The story of Nero City

Nero City. Asia’s largest and one of the world’s top five leading technological cities. Nero City is also known as the `City of Light´ for its visionary research into artificial intelligence and cybernetically enhanced organic matter. The first city-state in the world to defy a worldwide moratorium on research into advanced AI and cybernetic human bodies, top city-government researchers managed to create a fully functional cybernetic brain much earlier than thought by even the most generous estimates. Six years later, the world’s first cybernetic brain surgery was performed on a human being in a Nero City laboratory, birthing the first true human cyborg. Spurred by this success, the illicit but lucrative demand for the advanced technology, and worried about the increasingly aggressive rhetoric of competing city-states, much effort was soon diverted into developing weaponized AI. Ostensibly this was for protective reasons, yet a mere two years later the first android was being developed as a tool of war. The twin capability of being able to protect their intellectual assets and selling their weapons systems to the highest bidders made the city rich beyond imagining, and it seemed to be on the cusp of a golden age. 

But, as these things tend to do, a great calamity descended upon the city.

Now it is just a shell of its former glory. 

This is what happened:

On February 22nd. At 10:34, the Nero City Police Department (NCPD) received a call reporting on a minor accident on E.CAT (Enhanced Cybernetics Research and Technology) but was told that everything was under control.

30 min later, a huge explosion occurred. Its terminus: the E.CAT facility. 

The death toll was unheard of, with more than 300,000 people estimated to have died. 30% of the city was completely destroyed. 

Something had happened. The questions on everyone’s minds were What exactly and Who was to be found responsible. Anticlimactically, the official report investigating the incident concluded that the reason why, was to be found in a mere software error in the system that controlled the MAG Tron fusion reactor.

But a lot of people thought it sounded strange that such an advanced system could collapse so suddenly and without any apparent safeguards. 

An extensive interview in the Daily Light (Nero Light’s foremost daily newspaper), with a (purportedly) former employee from E.CAT, revealed that it should not at all be possible for a software error to get a MAG TRON fusion reactor to explode. The entire system at E.CAT is monitored by a tech 3 AI system and should easily have prevented the catastrophe. The interviewee stated that something must have infected or disabled that system, causing the reactor overload. The government summarily rejected all claims of willful sabotage in this apparent scoop, but that didn’t stop the rumors. 

After the initial removal of debris had begun inside the catastrophe area, something strange happened. People started reporting seeing men in hazmat suits go in and out of the area, and, not long after, a 12-meter wall was built around it, effectively quarantining it. 

Something had begun to infect the city and its most precious goods – its cyberware. A danger that threatened the economy of the city and the safety of all cybernetically enhanced humans.

In a laudable effort to contain the cybernetic ‘cancer’ (and preserve its reputation as purveyor of quality cybernetic enhancements), Nero Light now placed itself under a general quarantine, and contact with the rest of the world became severely limited. Cybernetic enhancements still worked for some, but in a much more decentralized way. Now it was every implant for itself. How would the world’s leading international city fare with the doors to the outside world closed and everyone trying to fend for themselves?

Six months later:

The city is trying to find its footing, and losing. Many questions remain and few problems have been solved. The dependency on cybernetics have crippled many livelihoods and caused enhanced humans to essentially become handicapped. The economy is in shambles and many now regret the initial decision to quarantine. There is still a police force, and democratic structures and processes in place, but the informal economy grows by the day. Slowly, the breakdown of cybernetics is causing the breakdown of order.

The people left homeless and desperate by the explosion – called the refugees – were placed in a large camp in district C. This continues to cause a bit of friction between the original inhabitants of district C and the newly arrived. Together with the quarantine and the now unreliable Cyberware this has left District C as an almost lawless zone where the Mafia, street gangs, the police and big corporations are all struggling for control.

Have a look at the factions here!


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