Aedolis, for all the hedonistic delights its upper caste enjoys, is a repressive dictatorship. Those who are unsatisfied with the status quo (Lower Castes who see the caste system as unreasonable, anyone who objects to a regime that imprisons people for things like reading banned books, mages who don't want to join the military and psychics who wish to avoid the insanity of the Pilot program) do not have many options. One of their options is the Initiative.
It's easy to join the Initiative, but very hard to back out, so few want to. You've got to be really committed to a very rough way of life. Because speaking out against Aedolis typically results in death or jail, if you want to do it you've either got to be ingenious about hiding your activities, or you've got to cut out your chip and go underground. There are some who keep their chips and their daily way of life, but are simply very quiet about their subversive thoughts, and work mainly to hide and protect those who do speak out. It's easier to do this if you're Lower Caste, since you're physically closer to the Initiative--underground Initiative members often stay in the Midhaven, in order to evade surveillance.
Initiative activities include subversive blogging, radio broadcasts, and physical sabotage, particularly to surveillance systems. Most of the organization is in Haviah, but they have some branches in other Aedolian cities. They've got a few ties to Teinar and Arteia, and, while they're wary of the Gospels, they have had contact with them over the years.
History of the Initiative
The Initiative has its origins in a loose-knit group of general dissenters, those who decided to become voluntarily chipless. They instigated some riots over the years, often put down. The group really organized itself and took the name 'the Initiative' only after they were joined by psychics who wished to avoid the trap of Candidate training and eventual Pilothood. A Pilot they knew as 'Hydra' helped to establish the network of support the Initiative needed, and helped track down psychics who wouldn't be eager to join the Candidate program.
They stirred up some trouble four years ago--some Lower City rioting, which killed Pilot C. Hasdrubal. Around the same time, Pilot I. Talbotte's Dragon discovered her as a Gospel, and the Pilot Imperial disappeared: both events may've contributed to the air of unease or imbalance that led to the Initiative attempt at action. It failed, and many involved were killed or imprisoned.
At present, the Initiative is split between those who simply want to save psychics from the Candidate program and somehow get to Teinar, and those who want to get up enough firepower, particularly now that they have psychics on their side, to challenge the Aedolian military itself. It's widely recognized, though, that this is not something that's going to happen in the near future.
How the Chipless Survive
It's not easy to live in or even under Aedolis if you don't have a chip, and most members of the Initiative, understandably, have had to get rid of theirs. After all, a chip ties you to the surveillance grid; you're easy to track if you make a purchase. Similarly, since surveillance cameras (known to Lower Castes and Initiative members as 'survees') recognize most faces as matched to chips, it's important for anyone in hiding to avoid surveillance cameras as much as possible.
The Initiative has managed to deal with these issues in a few ways, using several resources.
Methods of chip forgery
- Valencia and the District 2017 Public Hospital. Valencia is an undiscovered psychic (who happens to look like a giant bat) working discreetly in a Lower City hospital morgue. She provides chipless with chips from dead people she then does not record as deceased; her Gospel contact Nessuno helps her with public record. These chips are only usable in the short-term, but they're pretty ironclad, and she provides them regularly, as the hospital's enormous and gets a lot of traffic. She also removes chips from those just going into hiding and logs them as deceased. Police and military nickname for those who are supposed to be dead and aren't? 'Zombies.'
- Forged chips. These are a little harder to get, since it takes work to create a new chip, a false identity, and input it into the system. There are also few people who are willing to help chipless who also have the resources to create this. Someone using one is often caught due to some glitch; it's a risky method, and only works perfectly in theory. Police and military nickname is 'mummies.'
- Blank chips. These are chips that carry no identity marker, but which you can use in automatic systems like vending machines. Nothing that's checked immediately by a person, though, and they're highly illegal, so if you're caught with one, you're in trouble. The Aedolian police and military have nicknamed people with blank chips 'ghouls.'
- Credit skimmers. These are small handheld scanners that will skim the credit from one chip and transfer it to another. Very risky, very hard to get one that works well, and newer chips have safeguards against these. Police nickname for people who use these: 'vamps.'
Methods of surveillance evasion
- The Wrong Way graffiti. This is ever-changing, color-coded graffiti, often a stylized set of 'W's, that points out spots that aren't exposed to the surveillance cameras. The Lower City has several areas with damaged or simply inadequate surveillance cameras (the graffiti's changed as these are repaired or vandalized), so this is far from impossible, though difficult.
- The tunnels. The tunnels are a network of underground passageways, through very old ventilation and sewage systems, made when Haviah was a much newer city. Not on any city plan, they're hard to access and they're kept very, very secret, but those who've been in hiding for awhile can use them to get all the way to the Upper City.
- Vandalism. It's possible to disable a surveillance camera and do whatever work you have to do quickly, then leave before the police come by to see what the matter is.
Where and how they live
- Mainly, members of the Initiative have to camp out in the Undercity (a.k.a. Midhaven), into which they've found several entrances over the years, or the tunnels. It's not a glamorous lifestyle, though there are occasional safe havens, unmonitored barter-for-food bars like The Warehouse (which doesn't have surveillance and masquerades by day as, well, an abandoned warehouse).
- Initiative members often access the VCN using the discarded Thanatos Inc. terminals that have been floating around junk piles. Shortwave radio setup for listening to and recording broadcasts are not too hard to find or make from salvaged parts.
- In fact, salvage is an important part of Initiative activity. They make most of their weapons out of things they can find lying around, in someone's home, or as part of some public apparatus they can dismantle, like a kitchen appliance, streetlight, or power generator.
- They often get their food from vending machines, as they're easier to access with all sorts of chips, and easier to vandalize without a chip, too. Sometimes they hunt in the Undercity or venture further down into the Midhaven, but it's really not something the pampered former Aedolian citizens are often comfortable with.
What's Happened Recently
Recently, the Initiative's been turned a little bit on its ears by Poet, a radio broadcaster who runs Justified Poetics Radio and the Wrong Way Club branch of the Initiative. He's got a lot to do with bringing the revolution to the upper caste, though he himself is a chipless, and he preaches much more for direct action than the other loud voices in the Initiative, most of whom believe waiting is the best idea.
The Wrong Way Club is made up simply of the guys and gals who started the graffiti tradition, which has made things easier for everyone. Quick recap of the graffiti: it marks places free of surveillance and surveillance areas that have been either newly vandalized or repaired, so it changes on relatively regular basis and requires a lot of upkeep. The graffiti also leads to tunnel entrances, though most don't know how to follow the encoded directions. They also do outreach to new people interested in subversive activity, and claim Poet's special protection (he's a powerful psychic). Anyone can join the Wrong Way Club, if they're willing to submit to Poet's psychic interrogation. They've been gearing up for action recently, though that's still in the future. At present they're simply gathering some plans on a weaponsmaking facility in Lower City Haviah.
They are also currently dealing with the Gospels. Nessuno is connected to Valencia and Chimera is a personal friend of Poet's, but the Initiative mostly does not trust the Gospels. They are, after all, Pilots. The issue at hand is the psychic cure, which Chimera tested in secret on a compliant members of the Initiative, named Satro Marival. The rest of the Initiative doesn't know about the psychic cure at all, though Poet has just found Satro with her memory erased. For more on current events, see this thread.
Some Initiative Members
At present most of them are quasi-NPCs played by Chimera, Sylph, and Charlemangel in the main Initiative thread.
- Poet--Known for his Justified Poetics radio broadcast, he's the current leader of the Wrong Way Club. Considered something of a loose cannon by the rest of the Initiative due to his tendency to clash directly with Aedolian police. Described as 'average-looking,' with brown hair, brown eyes, and a slim build, he's also able to shapeshift (at least his facial features), so don't take that for granted. He became a lot more outspoken and fanatical four years ago, after the riots. Not powerful telekinetically but very skilled at telepathy. Surprisingly, he's only 22 years old. [Played by Chimera]
- Rana--One of the more responsible members of the Initiative, she nonetheless takes part in the Wrong Way Club and speaks to Poet often, if mostly to try to dissuade him from his dangerous plans. She's been living chipless in Aedolis for eight years and is a moderately powerful telekinetic and a very powerful telepath; she uses her skill to evade detection. She is of medium height and build but skinny, with short black hair, brown skin, dark eyes, and 'angry eyebrows.' She's 29 years old. At present she lives with Ryon, Zero, Blue, and sometimes Poet. [Played by Sam]
- Ryon--Rana's little brother. Relies on her a lot; they used to be psychically interdependent. He is a much weaker telepath but a stronger telekinetic. He does not like Poet at all. Used to be involved romantically with former Initiative member Satro Marival. He's tall and skinny, with dreadlocks he keeps tied back. He's 26 years old. [Played by Chimera]
- Zero--A new Initiative member, used to work as a programmer in the Midlevel. He's their tech and hacking guy. Very sarcastic, likes to affect a lower-Caste accent, claims to be a coward and a pragmatist, and enjoys messing with Ryon. Likes beef jerky. Has messy red hair and a mustache. 24 years old. [Played by Chimera]
- Blue--The newest Initiative member at present. Formerly a Lower-Level garbage collector, he used his very strong but untutored telekinesis to, well, blow up a thug who was trying to kill him. Rana tracked him down and took him in. He misses home and his friends and family. He has close-set eyes, acne, and blond hair tied back in a messy ponytail. He's 16 years old. [Played by Chimera]
- Satro Marival--Former member of the Initiative. Agreed to help Chimera test the psychic cure, realizing that she would need to let the Gospel erase her memory. Currently living with a Gospel contact known only as 'D'. Poet has tracked her down and seen the memory erasure, but she is still in the dark, and still without her psychic power. She's one of Rana and Ryon's rescues, a former chef from the Midlevel who somehow managed to evade detection as a psychic for most of her life. Was involved romantically with Ryon. Tends to speak very matter-of-factly, even brusquely. 36 years old. [Played by Chimera]
- Valencia--Works in a Lower City morgue attached to a hospital. She's a very good contact because she sets Initiative members up with spare chips taken from the dead, whom she registers for awhile as 'missing'; she has also faked a few Initiative deaths so they'll get off the Aedolian 'wanted' list, and even performed some plastic surgery to keep members incognito. She looks like a giant humanoid bat, with big wings, soft leathery skin, huge black eyes, and surprisingly dexterous fingers. She may be over 100 years old. [Played by Chimera]
- Eamon--Non-psychic member of the Wrong Way Club, helping to organize Poet's surveillance of a Lower City weapons plant. [Played by Sylph]
- Daanu--Teinari helping the Initiative, works for Poet. [Played by Sylph]
Threads of note
- The Initiative--this is the thread that kicked off the idea for the initiative. It's kind of a strange thread, because no one in it really has any idea where it's supposed to go; it was just set up to establish some things the Initiative is doing (with the psychic cure, etc.). In retrospect, posting it on Gospel accounts might have made it seem too intimidating. It should be a handy reference for some NPCs, like Valencia. Feel free to PM Chimera if you'd like interaction with Poet.
- JP Radio--Poet's crazy radio show. Initiative members would listen to it. It's slightly rambling, but that's to throw the man off the scent, right? Probably.
- The Sylph Report--is always worth a read. Pay attention to little details about how to set up a terminal. Very useful for any subversive Havian.
- It's Terminal--some ongoing player-character plot, with Circa and Sam's undercover Lower City police. They have bugged some of the discarded Thanatos terminals used by Initiative members, and they're presently trying to contact an Initiative member called Core.
- That's not right The Dragons trace an Initiative hideout through one of the bugged terminals, and two Pilots close in on it...