2 The World

2.1 Introduction

Imagine a dark world. A world of global pollution, raging wars and famine.

A world where gigantic cities which extend from coast to coast consisting mainly of slums and ruined houses, whereas some isolated islands, downtown areas with gleaming scyscrapers reach for the skies.

A world of high technology, where most people have to eat whatever they can find from garbage bins. They have never driven a car or flown in a plane, nor seen any cybertechnology.

A world where information is the only real power, and the value of people is determined by their skills and political power.

A world, where most unemployed people have sold their rights vote to corporations, and now they live in corporate suburbs with nothing else to do but to watch TV or virtual tapes.

It is 204th decade. It is the world of Syndicate.

2.2 Political Structures

Most Southern American and African countries are controlled by military juntas or generals loyal to some specific corporation. Occasionally, they are at war with each other. Most areas in southern hemispehere are polluted or wasted in countless wars, and the people living there are mutated, starving and desperate. New wars break out daily, and illegal weapons are used regularly.

In other countries, democracy is still the official type of government - in theory. While the people leading the countries are elected in fair elections, the votes are not from the people, but from the corporations, which have bought the rights to use their votes in exchange for free lodging, food and entertainment. Such corporate 'slaves' live in gigantic corporate suburbs, corporate city blocks, eat corporate food and watch corporate channels. They do absolutely nothing, their life is boring and uneventful, but at least they are alive.

There are still some countries, which have had no need to give corporations rights to buy votes, but such countries are rare.

2.3 Technology

While it is finally possible for the human body and the computer to join their forces, most people will never see cybernetics in real life. High technology is expensive, and only a small minority has enough money to buy even a small cybernetic eye. Most people are limited to goods quite similar to the late 20th century, made of some synthetic material. There are rumors about full cyborgs and such things, but they are just rumors - at least for the 99% majority of the population.

And when you move, you move by electric train - or car, if you can afford such a thing. Rich people may have vehicles using gasoline, and corporate vectored thrust tanks are sometimes seen flying across the barren landscape. And in more developed countries, vacuum trains move people across the country faster than any plane.

2.3.1 Seaweed

Seaweed is everywhere. When you eat pizza, you eat seaweed. When you eat kebab, or tacos, or whatever, you eat seaweed. Unless you are very rich. Seaweed is available from all seas, and processing and manufacturing it have become one of the most important industries. Seaweed is the secret behind a population of billions surviving in a polluted planet. Processing is so efficient nowadays, that you do not know that you are eating the seaweed, unless you are told.

And seaweed is not limited to food; it can also be refined into countless other products, used as a main component in plastic, for example. No wonder that seaweed is one of the main strategic resources nowadays.

2.3.2 GlobalNet

GlobalNet was founded upon the remains of the Internet, when the bandwidth and overall services of the Internet structure became inadequate for the ever growing datastreams. Now, the GlobalNet broadcasts billions of bytes of information bytes around the world each nanosecond, spreading the corporate propaganda, ads and news. But is is not a highway to fortune, because corporate systems are usually separated from the outside world very carefully, and no external connections are usually possible. With suitable equipment, all information moving in datalines can be eavesdropped.

So, if one needs to break into a corporate system to monitor, edit or otherwise manipulate data therein, he must find a cable containing that actual data, tap into it and then process onward. Breaking in from the outside is very, very difficult and requires some bug successfully slipped into security systems, passwords, sheer luck and time.

And most information is transfered in optical fibres, so you cannot simply tap into it but first you must find a joint in it.

2.3.3 Space Exploration

Although man has walked on Mars, and the moon has permanent space stations, space is still largely unexplored area, mainly because of the cost to reach it. Space travelling is mainly used for scientific research and other secondary projects, and corporations are much more interested in oceans, which offer nearly unlimited resources if used wisely. The space is crowded by hundreds of thousands of satellites, from corporate spy satellites to scientific mappers.

2.3.4 Energy Production

Fusion power has finally made its breakthrough, and most corporations and rich governments use it as their main energy provider. And thus the electricity is not very expensive, and people can afford to ride around in electric cars and trains.

But fusion power is not always available, and then fission power, internal combustion, solar power or other older energy providers are used. The main problem with some of them is that the resources are rare, and thus most of the time expensive. Not many men have wealth to drive around with gasoline-based vehicles, which nonetheless still have more powerful engines.

2.3.5 Genetic, Nano and Cybertechnology

Nowadays, genetic technology allows you to have children with properties almost whatever you like to - if you can afford it. Similarly, all harmful organisms and bacteria can be destroyed by specialized bacteria or constructed cells, but it also allows generating some horrible biological weapons.

With enhanced medical and synthetic regeneration systems, it is possible to have the brain separated from the body and kept active, thus allowing the creation of complete cyborgs or almost infinite life as a separate brain in a cell connected to the computer network. And simple body structures like muscles and skin can be regrown in laboratory environment in weeks, nerves requiring much longer time. Thus, it is possible, but very, very expensive to build a new body to a man, who has lost his entire body in an accident.

The computer is now perfectly merged with human brain and flesh, and it is possible to have a direct link from your brain to the computer systems. Tiny Nanotechnology robots skim in your veins killing the bacteria, when more custom-built organisms cannot be used or are not available. And with the best available biotechnology, all cyberware systems can be replaced with similar bioware systems with completely organic systems.

But all this is still very experimental and expensive, and most people never experiment or even see such things, except on TV, but who can trust it nowadays?

2.4 Corporations

Corporations have all the power that is available from the struggling goverments - which are mostly owned by various corporations. Most corporations are ruthless, cold and calculating, because it is their only way to stay ahead of the technological progress of others. And when the world is in global choas and disorder, corporations more or less openly fight for the control of sea and land areas, important resources and highly educated people, their weapons ranging from propaganda and agents to open wars.

In the countries which are still democratic to some extent, corporations have to keep a good public profile, and the most important thing to them is publicy. But when the country becomes more anarchic and people more desperate and have less chance to fight back, then the corporations attack to destroy their enemies and may even act openly, in the name of 'freedom', 'brotherhood' or 'independence'.

And in a world like that, there is a need for professional agents.

2.4.1 Global Corporations

Some of the biggest corporations are:


Yanaka GERO SecTek

2.5 Living in the Dark World

Your life could be easy: you could be living in a corporate city-block, doing your daily computer system work or research, and occasionally going for a vacation to some island.

More propably, you live in the streets, gathering what you can from garbage, and doing whatever work is offered. Or maybe you are living in a corporate suburb city-block barracks, with nothing else to do but to watch corporate-censored channel with corporate propaganda all the day between those stupid soap operas. Or fighting for your life in a distant ruined country, trying to survive radioactive fall-out or chemical wastes.

Or maybe you are not one of the ordinary people. Maybe you are one of those professional agents, who are hired to do various jobs.

2.5.1 Money

While the electric money has made its breathtough, the ancient paper money is still widely used and accepted. Usually, change is given as small notes, while bigger purchases are made with credit cards or certified cash cards.

2.5.2 Media

Rule number 1: Do not believe in anything, unless it is certified, real-time output. Picture and sound manipulation is so efficient with modern computer systems, that it is quite a trivial task to manipulate, change or edit any video, TV or other data. And since most media organizations are owned by some corporation, and you rarely see anything like objective news - unless that pirate channels taps temporarily on the same bandwidth with some main channel.

The only way to show liable data is by tapping to several certified media satellites, and to send real-time data through them. This way, the data is certified to be real-time, and not edited if watched at the same time. Add ten seconds, and then you cannot trust it anymore.

2.5.3 Prices for Daily Goods

To give a little approximation of prices, here are some guidelines about prices in the Syndicate world.
Syndicate - The Dark Era (c) Kalle Marjola 1996. All rights reserved.