Author's Note: My deepest thanks go out to PJ in NH for taking the time to beta this story. I really was going to get around to it one of these days.

PROLOGUE

The year is 2230 a world government was created in 2030. All to soon the dreams of a world peace were replaced with repression. The United States had joined under a United Nations Charter. Too late the citizens of the once great nation discovered they were no longer guaranteed the rights that they had enjoyed under their own constitution. Free speech, freedom of religion these were rights they no longer possessed.

The once wealthy European and North American nations were systematic stripped of wealth and natural resources. In an effort to equalize the living standard throughout the world. Businesses were heavily taxed, many went out of business. Businesses closed their doors, workers were on the streets. This had horrible repercussions as the world economy failed. A world wide depression set in creating a deep unrest.

In 2070 famine struck North America. Riots and uprising were brutally extinguished as a starving population watched as the Midwest harvests were shipped to other parts of the world. There were terrible shortages. Clothing, parts to repair machinery, finally food as the transportation systems failed because of the inability to replace or repair equipment. Roads fell into disrepair.

Medicine was in short supply as disease the inevitable companion of famine arrived. Epidemics struck in the major cities as basic necessities ceased to exist. Water, sewer, heat and electric failed due to aging facilities and lack of maintenance. Whooping Cough, measles, diphtheria reappeared to decimate the uninoculated population.

By 2080 a fragile calm had fallen. A World government as such still existed. Thinly spread it usually had little impact on the average person. Most citizens only dealing with their government were the tax collectors. A 53 income tax was levied on the rural dwellers to maintain the populace centers.

Civil rights were a thing of the past. Mandates had been passed in 2073 allowing the government to place valuable individuals into protective custody. Surviving engineers, machinist, physicians, nurses, etc., "Techs," were removed from their homes and families never to be heard from again. Among those swept up under the protective order were the rare Sentinels individuals with enhanced senses.

In the late 21st century the remaining Techno-Labs were given free rein. Labs experimented without restraint. Gene manipulation created a great many 'Frankenstein's monsters.' Most were destroyed quickly. A few useful ones were saved. So the hounds were created. Having the enhanced senses of the Sentinels from whose stolen genetic codes they had been made. They lacked the guardian spirit making them destroyers rather than the village protector. Holding no territory they lacked the protective instincts of the Sentinel. These the peacekeepers found to be valuable in hunting down those deemed dangerous by the powers that be.

Massive uprisings in the 2170s beginning in the old US and sweeping into Europe, Australia and finally to the far corners of the globe, resulted in a bill of rights being instituted. Based on the Bill of Rights in the US Constitution, 2nd amendment had been written clearly guaranteed any person not convicted of a crime the right to own and possess firearms of their choice. The recent suffering of the unarmed populace proving the wisdom of an armed non-criminal populace.

Citizens now had more rights but a tyrannical government doesn't give up easily. Those strong enough, independent enough headed into the outlands. They weren't inclined to sell their souls for a few dollars. The UN could keep their public dole and the loss of personal freedom it brought. There they depended on themselves for their survival. Most considered the outlaws and lack of services worth being out from under the thumb of the UNPK.

Now in 2230 the descendants of the surviving populace were living much as their ancestors had in the mid-1800s. Cars, planes, motorized vehicles were a thing of the past for most of the population. Education became a rare privilege, survival took precedence.

Radio still existed in a few locations. Most medical care was provided by local self taught healers.

An unofficial census had estimated the world population had dropped by three quarters. The toll was much higher in what had once been industrialized nations. The techno labs of the past no longer existed. A few grim reminders of the unrestrained experimentation existed. The most used by the World Government was a twisted version of the guardian sentinels. Now they perused those the government deemed criminal as the hated hunting Hounds.

Now the story begins.