Kemet-Ra's history and politics
Set on Earth in a parallel universe where ancient Egypt had a much longer and wider influence than in our world (with over 75 million native speakers of Kemetian, the ancient Egyptian language), most of the comic takes place in a country named Kemet-Ra. About 550 years before the events narrated in Infected Blood, global warming had reached epic proportions: vast areas of the planet turned into desert and extremely violent hurricanes hit the shores of Northern and Central America at the alarming rate of twice a week, all year around. These environmental changes caused large migrations, displacing entire populations and creating invisible borders within countries. Frustrated with their governments' inability to deal with these issues, a group of scientists, visionaries and benefactors from Canada, the United States of America and the European Union set out to stop natural catastrophes with the ambitious goal of reversing global warming. Their project took shape in the construction of Kemet-Ra: a huge platform with a heptagonal base (measuring 200,000 km2) floating over the Atlantic Ocean, moving around to block hurricanes before they could reach the largely deserted shores of Central and Northern America. Kemet-Ra's activities were at first ridiculed by the scientific community at large, but following its successful destruction of several immense hurricanes, its reputation and credentials grew exponentially.
There were two original requirements to join Kemet-Ra: having at least a BS in the natural sciences and showing promising research. Logical reasoning and secular views for the advancement of humanity were one of the founding principles of the project, and fighting global warming was its only purpose. However, as population grew over time and the hard work of Kemetian scientists put most hurricanes to rest (allowing for massive migrations back to the American shores), Kemet-Ra's interests and focus began to change: at first, scientists and researchers from a variety of scientific disciplines and their families were allowed to join, but soon after that, entry requirements shifted, so that anyone willing to offer a minimum of 500,000 Euros for scientific research could apply. Kemet-Ra welcomed many criminals, money launderers and extremely rich clerics from several organized religions who had been suspected of or even condemned for various crimes, but turned a blind eye to all of that. Several countries began employing Kemet-Ra's research in engineering and the military fields, which put the project in danger. As enemies of Kemet-Ra's allies began retaliating, Kemet-Ra created its own small armed forces for self-defense by employing foreign fighters, who were paid very generously to ensure their faithfulness. Kemet-Ra tasted actual war but also enormous profits, and greed and pride prevailed. After severing the ties with the countries of origin of its founding parents, it declared itself an independent country, gave itself a Constitution, a presidential government democratically elected every five years (computer scientist Megan Choi was its first elected President), a regular army and a police (called Kemet-Ra's Security or KeReS). Worried about Kemet-Ra's large influence on their affairs and fearing it would expand into their territories, Canada, the USA and the EU issued several warnings to the country to dissolve or face consequences, but to no avail. Eventually, they moved war, while the rest of the world stood watching. Kemet-Ra responded by increasingly focusing its wealth and research on the military, arming its forces with extremely powerful weapons, and asking for support both from the populations they had helped return to their homes and also from more recent allies they had gained in Africa and Europe thanks to religious ties.
As Kemet-Ra annihilated its enemies both by military force and diplomatic efforts, it steadily expanded its influence across the globe, while accumulating a fortune by either buying or stealing the most important pieces of world art and even monuments from European and African countries (mostly Egypt, Italy, Spain and England). In an effort to protect its allies, it then founded the Free World Federation, a union of selected territories that had benefited greatly from its aid, and gave it a common currency (the Heneket). Besides Kemet-Ra, the FWF countries were:
Kemet-Ra rewrote history and geography by dividing the world map into made-up sectors:
Each sector was further subdivided into numbered areas, according to their time zones: for example, the United States and Canada collectively ranged from Sector A1 (UTC-09) to Sector A4 (UTC-05). The rest of the world was soon called disparagingly and collectively the "Outerlands". Finally, Kemet-Ra created a separated Internet just for the FWF, called FedNet.
As war and money became the established way of life for Kemet-Ra, the government mandated all young people of both sexes to serve for at least 5 years. When more and more body bags made their way back home, this decision backfired: a growing anti-war sentiment among the population led to strikes, rallies and fights with KeReS, pushing the country to the brink of collapse. Alarmed, the government demanded a military solution: the armed forces boosted funding to a selected group of bioengineers that had shown promising results in powerful synthetic feline soldiers called AIMS. The forces also flooded with money other group of scientists to build more independent, smarter robotic units. In the end, AIMS turned out to be costlier and harder to handle than expected, so the project progressively lost support. However, AIMS and new-generation robots essentially took all of young human Kemetians out of the draft within a decade (the first, very large group of AIMS were 10 years of age when they were sent to fight in several war zones. They were slaughtered en mass, but their sheer number held the front line in all zones for two years. That gave the military sufficient time to replaced the first wave with more and more young AIMS). Kemetian citizens were satisfied: only high-ranking officers and a handful of volunteers kept fighting, and nobody had any interest in body bags containing AIMS corpses.
Driven by military advancements, Kemetian robots evolved at a rapid pace in civilian settings, too, and humans were substituted in all manual, menial jobs. This, along with an alarming overpopulation and a growing crime rate largely due to unemployment, pushed the government to create the infamous Purge of the Poor (POP), an annual ritual taking place in May, right after tax season, where people who didn't reach a minimum of 100,000 Heneket gross income per household were cast away from the country, stripped of their citizenship, and prohibited from ever returning. POPs became quickly a favorite show on all FedNet channels. At the end of each POP, Kemetians loved to watch the Monster Parade, an event where the disabled people who got caught during the year marched also to deportation. The Parade was rooted in the extreme fear of falling sick developed by Kemetian over the years. This fear was driven by money: worried about the growing costs of healthcare, the government mandated constant screenings for all its citizens that, while effective, went so overboard that turned people into germophobes. Expectant mothers were especially targeted, to the point that abortion became mandatory for fetuses with disabilities and life-threatening genetic conditions. Any disabled person from birth caught in Kemet-Ra ended up in the Monster Parade.
Kemet-Ra is currently the wealthiest, most technologically advanced country on the planet. Its population is at a stable 50 million individuals, and average household income is 300,000 Heneket. Armed forces comprise hundreds of thousands robotic units (either soldiers or automated vehicles), 75,000 human soldiers, around 500 human officers and a handful of AIMS (mostly officers). Separation between temple and state has become thinner and thinner, and the Sacred Eye (the most powerful religious organization in the world) controls many politicians. Hatred and fear toward the poor, the sick and AIMS are at their highest.
Kemet-Ra's justice system
Criminal code, trials and life after serving time
Only KeReS may investigate and arrest people. Trials are based upon proving one's innocence: a defendant is assumed to be guilty unless s/he or his/her lawyer can prove otherwise (given the difficulty of the job, lawyers are paid extremely well). A jury formed by several citizens and overseen by a grand judge decides on the penalties by following the criminal code and the principle of Maximum Profit in Maximum Justice: inmates must pay their way out of prison. Once condemned, their penalty is converted into working weeks. Once an inmate has extinguished his/her sentence, s/he is released, but must find a job within 30 days and meet the minimum yearly gross income of 100,000 Heneket to remain in the country.
The prison system
The prison system is run by a private company called Radcliffe Inc. on behalf of the government. There is a single adult prison in Kemet-Ra, and it's called the Forge (minors are held in reformatories scattered around the country). The prison is a building floating 5 KMs above the ground, surrounded by a rectangular electrified fence at a ground distance of 5 KMs that is closed at the top at a 7-KM height. The prison is reachable only by internal shuttles.
Work will set you free: prison's motto and actual rule #1. Prisoners must work 60 hours per week in a facility of their choice, owned by the prison and run by a third company (minors must work 40 hours per week and are assigned rather harsh, manual jobs at local facilities). Overtime work will be logged and contribute toward penalty discounts. Some jobs are more dangerous than others, but they offer better discounts (e.g., every hour worked there counts twice as much): some are inside the prison itself; some in the Outerlands; and some are in orbit (extracting ore and rare, precious metals from meteorites). Orbit jobs offer the fastest way out, but plenty of people die in space, due to accidents or suicides. Assaulting guards will automatically increase sentence days, as determined internally by prison rules; any attack against an inmate will also result in extra sentence, although it will carry a more lenient punishment.
Death penalty can be given only to adults (aged 18 and above). There is no life in prison. If a minor can't or won't work to extinguish his/her sentence, his/her parents are mandated to pay for the accumulated debt. Any accumulated debt carries over into adulthood. An adult prisoner accruing a debt of over 15% of his/her original sentences may ask for anyone to pay it back on his/her behalf only once and within a time limit established by the prison administration. After that, any debt surpassing the same percentage will put the prisoner to death.