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Streets of 2040

You look like someone who just got off a boat, and probably not one from this time. Let me tell you a story.

Sometime before 2040, the world died of boredom... but to understand that, you need to know how we got here first.

Remember how they said 2012 would be the year the world ended, not in death but in sanity? Well, that never happened. The world just kept on winding down, suckling on the teat of Big Oil until things got so bad, even the tyrants knew they had to adapt or die. So it stopped being about oil. What happened to the everyman? Not a damn thing. Get up, go to work, get told energy policy something something you get paid less, and keep on keepin' on.

Cut forward to 2020. A quarter of the US population is incarcerated. One hundred million, making up the near entirety of the nation's industrial labour in a world where even China is turning to automation with the more abundant energy solutions becoming available. It can't and didn't work out. Things got organized not just in one prison, but in a lot of prisons, at once. All of the big ones. Riots happened, weapons were seized, and the army just didn't have the manpower to respond or the will, or the interest, knowing how many vets were among the escapees. President Trump, however, wasn't the kind of bastard to give up, or give in. He piped up, saying it was a plot by the Mexican government, bombed Mexico City, rounded up all the Mexicans he could find, and threw them in the old prisons that were still standing, working them to the bone. The escapees all got presidential pardons and letters of apology and a bag of cash, and were sent on their way. Nobody knows how he got away with it, but probably because the everyday joe was still sitting on the couch. How the fuck do you miss a hundred million people? The resultant Mexican-American war was short, largely because of Chinese diplomatic intervention. The total loss of life was about two hundred million, almost entirely civilians.

Well, a hundred million wasn't much in the next few years. The Bird Flu went pandemic out of some part of Asia. Some historians want to say it was a weaponized strain and blame the Americans, but nobody really knows. Either way, queue about two thirds of the pacific rim being wiped out, with the poorer countries taking the brunt of it. Vaccines got rolled out and rolled back in two or three times by Big Pharma not content to take what money people had until the doomsday clock was seconds to midnight, and stockpiles of medicine flowed out to prevent nuclear annihilation as much as viral. Call it whatever, but most people living on earth say that was an act of God. It's funny how few people realize how close we were to an uninhabitable, lifeless rock, all over dollars you can't take with you.

Speaking of that, it led to a lot of nuclear disarmament deals among the APAC trade pact countries, including the US and Russia. Pretty much only Fortress Iran still had nukes, and pretty much nobody wanted to mess with those guys, and vice versa. After the US ran out of warfare for a while around 2018, Iran turtled up and declared absolute neutrality. It's pretty much them, the Saudi-UAE bloc, and Israel that aren't rubble over there at this point, after the US went back in a few years later for...reasons. Nobody knows. By this point nobody really cared - "Over There" was the middle east, soldiers went there to get college degrees to get jobs, because if you didn't go that way, you'd end up bankrupt before you're 30 from crippling debt and low wages. God Bless America.

So, what happened to Europe during all that? Very little. The flu pandemic did some damage over there, but their more available medicines prevented a mass death. They stayed out of the middle eastern war, aside from the Brits, and things just kept slowly spiraling down the drain. Austerity agreements got passed between a bunch of western countries, not long after the Eastern countries had recovered from their bankruptcy thanks to a solar and hydro boom stemming out new member nation Serbia. In 2021, as the pandemic was tearing apart other nations, a brawl broke out between the British and Serbian Prime Ministers in the European parliament, over austerity versus corporate taxation to provide aid in Asia. Much of the rich elite in the eastern countries were not so rich by this point, and freely accepting of taxation, but among the billionaires of the British politicians, with their ties to America, not so. That brawl escalated into the United Kingdom leaving the European Union, and starting the most asymmetrical war to ever happen in the western world since the US genocide of the natives. The eastern European countries were quickly overrun and occupied by western troops, property seized, and curfews enforced. The streets of London were quickly overrun by eastern partisans, property destroyed, and chaos enforced. Russia backed the east with a limitless supply of weapons and experienced intelligence officers, which probably didn't help matters; domestic terrorist groups and criminal organizations in the UK thrived. Eventually the UK backed down, and troops left the European Union not long before the EU parliament finally voted to fight on behalf of their member nations in Eastern Europe, finally mobilizing soldiers to repel the occupation that had already left. Meanwhile, as aid funds to Asia were frozen and tax bills halted, American and British corporations were able to make great gains in the European region.

This all puts us somewhere around 2025, with the world Doing Okay...well, aside from the population being about four billion at this point. The environmental crisis was winding down, with emissions being all but zero in most places either due to energy policy changes, mass death, or both. Oil was pretty much a resource dedicated to bootstrapping poorer countries, especially in Africa, which thankfully escaped much of the pandemic due to low inbound travel and a quick declaration of quarantine. Sanity was finally starting to win the day.

So what happened to the everyday joe's life? Not a lot. Life expectancy got longer, with new technology developed from the wars. Cybernetics became pretty commonly available, at least to the upper middle class. People go to work, go home, go to bed, repeat - except now they get a bunch of silicon in their heads to make them better at it. They consume. Media, commercial goods, and sanitized political inputs inundate their lives. Freedom? Freedom, like I said, died of boredom. Or the plague. Or nukes. Or poverty - people still starve, you know. If you're not part of "the system", it's a hard world. It's the free world, but I don't like it that way.

This brings us to the present day. 2040. Things are...getting weird, in places, as people get sick of slow social decay, and the interconnection of corporate media. Micronations have cropped up, and a lot more people are falling through the cracks in the less affluent corporate cities. There's rumours, too, of more chaos just cropping up out of nowhere. Black clinics creating rampaging cyborgs, giant bugs, raiders coming out of the dustbowl? Maybe that's all just the news trying to get people scared before the election.

Past that? World's okay. I can watch the ball game and go have a beer. In fact I'm going to do that. Join me, stranger? I can spare a few bucks. Hope you find work fast, though, because like I said - there's freedom in the streets of 2040, but you can't eat freedom.

( this would almost be like driving a recon cybersuit in streets of 2040. The strider suit's inhuman enough that your legs are locked but your main weapons platforms are still your torso and arms. cos you're rolling around with 6 foot long uber legs :P (the idea being you can jump around terrain very quickly, scale slopes at a 90 degree L climb, etc) (no real interest in stealth, just pure fucking speed and agility)

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Page last modified on October 13, 2022, at 07:13 PM