There had once been a time when the world seemed to be experiencing a second renaissance; new technologies where saving lives, ending famine, and leading to a new sense of peace and brotherhood throughout the world. A veritable Eden some had optimistically called it. But then, suddenly the whole thing went to hell in a handbasket following the cyber meltdown of 2025. A group of cyber terrorists released the worst computer virus the world had ever seen; the NSA had never seen it coming. Before anyone knew it, anarchy had erupted across the globe. Entire networks of data collapsed in on themselves and millions of important files were destroyed in a matter of seconds. It effectively set the world back 40 years, anything with a computer in it became useless and any plans for advanced tech was lost.
Whole countries collapsed and civil war quickly became the word of the day; it was a horrible time of bloodshed, destruction, and warlords. It became a time of great change too. Some countries had maintained their borders and their governments throughout the conflict; but they were mere shadows of their former selves. While others had been totally obliterated; those that fell emerged as new nations like the North American Freedom Coalition built on the ruins of the former United States.
The United States had been one of the most powerful nations in the world, it had conquered Canada in 2018 and had begun to set its gaze towards other more profitable nations. It had also been one of the first nations to topple. Canadian rebels saw the crises as their one chance to regain their freedom and to retake their countries independence. They waged a fearsome war and overthrew their foreign disastrous loss resulted in nationwide riots. The social inequalities between rich and poor and the political division that been festering for decades only served to further flame the coals of revolution and revolt. Anarchy reigned supreme in the former United States and the government collapsed. People warred for supplies, land and food and clean water; many cities went on to form their own City States.
The Beehive Republic became the most successful. Founded on the guiding principles of the LDS church they united the entire Northwest under a single banner. They provided shelters, food, clean water, and were generally unoppressive to what they called Gentiles. They were the only stable power on the North American Continent and things looked good for those that lived within their borders; until the birth of Christ's Soldiers.
Christ's soldiers were an extremist militant group based out of the ruined city of Philadelphia; comprised of fanatics and former politicians, Christ's Soldiers saw the fall of civilization as Gods way of punishing the wicked and the sinful. They grew in power and soon took control of Philadelphia. Soon afterwards they set out on a bloody crusade across the former U.S. to "liberate" those inhabiting the other City States from sin. They grew more and more powerful and soon became a threat to the Beehive Republic, it was decided that they would construct a giant defensive perimeter called the Rocky Mountain Defensive Perimeter. It took twenty years to construct but it formed a barrier the Beehive Republic prayed that Christ's Soldiers would be content with the Great Plains east, but they were wrong. The leader of Christs Soldiers was a mad man named Alexander Levenwood, he had a dream of uniting the whole North American Continent under the sign of the Cross.
There bloody war lasted for thirty long years until at last the Christs Soldiers emerged victorious casting down the Beehive Republic. Afterwards they forced survivors of the war into what they called "refugee camps" but in reality they were just a place for resources and bodies for their Holy Crusade. People had struggled to survive in those tiny camps as Christ's Soldiers goons made regular supply raids on them barely leaving them with anything to eat; often times with nothing at all to eat.
As time went on they continued to wage their Holy Crusade crushing any who sought to resist them or their ideology, slaughtering any who rose up against them; and after awhile no one did. With the former United States under their control they formed an unstoppable war machine retaking Canada and Alaska. They planned to conquering Mexico and the northern half of South America that year but Alexander was betrayed by one of his generals Marcus Tiberius. He chose to halt the war machine and instead focus on building a nation, he named it the North American Freedom Coalition.
Miya had been young when the NAFC was formed, but she'd seen enough of them as Christ's Soldiers to know she hated it. Her older brother had died trying to resist some Christ's Soldiers goons one day. They had came to the refugee camp, Miya and her family were living, on a supply raid. She remembered hearing the roar of their engines and the screaming of her fellow refugees as they drove into the center of the camp firing guns off into the air and shouting. The soldiers had quickly spread out and began herding people towards the center of the camp. There they were forced into huddled masses as the soldiers began tearing through their belongings searching for anything of value.
"The Lord thanks you for your most generous donations to his holy crusade." A man said standing on top of one of there vehicles. That man had to be their leader his slack jawed toothless grin still filled Miya with disgust and rage even after all these years. "But I am afraid my men will need more than just worldly goods." He'd said, a predatory grin on his grimy face. The Men chuckled and began dragging women back into their homes and raping them. Miya could hear their screams of protest and the sickening laugh of the men.
When one of the soldiers tried to take Miya's mother her brother Matt tried to fight them off. He was big for his age but not big enough, one of the soldiers hit him over the back of the head with the stock of his gun. He crumpled and fell to the ground and several others soldiers gathered around and began stomping and kicking him while Miya and her mother watched in transfixed horror.
"You'll learn your lesson well enough you backwater bastard" One of the men said aiming a vicious kick at Matt's kidneys. All he could do was lay there curled up in a ball waiting for it to end. Miyas mother begged and pleaded for them to stop but there was nothing she could do they just laughed and continued kicking. Two men stood on either side of her and Miya with guns pointed at them; smug grins of satisfaction plastered on their faces.
"Enough!" barked the soldiers leader "we have spent enough time amongst the sinners let us continue onward in the name of our lord." One of the soldiers spit on Matt's face and walked away, as soon as they had gone Miya's mother rushed to her son's side. His nose was broken, his lip was split, and he was spitting out several of his teeth. Miya could hear his rasping breaths, and he kept coughing up blood. They had taken him to the healer's tent as soon as the men had healer informed them that several of his ribs had been broken and one of them had pierced his left lung. He died that night, Miya's mother spent the night wailing by her dead son's side. The next day he was buried in their tiny graveyard and Miya swore that she would do everything she could to fight Christ's Soldiers.
Time passed and the nation grew to resemble a civilized nation once again, cities were built and rebuilt, laws were passed, and schools were created. Miya wanted to become a reporter in the grand media amalgamation. It didn't have a real name, not really. All forms of news and information was funneled through the Censorship Bureau and aired nationwide. Miya had struggled through school often clashing with authorities but she graduated and became a reporter.
Things started slowly, forced to work as an entry level employ at a faceless corporation but one day things took off for her. One day out in the field the reporter Miya was shadowing had been shot while covering an anti government protest in the capitol. Bullets whizzing past overhead she scooped up the microphone and took his place covering the violence. Her career had looked to skyrocket from there. Her boss liked her bravery and so did the viewers; she was hailed as an Angel of God sent to show the heathens the error of there way. She looked to be set for life.
But she had never forgotten what those murders had done to her brother and the promises she had made. Instead she chose to take a different career path she quit her job and sought out a smaller station that was run by the people. And she found it, the Peoples Broadcasting Network. Sure they didn't get any government funding, hardly anyone but rebels watched them, and they were entirely self subsidized but she got to tell the story her way. She made it her mission to exploit the government's actions against protesters. It helped that there greatest rival was the Christian Coalition Network who were wholly funded and supported by the government to belch out whatever the government wanted them so say.
Miya liked parts of her job like her freedom to say what she wanted then there were things she didn't the fact It was a tiny news network and her boss Mike had a god complex to match his ass; but in the end it all balanced out. Her mother though, didn't like her working for such a network. She was afraid that the government would some day crackdown on them and she would disappear into a government prison. But Miya really didn't see that happening, they were just a tiny blip on the radar of government problems and no one but Marxist Rebels watched the network anyway. Nonetheless Miyas friends and mother still warned her against such inflammatory stories about the government.
"All right people some one had better get me coverage on the downtown riots! And if this one turns violent like the last few I want us to be there first! Because I swear to you, if we lose first response coverage to those rat bastards from the Christian Coalition Network i'm going to fire the first person I see! " Miya's director was loud, obnoxious, short tempered, and a bully. Mike was in his late 40's but he possessed the energy of a man half his age, and three quarters his size. He was always chasing leads about the most recent outbreak of violence or an attempted attack on government property. "Oh and Miya, my office now!" Mike boomed, slamming his office door behind him.
'Great' my thought to herself if Mike was calling her into his office it could only be for one reason, she was getting what they called "the firing squad". Mike loved to call people into his office to barrage them with a series of questions and insults for about half an hour then fire them. It didn't take much to set him off either. Miya had hoped she'd never be up in front of the firing squad because she was a young attractive woman; and Mike was a giant pervert. He never did anything to get him in real trouble; he mainly just leered at the woman in the office.
She opened the door and walked into the office, papers were strewn across the desk, his garbage was full of crumpled candy bar wrappers. Mike was staring at a piece of paper clutched in his sausage like fingers moving his lips as he read it. "You wanted to talk to me boss?" she asked tentatively.
"Yeah" he said running his eyes up and down her. She made a mental note to take an extra long shower when she got home to scrub the filth of that look off her. "You heard of the Four Horseman Arms and Munitions Corporation?" he asked.
"Yeah" she said suddenly perking up. "They're the largest consortium of murders and war profiteers the worlds ever seen. They play both sides in every conflict and don't care who gets hurt in the process"; she suddenly remembered who she was speaking to and felt suddenly afraid. No need to draw this process out she thought scolding her self.
"Yup, that's them." Mike said grinning. "Well since that's how you feel then you're gonna love this assignment, I just got word that they want you to do an interview." His smile grew even bigger than the cat that ate the canary "What! Why me?" All thoughts of getting fired gone; as her mind struggled to wrap itself around the fact she would be the first reporter ever to interview anyone from the Four Horsemen. This could be the big break she needed.
"They asked for you specifically, I don't know anything more than that. You leave tomorrow morning and they are flying you out to their facility; so pack your bags and make us famous." It was almost more than her mind could comprehend, this would be the defining moment in her career; and a chance to lay into those child murdering monsters.
"Here's your info, flight number, departure time, and a list of topics they won't discuss." Mike said tossing her a folder.
She quickly scanned over the list of questions, "this doesn't leave me much to work with at all. They won't let me talk about any of the tough questions, as far as I can tell they're just looking for free publicity."
"Hey, this is big news for us. We are gonna be the first news network to ever get this kind of coverage. So you're gonna put on a smile, and ask them there god damn questions! And leave that fucking bleeding heart crap behind!"
Miya went home that night her head spinning, an interview with the Four Horseman no one had ever had an interview with the reclusive owners and no foreign reporter had ever been allowed inside New Sparta. She turned the key and opened the door into her apartment, "ugh what a mess. I really should clean this place." Miya looked around her small apartment at the stack of dirty dishes in the sink and the overflowing garbage. She never really bothered to clean her place. She was barely home as it was so why bother she thought.
She opened her fridge looking for something to eat and found that she also needed to get groceries. "Well I guess i'm ordering out again tonight." Luckily for her there was no shortage of places to choose from, the government had very few restrictions on businesses so ten new restaurants sprung up a week, some better than others. Often displacing the former tenants of where ever the new business went in. She ended up ordering pizza for the third time that week adding yet another box to the teetering tower of pizza boxes in her living room.
What would she ask them? She knew she only had a limited list of approved questions she could ask but that didn't mean she couldn't ask her own questions off camera. She'd been informed that a camera crew would be provided for her, so she didn't have to worry about finding the most competent camera man from her stations roster of incompetent idiots. She was so excited she barely slept that night, but she could always sleep on the plane.
The next day she got on her plane to New Sparta's capital city of Lakonia it was a tiny privately owned jet that the company had sent for her, it was very posh. Miya hadn't flown much in her life but she remembered it not being the most pleasant experience, it was expensive and cramped with more focus on getting as many passengers on a single flight than their relative comfort. Not to mention the ever present fear of the plane dropping out of the sky. Even though nothing like the cyber meltdown had happened for years the fear of another one made every one wary of computers.
Miya looked around and decided to herself that if she died at least she would go in grandeur. Then the irony of it all struck her, a marxist reporter riding on a boughwa plane like this. She suddenly burst into uncontrollable laughter. When she was finally able to compose herself she thought "I hope no one saw that, they'd think I was crazy."
Miya made herself comfortable and began reviewing the files that Mike had giver her. New Sparta was a tiny country in Eastern Europe that the Four Horseman Munitions Company operated out of. It was formed from land that had formerly been part of the New Russian Republic; but had erupted in revolt shortly after the Cyber Meltdown. Its people saw it as an opportunity to break free of their oppressive government; they had been lead by a General Gregor Markinoff. The Russian Republic had waged a short war to reclaim their lost territory and succeeded in killing General Markinoff but were unable to regain control; over it as revolutions exploded throughout its nation and they deemed the tiny territory a strategic loss. And at the time the territory was strategically worthless, all natural resources had been harvested decades ago, there was little to no useable farmland, and the Russians had bigger issues to deal with closer to home. They chose to severe all political ties and let it become a nameless rouge state figuring the political infighting and a lack of resources would keep it from becoming anything resembling a real threat to them.
So it was for many years endless civil wars and coups created a daily power change until General Yuri Valkanov was able to crush his opposition and claim control, he named his newly founded country New Sparta though no one exactly sure why.
A few years after that the Four Horseman sprung up and began producing weapon for New Sparta's military and shortly after that the world ;they were able to quickly beat out other smaller companies and gain contracts with most of the major nations of the world. It was said that seventy five percent of all the worlds wars were fought with Four Horseman guns.
But little else was known about New Sparta or The Four Horseman. New Sparta had no political ties, no trade agreements, and no tourist trade so no one knew how it managed to survive. Even less was truly known about the Four Horseman, it was operated by four men, all the stock was privately owned, and they had never once given an interview.
It was an entirely self sustained nation somehow and entering the country was tightly controlled. You had to either be an invited guest or an immigrant with useful skills and a job waiting for you inside. New Sparta had the toughest immigration laws in the world, they were one of the few countries in the world where you were shot rather than tossed into a labor camp. Yet despite that hundreds of thousands of people from the surrounding regions tried to enter the country every year.
The only reason, as far as anyone could tell, the New Russian Republic hadn't invaded New Sparta and brought her back home to the motherland was that they were afraid of damaging the Four Horseman factory in the process. Nearly every nation in the world supplied some part of their armies with weapons from them. So if Russia invaded New Sparta they risked a war with both the Germanic Peoples Republic and The European Coalition. They were already at war with United Peoples Republic of Asia over control of Siberia another lump of lan considered worthless till Oil was discovered.
One of the reasons The Four Horseman did so well was because the world really didn't have much of a choice when it came to buying weapons. One of the man nasty side effects of The cyber meltdown had been the destruction of all files on advance technology and advanced weapons research. Along with the constant world wide civil wars destroying factories the world had been reduced back to basics. The wars had been fought primary with swords, knives, and clubs and millions of antique AK 47s which even though they were old tech in 2025 had never stopped being produced.
The other reason the Four Horseman had quickly became the best in the business was they could turn out things weapons no one had ever imagined. There only real competitor for arms was Sun Tzu technologies; a united Asia had done wonders for R&D. Nowadays most governments found it easier to buy their arms and armour rather than try to reverse engineer and produce them themselves. And guns where a hot ticket Item because governments needed them to put down would be rebellions and civil wars. Guns also helped wage corporate wars in Africa and South America. It was one of the reasons Miya hated the Four Horseman so much, they made profit from aiding corrupt governments and oppressing people world wide.
She relaxed in her seat and studied what little was known about the corporations owners; Morrigan Marcus, Samedi Marcus, Felix Grady, and Victor Pazurus. Morrigan and Samedi were brothers both orphans and former US citizens from back when there was still a U.S., Victor Pazurus was the son of famed Warlord Levaka 'the butcher' Pazurus, and absolutely nothing was known about Felix Grady.