Finding Comfort Where You Can,
In this, the Ruin of Civilisation

The Sum of all the Parts

 The story takes place in “The Sprawl” the endless coastal conurbation, which stretches along the edges of every continent for thousands of kilometres.
The world has become even more homgenised than it already is, and there is no perceptible difference between “The Sprawl” in Beijing, or Los Angeles, or Rome, or Madrid, or Sydney blah, blah blah…..

The NOW of the story is five generations away, about 85 years or so forward. 2099. Society has become what we might think of as “Corporate Feudalism”.

“Wars”, are conducted between corporations, nation states having been either dismantled or devolved [dissolved] into ineffectual oligarchies.
Intellectual properties, patents and the people who produce new tech are the bone over which the world now snarls. Espionage is no longer about politics it’s about industry.
The manipulation of the Human Genome, [gene-geneering] Nanotechnology and 3D Printers have transformed the world in ways that we cannot even currently imagine, but the Behemoth, the Leviathan of Climate Change still drives the planet toward a seemingly inevitable species extinction event.
Society is polarized; the UP’s and Downs; Ins and Outs; Toppers, Bottom-feeders; them Above, those Below – whatever term you want to use to describe the profound divide between the ‘haves’, those quite literally on top of the heap who have been fortunate enough to be born into a Corporate Arcology and have continued to be useful enough to earn their keep and the ‘have-nots’, those abandoned in the ghettos beneath whose Great-Grandparents simply didn’t have anything the Corporates wanted. In between, floating on the ocean of shit the urban areas have become, trying to ignore the stink are the Garrisons, the political, philosophical, religious refuseniks and social misfits who for long forgotten humanitarian or just plain bloody-minded reasons CHOSE to stay outside.

The ArCS

Security in the ArCS is simple, considered to be and advertised as fool proof.

ACCESS is the security system of the Arcologies. The UPs have a persistent nanite infestation that identifies them as legal to the system. A persons’ “permissions” are continually reviewed as they breathe. These nanites in the ventilation systems of the ArCS are watchdogs, 24/7. They are present everywhere. A person without permission is made violently ill. If they persist, the nanites weaponise and ‘swarm’ like microscopic bees, disassembling the person from inside out, leaving nothing but their clothing and a fine sifting of dust. Think virus or bacteria sized piranha. A fairly disturbing disincentive to anti-social behavior. and one all residents of the ArCS are forced to witness.
Periodically a person may have to go in for an “adjustment”, when the corporation decides to change those permissions, either up [more access] or down [less]. A person without nanites is identified and ‘wasted’ as above.

ArC children are VERY closely guarded.
To perform this task, a class of artefact, “The Guardian” has become very popular in the UP. It is at once favourite toy, body guard, elder sibling , trusted companion, and socializing agent for the otherwise solitatry off-spring in the ArCs.
Their physiology is frozen at 9 years of age, but being “gene-geneered” they neither sicken nor die of natural causes. They are made stronger, quicker, faster and more enduring than natural humans, given their intended purpose as embedded security. They are continual companions until on the child’s 10th birthday they receive their first adult nanites. It is believed to be inappropriate and to foster unnatural attachments if the relationship is maintained, so law and tradition take the “Guardian” from the child and have it “wasted”. Most often the child is told they have gone to care for another child, in another ArC.


Is the corporate arcology of our story. On the far horizon in several directions can be seen the looming presence of other ArCS, but they are so far distant to the characters of this story as to be irrelevant. It would be an impossible journey.

Hitomi Global V4

Hitomi holds the global patent and manufacturing rights to “atrtefactae” purpose grown biologicals.

The UPs, them Above.

For the UPs total loyalty to the corporation is a given. The Corporation provides for you all your life.
It’s no accident arcologies[1] are built like massive ancient pyramids or Ziggurats. Advancement in the Corporation is quite literally to “move up in the world”. To be ‘on the up.’
Punishment, demotion if you will, brings with it a corresponding move in the other direction.
Life in the ArCS is all about ACCESS. The higher in the corporation, the higher you are physically.
At the top, in the penthouses as it were, in one extended, or perhaps several separate families are the mythical Corporate Heads. Those groups are universally called the “klept” of the arcology.

“Political leaders who are a ruling body or order of thieves stealing from the people:

These folk are almost mythical creatures, no one ever having seen one, or not that they knew of.
Their physical identity is a jealously guarded secret, for fear of abduction or assassination. As a consequence they are free to roam the ArCs and even on occasion the Underneath if they are willing to take the risk.

The ArCS are a rigidly codified society, a place for everyone and everyone in their place. A class system as nasty or worse than anything the world has thus far accommodated.
Marriages at the KLEPT level are, as in feudal times about power and alliance. Such arrangements are made between corporations between KLEPTs, between the “HOUSES”.
Below the klept are the scientists, the creatives, the truly valuable. Corporate wars are fought over the possession of such valuable property. Their persons and minds are guarded as jealously as the Klept.
You cannot “become” an UP. You are born to it. You can however certainly become a Down, and even an Out. It is the ultimate threat. To be cast out, to become “ACCESS DENIED” is to all intents and purposes a death sentence. Major infractions of “Company Policy” or simply being determined to be “redundant” leads to being ‘wasted’ – all the company nanites deactivated – flushed from your system – and pushed out the nearest portal in whatever you’re wearing at the time, probably to die swiftly at the hands of a prowling Low.

The LOWs:

Outside the Arcologies is ”The Ruin of Civilisation” of the title, the decaying buildings and infrastructures of the past [our present and near future] in which the LOWs, the Downs, the Outs must subsist.
The battle for survival down here is vicious. They get nothing from the ArCs but grief and waste. But there’s a lot of it, and most of it is edible or otherwise useful to some degree.
Food animals are kept and ferociously guarded. Rabbits, Guinea pigs, hamsters gerbils. Not dogs. They taste like what they’ve eaten. Rats for those who can get them. Worms. Lots of edible fungus. Potatoes, strangely enough. Wild greens. Some stuff comes in from countryside foraging, but the ArCs agricultural efforts are jealously guarded and very remote.

The LOWERS are the detritus of human kind. Why have the Corporations in general allowed the LOWERS to persist? [a]“it is economically unfeasible to rehabilitate the Underneath at this time”, [b] they are a market for whatever superseded out of date, or surplus the ArCs need to unload or more likely, [c] the LOWERS are allowed to persist as a horrible object lesson for them Above, the stick with which to guarantee compliance Inside.
The LOWs are fertile and breed like the Stainless Steel rats they are. Most in the Underneath die or are killed early, leaving orphans, or abandon their offspring, fearful of the “BROOD LAWS”.

The Brood Laws

Globally, a single child policy is rigidly enforced. In both the Above and Underneath an infringement is a Capital crime. In the ArCS there is no possibility of an accidental conception or birth and the discovery of an infringement foetus results in the couple being sterilized and ‘wasted’. The foetus is extracted and kept for its genetic material.

At the LOWER end of the scale, an infringement child brings a SWR[m] extermination clade, an extra incentive for infanticide or abandonment.


These have replaced real human servants. The UPs wisely do not trust the Downs anymore. Generations of uprisings and acts of terror have seen to that. They do what them Above cannot, or choose not to do for themselves. For instance, the SWR[m] – Special Weapons Response[manufactured], their “police force” are military grade artefactae specially cloned ‘super-soldiers’ bred in CLADES of 5 or 9.

Hitomi Global prides itself on being able to create an artefact for ANY purpose.

“there’s NO ONE we can’t grow…”

These are in every biological sense human. The only way they can be distinguished from real is by the serial and patent numbers encoded on their DNA. The ethical questions have been dispensed with in the name of pragmatism. The born are human, the vat grown are not.

When the task is done or they are damaged, or wear out, they are ‘wasted.’


After “THE FALL” there were a good number of those left outside, or indeed many who CHOSE not join the ARCS for deeply held reasons of difference, based variously on sociological, political philosophical, religious beliefs, or indeed just plan cussedness. They have gathered in enclaves of the like minded to protect themselves and there kin from the barbarians that surround them, literally in FORTRESSES or GARRISONS, fortified compounds like the castles of any medieval period you care to name and for the same reasons. Their structure is akin to the Guilds or the Monastic orders. Research the Guild or Lodge of Freemasons. They have serious, if somewhat mythologized connections to The Crusader Knights – Templar and Hospitaller.

The Garrisons regard themselves as the last bastions, of Free Humanity- the GUARDIANS in their own minds – of knowledge and freedom in a world gone otherwise completely mad. They may very well be right. They provide as they can, to as many they can, security, shelter, sustenance, health care, education, employment. Even so, while many spout words of temperance, tolerance and non-violence, none of this applies to the Artefactae who without exception or true cause they will burn to a crisp with thermal lances. This puts them into direct conflict with the SWR[m] who will return the favour ten-fold.

Bear’s Den-izen’s

Down here is the society of children that is the focus of our story.
In the SOCIETY of CHILDREN there are further divisions. The littlest, under 5 are called the SMALLS, newborns to toddlers, but they don’t count for anything unless they survive long enough to be useful. Until then they are just a useless mouth to feed.
From 5 to 8-9 are the LITTLES and 10 -13 are the MIDDLES. Any one who has become sexually mature is a Big, and because of their evident burgeoning sexual interest, they are considered dangerous, unpredictable and not to be trusted.
They are killed if they don’t run first.
Because of the predation by “Pest Control” “’the SWR[m] – death squads established to eradicate the city of it’s feral child problem, it is the rare and very nasty individual that survives to become an adult Underneath.
They survive in loose associations. Packs really. More like cats than wolves or dogs. They’ll go to who feeds them and doesn’t hurt them, but they won’t take orders. Completely self interested, absorbed and all the other self words.

[1] Refer to Paolo Soleri and Apple Campus 2, [currently under construction]


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *