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Title: The Consortium

Geoff_ - June 3, 2011 03:59 AM (GMT)
The number of people who know the name "LVPH" is few and far between; financiers and parliamentarians are the foremost on the list. Fewer still know what it stands for.. But everyone in the world knows what they've done. That's the officially registered name of the organization that everyone just calls "the Consortium". Most of the people who take their orders from the men and women at the top don't even bother giving them a name. No one has ever seen check a with those initials on the payee line, but they still manage to accrue 94% of the world's wealth.

The rumours vary wildly. Some say that it's run by one man, whose name is so secret, even his personal staff don't know who they work for. Others say that the board of directors do not know who is on the board, that it changes with a daily whim, and that no one dares publicly admit they're on the board, lest they suffer reprisals... from outside and from within.

All we do know is that they are the ones who turn the lights off at night, that they do not have a sense of humour as far as they are aware, and that they will stop at nothing to silence what they view as dissent. They choose the next American Idol, they give marching orders to the Pope. they tell you what to listen to, what to eat, what to watch, and what to wear. It is their word and their word alone that divides the saint from the sinner.

You? You, my friend are competition. No one competes with the Consortium, and lives to tell the tale. If you're lucky, they'll just buy you out. Give you a 'job', send you about the maze with your 'paycheck'. Walk tall and they'll knock you back into line. When you use your power like a hammer, everything looks like a nail in a board.

At least, that's what they want you to believe. But those of us in the Reality Engineering happen to know differently. Outside the wrecked shell of the Cities, the Consortium's power wanes quickly. There's a whole wasteland of revolt, of freedom from their shackles. Serfs, freed from their overlords, have scraped together a society from the ruins of the last. Some are content with their life as it is, but others desire to bring the Consortium down, to free the last remaining enclaves, to retake this world.

Geoff_ - June 3, 2011 04:00 AM (GMT)
The Consortium is not actually one singular top-down organization, but an intentionally de-centralized group of interests who have manipulated the governments of the world's major surviving Metroplexes into doing their bidding. Their major strongholds are Southern California (Los Angeles Metro Area), Colorado Metroplex (Denver & Colorado Spring), Dallas, Atlanta, Miami, Heartland Protectorate (Chicago), Toronto, the Northeast Corridor (New York City, Boston); British Survival Zone (Home Counties); Rhur Industrial Zone, City of Light (Paris), Suez (Egypt)

To go with it, there are resource zones. These areas are off-limits to all save Consortium agents, and are fiercely guarded and the borders are actively patrolled. Ostensibly it is to protect the remaining resources from improper exploitation. Amongst the resource zones there are: North Sea Resource Zone, Maghreb (Primary) Resource [Coastal North Africa & Arabia, 'Stans], Siberian Resource Zone [Mongolia, Siberia], Northern Resource Zone [Western Canada & North-West America]. Both the Residential Enclaves and the Resource Zones are linked by Motorways, patrolled multi-lane wheeled-vehicle routes with central railway tracks, plied by road-trains carrying both cargo and passengers. These elevated motorways are high-tech, with built-in solar generation, integrated controls, collision avoidance, traffic-patterning and tollway charges. Some of the motorways are oceanic as well, floating atop the oceans with a secondary use as wave-energy generators.

Finally, there are the exclusion zones. These heavily polluted areas are off-limits to all personnel, period. Whether it is nuclear fallout from post-meltdown reactors, or storage pits for toxic waste, these areas supposedly harbour no life whatsoever. However, these areas are also the perfect place to hide from prying eyes, and all sorts of black-operations take place here, from secret Consortium prisons and research facilities, to undercover Toy Soldier training camps.

Outside of these designated zones, the world continues to exist, but its the fringe of "society". People who do not exist within the system live completely without it: No public utilities, no central bank, no standardised healthcare, but also no overbearing cultural censorship. Many in these so-called 'backwater' towns are glad to be free of the Consortium, and freely support the Toy Soldiers (and the Toy Soldiers pull from their populace). Because of this, the Consortium labels all unaligned as "Toy Soldiers" and will not permit them entry into their zone of control. Every so often, a group of bandits will hijack a road train, and their stronghold will be extirpated in the name of "public safety", and great news will be trumpeted about the "Toy Soldier Menace".

Geoff_ - June 3, 2011 04:01 AM (GMT)
Cultural Control
The airwaves are full of the propaganda which shows the citizens of the un-free world how best to act, and how to properly provide obedience to the Consortium's whim. Amongst the propaganda companies, the slogan "The best Truth is well written Fiction" pervades. The tools available to the censors are as follows:

Serialized fiction (some of which is written in a true-to-life style) on blogs, radio and television. These comprise both Dickensian morality plays, which extol the virtues of living within the confines of the state, and Faustian dramas, which highlight the hardships of living without the state. Many of these "dramas" are sensational news reports and falsified explorations of formerly-inhabited areas.

Newspapers/Magazines (see "Serialized Fiction"), along with audio/video products of the media industry are distributed digitally, and there are very many safeguards around rogue access to publishing unapproved material on the airwaves or Internet.

Musical Limitations, which prevent truly innovative musical styles. Ensuring that every new band sounds like the last old one, the 'broadcast contracts' that musicians sign ensure that the censors review each album before it is released. Garage bands are cited for noise ordinance violations.

Access to Controlled Substances is strongly limited; alcohol and tobacco sales are highly rationed, and strictly tracked. Citizens are allowed a limited number of over-the-counter drinks per day, and package sales are all state-controlled.

State Education is very focused on Vocational, Math and Science classes and very light on creative outlets (both art and literature). Social Studies are all but completely ignored; there is nor exploration of other cultures, and geography classes focus mostly on local geography. The "wastelands" outside the enclaves and resource zones are regarded as dangerous wilderness areas that are inhabited only by savage primitive cultures.

Surveillance Culture reinforces the citizen's right to inform on fellow citizens. Crime statistics are falsified to provide the illusion of a crime-free area, which is only maintained by constant vigilance against the Toy Soldier threat.

Subliminal messaging embedded in all media has conditioned metroplex dwellers to avoid eye-contact with strangers, and to suspect anyone who is not dressed, coiffured, or eating the right way.

Geoff_ - October 12, 2011 10:49 PM (GMT)
Money; the root of all evil; the resource the rich control, and the one everyone else wants. It's what makes the world go 'round, and what can bring it to it's knees.

When the Consortium took over, hard currency lost meaning. Devaluations, inflation and general economic malaise meant that whatever cash that you had in your pocket or in your bank was generally useless. Following the soverign defaults which destroyed all the major banks, the sole surviving investment bank, IGNV, recapitalized themselves using a new currency, the Elektro.

As one of the corporations involved heavily in LVPH, they became the banker to the Consortium, and thereby absorbed and subsumed the national banks of Europe and the Americas. The newly-nicknamed C-note became the only acceptable currency at Consortium-related businesses, and the only currency disbursed in pay-packets. Additionally, they were completely electronic (hence the name), so hard currency became irrelevant. Tap your mobile phone, swipe your debit card, the cashless society had arrived.

Except that no matter how many bits you had to your name, none of the mattered when it came to being 'rich and powerful'; Many people had billions of Elektro, but they only aspired to power. True power came from the shareholders of LVPH. Preferred Class stock was impossible to buy; it was granted on the day the Consortium was founded, and the shareholders are intentionally kept secret; A secret the Consortium would (and has) kill to protect. Those deemed 'worthy' are paid in B-stock, these worthies are mostly directors at the top firms controlled by the Consortium, and diluted in this economy are the secret holders of the Preferred stock. "Real" transactions are denominated in portions of shares of B-Stock, and the accepted rate is around a million Elektro to buy a 'dram' of a B-share (256 'drams' make a single share, the nicknames follow the Imperial system).

In the end, this distinction is all artificial, as the true reason is to deny power to those without.

The 'free peoples' eschew the traditional market, and operate on a grey or even black market. Currently, trading hard currency and precious metals for goods or services is illegal. The relative scarcity of Greenbacks, Guineas and Euros has given them value again, and to the 'criminals' who deal in these currencies, passing counterfeit articles is just as frowned upon as it was when they were legal tender. Because they are not electronic, the cash is virtually untraceable, and a network of couriers and smugglers has emerged to facilitate the transfer of this currency between buyers.

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