When the Provisional Martial Law Authority seized power on the death of Queen Elizabeth II in 2017, they claimed that it was to establish a rule of order over the chaos that was Britain during the Collapse. If you listen to the voices from the underground, though, the crust of order conceals a festering stew of armed insurrection and civil disobedience fuelled by grinding poverty. Remember, Britain has a ration book system: if you do not have a fixed address or a tourist visa you don’t get a book and therefore cannot legally buy food. Estimates by European observers have placed the number of those who have no ration book in the region of 12 million or even more! Amongst this growing army of the disenfranchised are the nomad groups, those who have fallen through the net of the rudimentary welfare system and everyone who for whatever reason doesn’t want to come to the attention of the authorities. Spivs, barrowboys and fixers flourish in a black market economy that is probably the healthiest in the world.
The Provisional Martial Law Authority, however, needs to spend a lot of money on military expenditure to survive. The Generals like modern high tech equipment and this has left a surplus of older lines in stock. Britain has again taken up the role of arms dealer to the world (even in the 2000s, Britain exported more arms per head of population than any other country), and much of this stock is being bought by the Third World, Corporate armies and well organized fixers world-wide. The current economic climate is therefore one of a country on war footing. A lot of these surplus arms find their way into the black market by various means including corruption, theft and the Armatech deal with the British government which makes the corporation broker for legitimate sales of second hand equipment. Watch out for Armatech catalogues offering refurbished Challenger 3 tanks and Tempest fighters at second-hand prices!
Talking of Corps, most of the big ones operate in Britain, with a predominance of US based companies. HydroGas own the rights to the Rockall oilfields, Umbra farm the wide fields of Yorkshire and the Scottish lowlands. Armatech and Tiberius have part or total ownership of almost all the British military manufacturers, GenTech are the largest single employer of British factory workers. Many of the largest Corps, those who have corporate towns or territory of any size, have executives nominated as Emergency Magistrates on their own lands: a factor which gives such companies a powerful influence in British life.
Incredibly, tourism is still important in Britain. However, sane travelers stick to the specially sanitized areas such as Cornwall and Kent, or the (riskier) Special Tourism Zone around Inverness. It’s easier to get a Visitors Visa and Ration Card if you enter from the US than from a Euro country. The old Commonwealth kicked Britain out in 2018 and incomers from former member nations will probably be treated with some hostility. If you are from Gibraltar, forget it. The former Crown Colony is now an independent city-state and the centre of the ex-pat funded Royalist movement who favor the restoration of the monarchy. Anyone entering the Rock as place of departure or residence had better be prepared for a long customs clearance, strip search and interrogation by DI5 officers. Oh yes, remember to put the names of all regional MLA’s you wish to enter on your original application as movement between areas for tourists is not encouraged by the authorities. There are eight, each run by one of the ruling council of generals as his own personal domain: SouthEast, SouthWest, Midlands, Northeast, NorthWest, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.
“If they break down your door, how you gonna come,
With your hands on your head or the trigger of your gun?
When the Law breaks in, how ya gonna go,
Face down on the pavement or waiting in death row?
You can crush us, and beat us, and even shoot us,
But oh, the guns of Brixton!”
Britain in 2020 is an island straining at the seams. A population of over 100 million is packed into less than half the available area. The Uplands of Scotland and Wales are war zones. The Yorkshire dales, Cumbria, and the Peaks are full of bandits, brigands, nomads and the ever-present armed forces. Three quarters of all the people in Britain live in the conurbations:
|Greater London Conurb||26 Million|
|Tyne Tees Conurb||14 Million|
|Lanark & Lothian Conurb||9.5 Million|
|Cheshire Plains Conurb (Liverpool-Manchester)||21 Million|
|Midlands Conurb (Birmingham-Nottingham)||17.4 Million|
|Yorkshire Conurb (Leeds-Bradford)||4.8 Million|
The overcrowded slums are incredible. The majority have no job, no welfare and no money. Many are homeless. Crime is through the roof. Every single one of the Conurbs is one vast combat zone patrolled by a wide variety of police, militia and army troops. Each is ringed by a belt of safe(ish) housing built by and patrolled by corps. The rich live in glittering arcologies on the South coast, amidst Mediterranean weather and really mega security. There are major armed forces bases at Portsmouth, Carlisle, Edinburgh, Stirling, Barrow and at the MLA capitols: London, Isle Of Wight, Newcastle, Manchester, Nottingham, Cardiff, Glasgow and Belfast. Each base holds at least a combined air/land brigade (and Naval warships where the base is coastal). The British armed forces are at their strongest since the 1960s and all of that power is used to keep the populace in line.
Law and Order
As might be expected, Britain has more types of law enforcement unit in active service than you can shake a stick at. These all compete for resources and attention, leading to some truly Byzantine politics. The Martial Law Authorities and the central Council have, to ineffectively police their subjects:
MLA Security Force: Each Authority keeps its own paramilitary security force, placed in strategic locations throughout the Conurbs. The fortified bases act as refuge for platoon-to-company strength units equipped with second rate military equipment. Expect them to use the old SA80 Assault Rifle instead of the new hi-tech weapons issued to the army. The will use surplus armoured personnel carriers rather than brand new IFVs. They answer directly to the local military commander and are known to the populace as “lapdogs” or by their acronym “EMLAPS”.
Regional Police: The old-fashioned British bobby. They have SA80s and armoured squad cars. For air support they can field a limited number of aerodyne and helicopter gunships. The Police rely on the EMLAPS and army units for all riot control, SWAT and C-SWAT functions. They are still known by the usual variety of nicknames. Many cops find themselves in the position of trying to protect the common people against the excesses of their more paramilitary colleagues.
Transit Supervision Police (TRANSUPOLICE): Another paramilitary unit who act as border guards for Britain as a whole and for the boundaries between MLAs. Their numbers are usually drawn from army rejects and convicts on parole. These nutters have access to most military hardware including light tanks, gunships and patrol boats. Known as “Trashers” or as “Razors” when patrolling a restricted zone, they have effective carte blanche but are notoriously corrupt and bribeable.
Emergency Militias: Read that as officially sanctioned collaborator vigilantes with guns. They are used mainly in rural areas and are commonly referred to as “blacklegs” or simply as “scum”.
Regular Armed Forces: Nuff said. Britain is probably the only country in the West which habitually uses it’s own troops on it’s own population!
Special Armed Forces: The SAS and SBS have been combined into one highly sought after mercenary force, hired out by the British Council to other powers. Its main Homeland areas of operation are the war zones of Scotland and Northern Ireland, where five man teams operate as a law unto themselves.
Army Intelligence Active Service: ARMINTAC is similar to the SAS in methods, but also runs undercover programmes and is the guiding hand behind the larger counter – insurgency operations. ARMINTAC is also responsible for all foreign intelligence functions, since the dissolution of the royalist infiltrated M.I.6.
D.I.5: Concerned with counter intelligence and counter subversion duties, they are the guiding force behind most operations against malcontents, nomads and ‘zoners.
National Police Force: This organisation comprises a force of desk-cops who combat organised and corporate crime. They mostly use D.I.5 personnel as active agents and muscle.
Emergency Powers Magistrates: The replacements for the old, renowned, British justice system. They have summary powers under the Emergency Powers Act (no lawyers or juries needed) and most exceed their already vast authority. They are regarded as collaborating scum by most people and are protected by a militia or EMLAP unit at all times. In the countryside, many are effectively robber barons as in the old days of merry England. In town, their corruption and cronyism is legendary.
P.S. ALL military commanders from Colonel rank up also have summary powers – so be careful around those regular army goons!
FreeAid Corps: The “Freeks” provide a way out of the poverty trap for thousands. In return for food and very rudimentary shelter you get to be slave labour in mines, construction, agriculture, etc. The very nastiest recruits are lumped together into battalions used as cannon fodder for the very worst of jobs (e.g. mine clearance in the Scottish Borders). Enlisting in FreeAid is often an alternative to prison. (As opposed to the Trashers who draw from the dregs of the overcrowded prisons themselves.)
Major Subversive Groups
New Irish Republican Army: Although still organised into Brigades by area of origin, the IRA is now almost a regular army, well funded via Dublin and equipped with most military hardware. They now hold the area around Derry as a stronghold and after 2 years the Brits are still fighting a bloody stalemate. One commentator has described it as “Afghanistan with Green Bits”. They have support from a multitude of other groups who actually outnumber the NIRA if taken in total.
Scottish National Army: With most of the political leadership arrested and interned under Martial Law, leadership of the Scottish independence movement devolved to the officers of the Scottish Regiments and the Scots in the Royal marines. Their former colleagues had effectively made them all outlaw after their original resistance to the coup. However, these tough men were able to evade capture in numbers, and now lead the Scottish armed resistance against the “Redcoats” from secret bases in the hills and old rigs in the North Sea. These political terrorists are provided with money by an extensive network of ex-patriots overseas. Although not as well equipped as the IRA, they have Scottish guts and technical ingenuity on their side.
Royalist Resistance: agitators and terrorists dedicated to the return of royalty and democracy. As yet, they have not had the leadership or hardware to make the kind of impact that the Scots or the IRA have had, but they are on a steep learning curve.
Mutate and Survive: a collection of anarchists, edgers, punks, ecoterrorists and subversives led by the enigmatic Finn. (Who is either en ex-marine or an ex-NIRA assassin or maybe both). They use pagan imagery and cutting edge technology to inspire fear in their opponents, and are given far more attention than might be warranted by their size and resources. They also sponsor the pirate station “Radio Clash”, the major voice of protest in Britain. Lots of cool teens and edgers wish they belonged to M&S, and sometimes they receive the acclaim for acts perpetrated by others in their name.
Once England had a rose garden, now it has miles of high-yield agribusiness farms and trackless wastelands poisoned by industry. The Scottish highlands are badly effected by acid rain. Most of Norfolk is a big saltwater swamp. Global Warming has badly affected Britain, dependant for its climate on the gulf-stream currents that failed back in 2027. The areas around Glastonbury and along the Thames are now partly flooded, making new inland waterways. Parts of the North and East Ends of London are now permanently flooded by up to 10 feet of brackish, stagnant water! Cornwall and the South West Coast have coconut trees and date palms in a rich-mans paradise, protected behind heavy corporate security. The town of Peterborough is the new Venice of the North – it doesn’t have many pretty buildings but it has lots of industry, rats, and disease.
Most broadleaf forests are dead or dying although FreeAid battalions are involved in extensive replanting using sub-tropical varieties. The West coast (Wales, Cumbria and the Scottish islands) gets so much rain it should just float of into the Atlantic!
Major Nomad Packs
The Rainbow Travellers: a motley collection of old buses, RVs etc. Very eco-aware and hot on new age mysticism. They travel around the country in small groups and meet up for large “festivals” at traditional sites such as Stonehenge and Glastonbury. They are one of the oldest nomad groups in the UK and as such have good organization and equipment.
The Blue Bonnets: a biker nomad group based in the area on both sides of the Scotland/England Border. They live by theft, smuggling, assault, and ambushing small Trasher units. Until now, they have survived by melting into the decaying forests on the border when larger military units go looking for them. They also maintain good links with the Scottish National Army.
The Saxon Boat People: live on the rivers, lakes and canals of flooded South England. Again, small independent family groups are more normal than the mass migrations common in America. However, they can pull together very quickly when needed. They are very insular, not taking much to do with non-boat folk much. They live by smuggling, scavenging and hiring out as cheap labour. Their warrior ethic ensures that they are usually left unmolested.
The Hyperboreans: Are the largest and most widely ranging of all the boat nomads. They control three derelict North Sea oil rigs, as well as a fleet of more than twenty deep-sea trawlers. They range out into the Atlantic, engaging in acts of piracy and salvage. They fish, smuggle, cook up drugs and manufacture black market gear on their rigs, datajack, loot mainland villages, everything to turn a living. They form an important link in the underground trade between Britain and Scandinavia, providing a haven for many edgers on the run in either direction.
“Life, I’m told’s a compromise
Lethargy in disguise
Excuses by the faint of heart
Stuck in the mud before they start
I say sir, wouldn’t you rather be on top of the world
As opposed to always travelling underneath the ground?”
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