The group known as the Militarized Public Defenders (MPD) represents the largest governing body in the Greater Rivertown area, though they only control portions of Rivertown proper. Technically the term "MPD" refers to the individual guards themselves, it is also commonly used to refer the organization as a whole.
In 2057 a small firm offering security services named Reichman-Rockton, aka Augustus Reichman, 27, and , 31. Through hard work and persistence, the pair steadily grew the business and less than a decade later, they boasted over 100 employees and provided security services for several large companies operating in Rivertown South. Reichman and Rockton surprisingly won a contract with (A/B) a large defense contractor that was pulling away from government projects, and the relationship propelled R&R Security to new heights over the next twenty years., opened its doors for business, The name was derived from its co-owners
The period of social unrest that unofficially began in the spring of 2074 benefitted both companies as businesses and citizens alike began taking more interest in security and weaponry. R&R opened a number of gun shops around Rivertown that sold A/B products, and A/B began making military-grade weapons intended for the public market. As the national economy sank deeper into the mire, the unrest swept the country including the highly segregated city of Rivertown. By fall 2087 the city was awash in guns and ammunition, which required even stronger defense systems. Reichman and Rockton had become incredibly rich.
In spring 2088 the first wave of the superflu hit, killing almost two million in Greater Rivertown and the city became a warzone. As the wealthy barricaded themselves and their businesses against the frenzied mobs. A small percentage of people were naturally immune to the disease including Reichman, who had sequestered his wife Frederika at the Allied/Bradwell headquarters in Rivertown South. Rockton, however, succumbed to the superflu.
Reichman quickly assembled a small group of former cops and security guards for raids on his old gun shops, instructing them to bring as much as they could carry back to the Allen/Bradwell headquarters. Their tactical scavenging stood in stark contrast to the unruly mobs and they amassed a large amount of weapons in addition to the sizeable cache already present at Allied/Bradwell, which he had dubbed the Rock in loving memory of his friend and business partner. Never one to turn down a marketing opportunity, he christened his small paramilitary unit the Public Defense Squad (PDS), who began systematically scavenging the homes and businesses in the Rivertown South area before they burned.
The number of people holed up in the Rock grew from a dozen to 50 in the first year, as word of the PDS operations grew and people who had survived the first round of the superflu sought refuge from the second, less deadly form of the flu. One refugee was Marshall Johnson, a decorated major Reichman knew from their mutual dealings with A/B. Johnson admired the PDS for what it had achieved, but discovered the members had a very narrow set of martial skills. With Reichman's consent, he instructed the defenders on a variety of weapons, including hand-to-hand combat, and basic military maneuvers. Casualties dropped dramatically and scavenging efficiency increased after this training.
Other survivors holed up at the Rock included Carlo Reyes, a successful banker who had bought up whole retail chains for their goods before society collapsed, and a businessman who dealt in payday loans and casinos named Barrett Lukowski, whose family had been blessed with an abnormally high resistance to both strains of the superflu, and a disproportionate number of the survivors were his blood relatives. The four men decided that by working in concert, they could reclaim their ruined city and put it back on the path to civilization. Though they didn't know it at the time, they would soon be called the heads of the Four Families; to signal the sharing of power, Reichman agreed to rename the PDS and the group settled on Militarized Public Defenders: the MPD.
The fledgling group spent the bulk of the year training and performing sweeps through the razed neighborhoods of Rivertown South north to the Juneau River. These neighborhoods had been hit very hard by looting and unchecked fires burned whole blocks to the ground, meaning there was very little to scavenge and sustain their slowly growing community. They assumed, correctly, that the central and northern portions would have more resources waiting to be recovered.
Reconnaisance missions to the city revealed that the primary obstacle would be roving gangs of well-armed rundown addicts who lived hand-to-mouth and cared more for uncovering drug caches than stockpiling goods. In October of 2091, the MPD authorized their first major military offensive where a group of two-dozen guards charged over the bridges and, in a campaign that lasted two weeks, they systematically wiped out any opposition and seized whatever assets they could.
The secondary objective of the mission, dubbed Project Reclamation by Reichman, was to scout for intact, structually sound places for possible relocation from the Rock. The guards set up camp in the ampitheater of the Summerland Festival Park, a thin wedge of land east of the river on the banks of Lake Lawrence that had been largely spared the destruction that befell much of the city. For the rest of the calendar year and into the following spring, guards patrolled the area from the Rock north across the river to the fairgrounds.
In the years that followed, the MPD slowly but steadily grew in size and influence centered at the fairgrounds. It's isolated location made it easy to defend from outside attacks, which were common in those days, and through sheer persistence and many casualties, the MPD gained access to a series of warehouses that could house their food stores. They also gained access to a riverfront condominium that featured many livable units, virtually untouched by the apocalypse. As they accumulated more food and supplies, they slowly began admitting other scavengers to the settlement as long as they could regularly contribute to the MPD coffers and caused no trouble.
As the community grew, the MPD leaders saw the need for better record keeping in regards to the members of the MPD as well as the organization's inventory. This need coincided with their forced entry in the grand old federal building, dubbed Ol' Federal, which had suffered serious damage during the riots but was still structurally sound. Better yet, the building's solar panels on the roof provided small amounts of electrical power to the building, enough to power a small network of computers. They also recovered a series of cell phones that could operate as handheld transcievers, independent of cell towers and other communications infrastructure. Because the heads wanted separation of records from the inventory and populous, they began refurbishing Ol' Federal to become their administrative headquaters. During this time, the MPD also forayed deeper into the downtown and northern sections of the city, setting up a temporary encampments on the grounds of an old university, and in a well-preserved row of lakeside estates.
Between 2092 and 2096, the organization had grown to over 200 members and had firm holds in three locations in the southcentral portion of Rivertown. In this time the society developed a code of conduct that corresponded to the harshness of the times, with stiff punishments for anyone involved in disputes or social unrest. Work became part of a scheduled routine and, for those adults who had survived the disease and social collapse, the authoritarian measures were a small price to pay for a sense of restored routine and normalcy, as well as decent access to safe food and medicine.
Having faced little opposition since the foundation of the MPD, the organization grew bolder and began drafting a plan for effectively seizing all land east of the Juneau and establishing a northern headquarters. Early 2097 saw increased work at the northern encampment and the rehabilitation of the lakeside estates. While Rivertown North was still populated by scavengers, they had learned to avoid contact with the trained and better equipped MPD forces. In August 2097, Reichman announced that he would be moving his family from the Summerland condos to the rennovated estates, and called for the northern encampment (temporarily named Rock North) the to become a permanently staffed outpost.
In March 2098, six months after Reichman's relocation, the MPD announced Project Unification, a concerted effort to create a secure corridor running the length of the city, connecting the Rock to the Rock North. The campaign consisted of dozens of small raids on known scavenger camps throughout the city. Guards were instructed to answer any violent respnse with deadly force, and to bring a steady string of prisoners to the Rock North, which soon came to be known as the Tombstone, and renowned for the torture and executions performed inside its walls.
As a military campaign, Project Unification was an unqualified success. While scavengers throughout the city had likely been aware of the MPD presence and chose to steer clear of their settlements, Project Unification put the organization on the map. The ruthlessness, speed, and unpredictability of the MPD attacks struck fear into the scavengers sifting through the rubble of Rivertown, and word of the cruelty meted out at the Tombstone quickly became lore. In addition to winning the psychological war against those competing for the limited resources in the city, the MPD recovered significant amounts of food and supplies to stock in their warehouses.
In the wake of Project Unification's success, the MPD experience a second period of consolidation where they made improvements to the three headquarters and major settlements. Emboldened by the capitulation of the gangs who had roamed Rivertown, Carlo Reyes commissioned a small group of private guards and, against the wishes of the other Families, reclaimed his old home in the walled community of Whitefish in 2106. He argued that this would stretch the MPD's domain another two miles north and, more importantly, he had significant food stores hidden throughout the neighborhood that would eliminate the need for a supply line from the central settlements.
During this Golden Age of the MPD, as Augustus Reichman called it, the organization formalized ranks for guards that included regular compensation for service; the Summerland settlement grew and developed into distinct districts, and quality of life at the northern estate, now known as Mansion Inn, became quite comfortable. Also during this period, the MPD randomly caught, and later granted full citizenship, to a handful of engineers and computer specialists, who were put to work on developing infrastructure for the organization, including setting up setting up satellite Internet connections for a handful of computers as well as refining the short range cell phone network. The limited amount of avaiable electricity, along with narrow fields of expertise among the workers, hampered further development of communication networks.
The self-proclaimed Golden Age ended with the death of its author, as Augustus Reichman died in his sleep on February 25, 2113. The decade of relative stability the MPD had enjoyed was already coming to a close as searching through the city yielded less and less food, which in turn meant a more monotonous diet and the looming spectre of a massive food shortage, leading to civil unrest in Summerland and Whitefish. This corresponded with an increasing number of immigrants into the city with each passing year. Reichman's death also left a power vacuum at the top of the organization, with his wife Frederika assuming control with little support from the other Families.
The Post-Augustan Era will be marked by the crucial decisions made by the Four Families. For more information, read the Future section below.
Main article: Four Families of the MPD
The MPD is an oligarchy controlled by a group of families known as the Four Families: the Johnsons, Lukowskis, Reichmans, and Reyes clans. Each family is unique in its size and internal politics, but each has a designated leader who serves on the MPD executive committee that guides the organization. The family heads are in constant communication via a short-range cell phone network for making decisions.
While they attempt to project an appearance of unity and solidarity, it is well-known that in-fighting and jockeying for power is rampant, both within and between the families.
The MPD uses a mixture of police and military hierarchical ranks starting at the top with the heads of the Four Families serving as an executive committee made up of a commander-in-chief who acts as a de facto Head of State, followed by the general who oversees all military and defense operations; the committee is rounded out by two colonels. All four members of the executive committee are of equal standing, though tie-breaking decisions fall to the commander-in-chief and general in political areas of their domain.
Below the executive committee comes the commander who oversees day-to-day operations of military and defense operations. The Families share a tacit understanding that any commander must be a blood descendent of an executive committee member. As a result, any Family child who has completed basic MPD training attains the rank of lieutenant commander. Many lieutenant commanders, however, do not serve the MPD on a daily basis.
The highest non-Family member is the major, a person appointed by vote of the executive committee. The major appoints three captains who oversee operations at the Tombstone (northern HQ), Rock (southern HQ), and Ol' Federal (central HQ). Each family appoints two sergeants (eight in total) who operate with a greater deal of leeway than most guards. While sergeants hold coveted positions and receive many benefits, they also can be pulled in opposing directions due to conflicting orders from captains, major, and commanders above them.
Special operations officers, numbering about 25 at any given time (though the number fluctuates due to casualties and promotions), are guards who have distinguished themselves in service and have been promoted; they also receive advanced combat training. While they sometimes fulfill normal guard duties, they are often held in reserve operations require their special skills.Finally, the rank-and-file guard (around 250-300) makes up the majority of the MPD and can be assigned a wide variety of duties ranging from standing guard, providing armed escorts, and performing routine sweeps throught the city. Through years of exemplary work (or cronyism) guards can be promoted to corporal, a position of little authority but with less dangerous work assignments such as equipment repair and maintenance and inventory clerk in the massive MPD storehouses. Citizen is a non-service rank bestowed upon authorized individual living in an MPD settlement; citizens are largely females and children.
MPD Personnel by Rank (and appointment)
Commander-in-Chief: Frederika Reichman
General: Marshall Johnson
Colonels: Barrett Lukowski, Carlo Reyes
Commander: Ellen Johnson
Lieutenant commanders: , , , Rudolph Reichman
Major: H. Stine (Johnson)
Captain - Ol' Federal: (Lukowski)
Captain - The Rock: (Johnson)
Captain - Tombstone: L. Nessman (Reichman)
Sergeants: & (Johnson); & T. Rabeneck (Lukowski); N. Markovic & (Reichman); & (Reyes)
Special operations officers: ≈ 25
Corporals: ≈ 50
Rank-and-file guards: ≈ 250-300
Citizens: ≈ 500-600
Entry into the MPD ranks does not come easy and most present-day guards are legacies, having family members (almost always male) who previously served. The basic training at the Rock is long and intense and teaches hand-to-hand combat and proficiency in several different firearms. Training fatalities are not uncommon, and many who survive are too debilitated to serve in the field and are forced into low-paying service. New recruits are enrolled on a rolling basis rather than on a fixed schedule, suited to the MPD's needs. The minimum age for enrollment is 17.
In theory, MPD guards rise in rank through the accumulation of "feathers," or commendations from senior guards. Rank-and-file guards earning 50 feathers may apply to become corporals; when corporals reach 100 feathers they enter a pool of possible candidates for sergeant, and sergeants with 150 feathers become eligible for becoming a captain. In reality, the system has little validity as the accounting records for commendations are shady at best. While an official feather count is kept on file at Ol' Federal, guards are required to keep their own independent records. It is widely rumored that guards have had dozens of commendations disqualified for unspecified irregularities, while others have had their feathers double- or triple-counted when it suits a specific administrator's needs. Despite this, most guards keep track of their feathers as they do provide some evidence of excellence in the line of duty.
Law and discipline within the MPD, for guards and citizens alike, is loosely defined and parties are most often left to their own devices to resolve disputes. Conflict within MPD settlements usually involves harsh punishments for both parties as summary judgements are often passed on the spot with the highest ranking MPD official serving as judge and jury.
Because the MPD has neither the space nor workers to maintain a jail (besides the detainment center at the Rock) parties found to be guilty are usually levied heavy fines via garnishment of wages or the stripping of possessions; more serious offenders are either banished from MPD territory and permanently disfigured via a facial tatoo, or simply executed.
Guards' duties vary based on their rank. Rank-and-file guards alternate between city sweeps, providing escorts, and guarding posts while corporals tend to have more fixed positions in MRO and administration, and officers and sergeants take part in a wide variety of special operations.
Because the MPD does not have a manufacturing center to provide a standard set of equipment, guards are equipped based on current MPD inventory. Thus a wide variety exists among guards with differences based on a number of factors including the guard's rank, assignment, and their personal connections. Guards also routinely acquire weapons during city sweeps. However all guards are equipped at a minimum with some form of body armor, a club, a knife, and at least one type of firearm: a handgun, rifle, or shotgun. Special ops officers will also be armed with an assortment of grenades, including smoke, incendiary, fragmentation, concussive, stun, and sting varieties.
In exchange for their services to the MPD, guards and citizens receive compensation for their work in three ways: rations, ration cards, or notes. Payments grow exponentially with each rank, yet citizens and rank-and-file guards live at little better than subsistence levels and have little way of accumulating wealth.
While it's obvious to say that all people have unique personalities and attitudes, their resources and working conditions predispose a large number of guards to behave in predictable ways, most noticeably in interactions with scavengers who are dealt with violently and without restraint. Non-citizens of the MPD are, by MPD definition, tresspassers and criminals and without rights; thus guards are governed only by their own sense of morality when dealing with scavengers. Because guards cannot realistically amass wealth through payment from their employers, they are compelled to seize the possessions of these criminals and, due to the scarcity of goods, this results in violent confrontations.
Because of the swiftness and severity of punishment within the ranks, guards tend to settle disputes among themselves quickly and without much fanfare. Guards must also develop trusting relationships due to the dangerous nature of their work, yet this trust can be often betrayed if it means a guard can gain a political or financial advantage.
The MPD maintains three headquarters each with their own separate functions. Each headquarter has a small contingent of permanent staff who tend to daily operations (mostly corporals) while rotating squads of rank-and-file guards stand watch over each location. The facilities were chosen for their relatively good condition and geographic locations anchored in the northern, southern, and central portions of the city.
Main article: Ol' Federal
Ol' Federal is the administrative hub for the MPD. Here they keep a variety of citizenship records, promotion accounting for active guards, and detailed inventory lists for the many storehouses located throughout the city. Though few guards know of its existence, the staff at Ol' Federal also maintains a computer and cell phone network that connects the three headquarters to each other as well as the other settlements and MPD operated facilities.
Ol' Federal has a small staff and is lightly guarded due to the reinforced vault doors that secure the records rooms. The basement of Ol' Federal also houses a large quantity of food so, pending any outside attack, the guards could simply draw the vault doors shut and could withstand a prolonged siege easier than their attackers.
Main article: The Rock
The Rock is where enrolled guards receive their formal military training. The structure has the look and feel of a fortress with its tall walls and iconic clock tower, both of which provide sweeping views of the surrounding area. The Rock houses dozens of new recruits in addition to a training staff; the basement vaults are in essence a series of armories where guards receive all issued equipment.
The building's imposing exterior is enough to deter any would-be attackers. Add to this the round-the-clock watch and numbers of well-trained, well-armed defenders and the Rock is clearly the most well-fortified, ominous structure in all of Rivertown.
Main article: The Tombstone
The Tombstone is the northernmost headquarters for the MPD. Housed in what used to be an urban university, the Tombstone now functions as a penitentiary and center for MPD intelligence. Scavengers are routinely captured and detained, plied for information about events and happenings in the city. Most special operations are launched from the Tombstone.
Despite its fearsome appearence, with its scorched brick walls topped with coils of razor wire, the Tombstone is only lightly staffed. Prisoners are hooded before entry to mask the emptiness of the structures and the guards staffing the location are required to be visible, either standing watch on the walls or marching through the courtyard. The facade is intended to project a sense of overflowing aggression eminating from the building, and interrogators tell released prisoners to spread the word of their harsh treatment as a way to instill fear into others wandering in the city. While this strategy has earned the Tombstone a near-mythical status among scavengers as a house of horror, guards resent the constant pointless bustle, and it is one of the least desired details for rank-and-file guards.
In the wake of August Reichman's death the organization has entered into yet another round of power struggles as the various Families attempt to wrest control from the current executive head, Frederika Reichman, whose claim to her late husband's title was both unexpected and unchallenged as most thought she would quickly abdicate her position once pressure began to mount. Reichman has proved to be both feistier and wilier than anticipated, though she still hesitates when asked to make important decisions and usually thinks of her own personal interests before the future of the organization. Still deemed as weak and likely to crack, Reichman will surely face a series of challenges to her power--both overt and covert--from the other Families as long as she maintains the organization's head.
One of the most hotly contested issues among the Four Families regarding the future of the MPD is that of expansion. Following the success of Project Unification, different Family members have argued for different forms of expansion, and ideas and attitudes have changed rapidly as the political players reassess their positions. Only Marshall Johnson has remained relatively constistent in his position of resisting calls for expansion, and has even suggested contraction to better consolidate power and tighten their hold on the central and southern portions of the city.
Tabled and rejected expansion plans have included securing a corridor north to the Whitefish settlement (currently an island), claiming more territory west of the Juneau River, with some proposing they advance as far as Concord. The rationale for expansion is the acquisition of more goods through more thorough searching, and specifically for the discovery of food banks. Johnson's argument against expansion is that, without significant enrollment and training, the current number of guards is insufficient to properly secure their present inventory and launch another offensive. Adding able-bodied guards would mean also expanding their settlements, which are already barely scraping by.
Another expansion plan involves securing non-urban space for the creation of farming and sustainable food production. While this concept has support among the Families, it solves none of their current problems and requires a significant amount of knowledgable labor and security as the MPD would in effect have to guard an entire supply line. Other Family members fear possible revolution or defection of a successful colony.
A growing concern among the Four Families is social unrest within the settlements, especially as food inventories are dropping to critical levels with no imminent solution. The biggest fear is setting off riots in Summerland as living conditions continue to decline, and the guards stationed at the storehouses could be overrun. In addition, the rioters would be friends and family of the guards, and one riot could precipitate the collapse of the entire organization. This possibility is recognized by the Four Families but they are at a loss as how to handle what seems like an unavoidable crisis.
The other major preoccupation for the Four Families is external challenges to their hold on the city and its resources. This includes the threat of an organized assault on a specific location by scavengers. While the storehouses are well-secured with heavy machine guns, other locations (most notably the Tombstone, Mansion Inn, and Whitefish) could be taken with enough numbers. There are also growing fears of reports that roving, well-armed bands have wandered north from Sauklund, though these are generally dismissed as speculation and rumor.
Finally, the leadership expects the federal government to arrive at Rivertown sooner or later and opinions sway on whether this would be good or bad for the Four Families. At times it has been suggested that the federal government could deliver much needed food and supplies and assist in rebuilding a stable communications network and other infrastructure, while leaving the organization intact; at other times it has been suggested that they might all be arrested and tried as war criminals. At present, the Four Families have agreed to remain incommunicado with the federal government, despite their ability to contact them via the Internet should the need or desire arise.