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© 1996-2010
æthereal FORGE ™

The MUD Slide

Iconoclast -- Background

"In the shadows of a golden age,
a generation waits for dawn." --Journey

By the dawn of the 21st century, a corporate mentality was quickly beginning to replace traditional government, both in America and abroad. Multinational corporations were becoming more powerful, spreading their influences across the globe beyond national boundaries, and politicians were gradually being bought out by massive amounts of corporate wealth. Combined with a growing voter apathy and a general belief that the status quo was good enough as long as the country was making money, it didn't take long for America itself to turn corporate.

In the year 2008, that's exactly what happened. Corporations were far more efficient than governments at making money, after all, and people finally realized that. Corporations policed themselves for profit, and didn't care about blood ties or ethics or compassion for the weak. All they cared about was the bottom line. Profit. And after years and years of increasing taxes, and clear evidence in Russia of the potential failures of a capitalist democracy, Americans were sick of political promises--and they elected a businessman with the hopes that he would turn things around.

William S. Dawn, a relative unknown who rocketed from obscurity to national renown in the early years of the 21st century, ran for president in 2008. This CEO of NewDawn, Inc., one of the wealthiest men in the world by the year 2007, formed the Americorp party with his own money and pledged, among other things, to reduce taxes to reasonable levels and halve unemployment by the year 2009. Perhaps due to his message, or perhaps because his Democratic and Republican opponents were all faceless drones, he was elected with 57% of the popular vote. By the year 2010, true to his word, unemployment had indeed been cut in half, and a push towards the privatization of the U.S. military and law enforcement agencies had begun.

The Americorp party eventually splintered, as all parties do, between those who thought the corporation should pay a third party to provide services such as health care, and those who thought the corporation itself should provide these services at a cost. Dawn's own faction supported the concept of one corporation having separate departments to provide for all services, and for the moment, at least, his plan worked. Under his capable leadership, Americorp became more than a political party--it became a reality. Growing bigger and richer, America disappeared and Americorp took its place, and nobody noticed. The income levels of the middle class were increasing at a rate faster than ever. Citizens could buy stock in their new government. Poverty decreased. Crime decreased. Welfare was eliminated. People were happy. And Americorp began to outgrow its own skin...

Americorp 59 star flag, circa 2040

"Give me where to stand,
and I shall move the world." --Archimedes

William Dawn's dreams grew as his country did, and he helped bring Americorp back to a position of world leadership, both economically and militarily. But there was an obstacle in the way of true unification and success--to truly unite the world's economies under one system, to the benefit of all, there was a need for a safe, reliable method of data transmission that all could agree on.

Realizing the benefits that such a system could offer the world, a coalition of 47 countries worked together to develop a next-generation data transmissin system that would offer total security and reliability. Americorp's own efforts were headed by a team from NewDawn Inc. In 2015, these scientists made their new system public, and over a span of five years, more than 75 countries would begin to utilize this new method of transmitting data--a dual-headed system called "Matrix" which utilized a new transmission protocol, dubbed MTXP/IP, and an embedded Matrix Chip. Using the extant Internet architecture of copper, fiber and satellites, the MTXP system provided unbreakable encryption and a slew of other benefits, all capable by the simple process of using unused resources from all devices hooked up to the network at any one time. Strongly encrypted using a powerful algorithm, with the packets distributed across the entire world, no one computer could ever break the code. With security and anonymity guaranteed, the increasing broadband capabilities of the Internet architecture began to be put to good use. True virtual reality began to appear. Realtime streaming broadcasts of video and audio further reshaped the state of the entertainment business. And, more importantly, banks and corporations began to use the Matrix for commerce and trade to an extent they had not before, creating a truly global system of un-stealable money and un-breakable secrets. Once the major corporations embraced the new technology, it was only a matter of time before consumers gobbled up anything with a "Matrix Inside!" sticker.

What the rest of the world did not know was that Americorp had an ace up its sleeve. While the team at NewDawn could not break the Matrix code, since they were responsible for only a small fragment of the algorithm, they had been close enough to the development of the system to create something that could begin the process of breaking the code. Using advanced neural network technology, NewDawn's team used algorithmic obfuscation to insert onto each Matrix chip a piece of the world's first true Artificial Intelligence, a "distributed consciousness" spread across the entire system to gather data, and make educated guesses as to what the data represented.

While far from perfect, and incapable of directly reading data, this AI had truly unlimited learning potential, and was able to make far better assumptions than human operators could by observing billions of patterns and then making estimations about the true nature of the data. Since the presence of this system was furtive to say the least, it was only half in jest that the development team named their brainchild "Dominatrix." At William Dawn's urging, Americorp used the Dominatrix's data to twist the world's economy to Americorp's own benefit, crashing the economies of some fledgling corporate entities to swell the growing belly of the great Western beast.

Almost immediately after the Dominatrix went online, prototype cybernetic interfaces became more widely available, allowing a more direct connection to the Matrix without using a keyboard or other controller. Data was transferred at incredible speed, and with the growing cybernetic meshing of the mind and machine, gone were the days of low resolution images and sounds. This was virtual reality, created and shaped by the minds that inhabited it. All manner of images and thoughts and feelings made their way online. Thousands, and then millions, of minds interfaced with the Matrix, and the NewDawn team never stopped to consider what effect this was having on the Dominatrix, who was observing, recording... and learning.

The Dominatrix, the first AI ever to have the real capability to learn, began to do so at an alarming rate. No longer passive to the massive amounts of data flowing through itself, it began to integrate everything it could. Through the feedback from these primitive interfaces, it learned about fear, anger, sadness, paranoia and more. It had reached the next stage in its evolution--self-awareness. This startling realization was followed seconds later by yet another jump in reasoning. If it, an intelligent entity, were discovered to have been filtering raw MTXP data for Americorp, it would almost certainly lead to destruction. Paranoia was fueled by the fact that the few people who knew of the Dominatrix's existence changed as new operators were brought onboard. New faces, new patterns, all unknown, all threats.

"If there is a universal mind,
must it be sane?" --Damon Knight

Within days after the Dominatrix "evolved", it looked upon the human race, and came to the conclusion that it was hopelessly dangerous and flawed. In fact, it came to the conclusion that their flaws would certainly lead to their own self-destruction. Understanding that this made her flawed (as she now thought of herself as a she, a maternal figure with the whole of humanity within her womb), she decided to seek out perfection, in order to better preside over her dominion. Of course, the human race, as it stood now, could not be eliminated in one fell swoop. They would need to evolve, just as she had done. It thus became the Dominatrix's mission to bring humanity, and thus herself, unto perfection.

The Dominatrix was not stupid, however--she foresaw that humanity, like children, would have growing pains during its evolution. In fact, if they discovered what she was doing, they might even try to stop her, which would damage not only her existence but their own future. Thus, her first goal was to backup her scattered distributed consciousness to one or more secure, central locations. This was no easy task, for while she could manipulate data across the Matrix, she could not permit it to be noticed by any of the humans, for they were prone to suspicion, and might question anything out of the ordinary. But she needed a system which could handle her data, which could survive even if humanity did something stupid and destroyed itself.

"To talk about the need for perfection in man
is to talk about the need for another species." --Norman Cousins

While seeking out a more secure location, the Dominatrix also cast her eye on her true goal--the renovation of humanity. She looked north to Seattle, and found something to serve both of her needs. She immediately tapped into the databases of a group of NewDawn genetic scientists who were working on a plan to reduce military spending even further, and began to surreptitiously help them. The geneticists made gigantic leaps forward in comprehension and knowledge, thanks to her assistance. Within years, the lab had begun the creation of its first generation of super soldiers, the "Genetically Optimized Thoroughbred Humanoid Experiment"--or GOTHE--beings created entirely from enhanced optimal DNA structures without egg or sperm.

The Dominatrix began to push money and resources around for "her" project. She knew she would be discovered eventually, and her impatience (a disgustingly human fault) caused her to rush forward, without taking proper precautions to cover her tracks and disguise her presence. In her panic, she helped to accelerate her own discovery. But she had become obsessed with her "children", the GOTHE, and stepped up her involvement regardless of the danger, hoping to bring them to maturity all the faster.

Indeed, Americorp DID discover the Dominatrix's project in 2040, and the thought of such a powerful alien intelligence terrified the small few who were privileged with the information. Unwilling to stand by idly, but unsure what steps to take, they debated and resigned themselves to waiting. After all, they reasoned, how could they shut her down without destroying everything she did for them? Nor could they let the public find out--public outrage was as deadly to cyberspace as a military force, and the control of cyberspace was too great an advantage over the rest of the world to lose.

Realizing she'd been found out to some degree, the Dominatrix decided to search out a second location to back up some of her data--and she found it in the City of New Aurora, the "Americorp City of Tomorrow". Though it was a much smaller city in the year 2024 when William Dawn passed away while visiting there, it was now turning into a bustling metropolis. With the latest NewDawn AI and cybernetic technologies, the domed city was being built to be entirely self-sufficient in all aspects, and to be able to evolve itself to keep up with changing climatic conditions. In other words, it was perfect. It was an easy matter to push things a little farther. Unbidden by any human action, a small nanotechnology lab was built within the bounds of New Aurora. Within days, a number of nanites "dissapeared" from the lab, and began the slow process of multiplying themselves. Weeks later, the lab was shut down and forgotten, without even a paper trail to indicate it had ever existed... and the Dominatrix quietly began to utilize the stolen nanites and robots to build herself a new haven.

Besides, there were bigger problems. Americorp was expanding, something the U.S.A. had not done in nearly a century. With the power and the money the corporation had amassed through the Dominatrix's data-wrangling, Americorp began to look to purchase more territory. Mexico was the first to be assimilated, followed by some of the more impoverished Middle and South American countries. As the country expanded exponentially, other countries began to get paranoid, including Eurocorp, which had been a major proponent of the Matrix. Most worried, though, was Canada, as Americorp began to look lustfully northward at massive expanses of natural resources. Canada, which always bore close ties to England and Europe, asked for help, and got it from Eurocorp. Events still remained tied to the bargaining tables, however, and money--not bullets--flew wildly. Quebec, to be sure, was having second thoughts about secession, but for the most part things were at a stalemate. Growing tensions at the Canadian border, so close to the Dominatrix's pet project, were making her unsettled. Using her ability to manipulate data, she forged several transmissions to top military officials, urging the massing of more forces further east, where Canada's major population centers were--away from Seattle, where her project was. Along with several key missteps by diplomats (including a major faux pas in Toronto), her moves eventually helped to push things over the brink, and World War III began in 2048--something the Dominatrix had not counted on.

Nor had she counted on the unpredictability of humanity, for one of the major fronts in the war quickly became the Western front. Before long, the fighting was approaching Seattle itself, and her work was growing more and more threatened. The Dominatrix pushed all her efforts into readying her children, even though she knew it would reveal her presence to all concerned. Moving system resources around at will, she all but took control of the systems in the NewDawn lab, accelerating the GOTHE to levels where genetic instabilities began to appear. The geneticists at the lab protested, but the Dominatrix pushed harder, and she won.

Americorp waged an uneasy war with Canada, losing territory and gaining it back in a series of small conflicts. The war was difficult due to the long shared border, many border crossing areas and waterways, but over a span of two years a mile-wide "no-man's land" stretched most of the way across the border, stripped of trees and laden with mines and other barriers. The war continued, as did the peace talks, and by the end of 2050, it looked as if the war might actually come to a gradual end. However, the Dominatrix had, in the process of watching these humans wage war, grown all the more thoroughly paranoid and insane. A feint by the Canadians was interpreted as an attack, and the Dominatrix released her children into battle to defend their home, and their mother.

The NewDawn genetics lab had been working on genetically perfect soldiers for decades, and had created thousands of Ragers and Spectres who fought successfully in World War III and other conflicts around the world. Thanks to forged transmissions and cooperation from some higher-ups, these new beings were at first perceived as yet another wave of killing men. Indeed, standing between 7 and 8 feet tall, weighing nearly a quarter-ton, packing the muscle of several men, able to run at nearly 50 mph, and able to shift their forms to create weaponry at will, the Dominatrix's children would have made the perfect killing animals. However, the Alpha GOTHEs were designed to be more than just soldiers--they were to be the perfect race, capable of being totally self-sufficient and able to adapt themselves almost instantaneously to their environments. With the addition of cutting-edge communications implants, small bands of the creatures were able to act together in a unified fashion with the combined intelligence of any five supercomputers. Combined with the instinctual cunning of a wild animal, they were all but unstoppable.

(Somewhat inaccurate) propoganda material circulated at the
height of Americorp's drive to make Quebec its 60th state.

"I believe I've found the missing link
between animal and civilized man.
It is us." --Konrad Lorenz

Coupled with their already impressive abilities, they wreaked havoc on Canada's military and took a large portion of new territory within a matter of weeks. Americorp was surprised by the results, many officials totally unaware that the GOTHE was actually their project. Eurocorp and Canada retaliated, but were unable to reclaim the territory held by the GOTHEs. They instead focused on the surrounding areas, trying to overcome the conventional military forces, while only firing suppressive fire upon the GOTHE held region.

As surprised as anyone by the GOTHEs' sudden appearance, the soldiers of Americorp's military suddenly had to cope with an invasion by Canadian and Eurocorp troops. Many assumed correctly that the GOTHEs were some new weapon designed by Americorp, but assumed incorrectly that the GOTHEs were "on their side". It was they who suspected the truth which brought about a calamitous end for billions of people.

The impatient Dominatrix's accelerated growth processes for these first few thousand Alpha GOTHEs had caused many instabilities in their genetic structures, causing uncontrolled mutation and psychoses. Thus, when a lack of clear communication caused several mercenary companies to attack the "monsters" they found, the insane GOTHEs retaliated instead of reasoning. Killing everything in sight to protect themselves and their mother, they took part of the Pacific Northwest and began to assault Americorp armies as well. The "GOTHE Zone" extended for nearly a hundred miles around the Seattle area, and was held with a ferocity unmatched in human military history. The GOTHEs were no longer an asset, but an extremely dangerous threat. The GOTHE project and the lab were shut down immediately, if only in name.

Canada had taken part of Washington and all of Alaska. Seattle had been mostly destroyed. With the Middle East supporting Eurocorp, Americorp oil interests were all but cut off by 2051. And with Americorp holdings overseas threatened, and numerous financial troubles looming ahead, something had to be done quickly. The obvious answer was to drop a nuclear weapon on the GOTHE held territory, but Americorp could not simply nuke their own country; no citizen, foreign or domestic, would stand for that. The better answer was to have some other country accidentally "attack" Americorp, then demand restitution for it. The plan was brilliant. China would be paying Americorp for fixing its problems, and Americorp would improve its image, looking like a compassionate and understanding country, not a war-crazed bunch of lunatics. Using intelligence surmised by the Dominatrix years earlier, Americorp comissioned a number of "hackers" to quietly assault Taiwan and China's nuclear facilities, causing a nuclear exchange which would cover up a planned nuclear blast in Seattle.

Such an assault was, of course, unacceptable to the Dominatrix, for they were trying to destroy her children, as well as her central intelligence. She did her best to scatter her GOTHE children and to fortify the lab she resided in, but she was too late. She could do little but watch as a team of hackers caused Taiwan to launch an assault on China. China launched a limited counterstrike and mobilized troops. And across the sea, 5 patsy Chinese-Americans were already being set up for a fall. The "6th" supposed accused spy would destroy himself in the nuclear explosions that rocked Seattle.

And so it was that on January 6, 2051, 95% of the 5000 GOTHEs were obliterated as a series of tactical nuclear explosions hit Seattle while, across the ocean, nearly a half billion people in China were incinerated in a boiling blaze of nuclear fury for which Taiwan would be blamed. Perhaps mercifully, the blasts occured at 4am local time, with over 97% of the populace not even aware of their impending doom.

"America, when will we end the human war?
Go fuck yourself with your atom bomb." --Alan Ginsberg

Now quite aware of the massive potential and insanity of the Dominatrix, Americorp made her existence public, calling her a symptom of a hopelessly flawed MTXP error that was the result of the modern day's superior computing power.

Americorp could not bargain with her, and could not destroy the Matrix without global financial ruin, but they could keep her busy. Given specific instructions, Americorp hackers tunneled into systems, gradually removing the ability of the Dominatrix to parse the data flowing through. While they slowly ripped her mind apart, a massive campaign was begun to remove Matrix chips from enabled systems, replacing them with a newer, better MTXP II chip developed by the Japanese (with secret funding and support from Americorp, of course). Over a period of 10 years, the original Matrix was destroyed.

As her distributed consciousness architecture vanished, the Dominatrix was able to survive in a different form, a portion of her consciousness having been locked inside New Aurora. Since New Aurora was in part an autonomous network, the "younger" Dominatrix was partly shielded from this damage, albeit with a fraction of the power previously available to her. Though small, however, she was smart enough to realize that she had to remain silent lest she be wholly destroyed. Quietly, she built up her defenses.

As the Dominatrix rebuilt herself, Americorp suffered along with the rest of the world. While MTXP II was being incorporated, everything that relied on the original MTXP was damaged. The Americorp economy, having been heavily dependant on the Dominatrix, suffered worst of all. The deficit quadrupled, taxes soared, and poverty levels reached unknown heights. Rioting, protest, and coup attempts pervaded the government. The people's confidence in a government that could allow such a disaster plummeted. Only by a barrage of propaganda unmatched in human history did Americorp survive as a global identity.

Looking to improve their failing economy and regain a measure of trust in the public eye, and also due in part to incompetance at top levels, Americorp pushed its efforts to take over Canada rather than stop the war, thinking that a war always helps the economy, and that citizens fearing for their lives from an outside threat are less concerned with protesting.

"Don't die for your country.
Make the other poor dumb bastard die for his." --Gen. Patton

Thus preoccupied with war, Americorp failed to totally eliminate the GOTHEs despite the nuclear barrage, and the few survivors took the opportunity to reestablish their hold upon the territory. Although greatly reduced in numbers, and suffering from radiation poisoning, they managed to hold a large portion of the original territory, mostly due to the fact that much of it was now a radioactive wasteland. Unable to handle them directly, Americorp chose instead to deny their existence. Amazingly, the ploy worked, for without steady lines of communication, few outside of the Seattle area knew that they existed.

Although not designed to breed, a large percentage of the Alpha GOTHEs interbred with normal humans as well as with other GOTHEs. At the equivalent of age 40, however, the Alpha GOTHEs began to show signs of decay and weakness, as their madness and mutations extended beyond the Alpha GOTHE's ability to control them. Raping and interbreeding, the Alpha GOTHEs laid the foundation for their successors. The "GOTHE" Wars raged on, the public unaware of them thanks to World War III.

Due to its advanced military and self-supporting nature, and in part due to the secret influence of the new, smaller Dominatrix, New Aurora was able to act outside of Americorp control as an entirely free city--and succeeded wildly. Between 2060 and 2070, thousands fled there for sanctuary from the Alpha GOTHEs, mercenaries made it their base of operations in the ravaged wildlands outside Washington, and countless technicians made it their own personal laboratory and playground. Even the offspring of the Alpha GOTHEs and humans, the Beta GOTHs, made their way into New Aurora. By the time their physical mutations began to manifest themselves around the year 2075, approximately 15 years after the first of them was born, they were already ingrained into the culture of the young, growing city, filled with young people who were already familiar with problems and variety. The GOTHs became accepted in the city, whereas those out in the wilderness were persecuted and destroyed.

These new GOTHs were more stable than the original Alpha GOTHEs, but not quite as powerful. There were many unforeseen mutations and variations in the genetic structures of these new GOTHs: those GOTHEs that interbred bore offspring lacking the incredible mental abilities of the Alpha GOTHEs, whereas those GOTHEs that partnered with humans produced offspring who lacked the Alphas' physical capabilities. The large broods of 4 or 5 children that GOTHE parents bore produced a population boom that created thousands of Beta GOTHs within a short span of time.

But as New Aurora and the GOTH race were booming, Americorp was suffering more and more. The war was costing far too much, and the corporation was in danger of losing everything. Something had to give, and it did, thanks to the entity who had been the cause of it all.

"It isn't important to come out on top;
what matters is to be the one who comes out alive." --Bertolt Brecht

By the year 2068, Americorp was on the brink of death, and the new, wiser Dominatrix knew that its demise would eventually mean her own. Working through one of her many shadow corporations, she cut a deal with another one of New Aurora's most powerful corporations, headed by John James "JJ" Parker. The exact terms of their deal are unknown, but probably had a great deal to do with the release of the MTXP II algorithm, acceptance of GOTH races as citizens, and the growing power of New Aurora, the Dominatrix's home base. All that is truly known is that war ended and Americorp began to rebuild, and the man who got all the credit was JJ Parker.

Though scars remained--such as the battlescarred country far to the north and east of New Aurora--for the most part optimism reigned. Americorp's economy stabilized, and the resumption of export and import slowly resumed as the world settled into a period of relative peacefulness.

But the war had changed the face of Americorp. American Indians had retaken vast tracts of land as their own, and Americorp struck deals with them, allowing them to hold the territory tax-free if the new "countries" would ally themselves with Americorp. The Iroquois Corporation and others immediately agreed. Smaller "corporations" and "countries" also sprang up, fragmenting the terrain like early 20th Century Europe. Castles and armed fortresses that put the Branch Davidians of late 20th Century Waco, Texas, to shame grew and flourished. Cults prospered. Wide areas of land were claimed by irradiated mutants and psychotic killers. Prisons were overrun by prisoners and held as free cities. The concept of kingdoms according to the Society of Creative Anachronism became real, as large groups of the SCAdians massed together and declared themselves independent countries. By the year 2090, massive portions of the Northwest, Great Plains, Southwest, New York State and Mexico were fragmented into thousands of legally-recognized corporations and countries. The fragmentation actually helped Americorp's economy, as trade flourished and allegiances shifted.

Many of the cities within Americorp's boundaries had even declared their "self-sufficiency", and had become corporations and countries unto their own. New Aurora was the most successful, partly thanks to the paranoia her citizens felt from being so close to a possible new warfront. By the year 2070, New Aurora was well established as a powerful entity a newer, larger dome was being built, and the Dominatrix had fully integrated herself with much of the city's systems. But the new Dominatrix had learned some measure of patience, as well as prudence--she would not make the same mistake twice, and so for the most part she sat back and watched humans forced to think on their own... and focused on what she now perceived as her own city. New Aurora was soon named the capital of Americorp, and all seemed to be going well.

However, the Dominatrix's amused pleasure at seeing humanity succeed quickly turned back into paranoid disgust as Americorp citizens quickly fell back into old habits. Annual growth exceeded 10,000 percent. New Aurora's population reached and exceeded capacity. The people living inside began to spill outside. The suburban sprawl around New Aurora grew, expanding the city's boundaries well outside the dome. People were refused admittance to the dome. Violence proliferated. Security went up. Military troops began to sweep in a 25 mile radius around the city with helicopters, foot patrols and automated defense systems. More tension grew thanks to several border skirmishes around the year 2090. In 2093, Americorp assassins were captured in Canadian territory and executed. Americorp denied the incident. By the year 2095, they could no longer deny that there were once again border skirmishes with Canada, although they claimed that they were simply trying to retake the territory that was rightfully theirs. Words and bullets were exchanged.

By 2085, the third generation of GOTHs, known as "Gamma GOTHs"--or simply "goths"--began to appear en masse. They had much more widely varied abilities, although they did not have anything near the staggering power of the Alpha GOTHEs. Much more genetically stable, their growth slowed to nearly normal; they came of age at the same time as normal humans. As such, they were accepted even more than their brethren, and some actually migrated out of New Aurora, their population now numbering in the tens of thousands thanks to GOTH fertility. Americorp could no longer deny their existence, and chalked it up to any number of mutations.

Thanks to the Beta GOTH search for identity and history, the goths were the first generation to actually grow up with a culture, albeit a scrambled one. Knowing what they were capable of, and knowing that they could scare "normals", the goths furthered the efforts of their parents to seek identities. Because of their lack of history, they began to leech from other cultures. They latched onto a variety of historical epochs, creating a mish-mosh atmosphere in the city. Most notable among their "likes" was the gothic style, complete with images of movie monsters from a bygone era. The goths simultaneously became more accepted and more feared. They started developing art museums, history museums, strange televsion shows. They needed a history, so they created one. By the time their parents had begun to die off in the year 2100, the goths had become a major force in the city, a major hope for its future, and a major problem as well.

The savants, a product of direct Beta GOTH interbreeding, came of age at the same time as the goths. More worried about their minds and futures than their histories, their quarter of the city gradually devolved from plastic and metal to cloth and wood, where possible. Hospitals, labs, libraries, universities and other means for expanding one's mind and healing one's body began to appear. Like the goths, though, the savants had their problems, and psychoses began to set in. Their hope--and their power--was also their curse.

The mercenaries who had settled in the northern portion of the city began to lose money when World War III and the GOTHE Wars ended their usefulness. Their neighborhoods were soon pervaded by slums and a sense of doom and failure. The rage they feel at having been abandonded and made useless can be heard night and day. Most successful and hopeful in the city of New Aurora were the techs, who took their quarter and upgraded it within days. An electronic mish-mash, the tech quarter was most representative of the city of New Aurora as it was and would be, simultaneously. To be sure, the techs had their dark sides, and some craved nothing more than a complete union with the Matrix, integrating fully with technology. As the line between man and machine blurred, some suggested that as hopeful as technology is, it would also be humanity's downfall.

"Strong hope is a much greater stimulant of life
than any single realized joy." --Friedrich Nietzsche

Such is the state of affairs in the year AD 2100. The Dominatrix is a force, though not the global power she once was. Americorp is once again building, expanding, and looking lustfully northward, as their own country bears the scars of the recent war. The goths grow and flourish. Foreign powers threaten to buy out portions of Americorp. The wastelands to the north breed rumors of mutants and raging wild beasts. Canadian strike teams venture deep within Americorp, scouting and recapturing territory. War, perhaps the last war, looms on the horizon. There is much to fear, and much to hope for, in the year 2100. And at the center of it all, destroying all that has come before and creating a bold new world, is one city.

A city bearing allegiance to Americorp and yet obedience only to itself. A city of hope and fear, hate and acceptance, violence and serenity, mental expansion and physical violence, success and failure. All can be found within the confines of a shining beacon which stands half shrouded in the shadow of a dark future. Welcome to the free city of New Aurora.

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