Four stories of a city, stories of the people raising it from the earth, the people pumping through its laced veins, and the surrounding world crumbling in its wake.
MISSION is as old as Tacticolo, in fact I conceptualised both stories on the same night. MISSION’s release however has always been subject to the development of Tacticolo and Gold Digger, and it’s taken this long for me to get those skills up and those books right.
In that time, the story has actually evolved from four originally standalone works that I’ve now intertwined, covering stories of crime, vice, political corruption, and black-ops. It now founds the expositional glue and backbone of the Sayareh universe
“Mission one a’dem places where God just says fuck y’all.”
Mission State, America’s libertarian utopia where any and all had free and equal opportunity and reign, and those bearing the most of the equal opportunity seized the reins in force.
Powerful corporations of all industry divided the city by their zones of influence. The ring system was employed initially as a means for easier zoning control, though with Mission’s purposefully lax regulations, as was the point of the great experiment, everyone simply built whatever they needed wherever and the rings soon took on more of a hierarchical significance. Not counting the several island utopias dotted about the state, the upper and middle classes stuck almost exclusively to the inner two rings. The third ring was the largest of the urban zones, and source of the lower level business, services and vices the inner rings gorged upon.
The middle to lower classes generally filled the apartment blocks of the third and housing of the fourth with fluctuating degrees of quality. They’d seek their way in a place where common entry-level jobs for youth were fighting, killing, stealing, fucking, and serving the gluttonous whims of their betters within. Mission was where the world now came to party, and partying had been industrialised to McNamaric levels. A drug soldier or hooker was just as common and accepted a vocation as a warehouse worker or cashier. Such professions were legitimate means to lay your foundation of hope, with the police indulging in just as much product as those in the back seats of their cars.
Local Third and Fourth Ring bars attracted lines of young men for open cage nights, where they could bare-knuckle, barbed-knuckle, or knife their way to either a week’s grocery money or alleyway first aid. While across the road Pleasure Bars attracted lines of girls for open stage auction nights where they would perform in groups for bidding well to do men, be taken to a private locations and parties, and submitted to levels more established professionals wouldn’t fall.
The Second Ring looked like any other city in America, with the addition of the ‘Craftman’s walk’ financial strip and artificial beach for the bikini-clad influencers seeking sponsorship. The inner ring mostly consisted of Adamans Island, perhaps more a fortress of central blocks cordoned off by an artificial tributary playing part of a moat. This gated utopia housed the Governor and kin, and all the financial powerhouses including Mapletower, the headquarters of Mapleton, an energy and infrastructure company making or causing many a killing in the ruins of the former Iran and Iraq.
Mapleton offered one of the better catches among the numerous job auctions dotted Third Ring and out, valuable contracts paying the rare find of a consistent minimum wage. The lower-class winners would travel to Hammar to guard and rebuild Mapleton administered portions of Hammari infrastructure in place of the Hammari lower-class. It was an agreement made with the Coalition occupiers before the Empire was established. As the tensions between Mapleton and the Hammari Principality grew, and public spats became more frequent between the Mapleton board and even the Empress herself, more and more private security contracts through sister company ‘Hersh Security’ became available.
Many a ‘Vet-De-Ran’ would finally find for themselves a means to an honest year’s paycheck through guarding the very ruins they had been last paid to create. Many, however, would fail to return. Yes the turmoil of the regional anarchy had led to attacks on private Western operations, though these dwindled as the Empire had gradually taken hold. Many contractors would actually vanish through an entirely different means. They would find themselves one night having a drink with a charming Hammari of usually Western or European heritage, who would offer them a house, citizenship, and ten times the money filling a role promoting local defensive interests instead. With each new wave of contractors shipping out, it had become expected to lose a few along the way.
Within the Third Ring, circling the feet of the Second Ring Mission towers, resided several self-contained entertainment production megaplexes. Some would be studio production complexes for the multi-billion dollar world of Dollywood. Others would be havens of hotels, casinos, malls, and pleasure bars, with self-contained living facilities for the product. Many desperate or impressionable job-seekers would sign their bodies over to five year indentured contracts, serving as the budget option with all food, living, and medical expenses covered. They’d spend their six days a week on call in their underground shoebox homes, deep within the city’s converted catacombs. They’d indulge whichever customer would barge through their door at whatever time, charged by whatever level of sobriety, creative whim, and sense of entitlement only those paying the cheapest price seemed to hold.
The contractors remained unaware that the costs of their services rarely covered the company’s costs to house them. The summary of this ever-accruing debt would be revealed at the end of their contracts, along with the option of re-signing on as a higher more experienced tier of product, a ‘courtesan’, just like the Ilhamouna herself. They would move upstairs and make far more money in the far more expensive rooms, wearing the far more expensive clothes, enjoying the far more expensive food and wine, and access to the genetic beauticians to tailor their anatomic look. They wouldn’t think about the next time their contracts were to renew, or what they were going to do once the age of thirty removed that option from the table.
There were certainly careers available considered more acceptable on the other side of the border, but ‘partying’ was where the real money at least hung within range of a hope, and to move product or to become the product required no unattainable skill or certification. Any more conservative career requiring the certifications offered no hope in return, and as job security was a laughable concept, the hope of the big scores only the party industry offered usually became too much to ignore.
The ‘foothold’ they called it, or just ‘the hold’. That one big hit of cash that would finally take the trembles away. All residents of Mission were charged by the potency of that hope… until the day they weren’t.
“He slipped,” they’d say, upon finding that cold shock within the eyes of another, the realisation that impossibly they were one of the one’s who didn’t make it, yet still had so many years to somehow survive. Those coming to terms with their status progressively shifted from pick-up job to pick-up job, through to the outer Mission rings, making way for those still bearing a smirk of self-assurance.
‘The slipped’ who would fall all the way would find themselves out in the fields, forests, ridges, gullies and garbage dumps of the Fifth Ring, with the more traditional little folk, ‘the flock’, numerous in number though commonly less than common in stature. The most wretched of Mission’s dwellers etched what existence they could from the backwaters of the Mission landscape. They offered what service they could devise or just lived straight off the land as best they could manage. Those more willing to release themselves from the confinements of atheism found the most hope of community, though this came naturally with a catch all of its own.