Shadowrun: Throw Back
Birth of the UCAS
THE ACT OF UNION
While up to their necks in disaster, the leaders of the U.S. and Canadian governments were also deep in secret negotiations to salvage both nations. The result of those negotiations was the Act of Union, which was signed into law simultaneously by U. S. President Andrew MacAlister and Canadian Prime Minister Harold Frazier on Oct. 15th, 2030. Known as Union Day, October 15 is now a national holiday in the United Canadian and American States (UCAS), and a day of mourning for all Neo-Anarchists. Against all odds, those two troubled countries managed to come together in a working union.
By Spring 2031, a constitution was submitted to the Provisional Congress. Within six months, two-thirds of the new country’s states had ratified the UCAS Constitution.
Canada got to put its name first and the new flag had some maple leaves, but in the ways that mattered, it was a U. S. show from the word go. The Canadians were in terrible shape and needed the union desperately. They didn’t have the leverage to force MacAlister’s government into any major concessions, which meant that the U.S. simply absorbed them.
MacAlister became Provisional President of the UCAS after the Constitution passed, and served out the remainder of his elected term as president of the UCAS. His vice president “stepped down,” to be replaced by Harold Frazier—the former prime minister of a defunct government.
In 2032, the voters also seemed to believe in kindness to ex-heads of state, allowing the MacAlister/Frazier ticket to win re-election handily.
The southern UCAS became increasingly dissatisfied with the policies being made in the Federal District of Columbia, the new capital of the UCAS. The situation came to a head in 2034 when the governors and legislatures often southern states seceded from the UCAS, protesting that MacAlister seemed to behave as though everything outside the northeastern megasprawl could go hang.
Despite saber-rattling on both sides, neither the UCAS nor the new Confederated American States (CAS) could afford civil war. In 2035, the Treaty of Richmond was ratified, peacefully settling boundaries between the two nations.
When California withdrew from the UCAS in 2037, Japan backed it up with diplomatic recognition and hefty military aid. The leaders of the California Free State lived to rue that day, for the Japanese have established so much influence in that region that California is nearly an Imperial client-state at this writing.
Hawaii bailed out of the UCAS in 2038, and set up shop as a constitutional monarchy. Japan backed this new nation as well, but Malama, Hawaii’s queen, has done a better job of walking the tightrope between accepting Japanese aid and losing independence. In the midst of these events, the voters turned down Andrew MacAlister’s bid for re-election in 2036. The newly organized Technocratic Party, pushing a platform of technology as the salvation of the UCAS (new party, same old drek), successfully beat him with their candidate, Martin Vincenzo, a charismatic businessman from Massachusetts. He introduced a new level of coalition politics into UCAS elections by naming Republican Vernon Washington as his running mate. In fact, most presidential slates since 2036 have featured a coalition ticket. (Ever feel as if the politicos are ganging up on you?)
EUROPEAN MILITARY WITHDRAWAL
When the Euro-War broke out in 2031, the fledgling UCAS ordered its troops to withdraw from the conflict areas on the grounds that the Provisional Government did not have the constitutional authority to commit them to battle. This policy did not change, however, even after ratification of the UCAS Constitution. The former allies of the old U.S. were on their own and out in the cold.
Speaker of the House Kenneth Steiner summed up the prevailing attitude in the UCAS when he argued against sending American troops into a “border skirmish.” By the end of 2032, more than half the UCAS ground and air forces stationed in Europe were withdrawn by the increasingly isolationist government.
When the CAS seceded, some North American units still stationed in Europe got into a few “border skirmishes” of their own. The European nations retaliated to being dumped by interning those units, then repatriating them to North America. By 2035, the UCAS had no military presence anywhere outside North America.
TERROR IN THE CITIES
Then came 2039 and the Night of Rage. Anti-metahuman groups were blamed for the fires that killed hundreds of metahumans trapped on the Seattle docks on the night of February 7, 2039, and later for the deaths of thousands more as the violence spread across the continent and throughout the world. Since then, fanatics of every stripe have crawled out of the woodwork to write a message of blood and destruction in the streets. Meanwhile, every ten-yen street gang in the country is buying and carrying military weapons, too. In this climate of fear, police tactics have become much more military and much less likely to respect due process and citizens’ rights.
Urban terrorism is a fact of life in the UCAS today. In addition to racist terrorist groups like Alamos 20K and militant metahuman groups like the Sons of Sauron, there are still some hard-line Amerindian terrorist groups who have vowed not to rest until the whole continent is restored to native rule. Then there are the the ideological terrorist groups who go after whatever offends their beliefs. The Hammer of God, for instance, attacks sex shops, brothels, simsense theatres, birth control clinics, and media that support “permissiveness.” Criminal gangs also use massive force to control their territories. The perpetrators usually wield power in the lower and middle levels of the underworld. The big boys have other means to achieve their ends. Last, but not least, are unethical shadowrunners who use urban terrorism to cover their activities.
According to conservative estimates, an act of terrorism occurs somewhere in the UCAS every twelve hours, ranging from drive-by assassinations to heavy bombings to ritual magical attacks.
In 2008, Texas passed a law creating urban militia units, which allowed residents of an area to sign up for limited combat training and obtain military weaponry with minor restrictions. New laws also defined the right of residents to contract private security firms to provide armed protection for their communities and homes. This paved the way for many cities to contract with private firms to provide police and other public safety services. These days, the typical urban militia unit operates in middle- and upper-class and higher neighborhoods. In areas populated heavily by salaried workers, the local corporations usually help bankroll the militia.
It’s not all fun-and-wargames being in the Urban Militia. Members spend one weekend a month training. If a unit’s specified level of readiness falls too low, their charter can be revoked. No one wants to give up the pretty hardware that militia members get to carry, so units work hard to stay up to snuff.
Militia members may be called up to reinforce the National or Metroplex Guard in controlling civil disorders, but it’s only in their assigned neighborhood that they have real power.
Next Section: UCAS Government