We’ve already written about the Tomekeepers – i.e. the signatory city-states/nations that work in support of the Tome and have incorporated the Tomekeepers into their security and emergency services. Today, I want to give you an idea of how the second core faction within the Tomekeepers universe works. The Lorebinders are not a single faction, but a very loose grouping of like-minded groups who have decided that the knowledge they hold should not be incorporated into the Tome. This includes:
Religious and martial arts organizations, whose initiated members are privy to rites and meditation techniques that might manifest as powers that could be attributed to magic or psionics depending on who you ask. Such abilities are becoming less uncommon as the factor 46 antidote takes effect in populations.
Isolated outposts of pre-apocolyptic nation states that were sufficiently isolated to be able to quarantine themselves from factor 46 and its effects. Examples of these outposts might be NORAD, nuclear weapon silos in the Soviet Union, Area 51 in the Nevada desert, and other (largely militaristic) bastions of nationhood and self-serving agendas.
Individuals with unusually rich resources who are hoarding works of art and literature, or items/works of historical, cultural or political significance.
Organized crime groups whose operations survived factor 46 without losing all of their resources and capabilities. Knowledge of their networks and trading relationships would be considered highly valuable by Tomekeeper states, and such criminal groups would also have hostile intentions towards the Tomekeeper Corps in particular.
Obviously, this is a work in progress, but you can already see where there could be significant opportunities for conflict to arise between the Lorebinder groups and the Tomekeeper Corps. In some cases, this might simply manifest as a certain brusque uncooperativeness paired with a stubborn pursuit of their own agendas, but in other situations, the Tomekeepers could be forced to defend themselves against hostile actions from Lorebinders.
The Lorebinders are not necessarily a formal alliance per se. Individual groups may make situational/tactical alliances with other Lorebinders to further mutual interests, or as a tactical manoeuvre in order to outfox another group while in pursuit of their own goals and agendas. The politics of the Lorebinders will be diverse, highly entangled and driven entirely by each group’s strategic agendas.
The third faction of the Tomekeepers milieu is the Free Trade Alliance, and we’ll talk about them in the next post.
In the wake of Factor 46, the remaining extant democratic governments of the world have made a mutual pact to share what knowledge they can under what has become known as the “Tome Accord.” Huge data centres originally tasked as “Cloud” delivery centres have been commandeered and tasked with soaking up as much information from the public internet and whatever darkwebs can be accessed and storing it on the vast petabyte storage arrays housed within those data centres. Part of the Tome Accord provides citizens of what remaining governmental jurisdictions still exist with full access to “The Tome” – this distributed, decentralized, multiply redundant internet reservoir of all human knowledge collected, tagged, indexed and archived to date.
Cognizant of the fact that many (most!) of these data centres being used to house and publish the Tome are in cities ravaged by Factor 46, the signatories to the Tome Accord created a set of Academies, where survivors could be trained to face the rigours of a deeply changed world and keep the system running, available and synched up with other shards of the Tome. Far from being system administrators, the graduates of the Tomekeeper Academies are combat trained, skilled in multiple trades, drilled in squad work and in NBC (nuclear/biological/chemical) warfare survival. Each graduate will have a slightly different mix of skills, but all are capable of independent and decisive action should it be required. The graduates of the Academy then join the Tomekeeper Corps, and are subject to a quasi-military command structure that operates as a meritocracy. Gifted individuals all find a niche in the command structure where they can do the most good (and least harm). Less gifted TKC members fill roles not unlike those expected of non-commissioned officers or grunts in modern-day military organizations – clerks, foot soldiers, drivers, mechanics, cooks, and so on. Each TKC member is oath-bound to protect, enrich and defend the Tome.
The TKC has, over a period of 20 years or so since Factor 46 day zero, come to also be a provider of emergency services, crime prevention and enforcement, medical facilities and transportation services. The TKC is well loved by most citizens of Accord nations, but is potentially vulnerable in many ways to the foibles of human nature. While it’s guiding principles are entirely altruistic, its day to day operations are governed and run by fallible human beings, whose altruism is not always as great as that of the visionaries who negotiated the Tome Accord. This gives us some room to play with in creating complex and challenging story arcs for our characters, and vulnerabilities to be attacked and exploited by other factions within post-Factor 46 societies – namely, the Lorebinders and the Free Trade Alliance. But more about those in future posts!
Tomekeepers is a project that’s been kicking around the back of my head for a long time now – over a quarter of my life. I’ve finally decided to take the plunge and look to crowd-source funding for a low-budget (but professional) web-series which will hopefully kick towards the middle of this year.
The premise for the series is a zombie-free post-apocalytpic near future in which Earth’s major population centres have been ravaged by factor 46 – a highly contagious nanovirus deployed as a bio-weapon by Gaia-Dire – a radical environmental group. Factor 46 was originally developed as a toolset for activating normally dormant human DNA for the treatment of genetic diseases. However, the ecoterrorists introduced unstable RNA compounds as the genetic payload so now instead of healing humans, it causes random and usually fatal mutations. A number of small populations survived in large and highly travelled cities via innoculations with a factor 46 variant with a DNA stabilizing payload, but not before millions died. Those treated with the antidote have occasionally started to manifest unusual abilities.
Remnants of western civilization remain, mainly in geographically isolated cities that were able to establish quarantine protocols before factor 46 was unleashed on an unsuspecting population. Most of those populations are in remote areas such as Adelaide and Perth in Australia, the Scottish Isles, South-Western Africa, rarely visited islands in the Indonesian archipelago and places such as Austin, Texas, Phoenix Arizona and parts of Scandinavia and Russia that were far enough away from infected sites to be able to establish protocols to keep others out.
The narrative follows the paths of two young women who take very different paths through a world in which knowledge is the difference between death and survival. Ally is an athletic, mentally agile girl who joins the recently established Tomekeeper Corps after graduating from high school. She is emotionally resilient, strong-willed, protective of her friends and a highly resourceful individual. However, she has a blind-spot for deception and is led into dangerous situations by opponents who take advantage of her gullibility. Ally’s best friend Mary is a somewhat more bookish individual who outscores Ally in most academic pursuits, but lacks her friend’s athleticism and is prone to self-doubt and poor self-esteem. These qualities result in her rejection from the Tomekeeper Corps, and leave her adrift while Ally heads to the TK Academy. The paths of the girls will cross at times – and these will be opportunities to underscore the changes that each of them is undergoing as they journey towards adulthood. The series will culminate in a crisis in which both will be forced to recognize a devastating truth which will change their relationship for the worse, and have lasting consequences for those around them.
As a reference point – think of Fringe, Alias and BtVS mashed up in a post-apocalyptic milieu where information is currency, and knowledge is power.