It took a while to get all the details and lore just right, but here's a new map for the RDNA-verse! One that's, for a change, covering the Collectivists themselves. More speficially, spotlighting the Central Plains Collective, which rose out from the ashes of the Austro-Hungarian Crownlands. The DeviantArt version can be found here
The Central Plains Collective, and the Collectivist Internationale in general, has existed in one form or another ever since the setting's earliest incarnations
. While there've been hints and foreshadowing in much more recent material, it's only now that I've actually gotten more in-depth with Collectivism and how it is in practice. All while still leaving more than enough room for ambiguity and mystery, as even in-universe, the Free World only has some tantalizing glimpses into their adversaries (the "ColMem" being among the handful of places they know more about). While, inevitably, the Orwellian and 1984 elements are much more out in force, I also made a point to add more nuance and depth, as well as have them make sense in the context of the 'verse. Though that said, it's also deliberate...as for why, I'll let the viewer decide.
And lastly, and just to be safe, this is a work of fiction. This is not meant to be a political or ideological screed. Depiction is not endorsement, and all.
With all that said, hope you enjoy. Love the Will.
EDIT: Made some last-minute tweaks and polishing to the map.
The Fallen Danube: The Central Plains Collective
The collapse of the Austro-Hungarian Crownlands in 1927 marked more than the Habsburgs' retreat into New Austria. From the ashes of their Danubian realm arose the polity known as the Central Plains Collective. Referred to as Colkozepbenen
in ColStandard, it is something of a peculiarity within the Collectivist Internationale. It is also among the handful of "ColMems" in which more is known about with any degree of certainty, however much remains open to speculation. In addition it is simultaneously one of the most loyal and most volatile, having witnessed several "Unperson" uprisings over the generations.
The origins of this ColMem go back over a century. While Collectivism as an ideology had been present since the 19th Century, it wasn't until 1914 that the scattered groups and secret societies across the Danube joined together into the Union of People's Collectives. Led by the fringe Kollektivarbeiterpartei
and a disgraced clergyman named Alexander Knöpfer, it initially garnered some support among scholars and laborers with its promises of universal brotherhood through the "Will of the Workers." Concern grew among the authorities and then Emperor-King Franz Ferdinand I, however, as the organization made increasingly public attacks on not only political rivals within the movement but others across the realm, while allegations surfaced of some members simply disappearing. Combined with its open defiance against the monarchy, suspected ties with other Collectivist groups across the Continent, and a cult-like zeal, by 1920 efforts were made to suppress it to maintain order. Unfortunately, these attempts failed.
Although conflicting and incomplete records from period covering the Terror make it difficult to theorize what actually happened, it's undeniable that Knöpfer and his followers seized their moment to stage their "Workers' Revolution." Alongside other Red militias, the U.P.C. ambushed and overrun various towns in the countryside, almost by surprise if surviving testimonies are any indication. Despite the best efforts of not only the Imperial Army regiments deployed to restore order, further bolstered by reinforcement from New Austria, but other Danubian citizens opposed to Collectivism, it became evident that the tide had irrevocably turned. For every militant band that was crushed, two more seemed to take their place, further worsened by additional manpower from the nascent Internationale. With the fall of Vienna and Budapest in 1926, however, the path was laid open for the conquest of much of the crumbling realm. While some were known to have held out in the Alpine and Carpathian bastions for some time, most of the remaining Habsburg forces (by then under de facto
New Austrian command) were forced to retreat southward towards the Adriatic Sea. The bloody yet stubborn sacrifices at those final defensive lines, whether it came from volunteers or members of the ruling dynasty itself, have since gone down in the annals of history, buying precious time for refugees and surviving soldiers to evacuate. With the departure of Franz Ferdinand I himself aboard the last ship to leave in 1927 and the subsequent scourging of Trieste by the enemy, the last organized vestiges of the Crownlands perished.
A triumphant Knöpfer was appointed the first ColMem Secretary (later ColMemsec
) of the Central Plains Collective and wasted little time in remaking the Danube in the Will's image, which is still ongoing. The very name for the polity alone reflects the aim of freeing men from the past. Of the old capital cities alone, only Budapest was rebuilt and repurposed as "Worker's Fort 03" (Arbeiterod 03
in ColStandard), which has served as the permanent administrative center since at least the 1940s, while Vienna was said to have been reduced to rubble, in an ironic echo to the destruction of ancient Carthage. Their fates were mirrored across the former Austro-Hungarian lands, with an emphasis of purging significant traces of the old order. Beyond demolishing historical landmarks, religious structures and other locales deemed useless, priceless pieces of art and literature are believed to be lost forever. While an ideological regimen, which has waxed and waned over the generations, has sought to purify the mind of backward notions, including the eradication of historical, ethnic, cultural and nationalist ideas. Ironically, in their place a new "Danubian" culture of sorts, if not a distinct "national" identity has emerged among much of the population, forged from both Red dogma and the ashes of the "Lost Nations" that once existed.
Society, as elsewhere in the Internationale, has been thoroughly restructured along Collectivist lines. Formally comprised of the Inner Party, Outer Party, and the Workers, over time these have coalesed, at least in the C.P.C., into the former two (ostensibly due to the latter being apparently perceived as Party members by technicality). The local "Danubian" forms of ColStandard also notably feature significant, albeit mangled, influences from Austrian German and Hungarian, among others. Nonetheless, the social structure remains close to the Internationale's "norm." The Inner Party serve as the de facto
ruling elite and primary exemplars of the Will (with Colmemsec Hermann Rakos continuing the U.P.C. and Knöpfer's work), chosen through selection more than from birth. Those of the Outer Party, meanwhile, form the backbone of the factories, farms, institutions and military forces. In Colkozepbenen
's case, its status as an agricultural and mining hub has made it a crucial asset for Supreme Politburo, the ColMem being the host of the "Adriatic Cordon"(a network of naval blockades and fortifications serving as a regional counterweight to the Free World's Red Curtain). It may well explain why, alongside the local Party's firm loyalty, its relatively arbitrary boundaries (still partially mirroring the old Crownlands) have remained largely stable.
While it is said that all its myriad subdivisions are equal as are all of mankind, some are more equal than others. From what could be discerned, those of the Inner Party enjoy standards of living that seem contrary to their otherwise utilitarian and spartan pretensions, whereas the average Outer Party member would be lucky to have most of the bare essentials unless one showed appropriate fervor (or at least had the patronage of the more faithful). It's likely that most may live their lives without ever knowing much else other than what the Will has decreed for them as their lot. Nigh-constant surveillance and strife, as well as fear of heresy (both without and within) further reinforce this state of affairs. Which, it seems, suits the powers that be just fine, their grip as unquestioned as the Will.
It's also known, however, that throughout the decades, that even compared to its neighbors, the so-called "Unpersons" had served as a persistent thorn on the Party's side.
Ghosts of the Lost Nations: The Unpersons of the Central Plains Collective
Derived from ColStandard, it's believed that the term "Unperson" originally referred to the Inner Party's observed tendencies, through StateOrd, to erase any traces of those who defied the Will of the Workers. In time, as with their counterparts elsewhere in the Internationale, these came to include rebels and others deemed even more heretical than the peoples of the Free Nations. Much of what's known about their exploits is based on accounts from defectors and refugees, as well as whatever could be scrounged by New Austria's Evidenzbureau
and the South Italian Servizio Informazioni
. The rest, however, is shrouded in speculation and conjecture. Regardless, their efforts have not been in vain.
Even though the Austro-Hungarian Crownlands were lost, there were those who refused to submit to Collectivist rule. A motley mix of nationalists, Habsburg loyalists, military remnants, nobles, ordinary citizens and even disillusioned U.P.C. members scattered throughout the former realm continued to resist Red rule. This "first generation" of Unpersons had no centralized leadership, but were nonetheless able to lay the groundwork for a secretive network linking the disparate cells. It was even alleged that it had the rudimentary trappings of an underground state, with couriers, educational facilities and even armed militias. StateOrd, however, caught on after the first decade, though his increasingly expansive campaigns to root them out only served to emboldening more people to rise up. This led to the First Great Rebellion in 1942, wherein which food riot in Workers' Fort 03 escalated into an armed uprising that forced the deployment of the Collective Army (later ColArmeo
). It was a decisive victory for the ColMemsec (resulting in Knöpfer's "election" as part of the Supreme Politburo), but failed to crush the resistance's spirit.
By the 1950s, their ranks included Party dissidents and those born after the Terror. It was by then, so the testimonies go, that a longer-term "backup plan" began germinating, even as the remaining "old guard" plotted an insurrection that would eclipse the first. So it was, that from their hidden bastions in and around Workers' Fort 04 (formerly Sopron/Odenburg), the Second Great Rebellion erupted across the Central Plains Collective in 1959. This, perhaps, marked their apex. For not only did the fighting against the Red forces threaten to spill into surrounding ColMems (where Unpersons were said to have been inspired). But the rebels even came close to controlling the communications network and a vital route to the Adriatic, which would have opened up a potential path for reinforcements from the Free World (especially New Austria) to intervene. Unfortunately, the Internationale responded with even greater force before such a possibility could arise. Nonetheless, the doomed militia bought time for their comrades in arms to either go into hiding or escape into freedom, with the last armed holdouts being brutally crushed in 1962.
From that point on, any semblance of open revolution perished. Indeed, since the number of genuine defectors from the ColMem (as opposed to sleeper agents and StateOrd saboteurs) dwindled significantly by the late 20th Century, it's nearly impossible to know for certain whether Unpersons still exist at all as a distinct organized presence. At the same time, there's enough to suggest that this may well be intentional. Though a few hidden strongholds would be retained, most used the underground network to disperse into the countryside and enact the "backup plan." Realizing that overthrowing the Party in their lifetime was increasingly far out of reach, the surviving, aging leadership instead called on their compatriots to continue the struggle by any means. While there would occasionally be larger-scale operations, the last known being the Adriatic Incident of 1992 (which involved the last major flight of defectors to New Austria), it's by and large in the hands of individuals, or at most small cells with little to no direct contact. They would stow away priceless relics, smuggle old books, retain the old languages among themselves, teach children in secret, lie, cheat and if need be, die. All to carry an unbroken line of knowledge, wisdom and memory from their forefathers to the next generation, and those after.
Given the seeming strength of the Central Plains Collective as it stands presently, this may be the best way for them to carry on. Whether it will take a thousand years, or the threat of atomic annihilation, the sanity and hope borne from these efforts would in time lead to true victory. At least, that is the best that could discern, as the alternative is not one to lightly entertain.
There are also other rumors and accounts from the Unpersons that seem unsettling if true. It's been known for decades that the "abominations" mentioned in official Collectivist doctrine, speculated by some to be allegories to so-called "Nation-Personifications" as seen in fiction, refer to the Lost Nations crushed during the Terror, as well as the underlying concepts behind them. According to fragmentary records and questionable accounts from those claiming to have been Outer Party defectors, these may only be the beginning. Allegedly, among the ranks of the Inner Party is a young man who has barely aged since taking up the position of ColRep
or Collective Representative as early as the First Great Rebellion. While somewhere deep in either Workers' Fort 03 or what was once Lake Balaton, the continuing efforts to destroy all vestiges of the Lost Nations there may be more than literal, whether for research or something else entirely.
- "Beyond the Red Curtain: A Portrait of the Collectivist Internationale." American Federation. 2023 Edition.
For some added trivia, the "Danubian" variant of ColStandard used is a deliberately mangled amalgamation of German, Hungarian and Esperanto (among others), with elements of Newspeak from 1984
(alongside the social structure of the Inner and Outer Party). ColStandard itself, apart from being a reference to Newspeak also has Esperanto with Slavic elements. Coincidentally, StateOrd has elements of both the Thought Police and the Soviet KGB.
The early evolution of the Unpersons as a resistance movement, as well as the circumstances around the First and Second Great Rebellions, are based on both the Warsaw Uprising of 1944
and the 1956 Hungarian Revolution
. Coincidentally, the "underground state" that emerged initially is an allusion to the Polish Underground State
during World War II, though it eventually transitions to something more akin to both Emmanuel Goldstein's Brotherhood from 1984
and Eastern Front partisans. While Hermann Rakos, is an allusion to Mátyás Rákosi
, the General Secretary of the Hungarian Communists up until the Revolution in '56.
Alexander Knöpfer, the first "ColMemsec" of the Central Plains Collective, is a sly reference to the antagonistic Alex Knöpfer from the Axis Powers Hetalia fanfic Human Curiosity
by Super Sister. That particular story involves an organization going after the Nations for secretive ends...though to say more may betray hints as to what the Collectivists have in mind in response to the "National Question."
The Central Plains Collective's coat of arms is a distorted version of Communist Hungary's Stalinist-inspired heraldry
prior to 1956.
Many of the placenames, despite using ColStandard, correspond to the locations of the towns and cities they're supposed to be. Notably:
Arbeiterod (Workers' Fort) 02 - Prague
Arbeiterod 03 - Budapest
Arbeiterod 04 - Sopron/Odenburg
Arbeiterod 05 - Innsbruck
Arbeifalu 06 (Workers' Village) - Salzburg
Colhaveno 05 (Collective Port) - Trieste
Colflanko 02 (Collective Shore) - Keszthely
And yes, the "Nation-Personifications" are a reference to this entry
. I can neither confirm nor deny whether or not it's true.