November 20th, 2021
when the German shipping and nautitech giant, Internationale Handels-Marine declared bankruptcy,Soon the vultures at the American oceanic company OTEC and its French rival the multinational CINO started to fight for the remaining chunks of the nautitech giant. As their in-house forces weren’t enough for the battle, they both decided to hire the biggest military and mercenary contractors in the business, what a surprise, so the American company OTEC hired Militech and the French CINO hired the eternal rival of Militech, the Japanese megacorporation Arasaka. As they already held some grudges against each other, Militech and Arasaka took the opportunity to not only serve the interests of their clients but also to try to destroy each other. And at first, it sounded like a great plan, because there is no better way to promote your services and your weaponry than having them broadcasted in television used against your enemies, too bad wars also cost money.
These two megacorporations, Arasaka and Militech, attracted allies involved in this war almost all of the major corporations of the world. This started as a covert war, pretending that the thing wasn't really going on, so black ops teams of both sides disguised as guerrillas, terrorists, etc, stroke key points of their enemy but pretended it had nothing to do with them, but the thing kept escalating. This manipulative tactic of hitting and hiding the hand was called the Shadow War. By early 2022 the shadow war continued, and both corporations hired edgerunners around the world for covert black operations, including the Central American Conflict veteran and Rockerboy Johnny Silverhand, the Netrunners Rache Bartmoss, Spider Murphy and Alt Cunningham, and the Solos Morgan Blackhand, Rogue and Shaitan.
During the 4th, Militech announced the head of OTEC security, Morgan Blackhand, who had an extra official deputy, although not officially on his team, the most deadly of Militech agents, the solo Anastasia Luccessi, granddaughter of Militech’s cofounder Antonio Lucessi. Militech also hired Rache Bartmoss to locate the SoulKiller master program with the help of Alt Cunningham. Which was successfully located. Arasaka’s SysOps were absolutely unstoppable―they were able to trace Rache Bartmoss down, so he did not survive. They then proceeded to hunt down and trap Alt Cunningham.
The death of the physical body of the master of Netrunners Rache Bartmoss triggered a deadman switch.
This little surprise that this netrunner hid inside the code of the Ihara-Grubb protocols when the interfaces of the Net were unified, unleashing the RABBIDS virus, little avatars of Rache Bartmoss that ate the entrails of the Net from the inside, provoking the DataKrash, the event that practically destroyed the Net. And left lots of combat Netrunners unemployed! Aware of the potential of the DataKrash, the Arasaka Family set out to create a secure offline database inside the new Arasaka Towers in the Corporate Center of Night City, a city that, in all effects, was not considered to be part of the United States but independent, some sort of city-state, and was controlled by the Japanese conglomerate. Before his death, Rache Bartmoss discovered that the SoulKiller labs were also located in the Arasaka towers, so Militech had this information as well.
But the worldwide war known as the 4th Corporate War not only reached every corner of Earth but it also reached space, and fed up with the fight, the Highriders of the orbital colony property of the EuroSpace Agency O’Neill 2 declared independence and made their statements very clear using mass drivers to drop dozens of lunar rocks at key sites all over Earth, causing widespread death and destruction. So the European and Japanese governments thought that recognizing the new Highrider government would be a great way to stop a rain of multi-ton rocks on Earth that was already suffering a worldwide war.
Although the Fourth Corporate War officially ended in October 2022 by Governmental intervention, It was still far from over
Yes, it ended officially twice. The war settled. The first time it officially ended, with the conglomerate Arasaka nationalized by the government of Japan, the founder of the Japanese corporation Saburo Arasaka on whereabouts unknown leaving his son, Kei Arasaka at the head of that Corporation, Militech was practically absorbed by the government of the United States. And the greatest Netrunner of all times, Rache Bartmoss, was dead. Again.
Third Stage of the Fourth Corporate War - The Hot War
Arasaka established Night City as its stronghold, and its power over the city was so notable Night City was referred to as Arasakaville. Kei Arasaka, son of the founder Saburo Arasaka and President of the Arasaka Conglomerate, retreated from the attacks of Militech to his high towers in the corporate center of Night City and demanded protection from Militech to the governor of the Free State of North California Denise de la Vega. Let's remember: he hid in the towers where he had the only usable database that wasn't destroyed by the DataKrash because it was offline and the SoulKiller labs. Now in control of Alt Cunningham, Arasaka forced the netrunner to build the final version of the SoulKiller virus.
This version of the SoulKiller was the most fearsome yet, and it’s nearly an Artificial Intelligence of its own, with cunning and intellect that can rival a good netrunner. Its disguise ability allows it to take almost any form it wishes, making it impossible to detect by countermeasure programs and very difficult to detect for highly skilled netrunners. This virus could trace several objectives at once, extract the souls of their victims and put these virtual souls or engrams in a virtual cage, killing their physical bodies in the process. Its ability to multitask, mobility and power made it the most feared program in the world of Cyberpunk. Word on the streets was Arasaka planned to release the SoulKiller virus on the population shall his demands not be met, and this was the last straw that flooded governor De La Vega’s patience, and she authorized the president of the United States Elisabeth Kress to deploy the US army around the city, including Militech operatives, who had their own agenda.
The final strike to sink Arasaka, and steal the offline database along with the Soul Killer
Militech gathered two strike teams to attack the Arasaka Towers in the Corporate Center of Night city, these teams included the Rockerboy Johnny Silverhand, the Netrunner Spider Murphy and the solos Morgan Blackhand, Rogue and Shaitan. To make sure Arasaka would be completely wiped out, the Militech team was armed with a mini-nuke to destroy the command complex of Arasaka Towers and the SoulKiller labs. This final assault of the Arasaka Towers would shape the destiny of Night City and change its landscape forever, since that day, August 20th, 2023 was known as the Night City Holocaust. During this attack to the Arasaka Towers, the netrunner Alt Cunningham was freed from Arasaka’s mainframe to the Net, now infested with Rache Bartmoss’ virus, Johnny Silverhand was killed, Kei Arasaka was trapped in a SoulKiller cage, and the engram of his rogue brother, Yorinobu Arasaka was freed. Militech detonated a mini-nuke in the SoulKiler labs of the Arasaka Towers, and it is not known if they managed to make copies of the SoulKiller virus beyond the one that the netrunner Spider Murphy used to kill Kei Arasaka.
Under pressure from the Japanese government, Arasaka finally conceded defeat at the of of 2023. Militech emerged victorious but was nearly as crippled as their Rival.
The consequences of the 4th Corporate War resonated in the Cyberpunk universe for decades. After this worldwide conflict, the world was destroyed, America was destroyed, And Night City wasn’t doing pretty well. The nuke detonated by Militech at the SoulKiller labs of the Arasaka Towers destroyed much of Night City central, over a half million people were killed and another quarter million died in the resulting aftermath, although most people weren’t affected by the later radiation as a result of being massively cybered up. The detonation caused a minor earthquake that flooded the inner city. Roughly two million people were left homeless, and the city needed to be rebuilt. Not that Night City was inhabitable, but it wasn’t pleasant. Atmospheric particles from the nuclear blast in Night City, as well as debris from orbital rock strikes, tinted the sky of a pale red all over the world, that’s why the next decades were known as the Time of the Red.
The president of the United States, Elisabeth Kress, who was re-elected for more terms that law should allow during the times of the Red, didn’t have much interest in rebuilding Night City. By 2026 the States became a functional dictatorship under her state of emergency, although it sounds like it was quite softer than the Martial law after the Crash of the 94, after all, she may be a dictator but the truth is that she's the one that managed to keep the States in one piece, so... it worked. She blamed Arasaka for the attack of Night City. Of course, using all her propaganda power painted a picture of Arasaka as an evil foreign Megacorporation run by a madman, who blew up a densely populated city in the pursuit of personal power, and everybody bought that. Maybe because, in the exception of the last part, it is not that it wasn't true.
With all this, she managed to wipe out Arasaka from American soil, seize all of their property and render Arasaka corporates as terrorists. But while her propaganda showed much concern for Night City. Truth is the States didn’t have enough resources and she wanted North California to be part of the States again, so her help had a price that the Free States of California and Night City didn’t want to pay. Especially Night City, they would sooner ask Arasaka for help than accepting the help of the States. It was the union between Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Northern California, and British Columbia, called the Pacifica Confederation, which allowed Night City to keep its independence as some sort of “city-state”, and as such, it was dangerous, nearly lawless, and a great place to make the Big Score.
Due to the radiation and the lack of services in Night City downtown people started to flee to the zone outside Night City, known as the Night City Area, to towns that were abandoned during the collapse in the 90s.
which provoked an almost unintended expansion of Night City that had to be taken into consideration when rebuilding the metropolis. After the Fourth Corporate War, the Night City Police Department collapsed, and the only section of it that was still functioning was the Maximum Force Tactical Division, the Max-TAC, this part of the NCPD whose task is to hunt down and capture or kill murderous cyberphyschos. The Psychosquad was the division of the police that was better equipped and armed, so it’s not rare that they were capable of functioning in such a landscape.
This was not the only problem of the NCPD, as the main provider of police services in the city was the all-almighty Arasaka who didn’t have a license to operate in the States anymore, so with Arasaka out of the picture the City Council hired a smaller security and military contractor, who was neutral during the 4th so they weren't hit by the war as hard as other megacorps did, Lazarus group, to protect the most important assets of the city: and all those assets are related to rich and powerful people, the scum of the streets was not of their interest. Same with the police hired by megacorps to protect their people and premises, so the psychosquad, led by the former Sargent Max Hammerman, were the only ones that cared enough to have a wider concept of justice for all, not only the rich. Hammerman took the protection of innocents in Night City like a personal crusade, but they were overwhelmed and their arm was incapable of reaching the now expanding territories of the metropolis. So crime skyrocketed. As a response to this, vigilante boostergangs, started to be a thing, they already were in the past but now they were A THING: either new boosters or old gangers that had to recycle themselves into defenders of their communities because there wasn’t anyone else to do it and everybody was quite desperate to survive.
During the decade after the Fourth War, it was thought the Solo and Central American Conflict veteran Morgan Blackhand was a "double agent" who also informed directly about what was going on to the President of the United States Elisabeth Kress. These edgerunners sided with Militech because, well, Not many were fond of Arasaka. Especially Silverhand.
In 2030 the reconstruction of Night City begins
and reconstruction teams start moving land from one place to another to get rid of the radioactive ruins of the central city. So basically they took the radioactive wreck of the Corporate Center and threw it to the sea, so the shape of the Night City coastline begins to change, including the previously buried Morro Rock, that would become property of the space megacorporation Orbital Air. The Recovery of the city was led by the Nomads of the Aldecano clan, the oldest of Nomad clans, whose leader Santiago Aldecano participated in the Araska Riot in 2013 to help the rockerboy Johnny Silverhand rescue his girlfriend Alt Cunningham from Arasaka. This reconstruction of Night City also entailed this expansion I explained before, now that the obliterated city center was inhabitable, more for the lack of power and basic services than for the radiation, towns adjacent to the city that were abandoned in the 90s were rebuilt and occupied by the displaced, and these towns would later be the districts we will see in the video game: Watson, Heywood, Santo Domingo, etc. New mega-buildings were created to host the growing population, similar to the Mallplex arcologies of the 2020s, these evolved to be the main habitable space in depressed areas as Watson and Heywood. With this reconstruction and expansion, Night City slowly became Night City Megacity.
The total breakdown of international trade after the 4th disrupted shipping and traveling, now Nomads became the essentials when it came to transporting cargo and passengers from one point to the other by land or sea, and they created their own routes, while Highriders, now in control of some of the EuroSpace Agency assets in space, shared this transportation responsibility with nomads when in space. Nomads established trade routes but, still, as supply chains were disrupted during the war, the commodities that people were used to were scarce, and as manufacturing was also stopped, technology didn't evolve much and megacorps were severely affected.
But the real world is not the only part of this universe that is paying the consequences of the war: the virtual world of the net also had a hard time. With the DataKrash provoked by Rache Bartmoss, the net was almost destroyed. The NetCops Netwatch, tried to fight Rache Bartmoss’ virus, but soon gave up and shot key nodes of the net down to avoid the virus from spreading, although netrunners still visit it looking for loot, which is not quite a good idea, I'm not sure what netrunner is crazy enough to think they can rival anything created by Rache Bartmoss. The containment of the virus also entailed containing and locking the Artificial Intelligences that lived and worked inside the net, who controlled every automatized aspect of Night City, and the rest of automatized cities of the world, because, let's face it, at this point Homo Sapiens put artificial intelligences in control of the modern life so, they kinda have some power, but this didn't mean they were going to use it. Or maybe they would.
These artificial Intelligences, that lived a life of servitude, were now free, and, maybe also infected by the R.A.B.B.I.D.S virus that Rache Bartmoss created, so go figure what ideas would these free AIs have so Netwatch decided it would be a good idea to seal the entrance to the Net with a Blackwall, that is red, it should be called the "Redwall" but is called the "Blackwall", to make sure that nothing gets into the net and nothing gets out.
A new Net was built in its place
A small and more condensed grid, the CityNets, that were some sort of intranets that were not connected to each other. The DataKrash made megacorporations reluctant to connect their DataFortresses to a global net, forcing hackers to be physically in their locations to be able to plug into the mainframes that weren’t accessible using a cybermodem, as these nets were separated from each other. With this evolution of the Net came the establishment of the first Data Pools in the 40s, servers of information and exchange, that are for free. You can access the Data Pools from your Agent, which is some sort of mobile phone, and the DataTerm™ machines that are still functioning in the streets of Night City. Data Terms™ are information terminals built into a heavily armored concrete post, that you can find in the streets of Night City and after the war, they were rewired to be used as phone booths, message boards, newsreaders and PopMedia access points. They also make a great cover, in case you’re wondering.
With the creation of these CityNets, Netwatch also had to evolve, now the organization wasn't almost entirely composed of netrunners that operated exclusively inside the net, as they had to operate also in the meat world, and update their methods when fighting Cybercrime.
The R.A.B.B.I.D.S virus spread by Rache Bartmoss made it also hard to survive for the artificial intelligences that lived in the net.
Alt Cunningham, feeling responsible that a good portion of these artificial intelligences were once humans whose souls were extracted by the program she invented, the SoulKiller, she created a safe haven for these artificial intelligences called the Ghost World, in the western part of the Pacifica region of the Net, again, Pacifica, not the Night City district Pacifica, the Net Pacifica. The trick about setting a safe haven there is that this part of Pacifica equates to Hong Kong in the real world and it was destroyed by a bio-plague during the 4th Corporate War, so no netrunners would connect to the Net from Hong Kong and no netrunners would be stupid enough to cross the whole net full of RABBIDS to find them. Well, maybe we shouldn't underestimate people's stupidity. And in here, "netrunners" also include Netwatch.
The 4th was a great blow for megacorporations as well, like it happened with the Crash of the 94 just worse: the destruction of the war mixed with the disruption of shipping and manufacturing, ended the age of Corporate domination, during the Time of the Red they weren’t that mega anymore, but that doesn’t mean they’re not dangerous, quite the opposite, as they became more rapacious and power-hungry. Many companies split into regional offices and continued to operate in a reduced capacity. Some changed the name but kept offering the same services, and some fell apart entirely, not without seeing their assets seized by rapacious competitors or regional managers. At this point, the landscape of megacorps changed a lot because there was even a chance for edgerunners to compete creating their own baby corps. Militech is nationalized by the government of the States and Arasaka is reduced to a Japan-only corporation which doesn’t make clear to me if it means the government of Japan did what Arasaka said or Arasaka obeyed the government, I’m afraid is the first option. Internal fights in Arasaka divided the company into three factions for the 3 sons of Saburo Arasaka: Hanako Arasaka, Kei Arasaka, and Yorinobu Arasaka.
Hanako Arasaka, who never left Tokyo, is the leader of the Asian branch of the company, the Bakafu faction, Kei Arasaka’s part, as he was turned into an Engram and trapped in a SoulKiller prison at the end of the 4th, passed to his daughter Michiko Arasaka, who was born in the States and allies with the American government and leads the Princess faction. Yorinobu Arasaka, the rebel brother of Kei and leader of the Steel Dragons that left the company when he found out that corruption and blackmail were the backbone of it, and now his nephew who followed his steps has his part of the company, the Rebel faction. It’s not really clear if the real leader of this faction is the Engram of Saburo’s son, Engram, no physical body, just the digital soul, or is his nephew, but I guess we will find out soon enough.
Corporations that didn’t fall during the war did their best to survive
In the 2040's, New Corps started to rise from the wreckage of the 4th Corporate War. At that time, the curtain of lies of President Kress fell down and it was publicly discovered Arasaka wasn’t the one detonating the mini-nuke in Night City, so people returned to be sympathetic with the Japanese Conglomerate, like there wasn’t a huge list of questionable things they did on a daily basis, but, you know, good PR, so Arasaka and Night City started a new stage of their romance.
The reconstruction of Night City went on, and the city had the dream in mind to become one day the biggest and baddest city of the world. Apart from its jewel, the Corporate Center, the City Council wanted to create a posh resort that would make the most modern cities of the EuroTheatre pale in comparison, and they chose the district of Pacifica to place it, that was already quite posh in the past and was where idols like the Rockerboy Johnny Silverhand or the shining star of Network News 54 Bes Isis used to live. Unfortunately, the global economy doesn't care that much about the plans of a megacity and a crisis during the 60s made megacorps withdraw their funds for this construction and the district was abandoned, leaving half-finished buildings and all workers behind. The raging poverty of this district that the abandonment of corporations provoked turned Pacifica into the new Combat Zone. A place where people don't go unless they absolutely have to. And if the tough people of Night City avoid it, you can imagine. Slowly Night City went back to a version of what it was in the 20s, but bigger, and more dangerous.