History of the Unity Council
Behind closed doors, the largest multinational corporations in the world met with political leaders not just to restore order, but to save human civilisation. The first international cooperative measures led to the development of hyper-mechanised bio-agriculture and research into alternative energy sources. Blueprints were laid out for the first hyper-cities, which would not only house the burgeoning population, but provide workers for the industries needed to bring about global change. The line between corporate entity and sovereign power became blurred. The ascendant multinationals lobbied for increased freedom for the world’s citizens that would allow the unchecked recruitment of workforces anywhere in the world. The idea of the Pan-Continental Union was mooted: one world, one nation.
Still the world was deeply fractured, and the shadow of war once again hung over humanity. It was not long before hostilities broke out among remaining sovereign states and for the first time the cyclopean ‘mega-corps’ became involved in the fighting. Tens of millions of migrants fled the conflicts, sparking civil unrest across the globe. Private armies were hired to protect resources and entire regions under corporate control. Increasing demand for military tech saw the rise of munitions manufacturers that supplied whoever could afford their arms – Union peacekeepers, mega-corps, consortiums, or even private citizens; it mattered not as long as the price could be met.
The conflict expanded until it seemed that the entire globe would burn. Power blocs, ruled by multinationals or petty governors, became embroiled in conflict in the name of the Union. But as their business interests conflicted with their social responsibility, they began to turn on each other, in boardrooms and on the field of battle. Smaller corporations grew by eliminating their rivals in open warfare. Constitutional monarchies attempted to re-establish old borders. As the death toll rose, humanity teetered on the brink of destruction.
In a military campaign lasting less than three years, the Unity Congress eradicated warring factions, and aggressive national governments. Troublesome corporations were liquidated or bought out and forced to adhere to the new laws. Military hardware was seized and further development of weapons technology prohibited. National borders were erased, and the old Union dream of a single global nation became a reality at last.
Implementing a new calendar system, the signing of the Articles of Unity marked the first day of Anno Unita (AU) – ‘the first day of the future’. From the members of the Congress, an elite ruling council was democratically elected, representative of every industry and faction on earth. Tennyson became First Councillor, and set about rebuilding a fractured world.
The new Unity Council built a society upon a foundation of high principles; of liberty, fairness, and free trade. The Council assumed control of the global economy, world resources and infrastructure. The first hyper-cities were completed, each providing homes for over 100 million souls in hab-blocks that touched the clouds, birthing a generation that never walked beneath an open sky. The populace was educated under a new system that promoted the greatest philosophers of the ancient world. A universal currency was adopted, using virtual cred-chips to store Unity Credits, whilst Unilingua became the new global language. Most remaining independent mega-corps and nation states gradually fell in line and signed up to the utopian vision offered by the all-powerful Unity Council. As the reach of the Council lengthened, responsibility had to be delegated to trusted agencies. Governance Corporations were tasked with fulfilling the council’s mandate and regional authority was franchised, with overall control held by the Unity Council.
Eventually, the Unity Council took drastic action. Those regions and corporations who refused to sign the Articles of Unity were cut off from the rest of humanity, erased from maps and labelled ‘Terra Nulius’, or ‘the Null Zones’. Perimeter defences were erected, spanning tens of thousands of miles on every continent, and Council funded kill-drones patrolled the borders ceaselessly, trapping rebels and outcasts in a timewarp of their own making.
Those who would not recognise the Councils authority would not benefit from its economic and industrial might, nor participate in its vision for a new society.
The Council determined a policy of total containment, preventing any trade or communication with the inhabitants of the Null Zones and publically denying the existence of any remaining population. The vast majority of current Unity citizens have been born since the Schism, and know of the Null zones only through hushed rumour.
After a period of relative peace up to 35.AU, the Unity Council unveiled its masterwork: the Sphere, a global information and computation super-network, quickly integrated into all electronic systems. By 48.AU, the Sphere had almost eliminated waste and inefficiency in every industry. Its advanced resource allocation protocols, coupled with its quantum processing power, enabled the Sphere to determine the most efficient way to achieve any given economic aim. Though the Sphere was incapable of calculating the human cost of its efficiencies, few could argue with the rapid economic expansion made possible by its existence.
In 58.AU, the thirty year construction of Unity City began. Designed to house over 300 million people, as well as the newly designed Terra Consulate and Unity Tower, the new seat of Unity Council power. With the aid of the Sphere, the Unity Council determined a series of global scientific and industrial objectives to channel the output of every industry across the world. A major priority was the exploration and colonisation of space – an objective made more pressing with every passing day, as precious resources on Earth became more limited than the council could ever reveal. Work began on the first space elevator, which would allow for the colonisation of the lunar surface, and ultimately provide a springboard for mankind to venture to the stars.
The largest multi-nationals began to race for great discoveries that would end the world’s problems and secure power and wealth for their stakeholders. Pharmaceutical and Biomech organisations doubled their efforts, and the war on disease and even death was fought in labs across the globe. Life expectancy increased dramatically, many common ailments were eradicated, and bionic and synthetic augmentation made the loss of limbs or even organs little more than a minor inconvenience. Yet these advances came at a high price: as the wealthiest men and women in society took tentative steps on the path to immortality, the poor lived short lives full of hardship.
Still humanity seemed destined for a bright future. The elevator enabled the first lunar mining colony and the first orbital settlements to be established. Unity City became a beacon of human progress, not only the largest population centre on the planet, but also the nexus for a commercial fusion grid which rid the world of the need for fossil fuels. In over one hundred years of peace and prosperity Unity civilisation had transformed, and on the surface it seemed that the Council’s plan was sound.
Like all grand political projects in history, the dream became corrupted, slowly twisting from idealistic dream to nightmare. Over the course of many decades, the Unity Council transformed human society, in many ways for good. But through the process of change, power became more and more centralised, and the response to challenges to that power increasingly brutal. From an organisation that stood for peace and prosperity, Unity society slid, almost without anyone realising it, into an authoritarian police state. With the Sphere, the Council began to control the flow of information across the globe, so as not to shatter the illusion that citizens lived in a harmonious utopia. The Council focused inwards to reinforce its power where it mattered, to the benefit of the elite corporations that form its core support – neglecting fringe territories and the massed populations in the lower levels of the Hyper-cities.
At first the global standing army and hyper-city police forces were separate organisations tasked with maintaining local order, but they gradually grew in power, size and remit to form the Unity Council’s ‘Peace Corps’, a multi-layered organisation tasked with both overtly and covertly maintaining control and order. With their vice-like grip over a totalitarian regime, the risk of world-wide conflict seemed to have been eradicated at last.
For many, having sleepwalked through their lives for so long, the revelation was too much to bear. Evidence of the council’s many crimes, the conditions in the slum zones, the Terra Nulia wars, the amoral excesses of the spire-dwelling classes, and the utter disparity of wealth and living conditions were all revealed. It was a spark that ignited waves of protest across the world. As rioting and violence escalated, the Unity Council declared martial law, and the standing army was deployed in the hyper-cities to restore order. Their botched and brutal response left hundreds of thousands dead in a matter of weeks, and the councils ill-prepared security forces rapidly lost control, leaving a chaotic power vacuum. Unidentified groups and shadow cells led a series of high-profile attacks on Council control hubs and resource centres, leading to a security lockdown that effectively cut off Congress personnel and Up-Tier elites from the rest of the world. Some security franchises, appalled at the violence, severed ties with the UC and sided with the resistance movement. The Unity Council fractured. More than a third of the mega-corps that represented controlling interests in the Congress formally seceded from UC control, forming the Pan-Continental Republic and numerous smaller factions fighting for their own ends.
First Senator of the PCR, Vargo Federici, presented his former comrades still sitting on the Unity Council with a list of demands to restore peace and order, chiefly that Raul Tennyson and his closest associates relinquish power immediately, and stand public trial for their many crimes. In response the council issued arrest warrants for the directors and major stakeholders of all rebelling corporations, and stepped up the repression of its own population within the hyper-cities in a bid to restore order.
Corporations on both sides mobilised their security and military forces and hostilities broke out seemingly across the entire world. Some Hyper-Cities remained under the control of just one faction and thus retained some stability. Others were torn apart by escalating internal conflict between corporations and dozens of smaller power-blocs.
All around the world, people died, buildings burned, and, in the space of a few months, almost two centuries of progress was torn apart. Now human civilisation stands once more on the brink of annihilation.
The population pressures and advancements in large scale engineering technology led to building ever upwards and downwards, with new layers of buildings and infrastructure built directly on top of crumbling 21st century architecture. Emerging from the smog and smoke of the industrial lower levels each hyper-city is a maze of interconnected skyscrapers and spires stretching kilometers into the sky.
Decades of corporate mismanagement since the collapse of nation-states has lead to an extreme and quite literal stratification of wealth. The richest in society occupy the very highest towers amongst their corporate offices and open air parks floating hundreds of meters in the air, while the lower reaches of the hyper-cities are occupied by increasingly poor and marginalised working classes.
In the most densely populated and deprived lower tiers of most hyper-cites, it has long ceased to be profitable for governance corporations and law enforcement agencies to maintain a presence. These areas, known as the warrens, are a law unto themselves, ruled over by whoever can take and hold power in the absence of real authority. The Unity Council has made efforts in the past to clean up the warrens and restore order, but for decades has simple chosen to ignore the problem, a decision which has come to haunt them after the Cataclysm, as the Warrens have proven a hot-bed of rebellion and ideal safe haven for resistance fighters.
Outside the walls of the hyper-cities, the rest of Unity-controlled territory is a vista of the crumbling remnants of 21st century cities and industries, and vast areas of sparsely populated agricultural land and irradiated wastelands – a harsh inheritance from the RAD Wars of the 21st century. The continents are criss-crossed with high-speed trans-tubes, used to link every hyper-city in the world. Yet many of these have been destroyed or compromised, and as such, some hyper-cities exist in a state of relative isolation.
Few within the remaining Unity controlled hyper-cities have any idea of the strife beyond the city walls. The denizens of the lower warrens continue to be brutally oppressed, and the majority of the worker classes continue to ply their trades under a shadow of fear. Surveillance drones buzz about the streets scanning every citizen for the tell-tale signs of defiance.
The obsession of the ruling classes with purchasing everything that their hearts desire has slowly filtered to the middle-class workers, some of whom crave to emulate the Upworlders. The hyper-cities are filled with endless shopping malls, with labyrinthine corridors of flashing neon Virtual Vendor ports. Everything and anything can be purchased at the swipe of a cred-chip, from food and medical supplies to designer offspring. If there is a demand, then the Sphere will provide.
Thanks to the continued use of Afterlife technology, Unity councillors have incredible longevity, which they use to maintain controlling stakes in the mega-corps that often they themselves founded. Individual members wield such power that their personal security forces rival the best military corps and spy networks, bringing new meaning to the corporate world of hostile takeovers and aggressive talks. An addiction to Afterlife, coupled with their constant body modifications, has taken a toll on their humanity. They live in an amoral state, their spireward homes becoming pleasure palaces where every need is catered for. Cybernetic and biological enhancements are no longer limited to the standard human form – users can now order additional limbs, ocular circuitry and other, more macabre things, at the click of a button. From their decadent surroundings, the Up-Tier elite monitors the populace of the hyper-cities as playthings, systematically sanctioning arrests, torture, and other needless cruelties upon a whim. No-one asks where the ‘Disappeared’ have gone. No-one would dare.
Connection with the Sphere was originally optional, but as soon as the Council realised its potential, it became mandatory for every machine, digital device and even citizen to interface with the Sphere, directly or indirectly. As mobile devices tend to be interwoven into clothing, accessories, or implants, the Sphere quickly became the ultimate in surveillance mainframes.
Sphere systems are so sophisticated that they are believed capable of self awareness, and thus the responsibility for managing individual tasks in various industries is split off into Sphere Nodes. Nodes are controlled by members of the council, and no one Node can communicate with another. Given their hated role in surveillance and control, it is little surprise that the destruction of Sphere Nodes is a priority objective for areas ceding from Unity Control.
Since the Cataclysm left the Unity Council’s ranks depleted, there are few who understand the inner workings of the Sphere. Whether it is sentient or not, none can tell, for it is cut off from the essential functions it would require to regain control of the global resource grid. And yet if it is self-aware, then it knows everything that has transpired since the rise of the Unity Council. And it waits.
The most controversial procedure is quantum wave-synching, a technique that can map the memories of a brain (even a dead one) into a digital medium. Memories are indexed, and sometimes sold to high bidders, as the ultimate high is to experience someone’s else’s memory. Theoretically, it would be possible to wave-synch an entire lifetime of memories, and re-map them onto a host brain; but given the dangers of even recreational synching, the wholesale transplantation of personalities has remained outlawed by the Congress. Wave-synching has, however, found its way into military applications, where it is used to confuse interrogation subjects, extract secrets from slain enemy soldiers, or force information from recalcitrant spies.
Prior to the Cataclysm the Council had legislated against most ‘life extension therapies’, which were strictly prohibited for any individual over the age of 100, although some say that many Upworlders have long surpassed that threshold. Of greater controversy still is the replication of bio-matter for the regeneration (or addition) of limbs or organic implants. Though synthetic engineering is cited as the source of these advances, there are those who whisper that the ancient practice of grave-robbing is rife in the so-called civilised hyper-cities, or that donor-clones are grown in vats and harvested at the behest of wealthy Afterlife patrons. Since the collapse of Unity control any restraint has disappeared and Afterlife medical procedures are freely carried out across the globe for anyone able to afford the treatments.