By the end of the twentieth century, governments around the globe push initiatives to develop alternative sources of fuel so that dependence upon a few mega suppliers, such as those in Saudi Arabia and Venezuela, could diminish. They moved toward a system in which most countries had some domestic resources to meet their needs, and this seemed to go well. Costs of energy decreased and economies flourished, but resources were delicate when uncertainty hung in the balance.
Then it seemed all at once natural disasters shook every corner of the world: earthquakes rattled urban populations, volcanoes long dormant woke from their slumber, tsunamis flooded coast lines and the formerly prosperous world was turned into a difficult place to thrive. The costs of repair, the toll of human life, and the destruction of power grids, transports, refineries, and trade sparked inflation never before seen. Soon, first world powers did all they could to recover loss of life and property, but prosperity dwindled and the lesser affluent suffered most.
In the earliest stages of these events, a new president of the Russian Federation won the world stage. This was the man responsible for discovering an untapped oil and viable shale deposit in Siberia and escalated the country into economic reform, resurgent nationalism, and social pride. A capitalist at heart, he was initially viewed as a reformer by the west and as a savior to his adopted nation. President Brandon’s first objective was to ensure Russian interests were met peaceably with the rest of the world. Thus, he embarked upon a world political tour to demonstrate this reformed, modern Russia. As disasters rattled his competitors, Russia practically became the world’s sole supplier of energy.
It was during this tour that the first disaster struck, more quickly followed. Earthquakes destroyed nuclear plants in the Indies, decimated infrastructure in the Middle East, and hurled destructive tsunamis across the Pacific Ocean. The coastlines of the Far East, California, and everything in between disappeared. Platforms in the Gulf of Mexico and along the Alaskan coast crumbled with sudden shifts in the seabed, and crushed fleets trafficking crude oil to and from refineries rendered Venezuela’s market uninhabitable. In a few short years, demand soared out of control and inflation skyrocketed as a result. Meanwhile, Russia’s mediocre economy experienced fantastic growth and their currency quickly surpassed the Euro in value. The President easily consolidated the nations of the old USSR, and renamed the empire the Ascendant Soviet Union. Their leader, the President which discovered this miraculous Siberan oil and was the world’s salvation, titled himself “Ascendancy“. For his supply, and the cost to build lines across an unforgiving Siberian desert, he charged astronomical fees.
In the face of enormous inflation, and the subsequent increase in costs of food, trade and water purification, a number of small wars were sparked among the Far East and Indian subcontinent. When approached by the ASU, promising stability, wealth, and order, these nations were all annexed without violent conquest despite the minor detail of lacking democracy. While the ASU became a beacon of hope on the world stage, local governments were largely controlled by a newly appointed, if corrupt, aristocracy – anyone and everyone risen to sudden power as the world shifted: drugs, piracy, crime, executives, oil lords, anyone, and all of them extremely loyal to the Ascendancy.
Europe became the next bastion to be collected by the ASU. They were too vulnerable to resist the temptation for long, not with so many smaller nations declaring bankruptcy. Following the riots in Berlin, Athens, Amsterdam and Stockholm, the civil population welcomed the attendant protection of the ASU. Even if it meant stripping themselves of national identity, which they barely realized was happening. To accommodate this massive annexation, the Ascendancy restructured the ASU into the Central Custody of Dominion and named himself its authoritative ruler. Within an astonishing period of time, much in this part of the world where borders and regimes changed frequently – identity, language, and culture – blurred into the uniformity of the CCD.
Government departments and agencies are referred to as a Custody. For example, the Department of Defense would be called the Custody of Defense in this setting. Many government offices are located in Moscow’s central district and those of the greatest importance are located in the Kremlin itself. These include, but are not limited to: the Custody of Defense, Custody of Labor, Custody of Energy. Leadership among a given Custody was assigned by the Ascendancy with their rank within the bureaucracy in proportion to the amount of that individual’s private success.
The Ascendancy selected one person from each Dominion to serve as consul to the Central Dominance. These men and women bear the title Privilege. While they have little in official authority, the Ascendancy considers the collective wisdom of his consul regarding executive decisions. All members of this elite Sphere share two traits: they are self-made billionaires, and thus, successful entrepreneurs from varying industries, and their invitation into the Sphere was irrefutable. This group is located in Moscow, regularly meets at the Kremlin, and remain beneath the political protection of the Ascendancy.
Areas of the Custody are divided into Dominances based on people-groups of similar culture within a specified region. The Dominances are unnamed, and referred to only by Roman Numeral in the order in which they were annexed. Russia, for instance, is Dominance I also called the Central Dominance. Uniformity is mandatory, but cultural heritage is allowed, in fact, encouraged. Custody of each Dominance is broadly managed by a Patron. However local cities are often under the control of the new aristocracy which rose to power as surges of wealth flooded into the ASU and so they are completely loyal to the Ascendancy, the man to which they owe their wealth and power. Otherwise Patrons are not held accountable for their actions so long as their Dominance upholds Central Custody laws and loyalty.
When a nation was annexed, its military was dissolved and incorporated into the universal CCD armed forces. The Ascendancy is the executive head of the military however he has a number of expert defense advisers on whom he relies. With talk of war on the horizon, protecting southern Siberia, its pipelines, refineries, and CCD reserves will remain top priority, but any offensive against the CCD will be treated as an open declaration of war. Meanwhile, skilled members of the police force in the Central Dominance are being recruited as private security or mercenaries for the mega-wealthy.
The Ascendancy is seen as an antagonist by the West who are angry with the anti-democratic policies of the CCD. Disobedience of NATO treatises, rigged election systems, and nationalized oil are viewed as threats to those which remain. On that aspect, China, Australia, and the United States are all in agreement. The Ascendancy’s authority is secure, but he realizes his borders may not be.
For most Moscovites, transitioning into the new democracy following the collapse of the Soviet Union was not an easy task nor a particularly welcome one. But because the personality of the city has so many faces, the culture is not easy to define. Long burdened by harsh weather, a tumultuous history and the general malaise that ensued, Moscovites seem to value the status quo and are reluctant to change. Therefore, the formation of the Ascendant Soviet Union was an overwhelmingly popular return to “the good old days.”
Security, stability, and conservatism were always held in high regard; but at the same time you will see new phenomena such as the absence of concern about the future, free spending and easy and quick adaptation of foreign practices in the younger generations. Many outsiders find the people an enigma – surprisingly nostalgic but curious about the possibilities of the future.
The people have traditionally been molded and directed from cradle to grave, creating individuals who assumed little responsibility for themselves, an atmosphere bolstered by promises of the Ascendancy. They are slowly learning how to take charge of their own lives, but the chasm between the rich and the poor, the healthy and the sick and the skilled and the unskilled continues to widen. There is a sort of sadness born of oppression that demands a different social order blanketing the city’s streets. Whether or not this proud melancholia is fact or fiction is arguable, but the belief is almost universally held with great pride. History taught the people mistrust and safeguard their own property and rarely is a smile seen in public. In fact, there is a notion that people who smile for no apparent reason must be simpletons.
As a result of the dramatic changes brought about by the authority of the CCD, a class of “new wealth” has developed. Distinguished from the Old Wealth, these are people which acquired a lot of power very quickly in the last two decades. These captains of commerce are demanding and influential people in Moscow. They are the best customers of the city’s Five Star hotels, build VIP residences, and frequent luxurious bathhouses, spas, and shops. The youngest generation respects success in private ventures, a philosophy directly correlated to the Ascendancy’s example in his Sphere.
The attitude toward the other Dominances is clear. As the capital of the CCD empire, Moscovites take great pride in the city’s elevation over Europe and Asia. Relations with China are uneasy, but not rare. While the escalating tension between the CCD and United States has enflamed old prejudices, general attitudes toward the disabled and handicapped are not good. There is little in the way of state service for these people, leaving any care up to the responsibility of their families, if they have one. State run orphanages are places to avoid.