medical equipment are loathe to move far from their lairs except to fulfill their encoded desire for the hunt. The Coverts, to, are a dying breed. A good deal of them went active as soon as the Corps started to lose control and were killed in the ensuing violence. Most Communities are diligent enough to catch any trying to sneak in, and some will even allow in "reformed" coverts who have gotten over their old genetic imperatives and memetic commands.
- The Afganistan Expedition
Now Working on this.