Y is for: the Yellow Plague

The most recent health epidemic to sweep the world, the Yellow Plague was killing hundreds of people daily across the globe as recently as a few years ago.

Related to Streptococcus pyogenes, which even in the early 21st century was killing 500,000 people a year, the Yellow Plague was much more effective at harming the host before symptoms began to show. The damage to the internal organs, and particularly the liver, caused some of the same symptoms as Yellow Fever, and so the name quickly stuck.

 

At first barely noticed, cases began to amass in Europe and spread beyond, and more people died from consquences of toxic shock and sepsis. The UN advised a ban on all unecessary travel, but by that point the infection had spread far and wide.

 

The origins of the infection remain a mystery, but many believe the outbreak was caused by a genetically engineered bacteria that was either intentionally or accidentally released into the population of Central and Western Europe.

X is for: Xenophon

Following a series of political, social and environmental disasters, the former state of Greece fell into civil war. One of the factions that arose called itself the Ten Thousand, modelled on the ancient army of the same name.

Espousing a fascist ideal in their interpretation of Ancient Greece, a country they claimed direct heritage from, the Ten Thousand were a hard-line military group that believed in realigning the feuding city-states that were formerly Greece under a new tyrant, – the leader of their group, who called himself Xenophon.

 

In the ongoing conflict, they did not fair well, and with Xenophon imprisoned by the New Athens authorities and later put on trial for genocide, many of his followers escaped into the wider world amongst all the others fleeing the area.

 

Over time, what was once an idealised army of fascist warrior philosophers morphed to become the terrorist group called Xenophon, in honour of their ‘fallen’ leader. Whilst their tendencies to violence had continued, much of their original philosophy had warped over time.

Now favouring the Ten Thousand as the ideal arbiters of their own version of justice, their biggest crime to date has been the simultaneous destruction of Australian authorities in the name of freedom from borders – “for how can the Ten Thousand show justice to the world without freedom to travel to every place they are needed?”

 

The group is outlawed in most countries of the globe and features on a UN security watchlist, though there are some still within Reunited Greece who continue to send them support.

W is for: the rest of the World

Africa:

United by the African Union, the nations of Africa have come together to build several Pan-African projects, including the continent’s own space elevator and a reforestation effort at the edges of the Sahara.

Economic ties with Europe and the Americas have slowly been replaced with projects funded by the UN, Asian interests and the cross-border Megacorps.

 

Americas:

After decades of turmoil, North America isn’t what it once was.

The United States fractured into several successors, eventually leading to the Western Republic centred on old California, Independent Texas, the Empire of America holding the Midwest and much of the old southern states, and Free New York the last of the northeastern states not to join Canada.

Mexico and Canada have weathered the fall of their neighbour well, gaining land on their old borders and happily bolstering their populations.

Central America has also seen a boost, with UN and Megacorps beginning construction of a new space elevator project off the coast.

Following years of struggle, South America has also had its borders reshaped. The rise of the criminal cartels and their subsequent fall has left behind a patchwork of semi-recognised micronations. They are currently administered by the UN and various NGOs, trying to sew the old continent back together again.

 

Antarctica:

Following years of lobbying by corporations, human industry has arrived in Antarctica.

Whilst mineral reserves below the continent are being extracted, work is also underway to make the continent more habitable for humanity in the form of the Antarctica Arcology. A combined work of perhaps half the corporations on the planet, it could become every part the corporate state that the IICP has evolved into.

 

Asia:

Home to almost a third of humanity, the powerhouse of Asia has become the centre of modern human civilisation.

The technological rise of Japan, Korea and China has propelled great social upheaval, though it was China’s annexation of much of Siberia and the reunification of Korea being the main turning points in the last decades. The oligarchs of the new Russia Hegemony work tirelessly to build their military-industrial state, whilst the Peace Movement in India has managed to draw much of its own population out of poverty.

Peace it seems will never be achieved in the Middle East. Pan-Arabism and Zionism erupted into brutal conflict and have not calmed for some decades, save brief ceasefires for a year or two as the rest of the world seeks a resolution.

 

Europe:

The European Federation, the Russian Hegemony and Britain have all seen their fortunes rise and fall.

After Russia’s losses in Asia and the fracturing of its United States allies, it fell back to diplomatic relations with Europe, strained for decades but nonetheless. Whilst it could have no hope of joining what was now a distant neighbour, it could at least patch some of its worse ills.

Britain too had become a distant ally of the Federation, though has taken much longer to repair its links. Home to several of the largest corporations in the world, it has relied heavily upon them for economic gains, infrastructure and even governance.

Not everyone was happy with the Federation of course. From the economic collapse of Greece came the rise of the terrorist group called Xenophon.

 

Oceania and Zealandia:

With the IICP at its heart, the Pacific has gained the most in the last few decades, becoming just as much a powerhouse of economic and social revolution as Asia.

Following terrorist attacks on several Australian cities, a group called Xenophon claimed responsibility. Calling for immigrants rights and a world without borders, their attacks on the public authorities did anything but open Australia’s borders.

V is for: Vehicular transport

From the solar array atop the beanstalk, cheap electrical energy is available across the Pacific, with interchangeable, rechargeable batteries powering most vehicular transport, from motorbikes and buses to speedboats and ferries.

 

Private transport is mostly used by the rich, though autonomous vehicles acting as a taxi service help get individuals from point A to B without the public transport system.

The easiest way to do so is to catch a spinnercab. Spinners, named after and inspired by an old movie vehicle, are able to drive along the boulevards and avenues of New Pacific City but also can take off and join aerial traffic. Most spinnercabs are autonomous though some are operated by people.

The Department of Justice also makes use of armoured spinners for the SWAT teams and pick up of street arrests.

 

In industry, and particularly for loading and unloading of materials at the docks, exoframes have begun to be used.

Solid exoskeletal frameworks that allow a user to vastly increase their manual handling limits, they are slowly beginning to replace forklifts for most tasks.

An armoured modification of the exoframe nicknamed a hardsuit has been developed by the Department of Defence, though the extra weight has also increased power requirements and so hardsuits use small nuclear power cells.

U is for: UP and DOWN

On a clear day, from the base of the Beanstalk, it’s just about possible to see the small object at the top of the tether, known generally as UP.

Of course, small is relative. What was once a small, pristine microgravity habitat has extended outwards, with extra habitation and industrial modules added until now the small sprawl that is UPtown contains as many as 10,000 people.

As one of the few footholds of humanity in low orbit, UPtown is the first stop on the way to the Lagrange stations or Luna. It sees plenty of crew rotation, as people move up and down the Beanstalk, or jump on shuttles to other habitats.

 

The primary mission of the Beanstalk is to generate power. From the tip of the habitat extends a large solar cell array mimicking the branches and leaves of trees. Energy is then sent down the Beanstalk to the IICP.

The phytosteel construction of the Beanstalk itself is also able to generate some power, though to a much lesser degree than the array at its tip.

 

Most citizens never see UPtown, and so believe everything they hear and read about it. In truth, the last few years have not been kind to it.

Since the terrorist attacks on Luna and further threats to the Lagrange station construction habitats, security has become much tighter. What was once a matter for the Department of Justice and some corporate security services has slowly been taken over by the Department of Defense.

 

The finished construction of direct competition in the Pan-African Space Initiative elevator project and a new build off the coast of Central America has moved corporate and UN funding away from the Beanstalk, and more will likely be lost if the plans for an equivalent structure are finalised for the Moon itself.

T is for: Technophoria

Being surrounded by constantly updating technology has long been a difficulty for those still running wetware to keep up with.

As hardware and software begin to take over from the human animal on an increasing internal level, much of baseline humanity has begun to know a creeping sensation of obsolescence.

 

 

Those who have embraced the machine face a different problem altogether.

A new form of technological addiction has been increasingly labelled Technophoria by the media. Characterised by a desire to modify and upgrade the body and mind with more outside factors, new political movements have arisen to fight against it.

The apex of the addiction is the hugely costly total body cyberisation, whereby all that remains of the human individual is little more than a nervous system. Still seen as extremely experimental and with no long-term study undertaken on the effects upon the human mind, those who have managed to undergo the process currently only include test subjects.

S is for: Stardom

From the public vidstreams to the avatar blackrooms on the darkmesh, fame and infamy abound.

 

Becoming the latest vidstream spokesmodel gives a fleeting pass at fame, having any kind of reputation or ability to maintain a public persona is what keeps it.

Corporations have been happy to turn to those with reputation from criminal activities, and whole street gangs have ended up promoting the latest energy drink or fast food brand.

 

The infamy of the datamesh can be just as fickle and fleeting, but the biggest superstar deckjockeys and data warriors still pull an audience.

Whilst once people thrilled to the concept of eSports, joining blackroom meshcasts showing live system probing and hacking is what helps greener deckers to get their start if they can avoid the authorities long enough to log in.