In the far future, Earth has abandoned large scale warfare in favor of the tenuous peace found inside Paradigm: a global, massive multiplayer online virtual reality environment. Neighbors, coworker, even friends from the other side of the world all compete in a unified campaign built to satisfy humanity's thirst for blood.
Brett leads one of the most elite teams within Paradigm, but when he gets an offer to join the ranks of the developers' leadership, he discovers a dark secret that flips the whole world upside down.
"Ladies and gentlemen of the Board, isn't peace what lies at the foundation of our council, at the very roots of what we believe in? And what brings us here today? Is peace not the reason we convene and the goal we have struggled to achieve for centuries?
"These may seem like obvious questions with obvious answers, but it seems equally obvious to me the course of action we must take. The Republic of Colorado humbly seeks the assistance of the Unified Combat Commands, not to wage an expanded war, but to end it, to unify the Nations of Earth against a common enemy, to bring peace.
“To be honest, I’m not even sure why this is a debate at all. By invading our land, these colonies not only wage war on Colorado, but on all of Earth. They threaten the world economy, they threaten our very way of life. This burden does not belong to us alone. They say they came with their sights trained on our nation alone, but who is to say that is where they end their conquest?
"Chairman, with the words of the most honorable General Garand I end my proposal: Though the hearts of Earth's sons and daughters be filled with the instinct to divide, the same blood of humankind runs through us all, drawing us closer together, despite the invisible borders that exist only in the mind. Let us unite, brothers and sisters. Don't let our differences come between us. Not again."
A polite applause follows the Coloradan representative as he takes his seat beside a long desk bearing his nation's flag.
The council chambers are large, holding around five hundred seats, which are spread out in a semi-circle around a panel of five individuals at the head of the room. Along the sides of the room are hundreds more spectators standing behind a long, elevated, steel paneled banister.
Another individual rises from a counter marked The Central Federation and walks quickly up to the rostrum at the front of the room.
"Honorable chairman, council members, citizens of Melbourne and of the world, it's no secret we harbor little affinity for our neighbors to the north, but never in the history of our union have we been so ashamed to share the same continent as them. I'll refrain from repeating the most current events and instead move on to my most damning point: how can we trust any words from a nation that is intent on deceiving us at every turn?"
A few muttered exclamations bounce around the chamber, but the representative presses on.
"This council is not ignorant of the Coloradan regime’s intentions, of their visions and plans, their threatenings of war, their drive to push their own ideals on the world population. They speak of peace only when they're pushed against the corner, when their blind ambition, like Icarus, has driven them to their own self-destruction.
"They lied to us from the beginning. They lied about their compliance to Global Governance Standards, they lied about their involvement with the pawn states. They lied to the world about Paradigm, a program sponsored by the Coloradan government under the ghost corporation A.G.I.L.E, a program with the sole purpose of stripping the Forgotten Colonies of their resources and using them to build an advantage over the rest of Earth's nations, a mere preparation for a larger war they plan to wage on here on our own planet. They used our own populations, our own children even to do their dirty work and fuel their greed! They used our own children to conquer and kill innocent thousands, and now they have the audacity to come crawling to our feet when that, unsurprisingly, went sideways!"
The representative pauses and looks around the chamber with heaving breaths. No one dares make a noise as they wait for him to continue. After several moments he takes a drink from a bottle of water and turns to face the floor of representatives.
"It's quite brilliant, actually, when you think of it. Take a whole global population, put them in a military training environment until they're skilled warriors, and then make them immortal. Give them a life that regenerates and then take away their moral roadblocks, make them believe their world is fake. Then set them loose on whomever you want. A willing army that never sleeps, never eats, and never dies. And most importantly, never knows. I'm surprised they didn't have us fighting each other before long. They still might."
He sighs and faces the chairman.
"We've been silent for too long when it comes to the corrupt dealings of the Republic of Colorado. We need to stand up and be the voice for the voiceless. My recommendation is we deny Colorado their plea for assistance. I have nothing left to say."
The chamber erupts into chaos and shouts ring through the air, but the representative ignores them all and quietly takes his seat.