The Free Trade Alliance

We briefly mentioned the Free Trade Alliance in the last post. The Free Trade Alliance is another loose confederation, but instead of being driven by ideological or social affiliations, they are made up of the remnants of large corporations, island tax havens and old money merchant families. Their agenda is simple – “If information is worth having, it will also have a price.” By ensuring that they collect that price during any knowledge and information exchanges, members of the FTA gain the tools to ensure their own survival. Most members of the FTA have their own paramilitary forces, loyal to the “Corp”, not the “Corps” as found amongst Tomekeeper Corps operatives. FTA paramilitaries will be armed with the best gadgets, weapons and computing systems that currency can buy on the black market.

While they are largely motivated by their own survival, many FTA members will still show a nominal interest in protecting the assets and incomes of their shareholders. While the large national bourses might have been devastated by Factor 46, their computer systems will not have been affected until unmanaged outages start to occur in disease ravaged cities. Those companies that have survived will almost definitely know who is still alive to own stocks, as even those governments that have nationalized corporations in the interests of the population at large will have to go through some bureaucratic processes to document the transfer of assets and potentially provide compensation to dispossessed shareholders. Nationalized entities with some private holdings are less likely to act in the interests of their shareholders than public companies with significant equity in private hands. Even more motivated by self-interest are private companies whose wealth and assets are primarily held by wealthy industrialists.

By the time we get to the main story line, the FTA will have established an information trading exchange with a strong derivatives market. However, rather than cash values, the prices paid on that exchange will be paid in raw materials, manufactured goods and other hard assets. Those assets will have values related to their regional demand in the location where the trade takes place, so logistics is going to be an important capability for FTA members who are looking to exploit comparative advantage (as driven by scarcity and surplus of such resources) between different regional economies. During the initial web-series, the FTA will still be recovering from the aftershocks of Factor 46 and exercising their “business continuity” plans. The major bourses will be in the process of suspending trading as Factor 46 spreads, and in the immediate aftermath, companies critical to the establishment of the tome (e.g. Information Technology cloud providers) will be trying to prepare arguments as to why they should not be annexed by governments in national and international interests.

With the risk management, compliance and risk capabilities one would expect of large corporations, the members of the FTA can rarely be taken at face value. Understanding their motives in any transaction usually requires better than single-step thinking. If an FTA organization is offering information for sale at a price too good to refuse, then you can guarantee that they are doing so to stymie a competitor, break open a new market, or set up a trading chain in regionally scarce resources from which they can reap significant profits.

One final note about the FTA – while many member organizations trade within national boundaries, a certain number will establish a true extraterritoriality. Oil rigs and abandoned commercial or naval ships may be anchored together to create floating cities in which raucous black-markets can operate without any supervision other than that from the entities who have claimed and aggregated those assets. These FTA members will be the best armed and most ruthless operators in the Tomekeeper milieu. When they move against Tomekeeper Corps or Lorebinder interests – their actions will be decisive, well prepared and often deadly.

In our next post, we’ll start talking about what happens in South Australia when Factor 46 starts unleashing its deadly payload. In the meantime, please continue to spread the word about our IndyGogo campaign and touch base to let us know if you want to be involved.

Singapore Skyline
Image sourced via Creative Commons

The Lorebinders

Image via Neona - published under creative commons.

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.