The five year ‘War That Wasn’t A War’ has left the Dispersionists broken, their leaders dead, their companies confiscated. The great push for change has been crushed and peace returned to Chung Kuo. But the ‘War’ has awoken older, far stronger currents of dissent. In the depths of the City new movements have begun to arise, among them the Ping Tiao or ‘Levellers’, who want to pull down the great world-spanning City of 300 levels and destroy the Empire of the Han.
But there are two much greater threats to the ruling Seven than low level terrorists. The most dangerous of these is Howard DeVore. Once a major in Li Shai Tung’s own Security service, DeVore was instrumental in both the assassination of Prince Han, and the ‘War’ that followed. Based on Mars, he has sent in autonomous copies of himself to do his bidding, using any means available to destroy the Seven and their City. The House of Representatives, the Dispersionists, the Ping Tiao – each in turn is used by him and then discarded, cynically and without thought for the harm done to individuals. Aided by a network of young Security officers loyal to him alone, he has fought a savage guerrilla war against his former masters, his only aim, it seems, a wholly nihilistic one: to destroy it all.
The second of these threats is from within their own ranks. With the suspicious deaths of his father, Wang Hsien and all four of his elder brothers, the obese and difficult Wang Sau-leyan has come to rule City Africa, and the Seven, already severely weakened by the loss of three of their eldest and most experienced members, have become extremely vulnerable. Had they not such men as Tolonen, Karr and Kao Chen fighting on their side, it would have been hard to maintain the status quo. But for a time their rule remains unchallenged.
Meanwhile, in the Domain, that idyllic West Country valley, outside the multi-0levelled City, Ben Shepherd, the great-great grandson of the City’s architect, is busy developing a brand new art form, the ‘Shell’. A total immersion virtual reality medium. His fascination with darkness and death colour his early experiments as he takes his first creative steps towards becoming Chung Kuo’s greatest artist.