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The future begins after the world has undergone some drastic changes. Environmental impacts such as drought, erosion of the top soil, and temperature changes have caused increased agricultural loses, and made large areas of land unsuitable for farming. This combined with other stresses, including over population, reduced potable water, and the acidification of the oceans leave the world on the brink. As sea levels rise, major geographical changes occur around the world. Wars over land, food, water, and other natural resources become common place. These various factors and the over use of chemicals and other pollutants have begun to degrade the human genome, resulting in the rampant spread of genetic related diseases. It started in the poorest areas of the most undeveloped countries, but eventually spread to every corner of the globe, killing millions before being brought under control many years later.
The years of continual war and fighting, the cost of medical aid and global emergency responses to contain the outbreak, and the ever-growing shortage of resources tipped the balance on already fragile economies and one by one governments began to collapse. As the world descended into chaos and disorder, new entities arose with the resources and knowledge to stabilize the free fall. Corporations soon took control of major regions of the world, and the age of Corpratocracy began. During this age there were many different forms of government spread throughout the world. Some of the corporations chose to combine their efforts through trade agreements. Many of these trade “conglomerates” competed regionally against each other. Others chose to remain out of the conglomerates, but allowed their citizens to openly trade as they saw fit. Some cities were able to maintain their own economies and kept a more traditional form of government, while others returned to more historic traditions. Feudalism returned as new kings and emperors were crowned, some kind while others ruled with an iron fist. There are many new forms of societies in this brave new world. Some, yet to be discovered.
In Houston, Anitec was the company that eventually rose to power. Beginning as Padilum, the company did cutting edge research in a variety of different sciences and technologies. After being taken over by Michael Swaj, it flourished into a leading firm with breakthroughs in technology, medicine, and many other areas. He was one of the first people to recognize the danger and ultimate cause of the outbreaks of disease and began doing research into possible cures. This research eventually led to discovering a way to stabilize the damage done to the human genome by designing a new gene therapy that re-sequenced human DNA in order to repair the years of genetic degradation.
The “cure” had an unforeseen side effect, the process not only restored the human DNA, it allowed for the incorporation of old, filtered out pieces, unused DNA that remained inside of us all. Snippets of DNA dropped into humans through virus, blood based parasites, and other gene transfer mechanisms, passed on by our ancestors from the time when life first presented itself. These side effects had a variety of shapes, some people’s systems were so averse to the changes that they died horribly painful deaths within a matter of hours or days. Still others weren’t so lucky. They survived their initial change but their genetic structure left them barely alive and almost physically unable to function. In spite of the devastating deformities, not all individuals were affected the same, some showed no sign of effects or alterations cause by the cure. The unintentional combination of human DNA with that of other biological material, resulted in the creation of new species as offshoots of humans.
These new species became known as “Virals” because the exact cause of these changes was believed to be the disease and not the cure. These Virals showed a variety of traits found in nature, from different plants, animals, and/or insects. A great majority of these changes were minor and superficial, the change from human fingernails to a more claw like nail, or wings from an insect that were to small and frail to actually support a human in flight. However, others were so altered that they were able to do things that no human had never been capable of before. Abilities like the echolocation of a bat, a strengthened ability to see in the dark like that of a cat, or the evolution of the human protection system that forms a callous on hands and feet.
The majority of the story arcs told in The Threat will be told in and around Houston with some extending further around the state and possibly branching around the world when outside factors would affect the city.
Michael Swaj and Anitec have created a seeming utopia in the downtown area of Houston where people live their lives comfortably and most don’t ever have to leave the security of the buildings. Large building complexes have been created where dozens of buildings have been directly connected at the lower levels, forming 1 large building extending for several blocks, and sky bridges connect the higher levels. Moving farther away from downtown there is less and less of the influence of Anitec. This can be seen in the maintenance of the buildings and the decrease in law enforcement.
During its takeover of the city Anitec absorbed all of the civil service. Law enforcement took on a much more military like rule. While most criminal situations where dealt with by the ADF, some Virals where too aggressive or dangerous and a special squad was formed to combat these situations. Minor policing and civil service tasks were performed by machines and criminal investigations were paid for individually by the victims on a per case basis.
Readers will be introduced to many of these elements through the first few issues of our initial story arc. Leading into the main story which takes place in 2035 and follows a group of people whose only goal is to live their life and survive this new world. One of them, Nathan, seeks to find a way to help a young girl whose abilities are killing her. His research leads him to seek assistance from Anitec and puts him under the microscope of Michael Swaj. While it was the work of his team that saved humanity by curing the disease, it was done by questionable means and without the support of the FDA, CDC, W.H.O., MSF or any other international organizations. Swaj, wanting to protect his secrets, must take action to not only stop Nathan from continuing his research but also destroy any evidence of it.
As can be imagined this doesn’t go over well with Nathan’s friends and they must do what they feel is necessary in order to protect their friend and way of life.
“The human race is dying. It certainly won’t happen this year or even this decade, but the steady degeneration of human DNA would eventually lead to the total extinction of humanity given enough time.” - Michael Swaj
This is the premise of the Threat and the Stratum Comics Universe.