DYSTOPIA – Life in the dark future


Author: Ellie Bulin <buline@hotmail.com>
Used with permission.


The year is 2026. The city is Portland. The country is the Incorporated States of America or the ISA. The United States of America no longer exists it was taken over by the corporations earlier in the century. The corporations became the fourth branch of government. There is still a president, and Congress, but they are more figurative than they are powerful.
The once mighty American dollar has been replaced with a multinational currency called the eurodollar. It can be used throughout North America and Europe. You can not travel as easily as you once did. The ISA has put heavy restrictions on travel to foreign countries, making it almost impossible to leave the country.
The corporate zone of downtown is filled with skyscraper that bear the names of giant multinational corporations: IBM, Zetatech, Orbital Air, Microtech, WNS, TraumaTeam, Gentech, and Intel. IBM now controls the majority of the microcomputer market, taking over Apple, Sun systems, Samsung, and Compaq. Zetatech is one of the governments leading providers in database systems, the company was formed at the turn of century. Microtech, changing it’s name from Microsoft, quadrupled in size since the late 20th century, becoming the largest software manufacture in the world. Genetech is one of fastest growing companies in 21st century. It is one of largest bio-technology firms in ISA. Intel is still one largest producers of microcomputer chips in the world. It’s headquarters are now in downtown Portland, instead of being out in Hillsboro.
Most of North Portland is considered an urban combat zone. Corporate police never patrol this area and civil police rarely enter it. The MAX lines that do run through this area do not stop until they clearly outside this area. This area is a heaven for crime. Gangs and nomad packs are the only people that commonly inhabit this area. Most of the buildings are abandoned and covered with graffiti. Everyone not working for a corporation were reduced to poverty and forced to relocate to the Combat Zone by the corporate-run Bureau of Relocation, a new enforcement arm of the ISA government.
Both Washington and Forest Park remain the same, becoming corporate preserves. They also serve as corporate retreat areas. However they are not as open as they once were. You now need to have proper corporate ID and a pass.
Arcologies are self contained manufacturing sights where the workers live, much like the Biodome of the 20th century. There is an arcology located near OHSU that was built by Enivrocorp and is owned by Intel to produce integrated micoboards.
The Willamette and Columbia rivers have completely contaminated by illegal toxic dumping by the corporations. Bull Run has also been polluted by clearcutting and acidic rain. Portland now receives it’s water from a desalinization plant located near Seaside.
MAX now runs from the airport all the way to McMinneville, Hazel Dell to Clackamas Town Center, and Forest Grove to Gresham. It also has a beltway route that runs through Beaverton, West Linn, Cascade Park, Downtown Vancouver, and Hillsboro. The Cascadia Maglev runs under the east side of Portland, with a station at the Airport and continues north and south between Night City in NorCal and Seattle. The Maglev is a high speed train that runs on a magnetic rails in vacuum sealed underground tubes.
Corporations have taken over neighborhoods, removing the people who once lived there. The people who now live there are corporate executives who have families. There are several of these corporate neighborhoods within the Portland metro area. They are heavily guarded and impossible to enter without the proper identification. Corporate executives without families live in corporate owned apartments. Apartments are extremely expensive and only for those who can afford them. Most single people live in coffin apartments, similar to the ones in Japan that came about in the 20th century. These are owned the corporations and are part of working for them even though you still must pay rent. There are also certain building that cater to certain type professionals.
There is a cure for AIDS, but new viruses have plagued the world. The worst is the Carbon Plague, unfortunately this virus was manmade, mistakenly created by virologist in the CDC. It attacks and kills most humans under the age of 20. It starts as cough and slowly turns you into a blob. The CDC fears it will wipe out a whole generation. To help contain the plague, there are new quarantine camps in every major city. At the first sign of being sick you are whisked away to one of these camps, most likely never to return.

Daily Life

Hi, my name is Kiki Nagai. I am 5’7″ and weigh about 115 lb. for the most part I look like a normal twenty year old Japanese-American girl. I do have a small amount of cybernetics in me, which enables me to do my job better. I have a neuralware processor implanted in head, its mainly used for linking to certain things, like my weapon for which I have a smartgun link. My other cyberware includes a cyber eye that has functions for infrared, UV, teleoptics and digital camera. Oh I forgot to mention that both of legs have been replaced with cybernetic ones, that’s makes me so tall and light. I work for Arasaka Security on a corporate infiltration team. Arasaka Securities is one of the biggest security companies in the world. I am going to be taking you through what a normal day would be like for me. Although a normal day for me isn’t too normal.
8:00- Wake up to the orange light streaming through my window, check the news the from World News Service (WNS), walk down the hall and take my shower. I live in the corporate owned apartment building, it has everything from coffins to penthouses and is located in corporate control zone downtown.
8:30- I grab some kibble from a vending machine on my way out the building. Most food nowadays is made from either soy products or kelp. Most meat is extremely expensive and hard to find. I walk to work under an orange and brown sky, due to all the air pollution. AV’s buzz over my head landing near the skyscrapers.
9:00- Swipe my Arasaka ID card through the reader, it clocks me in and unlocks the door to my area. Today I am doing research for our next mission, I will be here for the next twelve hours, possibly longer if the mission is executed.
9:30- Meet the rest of team that I will be working with. I find out that I will be working with one of my buddies, Kona. You guessed it, he’s from Hawaii. We’ve worked together a lot. I guess you could say we’re partners. We find out more information about our mission. We have been hired by an exec to retrieve information from an off-shore data platform run by InfoTech. The platform is located three miles off the coast near Newport. The platform used to be an offshore drilling rig, it is now used as a repository for sensitive data, unconnected to the Net. The exec wants a file from the datahaven named “Dimitri” . I guess this guy needs it pretty bad because if we’re successful each of the team members will be 10,000 eurodollars richer.
Most of us on corporate infiltration teams work on a job to job basis. We do this because each job is different and so is the risk factor. Most of the clients that come to Arasaka are either looking for protection or are looking to find something.
We all have different specialties on the team. Kona is a Solo mainly trained to kill but not always. We have a Netrunner, her main job is to retrieve the data. Netrunners mainly run the Net, the 21st century’s version of the Web. It is mostly 3D and you are actually in there searching for the goods. It’s complicated and I don’t understand most of it. We’ve also got two drivers and another solo. I am the Fixer/Prowler, basically I am trained to steal and not been seen. I am skilled in Ninjitsu, as well as electronic security systems. I might also add that I’m pretty good with a gun.
The mission is set for late tonight, being that the workers on the platform are asleep and security will be the only people working at 3 a.m.
10:30- I start going through my gear list on personal computer. They are smaller than a laptop and hold about the same amount of information. I figure I’ll need both my submachine gun and my 9mm pistol. Besides that I’ll need my flack vest for torso protection, a grappling line, back-up clips. I’ll have to procure some InfoTech ID’s to get inside and access the mainframe. I take time to look over some satellite photos of the platform during the time that we will be there. The landing platform and the entrance to the main structure are heavily guarded. This isn’t going to be easy, I look over the blueprints of the rig, figure out where they’ll have the mainframe and where there will be trouble.
12:30- Grab some more kibble and head to meet a contact. Hopefully he can produce some InfoTech ID’s that will get us past security. Luckily, he just happens to have some InfoTech security ID’s. I pay dearly for them but they’ll get me where I need to be later on.
1:30- Collect my gear from my storage locker and head back to the building. We brief each other on what we have researched. It looks as this will actually go off pretty well. We using an unmarked Arasaka AV-4 to get us to the site. I hope I don’t get stuck in the back again. I go through what the security looks like and how I’ll get in and tell them that I am depending on their coverage from the outside.
3:30- I check and clean my weapons to make sure they don’t jam on me at a critical point. Once I am done with this I visit the employee store to load up on ammo, you can never have too much of it.
5:30- Go out dinner with the team. We decided on the Compass Room, it serves real food and is located on the top of Arasaka building. I haven’t had any real food for while, I order a big steak (Company’s paying).
8:00- We leave at midnight. I decide to take a nap in the down room.
11:30- Get up grab my gear and up to the AV.
Midnight- Everything is going as scheduled and I don’t get stuck in the back. We arrrive at the sight, funny but security is no where to be found. Kona covers me while I enter the main building, dodging security. I swipe the security ID through and hopes that it works. Beep, a green light flashes I’m in I head toward the mainframe. I unlock the door and feed the connection from the mainframe to the Netrunner in the AV via cell phone. I wait patiently for the signal that “Dimitri” is downloaded. Getting the signal I bolt out of the main building and into the AV. This has all gone far too easily, it must be a set-up. I count the bullets in my unfired gun’s magazine, a nervous habit I picked up over the years.
4:00- Back at headquarters, I stow my gear once again and head back to the coffin to sleep. We’ll have a team briefing sometime this afternoon or evening, and we will be collecting our ten grand apiece. If there has been some kind of double-cross, we’ll find out later, I guess. Well, good night.
My work is unusual and comparable to being a part of the FBI or CIA. Not everyone leads the life I do but a lot of people do. I am lucky to work for corporation. If didn’t, I would go from job to job trying to squeak out a living for myself.


The probability of this actually happening is about fifty fifty, it depends on what area of this dystopia you are talking about. The chances of the corporations taking over the country are very small even in today’s cut throat business world. If this were to happen, it would have long ago. With our government’s checks and balances, it would be nearly impossible. The pollution on the other hand is very probable. There are some facets that could easily slip beyond our control, creating this dystopia. It just depends on what area you are looking at, and, probably more importantly, at which ones you aren’t.