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The Playground

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Summary

Many were warned. Few listened. Now the Earth is changing and many won't survive. Who is to blame? The powers that could have stopped it but didn't. So when insurgents, tired of an ineffective government, seize a portion of a ruined American Midwest and declare their own free state called the State of Weston, civil war brews in a greatly weakened America. In response, the US military seals off the militarized region to contain the insurrection. The insurgents called it their Promise Land. Today, others call it the Playground. And for good reason. It's a place where anarchy rules. The only law is the bullet. Some calling themselves humanitarians go in to help restore order but are just there to profit from the conflict. For most trapped inside, it's a fight for survival. As the stand off between those who call themselves true American patriots and government authorites heats up, a hidden agenda is put into motion bring down America. However, one individual races against the clock to blow the whistle on one third party faction who seeks to fan the flames of civil war in America hoping that the fall of the once glorious American empire will hail the rise of a New World Order.

Genre:
Thriller / Action
Author:
Noah Rogers
Status:
Ongoing
Chapters:
1
Rating:
4.0 1 review
Age Rating:
16+

Chapter One: Collusion

United Nations Headquarters

New Dubai City

United Arab Republic

April, 2027....


United Nations Secretary General Long Xi Wang stood alone in his office watching the TV mounted on the wall by his office door. Tuned into BBC World News, the monitor showed scenes of destruction from across much of Europe of massive snow storms and flooding.

He saw various images from London showing many notable landmarks and buildings covered in layers of snow and ice. From Big Ben to Buckingham Palace, he saw symbols of the former British Empire being smothered in drift after drift of snow and ice. On another monitor, he saw the German news network DW-TV broadcasting footage of the Eiffel Tower in Paris undergoing the similar process of being smothered out of existence. Same for the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin. On the remaining four monitors along the same wall, Xi watched news feeds from Moscow, Madrid, Rome, Warsaw, Lisbon, and Brussels. All of them were the same.

Weather analysts across the world were shocked by the onslaught of winter storms raging across the continent of Europe. A series of storm systems were moving across the continent bringing record shattering snowfall and extreme arctic conditions. Even the most temperate regions around the lower European latitudes we're getting these conditions.

And the devastation was extensive.

The same was occuring in the northern regions of North America. While the monitors weren't showing it, a number of major North American cities, across Canada and the United States, were experiencing similar conditions. Daily, Xi was receiving reports of the mounting devastationl. While the American south hadn't been spared, the northern states and the entirety of eastern Canada was quickly becoming uninhabitable.

Collectively much of Europe and North America had been experiencing extreme arctic conditions for the past few months. Despite the fact that it was late winter and things have warned up a bit, places like Norway, the United Kingdom, northern France, Germany, the northern United States, and C Canada were experiencing persistent freezes.

Then there was the death tolls. It had been difficult to determine the exact toll on both regions but, collectively, the numbers were likely in the thousands. That wasn't counting those from the previous two seasons in the two years since it really began to get bad. And the tragic truth was that most of the deaths were the direct result of the storms knocking out entire power grids trapping people in the cold coffins that were their homes.

These staggering figures made Xi think back to the hurricane season of 2026 last year. A whopping six hurricanes had impacted the American gulf coast and southern east coast nearly destroying major cities and flooding the better part of the southern states. From what the analysts and experts were saying now, it seemed that the cyclone may have been the first recorded category six cyclone to ever hit the country in recorded history.

Xi couldn't help but shake his head at the images he was seeing. Entire populations were fighting for their lives. Millions had been displaced and it was pretty much known that another mass migration was inevitable given that entire regions were quickly becoming uninhabitable. International government and private agencies were estimating that much of the American Midwest and northeast have been depopulated by at least 50 percent with the south seeing a population increase by almost half of that same margin. In Europe, many of the northern nations had seen anywhere from 50 to 60 percent depopulation. Aside from a few portions of the population not willing to leave their homelands, much of the population had moved south to nations like Italy, the Balkans, and the Ukraine.

To say it was staggering is like calling the European Immigration Crisis of the 2010s a problem. Still, the record setting migration going on made that seen like an appetizer in comparison.

With all this going on, one forgot that these regions were suffering food shortages and large scale unrest. Due to the lack of food, a no doubt devastated economy and failing infrastructure, many nations were falling apart.

Europe now outranked the Middle East as one of the most unstable regions in the world. The Balkans were burning down as ethnic civil wars raged out if control. Eastern Europe was a hotbed for pro-Russian revolutions. Russia itself was now a police state trying to maintain order through Soviet-era style crackdowns. As for western Europe, the economic devastation from the storms and the recent climate shifts have led to nothing short of chaos. Really, the fires from riots and domestic terrorist attacks were only really put out when the rain and snow fell. No one talked about the European Union any more.

Then there was America. Canada aside, while order had largely been maintained, the fragile society was one pinprick away from civil war. If one thought American politics were crazy before the Incident, they had another thing coming. Politicians only fought. Their Congress was rendered virtually ineffective at enacting any legislation whether it was disaster relief, emergency actions or even regular government functions. Nothing was stopping them, except the constant infighting. Now their country was all but ruined and was quickly descending into anarchy. Rogue extremist militias were becoming a problem and the government was slowly loosing control of the situation. Armed factions, each supporting the various sides of the American political spectrum were rising up and attacking the other causing more destruction and chaos. It was only a matter of time before something serious happened there.

But the crisis in both North America and Europe hasn't been limited to just those areas. The extreme weather has all but destroyed the combined agricultural industries of the United States, Canada, the entirety of northern and Western Europe, and some of the nations in the south. Since large areas were now uninhabitable, with them followed stable manufacturing industry and telecommunications. Most of the governments in these nations were focused on keeping their infrastructure together and their people fed. Frankly, the rest be damned. NATO, ANZUS, and virtually every other military alliance existed only in name. Same went for many economic treaties. This of course was like beheading the world's economy.

During the past few years, it was becoming increasingly clear that the Americans and Europeans as a whole were no longer giving a damn about the world's economy or security. As a result, the global economy and security was being held together only by the nations of Brazil, South Africa, Australia, India, Japan, and his homeland, China. The dollar had been replaced by the Japanese Yen as the world's reserve currency. And many foreign companies were on their way out of North America and Europe altogether.

However, with the American and European retreat into isolationism, this meant that the world was without a true superpower. This left massive power vacuums. Old conflicts reignited and brewing time bombs finally had the excuse to blow. It wasn't long before the middle east blew itself up leaving black stains where it once was. India and Pakistan were still at war. And it seemed that South America was about to go to war. No one talked about Africa. The only real stable region was the Pacific. Perhaps that was because common sense prevailed there.

In short, it was all the United Nations could do to help nations maintain order. Normally nations refused the help of the UN but times like these had a way of changing their minds. But it wasn't much the UN could do to help. Not in its current state.

When Xi was elected into the office, he was honestly surprised that the members of the UN Security Council even allowed it. Considering that the two members, Russia and the USA were strict opponents to the Chinese, who were quickly rising to take their places as world and global powers, Xi hadn't expected his appointment to make it past the vote.

Perhaps things were working as he had hoped after all.

Now that he had been put into office, he had gone to work instituting sweeping reforms to the organization. One of them had been the raising of a standing, and permanent, UN Peacekeeping Army. This idea, conjured up since the beginning of the organization's existence, had only seen momentum with the virtual collapse of the western world and the subsequent rise of the "third world" and "developing" nations. He largely understood it as no nation wanting to be responsible for having to police the world independently like the Americans had done for the past century. Seeing what it had done to them, collapsing their booming economy for starters, many rather looked to the UN. That sentiment was of course welcomed given that it meant the organization would finally have the power to enforce resolutions and take substantial steps to a truly globalized world.

Essentially, the idea was to establish an army from member nations each agreeing to commit a certain number of troops which would be deployed to various hotspots in any given location in the world. A central command would be established so that the army would answer to one commander. Him. When the troops were not needed, however unlikely that was, they would undergo annual rotation and training funded by the new centralized UN fund. This would come from the member nations willing to donate. The hope was that the organization would raise the funds independently not long after the implementation of the plan.

But that was something like this was well beyond the scope of the UN at the moment. As it stood, no nation was going to serious invest in his plan. Unity behind certain causes would be hard to gain and it likely would mean compromises regarding command would have to be made.

Xi would first need to establish confidence in his command ability. He needed to show the world that the UN was ready to step up beyond passive observers and into the realm of actual enforcers. There was only one way to do that. He had to start small. And given the situation in the world, there were many powerful private militaries for hire. While, nations wouldn't likely contribute to a unified global peacekeeping army for the moment, there was little doubt that private armies wouldn't if the stakes and benefits were high enough. And he already had one in mind to start with. Yes it was a Gambit for sure. It was a good thing Secretary-General Long Xi Wang knew how to gamble.

The ring of the intercom on his desk snapped the Secretary-General from his thoughts. He turned his attention from the TV to the device on his desk.

Hitting the button, he said, "Yes?"

The voice of his personal assistant came in replying, "Mr. Secretary-General, Mr. Pryce is here to see you."

"Thank you Ms. Torres. Send him in, please," Xi said, being sure to thank his assistant. He always believed in being polite.

He turned to the remote on his desk by the intercom and turned off the TVs as a man, appearing to be in his late forties, sporting a businessman's casual dress and salt and pepper hair walked in. He was calm and moved with a subdued by mighty stride projecting a confidence Xi imagined few could imitate. Aside from looking like something from Forbes magazine, the one other thing noticeable from the man's clothing was the pin he wore on his jacket. It was a familiar pin bearing the logo of Armistice Global, the world's premier, and most powerful private military company.

He walked calmly but confidently over to the Secretary-General's desk. Xi stood and extended a handshake. The man took it graciously but firmly, yet another noticable thing about his demeanor.

"CEO Jonathan Pryce. It is good to see you. Thank you for meeting with me." Xi said smiling.

"Well, Mr. Secretary-General, it's not everyday one receives the honor of being invited to the UN Headquarters by one of the most important men in the world." Pryce replied as they released the handshake and he went to sit down across from Xi.

"I trust your trip to New Dubai was smooth and pleasurable." Xi said.

"Of course. No problems." Pryce replied waving his hand, "Although, truth be told, I'm not a hard man to please."

Xi nodded, saying, "I'm sure someone in you position has to."

"You're right there. My line of work usually isn't without it's headaches. It pays to be patient and flexible."

Xi offered a quick chuckled before folding his hands on his desk and saying, "Now that we've gotten the pleasantries out of the way, why don't we get straight to business."

Pryce replied, "Well, Mr. Secretary General, it's not common for the top UN officer to invite a westerner to meet with him these days."

"Well, I won't ignore that the current relations between the western nations and the United Nations aren't strained," Xi said glancing down at his desk. Looking back up, he added, "But I am not one to judge a man based on his nation of origin but his character."

Pryce raised an eyebrow and smiled a bit before replying, "While I share your views regarding character, Mr. Long, I can't say I see the comparison you're tryin to draw here. Considering my line of work, I ain't exactly known to be a very 'respectable' man."

Xi couldn't help but smile. Not because of what the man said but really how he said it. Jonathan Pryce was the embodiment of two stereotypes he couldn't help but associate with Americans. Cowboy particularly. All he needed was a cowboy hat and an old fashioned tie to go with his outfit. All things considered, it wasn't a bad thing. But it did amuse Xi a bit.

"I do not doubt that many would consider your work as a private military contractor a questionable endeavour, Mr. Pryce, I would consider it to be a potentially valuable asset." Xi replied.

He saw Pryce cock his head to the side a bit displaying obvious curiosity as Xi's statement.

"Asset?"

"Yes, a valuable asset in the pursuit of peace and unity."

"It's not every day the United Nations would call a PMC an 'asset'."

Choosing his words carefully, Xi replied, "Mr. Pryce, as it stands, the United Nations has no standing army or any primary means of defending it's interests."

Pryce rubbed his bearded chin thoughtfully.

"I understood that the UN could request peacekeepers," he said.

"Request is right. And many nations have. But none answer to a centralized UN military command or authority. Ultimately, the organization has no control of the troops it allows to occupy it's member states. And they're temporary." Xi said.

"In other words, you want a force that you command directly." Pryce said.

"I want a force that serves the needs and interests of the organization. Not that of the contributing nations." Xi corrected.

"The interests of the UN or yours?"

Xi smiled and replied, "They are one in the same."

"Mr. Long, forgive me for being skeptical," Pryce said as he shifted in his chair so that he was leaning back a bit, "But with all due respect, I built up Armistice Global with the intent of using it for the greater good of humanity. Not for the single agenda of one man or organization."

"I understand that and I agree with that vision," Xi replied, "And the UN shares that same vision. Frankly speaking, the world is in a state of near anarchy. Tensions are high. It only takes one false move for war to erupt. Companies like yours could be what stands in between that and world peace."

Pryce looked at Xi with a strange look as if it was making it know he either didn't trust him or know fully what Xi wanted from him. In response, Xi stood up taking Pryce off guard and walked, as the CEO watched with curiosity over to his office window overlooking the city. As he stood there, Xi put his right hand in his pants pocket and turned back to Pryce.

"Mr. Pryce, look up at the sky. Tell me what you see."

"Clouds." Came the reply.

"What color is the sky these clouds fill?"

Pryce raised an eyebrow and replied, "Blue."

"Ah, now what if I told you that I was color blind and I saw what you may call green?" Xi said shrugging, "There's no real telling who's right is there? It's a matter of us agreeing on who's right. Is it not?"

Pryce, following Xi as he moved back to his desk to sit down again, replied, "I guess not."

"It's that little mustard seed of doubt that clouds our perception of our world. A tiny little seed that, if allowed, can grow to become a mighty tree few can topple. That same tree stands in-between us and the goal of peace, " Xi said holding up a finger, "We have the ability to starve that seed before it has a chance to grow. Mr. Pryce, you have the chance to be a part of the greatest peacekeeping and humanitarian missions the UN has ever embarked on. Think about it. Think about the people we would be helping."

Pryce seemed to consider what Xi said for a moment. Xi studied the man as he deliberated to himself his next move. After a few moments to think, he spoke again.

"Okay Mr. Secretary-General, I'll play along with you here. Where do you want to send Armistice?" he said.

"The United States of America." Xi said.

"Why America?"

"Are you familiar with the state of Weston?" Xi asked.

"Last time I checked, no such state existed." Pryce said folding his arms.

"You are partially correct. It didn't exist until a few days ago. American insurgent forces have seized a swath of territory in their midwest and are declaring it an independent state. The State of Weston, " Xi said. Eying Pryce, he added, "The Americans want it back but their military is currently fighting insurrection in other regions. So that's where your company comes in."

Pryce chucked a bit the replied, "Now you must know us Americans don't take kindly to soldiers under foreign flags to occupying our land, even if it's their fellow Americans."

"That is why you will be operating with full clearance from the American federal government," Xi said, "You'll be unmarked and completely anonymous. But if necessary, you'll operate with the full authority of the UN and American government. Of course, It would also be wise to send in your American operators if possible."

Content with the answer, Pryce then asked, "Okay, so, if Armistice was to take this job, what would be our mission?"

"Security and Logistics. Insurgents are making moves, the American government wants to counter it and eventually move in. You'll be responsible for helping their military retake the zone."

"What about compensation?"

"1.5 billion yen total. Half up front, the rest once the operation is complete." Xi replied, "Of course, You would be authorized to use whatever company assets you have to complete the mission."

Pryce quickly fired back, "And hat if a billion isn't enough? What's to stop me from going to the American federal government and offering to help them since I'm a loyal American patriot?"

"Do you honestly think the Americans, with a recovering economy, can pay you anywhere close to what the UN is offering you?" Xi asked, "They are asking the UN for assistance, are they not?"

"Touche." Pryce said seemingly debating his thoughts and weighing what he was told.

After a few minutes of deliberation, he unfolded his arms and said, "Well, Mr. Long, this is a interesting proposal. And unusual proposal. Normally I would ask to think it over but a part of me tells me time is of essence here. I have one more question. I want you to be honest with me."

Xi nodded.

"By all means."

"Why me? Why Armistice? There are a number of other companies like mine who I'm sure are equally as qualified for this task of yours."

Xi nodded acknowledging the question before replying, "No other is as humanitarian as Armistice. This mission is to pacify. Not destroy. I'm not setting out to rule the world, but to calm it."

Pryce nodded his head before getting up.

"Well then, Mr. Secretary-General, looks like you have a deal."

Pryce extended his hand to Xi who beamed with reserved delight. The two shook hands firmly.

"As Americans would say, Mr. Pryce, this would seem to be the start of a productive friendship."

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