Back when CamelCase was a trend, or, thirty years ago, a barely legal conglomerate announced itself. Comprising it were four of the top hardware and software manufacturers north of the equator, hailing from major nations. These four had a pure vision: they wanted to crush the problems with the world and equalize everyone.
The Big Four, as they were called, started small, by extending help to any country that asked. They began by creating automated building units to manage public infrastructure, so that they could also focus on other issues. That went well. Once the project was underway, they tried for mandatory implants of identification chips for all citizens. That didn’t go nearly as well. In the beginning, they were fought, but the Four simply pulled their improvements from a country that disagreed and focused their work elsewhere. Without their help, smaller countries suffered as before.
However, one of these nations changed their mind, and agreed to the implants. And there were no adverse effects; all was well. Soon, more agreed, and the chain reaction started. The favor was turning to the Big Four day by day.
That was only their second project. Next, they pushed for a new type of civil rule, where corporations and governments existed separately, but ruled together as one unit. That idea was met much more vehemently, and the backlash nearly dissolved the Four. However, they opted for full-disclosure of their governmental model. To cut the story short, they started small yet again, and formed a sort of partnership with the same small nation that accepted the implants.
The citizens of that nation weren’t happy with the agreement their rulers struck… at first. Soon, though, seeing as they now would have to fight against the very entity that guaranteed their survival, they learned to live with the change.
Seeing the ease in which that happened, the Four made a few more changes.
Military. Gone. That funding was devoted to cybernetics. A result was an increase in quality of prosthetics, which lead to strides in biomimetics and related fields.
Space endeavours. Gone. With that funding, remarkably improvements were made in human-computer interaction. An eventual result was the invention of direct interfaces to the mind. Now, even as the Four were hated by many, the same many couldn’t ignore a technological leap like that. Suddenly, everyone wanted to be a part of the nation ruled by the Four, if only to have access to that level of technology. But, the Four continued to work on their small country.
The entire project, Big Four with populace and all, became known as the System.
And then, the Four crushed the last vestiges of division between a government and a corporation and created a better, more efficient model, marked by their own rule. They streamlined the resulting effects to generate even more revenue. And with that last bit, they created a few new things. Like the Enforcement, their police system.
And that’s where we meet the FilterNines — those who fought the enforcement and all that backed them.
The Enforcement was based in a certain major city. The city, or, the Growth, as it was called, was still incomplete at the time of our story, and therefore, a misshapen mass of buildings run awry. The newer areas seemed as gleaming utopias, while most of the older areas were already condemned. Some sections hadn’t felt the effects of the Growth; fewer hadn’t been transformed.
As an example, consider the northwest district. At the lowest levels, where new skyscrapers blocked the sun and crowded the mind like canyons, little light reached the earth. Hence, weeds weren’t too much of a problem. It wasn’t until one reached, say, the tenth story, that flora started to flourish, and the twentieth before people were able to have productive gardens.
Although, few people cultivated any. Acid rain was still a big problem. Although the causes were being tackled, it still wasn’t suitable for drinking. And so, singing in the rain was akin to voluntarily burning your throat. It wasn’t worth it, and everyone knew it.
That didn’t deter the city from patrolling the streets and bridges; if anything, it encouraged it. Since people went indoors during the rains, the city could send out more patrols without causing congestion. It was good that the streets were less crowded. Only the hardiest of civilians would walk about in the rain. That included the FilterNines.
And so, in the rain, our story begins.