The days of peak automation had come and gone. The wars were fought the price was terrible. The 'spreading' had ignited it, a ravaging virus that showed no mercy, unprecedented in its mortality rate, a perfect selective killing machine. The chances of contracting it highest among the uncounted masses.
There were whispers of a vaccine kept for the few. A mid-level biotek blew the whistle at the time of the worst of it. This was no natural virus. The savagery meted out by those in power responding to the worldwide rebellion that followed was unparalleled, long gone were the days in which labour held a stake in society. Automation was king and the die was set, they did not need the excess vermin. The organization and response of the masses borne of desperation proved stubborn and tenacious and they endured, and finally, they wore down the few. The resources so efficiently harvested by the machines had been at breakneck speed for too long. The few drained the natural wealth and without their machines, The Autos, (as they were known), were vulnerable and eventually fell.
What replaced them was worse. The new elite had scarcer resources, fewer could run the machines, could savour the luxury, tek was expensive and human labour now so plentiful that it had become cheap...too cheap. A worker was disposable and endlessly replaceable. The age of the company nations had begun. Huge corporations brought a new feudalism. People no longer identified with a land, a nation, they identified with a company, and a CEO was their law and lord. They wore the company colours and swore allegiance to trade.
‘Bless the Owners, and they lived on little’.