Earth, 2674: the planet is tapped out, bled dry, its natural mineral reserves and fossil fuels exhausted centuries before. Even its reserves of core Geo-Thermal energy are at an all-time low. Now those things come from afar, mined on worlds once out of reach but now ripe for colonization and exploitation. Any and all resistance is brutally crushed by platoons made up of semi-autonomous elite/special-forces deep space combat units known as Pacifiers.

The Earth itself has been carved up into four Super-Continents (Northern, Southern, Eastern and Western – further subdivided into Districts), with sprawling shanty town settlements clustered around the vast Meta-Processing Plants and Atmosphere-Integrity Generators that maintain humanity’s tenuous grip. The mass of the twelve billion plus population (known collectively, if unofficially as “bottom-feeders”) cling to these industrial hubs like barnacles, while a privileged upper class populate vast Cloudscrapers (cities in the sky), the topmost reaches of which clear the permanent smog layer to bask in the sun.

As governments and nations collapsed in the mid-2300s, so the Corporations took over, and after the monumental bloodletting of the Fifth Corporate War (2401-12) only three remained: a trinity of Multi-Globals, Arms, Energy and Entertainment. This new conjoined entity (The Tri-Corp) controlled everything, meshing their ‘products’ into one seamless self-perpetuating revenue stream. Arms fought the off-world wars and gathered the precious resources, which were utilized by Energy, and the conflicts themselves recycled as live interactive entertainment for the masses (a panacea for the lost and dispossessed). Religion was outlawed and finally eradicated in the last sweeping Religious Pogrom (2612), though in the truth The Tri-Corp had already – from their lofty Mount Olympus, the Hub Cloudscraper – become like a new pantheon of gods, aloof, untouchable and omnipotent.

The people toiled for their food, light, heat and entertainment, but were never allowed to rise above their lowly station or advance beyond their nearest neighbor. A level was found, which fulfilled their basic, primal human needs but crushed ambition and compartmentalized yearning into state-approved products.

Worlds at War: as Earth’s deep space colonies, settlements and mining operations spread to worlds both uninhabited and populated, so the need for protection and, ultimately, suppression in this wildest of frontiers grew. The elite, highly trained Pacifier Units, armed with weapons of truly decimating power, spearheaded the expansion into uncharted solar systems, where other intelligent life existed, and wherever the distinctly one-sided bartering and negotiation failed they would simply bludgeon the dominant native species into submission, in some cases relocating entire races to ‘resettlement camps’ on neighboring moons.

These off-world wars quickly were swiftly repackaged into a marketable commodity; live combat turned into interactive, immersive mass entertainment, a place to put any pent-up frustration or aggression. Hugely addictive, the Worlds at War game became an opiate for a desensitized, punch-drunk population, one that kept them rooted to their seats whenever they weren’t toiling in the Meta-Processing plants. The need for sleep had been eliminated three centuries before, and with wars being fought on multiple fronts, almost continuously, it was round-the-clock entertainment. Pacifiers were plentiful, another mass-produced commodity with a distinct expiration date. Average life expectancy was one-to-two tours (approx. four years), and while non-combatants (as WaW players were known) followed their favourite Pacifiers (each trooper given their own distinct WaW-user Campaign Tag, such as “Komodo”), loyalties and allegiances were short-lived, as that individual’s sudden death was inevitable.

Military operations were orchestrated by a sophisticated computer intelligence dubbed The Echelon, a living consciousness and extension of the Tri-Corp. Regional operational Command Hubs served as barracks and bases for the regularly rotated units. Through the 25th century and into the 26th, the expansion spread into The Borderlands, a dark and dangerous region sandwiched between two vast star systems. Here, the Tri-Corp uncovered new variations of life, and energy sources (and ultimately weaponry) that fell outside conventional physics and chemistry. Pacifier casualties soared, but the potential rewards made the sacrifice both worthwhile and acceptable in the eyes of the Tri-Corp. Less so to those actually on the ground, fighting and dying for a cause they no longer recognized.

White Noise: Not everyone, by any means, simply accepted their new Pavlovian desensitized state. But any undercurrent of discord or disaffection, every attempt to challenge the new world order, was stamped on mercilessly and vigorously, nascent rebellions crushed in embryo. Countless hundreds and thousands… simply disappeared, and in the end the voices of dissent grew quiet and stopped… at least until 2670, when the Tri-Corp became aware, albeit peripherally, of a new threat, a subversive and shadowy (and extremely well organized, prolific and invasive) organization that called itself White Noise. With a structure so dense and yet compartmentalized, the Tri-Corp’s efforts to penetrate and break White Noise failed, and — for the first time — significant inroads began to be made into the status quo, with targeted strikes and sudden significant uprisings that suggested, to them, a degree of insider knowledge. But all efforts to uncover White Noise’s mysterious benefactor or root out their ‘mole’ failed, and – emboldened – White Noise began to shake some elements of society out of its stupor. It made the Tri-Corp extremely paranoid, and extra vigilant, as it tried to anticipate White Noise’s next move and act preemptively.