It took thirty years to beat back the Cen and their hybrid armies. The east coast, from Maine to what little was left of Florida, lay in ruins. The middle states of the former union had become the battleground, and were piled high with the dead from both human and alien forces. In the aftermath the Native tribes have begun to reclaim some of their lands in the region, driving out anyone unwilling to agree. The states south of the Mason-Dixon have nearly all joined the Republic of Texas.
Denver was the former Earth Defense Forces headquarters (a pretentious title to be sure, since they had no idea what the rest of the planet was actually doing) and it was the troops, both elite and otherwise, who helped hold the Cen armies on the plains until the coordinated attack allowed a single massive nuke to be smuggled through to the main Cen creche world. (Some of this is revealed in retrospect by Raven, in Sword and Shadow).
Idaho, Oregon, and Washington are placed under the protection of Deryk Shea, the technology magnate who’d helped fund the now defunct Paranormal Affairs Commission, and both of its divisions… PARD and MAD. Deryk Shea and Shea Industries were on the cutting edge of both technology and paranormal activities, and thus the only real power to step into the vacuum left by the destruction of the US government. The aid he was able to disperse almost immediately softened the blow on millions of westerners, people who took to the new citizenship, that of the nation-state, the ‘regency’ of Shadow. Meant, as Deryk Shea put it, “to be a bastion against the darkness, until the light returns.” Shea proclaimed himself a fan of democracy,but that he intended to keep the regency going until humans were again capable of self-government.
When he released copies of the Shadow Charter, even many of his critics found little to freak out about. In matters of state function, he announced, he’d be as transparent as any government on Earth. Of course, the other side of the equation was Shea industries, which had the right, and the ability, to conduct any number of pieces of business outside the purview of official government bureaucracy.
South of Shadow, California took a different tack. In the early aftermath of the successful attacks on the east coast, California’s government precipitated a lockdown, fearful of a panicked reaction by the populace. Many of its police forces, already under a great deal of public suspicion, found themselves in an open war with street gangs, who now felt they had the ability to go toe to toe with each other, but with the state as well.
And in many cases, they turned out to be right.
While in the midwest hundreds of thousands of men and women threw themselves at the enemy, another war went on in the streets of California. A war that the gangs began to win, as one by one police stations and even national guard armories were overrun and co-opted.
Some of the police saw the writing on the wall and joined forces with the more powerful gangs. In San Jose, the municipal police force finally surrendered to the Savages about the time a new enforcer stepped into the role. And rather than being sent to enforce gang rules on other gangers, Talia Graves became a kind of ganger cop. When you’re extorting money out of local businesses in order to ‘protect’ them from harm, if someone visits harm on them, you have to do something about it.
That was Talia’s job for nearly five years.
In her investigations she began to see evidence of something horrific going on right under their noses. Slavery was making a comeback in a big way. “Undesirables,” which seemed to be anyone not popular with the powers that be, would vanish, many to labor camps now located in the old prisons. But that wasn’t all. Young women were disappearing. Young women of ‘dubious’ character were also vanishing. Not to prisons, as it happened, but to service a growing industry of sex exploitation.
Rather than expressing outrage, many media types began blaming the women and girls thus targeted, saying “when you’re advertising your wares, don’t be surprised when someone comes along and takes you up on it.”
Talia, who’d stood behind the efforts of the sex workers to unionize, after the fall of the US, had been horrified. Even if some of them hadn’t actually chose that life, there was a big difference between leasing your ass for men’s use and them assuming they had some kind of right to it. By force, if necessary.
When she tried to tell her ‘friends’ about it, to try to get the Savages to fight against what she saw as a travesty, she was betrayed and left for dead. But she didn’t die.
A few years later she’s discovered in Shadow, and recruited by the Adjuster’s Office through the efforts of the vampire Finnegan Crow, self-appointed protector of the city of Port Talon. As it happens, however, there’s a lot more going on than Crow realizes, and she soon finds herself partnered with the young would-be superhero, Muse in a battle for all of Shadow.
(This story will be forthcoming in Tangled Tokens, hopefully available by Summer).
Stay tuned for Part 2.