Log: USS Nirvana: Received dire news from Mission Control. Asteroid on target to strike Earth. Resources for follow up terraforming missions being diverted to Earth defense. Notified to expect additional six to twelve months delay before second Mars mission.
Col. Michael Jameson, Commander
Nov 14, 2066
Nominally the governing body of the Districts of Terra, the Council collects taxes, sets policies and rules, and authorizes the construction of forts. In reality, they seem a markedly incompetent group, and the renegade outland clans treat them more with disdain than respect. Tax collectors generally do not live long in Terra, and many clans hide their Lukers from the prying eyes of the Clan Council.
With a monopoly on the sanitation and salvage duties in Terra, the Hippo drivers are also the only organization that works directly with the shadowy Smugglers, bringing in new and occasionally experimental arms to the Districts. A notoriously loyal, close and secretive bunch, the Hippo drivers are truly a breed apart. Valuing their off-duty time, which they spend mostly eating and drinking in prodigious amounts, they do not like questions, and will often cause overly inquisitive strangers to "disappear". They do not take kindly to persistent Hippo-attackers either, and it is generally considered counter-productive to fire at a Hippo. The only Terran whom they seem to tolerate is Salmonella the Council Jester, perhaps because he has so far managed to survive their brutal idea of entertainment. Like the lumbering, hulking, but nearly indestructible vehicles they drive, the Hippo drivers are not to be trifled with, slow to anger but blowing up with tremendous force.
The Smuggler's role in Terra is subject to some debate and conjecture. Some claim they brought the first Rhinos into Terra, and instigated the split of the Feuding Clans. It is not known where they obtain the weaponry, only that it is produced by The Vault. Wilder rumors even say that the Smugglers control the Vault itself and are directly programming the weapons production codes into its master computer, but it is more likely that they are accidental beneficiaries of The Vault's blind automation.
One fact is known: through arrangement with the Hippo Guild, they have been supplying increasing quantities of a variety of advanced lethal weaponry to the Outlands.
The Council of Clans, though professing independence, is obviously beholden to the Smugglers and their Hippo Guild associates. Some claim the Council members pay the Smugglers extortionate amounts of lukers, (in all likelihood stolen from the public coffers), to keep their Council positions.
Shadowy men of power who shun the limelight, some in Terra believe that so-called "Smuggler Lords" are the true power in Terra and enforce the District divisions. Others scoff at this idea, dismissing the Smuggler Lords as mythological creations, used by parents to scare recalcitrant children.
Where does all the advanced weaponry and survival gear in Terra come from? In a world so totally devastated that the very continents themselves have been reshaped beyond recognition, how could the technology to produce such sophisticated devices have survived The Impact?
No one knows for sure. From accounts patched together from transcripts of converstations between Sal and the Hippo Guild, corroborated by some questionable memories of the older survivors, the following story has emerged.
It is believed that shortly before the Bering Impact, a revolutionary automated-production facility went on-line in the deep, old tunnels beneath Fort Knox, in the region known as Kentucky in the former United States of America.
Situated next to plentiful sources of coal, and stockpiled with metals, silicon and polymer production vats, the facility churns on, producing weapons far too advanced for the world around it. Designed to run completely unattended, the Vault calls upon a vast fleet of automated transports, apparently programmed to convey the arms directly to the coordinates of what once were vital strategic locations, now endless piles of dust and tumbleweed.
Of course, this is largely unsubstantiated rumor.