Corporate Ladder

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The story of a group of corporate raiders and their attempted rise to fame, fortune, and glory.

Contents

Characters

  • Max Cartwright (Colin): A discharged cybernetic commando lucky enough get out with his life and some skills to make a living.
  • Carmen Vega (Jon): Depending on who you ask, a wealth redistribution consultant, requisitioning specialist, extraction expert or thief.
  • Sam Reinprecht (Andy): Some people need cybertech to compete in today's environment. Sam never had that problem. He just needs a scope and a lot of distance.

NPCs

  • Michael Adams: CEO of the newly formed company RamDyne. A smarmy, arrogant jackass.
  • Raymond Douglas: The head's bodyguard. Somewhat-well cybered-out, appears special-forces trained.
  • Carmelo: A recruiter and fence in Chicago's underground. A 'friend' of Carmen.
  • Eric Holder: An old war buddy of Max's who is now in the employ of the Biotechnica security forces.
  • John Anthony: Somebody Carmen owes money.

Events

Background

America in 2075

At first glance, the America of 2075 doesn't look too different from the world of the early 21st century. The government is still corrupt, corporations still wield enormous power, and ordinary citizens are still caught somewhere in the middle. The only real difference is a matter of scale.

Where before corporations exercised power via campaign donations and lobbyists, now they simply lean hard on any government official they deem necessary for their bottom line. A slow process of favorable votes for corporate interests has led to a very lax oversight structure, with the result that corporations began sinking more and more money into politicians. Coupled with an increasing reliance on corporations for public works, goods and services, etc. and you wind up with a very favorable climate for bribery, blackmail, and even in extreme cases assassination.

Now, corporations all but dominate life in America, and indeed much of the world. Western Europe has so far been the most resistant to corporate encroachment, but even that is slowly changing. Eastern Europe and almost all of Asia are perhaps even worse than America, where governments and corporations have started to merge into something new and terrifying.

Almost no matter where you go, corporate influence is present on some level. In America, whole cities have been zoned off by corporations as "experiments in efficient design and planning", some corporate HQs have also grown large enough to rival cities in their own right. Some of the more...martially inclined corporations (defense contractors, security agencies, and the like) more resemble military bases. Some cities merely have corporate districts (sometimes multiple corporations in one city). In general, corporate controlled areas are safe, secure, and clean. They have a corporate image to protect, after all.

However, those areas not directly under corporate control do not fare as well. In many cases these are slums, forgotten or discarded by both the government and the corps. Some were simply deemed too costly for urban renewal, some were judged simply unprofitable due to location, demographics or lack of resources. Where the corporations have left off, gangs and organized crime have picked up the pieces.

A very few of the gangs are actual honest and relatively benevolent organizations, largely tending to the welfare of the communities...they help operate public works and protect their members and kin from the depredations of other gangs. By and large, however, the gangs and crime families are no better (or worse) than many corporations. They steal, extort, pimp, kill, and do just about anything else they feel they need to. They meet token resistance from local or state governments, but the police and EMS services in non-Corporate areas simply do not receive the funding they need to really do their job. As a result, most crimes go unsolved, and many innocent people slip through the cracks.

The Landscape of Corporate America

In 2075, America has continued a trend of centralization...major cities continue to grow exponentially, subsuming the small towns that once bordered them, while large spaces have opened up between these central hubs of life and commerce. These spaces are cut by highways, high-speed rails, and power lines. Corporations came up with the bright idea of turning many of these now-vacant areas into factory zones, or in many cases, farmland of one variety or another. Hydroponic farms, or heavily automated fields bracket most highways, in addition to factories. Much of middle America is entirely composed of growing and manufacturing complexes, save the few major cities sprinkled throughout the region.

Technology of 2075

In the 75 years since the turn of the century, technology has continued to progress by leaps and bounds, rivaling the previous century. While every aspect of life has seen substantial gains in technological advancement, two of the most successful (and therefore profitable) are the burgeoning field of cybernetics, and the computer and communications industries. Cybernetics are now considered an ordinary, and even fashionable part of life...limbs can be replaced by steel and plastic facsimiles that perfectly simulate (and in some cases even exceed) the functionality of their originals. Humans have had computers built into their brains, had their organs replaced by more efficient and stable mechanical substitutes, and much more. The world of fashion has even embraced cybernetics and other similar technologies...electronic tattoos, fiber optic hair replacements with programmable light and color patterns...cosmetic surgery on all levels is now accomplished in any mall at your local "cyberboutique"

In computers and communications, the trend has been much more straightforward. Faster processors, more data storage, better security, etc. Microwave and satellite communications have become more stable, allowing for better cellular access and wireless data transmission, but much of the world is now linked by fiber optic cables of increasingly higher quality, allowing greater upload and download speeds and the like. The smartphone of the early 21st century is now considered a mainstay of life, anyone who is not actually completely destitute probably has one. Miniaturization has continued it's course to the point that desktop computers now rival supercomputers of the early 21st.

Infrastructure of the Modern World

Even in 2075, most of the world relies on a combination of dwindling fossil fuels, biofuels, and nuclear power to run it's infrastructure. Much of the restrictions on building nuclear plants has been lifted, and as such fission reactors are much more common throughout the world. They are, admittedly, better designed and safer than they have ever been, but that doesn't mean they are without their own flaws.

Fuel for transportation is largely powered by biofuels, various blends of ethanol and other alcohol-based substances making up the vast majority of consumer fuel. Governments and large corporations largely control the very small reserves of petroleum and other fossil fuels, using them to power heavy vehicles and some few generators for major complexes. Electricity for most cities and other inhabited sectors if from fission reactors linked to underground transformer stations and power lines. The net result is that power is more reliable in much of the world...but again the slums suffer here. Because they have been deemed unprofitable, corporations never laid the necessary cable for internet or electricity to much of the slums. Fortunately, power lines and cable lines were already in place in many of these areas, so power and internet access are still available, but slower and much less stable.

Battery technology did not advance as fast as was expected at the beginning of the 21st century meaning that electric vehicles still have ranges that are typically less than 100 miles, but to add insult to injury the metals and rare earth elements needed to make batteries also ran out faster than expected meaning that what few electric vehicles exist are typically much more expensive than a biofuel-drinking alternative and are mostly limited to the very wealthy or corporations.

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