Memory and expectation -- past and future, that which was and that which yet may be -- these things are not diametrically opposed, either in concept or in reality, as we often believe them to be. They are but two faces of a single coin, one whose mold is forever unfixed. The past is no more certain than the future; each yields to the vagaries of perception. And so never doubt: that which will be had its genesis in that which was... and vice versa.

- Alpheus Togra
Meditations from First Principles, 2381


The year is 2506. Earth is a wasteland. Despite remarkable advances in genetic and environmental engineering, the weight of pollution and overpopulation has nearly exhausted the planet's facility for supporting human life. Not everyone suffers, however. The elite of society have constructed agricultural and residential 'domes' in which a relatively safe and comfortable living environment is sustained artificially. Outside these domes, the great majority of humanity lives in vast 'Sprawls', exposed to the toxic air and the harsh solar radiation from which the whispy remnant of Earth's ozone layer can no longer protect them.

Despite these hardships, life for this challenged majority goes on, and society has reinvented itself to conform to the new realities of life on Earth in the 26th Century. The human polity has gradually reorganized into tribal groups which act variously as social infrastructures, religious groups, militias and trade cartels as the need arises. While not enjoying the physical advantages of the residents of the domes, denizens of the Sprawls have proven highly inventive and adaptive, and depending on the observer's perspective could in many ways be considered more advanced than the dome-dwellers: necessity has dictated that they innovate in order to survive, and they have risen to the challenge.

Life in the Sprawls is not for the weak or timid, however. It is not a gentle world, and in most cases the rule of law has been completely replaced by the rule of force. Justice is delivered at the tip of a weapon rather than the fall of a gavel, and those who possess the greatest fighting prowess generally run Sprawl society. And the Sprawlers are always fighting amongst themselves. Turf wars and blood feuds are part of the natural order of society. Even among the young, violence is considered an everyday occurrence in the Sprawls, and over the years the lust for combat seems to have been bred into the populace.

The fighting capability of the Sprawlers is therefore considerable. A group commonly known as 'Rumblers' make up the bulk of the heavily armed urban street militias, while the dilapidated highways are traversed by marauding bands of 'Go-gos', female biker gangs with specially modified sets of wheels. There are also bloodthirsty, mutant 'Fiends' who lurk in the Sprawl shadows, waiting for tasty victims to wander by. And for those who are injured in combat, there is a kind of medical attention available: the terrifying priests of the 'Voodun' blood cult seem to have almost magical energy-channeling powers that allow them to rapidly heal the wounded without the use of traditional medicine. If the Sprawlers were ever able to unite these disparate groups into a single fighting force, the Dome dwellers would face a serious challenge indeed.

The maintenance of the comparatively softer life of the Domes would seem to many far more desirable, but that life comes to dome residents at a price. Dome dwellers have become extremely dependent on a once obscure law enforcement processing organization, the JDA, to keep their positions of comfort and safety secure. The JDA (Jovian Detention Authority) was originally founded to process the transfer of violent criminals from Earth to the new prison facilities constructed on the moons of Jupiter. It quickly became apparent to many overburdened earth governments, however, that the more people who could be deemed dangerous, the more people could be deported from the overcrowded surface of the earth.

By the 26th Century, scores of people are rounded up daily by JDA patrols and carted off to processing stations to await the long voyage to the grim, icy prisons on Io and Callisto. This 'reign of terror' and arbitrary law is kept in place not only as a means of controlling population growth but also as a convenient way of keeping the Sprawlers fearful of JDA power and of getting rid of any of their number who gains enough political sway to possibly unite the Sprawls under a single banner. The JDA is a prison patrol that has become a police force that has become an army, and the residents of the domes realize only too well that their disciplined legions are all that stand between them and the teeming, hungry masses in the Sprawls below. And now it seems to many in these troubled times, both Sprawlers and dome dwellers, that this volatile social model cannot persist, and that the JDA's very instrument of control may become the hammer that drives the world into chaos and open war.

             

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