|Cleveland: City of Steel|
As global warming really started hitting its stride in the 22nd century, the backwater town of Cleveland, Ohio, slowly started to submerge as Lake Erie rose to swallow it. For reasons unrecorded, the national government could lend no support to prevent the city from drowning. The largest corporation left in town, Hall-Mart, stepped in and volunteered goods and services to rebuild the city, shore it up and provide disaster relief. The State government accepted corporate help without reservation and soon after, construction held back the hungry waters of the Great Lake. It took nearly a decade, but a new city was built on the remnants of the old, with only a few of the taller pieces of original construction remaining intact.
Afterwards, the state found that they had been a little too quick to accept aid. For reasons also unrecorded, they were unable to compensate the corporation to their satisfaction, and due to defaulted contracts Hall-Mart ended up owning a majority of the city’s land. The legal battle raged for years… While it raged, Hall-Mart decided to use the city to showcase their ideal for a Hall-mARCOLOGY, a city of the future. Copying several European Empire designs already in place across the ocean, they started construction on a vast Geodesic dome, that stretched over both land and water alike. They utilized in-house resources to do the construction, slowly driving out other corps and obstinate residents as they shuttled in loyal Hall-Mart workers, and cleared areas of residences and other obstacles as they installed the dome’s infrastructure.
The dome was near completion, and the legal battles were winding down, when the big one hit. Hall-Mart sealed off the dome and pulled everyone they could inside. They were far enough from the Detroit detonation to escape damage, though fallout was a problem for a few decades thereafter. Bio-weapons had little impact, as well. The lakewater that they used was filtered and refined heavily, and the dome kept out most vectors. There were a few isolated outbreaks, but a zero-tolerance policy toward the infected stopped them cold.
After a few years, it became apparent that there was no government relief on the way, and nothing coming from corporate headquarters. And so, the interim government shifted over to its current form of share-based citizenship.
The rise of metahumanity and the return of magic hit the enclave pretty hard… Hall-Mart at first took the seemingly deformed births to be the results of a previously undetected biological attack, and quarantined parents of metahuman children, as well as the babies themselves. They concealed the existence of magic from their citizens for a few years, before the evidence became too widespread to hide. In essence, the government of the enclave conducted studies on magic and metahumanity in secret, while letting the citizens of Cleveland decide how to handle the matter themselves. It was a tactic that Hall-Mart would perfect, over years to come; The “Wait-and-see-then-take-the-side-that-prevails” approach. And as the years went on, the organization of several tolerance movements, and the support of a few key demagogues drove the acceptance of metahumanity into Hall-Mart culture.
After this was done, the quarantined families were FINALLY released, and appropriate bureaucrats and military officers were chosen to take the blame for “crimes against metahumanity.” Metahumans still face some subtle racism and discrimination in Cleveland today, but on the whole it’s not a bad place to grow up for non-humans. Unless of course, you happen to be a mutant.
The limited space in Cleveland, and the horrifying appearance and effects of most mutations, gave rise to a strong anti-mutant feeling among the populace, that’s only intensified as the decades have passed. The general feeling today is that there’s no point in spending limited resources on bad genes that won’t improve future generations, when you could be investing in healthy folks instead. Mutants, they argue, consume resources that could be spent on bettering the enclave, and take up health care needs that could be used to improve the lifespan and health of folks who are more likely to live and contribute to the future of Hall-Mart.
As far as recent history goes, the enclave weathered both the corporate wars and the dragon war fairly undisturbed. Though the dome’s been under siege many times, it’s never been seriously breached. The shanty-towns and settlements around it have suffered greatly time and again, but Hall-Mart shrugs, and points out that their policy is to take no responsibility for the safety of non-citizens.
The enclave is about 80 thousand people strong, with around five thousand troops in the field, (spaced throughout a few key franchise towns and outposts) and several franchise towns in various stages of development. Recently they’ve started a program to reclaim the Wasteland. They’ve got the most stable base of operations in the area, and enough material that they just might be able to do it… Assuming no one resists their “Reclamation”.
Someone who comes from Cleveland has been raised under a steel and plastalloy sky. They spent the majority of their life indoors, with surroundings that seem luxurious compared to the typical Wastelander settlement. They probably didn’t encounter serious violence before leaving the enclave. A Cleveland native has been bombarded with Hall-Mart propaganda since birth. All Cleveland natives are literate and some have even had limited access to the Grid, an enclave-based information network that Hall-Mart’s been trying to extend out into the Wastes.
Cleveland Enclave Social Classes
Consumers are the lowest class in the enclave. They are people who have had their employee status suspended or revoked, but have nowhere else to go. Consumers work menial or dangerous jobs, and have their paychecks automatically furrowed to cover rent of the public housing provided for them. They have no say in where they live, unless they know the right people to bribe. Some consumers are outsiders who have managed to legally emigrate within the enclave, but are waiting for their citizenship review and working to gain the share of stock required to become an employee in Cleveland. Whenever hardship comes, consumers feel it first. Many consumers find that the military is their best option to escape corporate servitude.
This is the only social class that most mutants can ever achieve. Even then, those that try to stick it out will have to weather discrimination, exploitation, and straight-up violence. It is not good to be mutated and living in Cleveland.
Employees are the middle class of the Cleveland Enclave. They handle white-collar and blue-collar jobs, and are the lowest class that can rent property, and legally choose where they live. Some employees have a shot at making it into management, if they persist. To be an employee, you must have a registered Hall-Mart tattoo, and be on file with the central bureaucracy. You are required to earn one share of Hall-Mart stock per year to maintain employee status within Cleveland.
The third, and smallest class in Cleveland, and also the most privileged. The lower branches of management make up the bureaucracy and sensitive white collar jobs. The middle branches act as a filter between the higher management and lower, and the pyramid tops off with the CEO of Hall-mart, and the nine Executive Board members below him, who can vote him out and one of their number in at any time. Managers are the only class that can actually own land within Cleveland. Managers are required to earn ten shares of Hall-Mart stock per year to maintain employee status within Cleveland. Most earn more, to ensure that rivals can’t buy them out, and increase their value to the corp. A registered Hall-Mart tattoo is not required at this stage, but it is considered vanity, or a possible sign of corporate disloyalty if you do not have one. Management has a reputation for having a glass ceiling where metahumans are concerned, although recently an elf has managed to rise to the Executive Board.
In contrast to the rest of Cleveland, the Hall-mart military is a strict meritocracy. Racism, sexism, and religious discrimination are officially forbidden, though a few bad officers manage to keep their prejudices. The only type of beings not allowed in the military are mutants. Recently, the go-ahead’s been given to integrate magically-gifted folks into Hall-Mart forces. This is taking time, as the current military policy insists on treating magic as psionic ability, and tries to force magically-talented recruits into their paradigm. The military does not require stock to live within Cleveland, but must reside on military-designated property while within the enclave. Military service is one of the easiest ways to obtain shares of stock in the corporation. You MUST have a registered Hall-Mart military tattoo if you are in the Cleveland military forces… Without it, your guns might not work. Among other things, the tattoo is used as a biometric check for most of Hall-Mart’s advanced equipment. Should you leave the service, your tattoo will be erased. Should you be MIA or KIA, your tattoo will be removed from the registry. Many officers of the military retire to management positions after a few terms in the field, and many grunts of the line find good employee jobs when they return home.
While a lot of people see Hall-Mart as the good guys, this isn’t always the case. Hall-Mart’s had its share of dirty business, and can be utterly ruthless when dealing with outsiders. But within the Cleveland enclave, life’s not so bad as long as you toe the corporate line, show the socially acceptable level of scorn for mutants, don’t make waves, keep making a profit for the corp, and accept that you’ll spend most of your life under a steel sky...