The Mark is a nanoink wrist tattoo. It is placed diagonally on the right wrist of a Pledge and consists of lines of numbers that cross one another at right angles. The ink on fresh Marks initially sparkles, and nanodust trails from new Marks to the point that it can be easily seen in dim lighting. Older Marks leave a slighter trail of nanodust that can only be seen in the dark.
The Mark was invented by Chancellor Dominic Cylis following the European War. Because that war was caused by disunion, ending citizenship by birth and replacing it with citizenship by Pledge seemed to many like the best way to protect the peace. The Mark was not mandatory, but those who refused it were denied access to many services that had once been considered basic human rights.
General Lamson, at the time an admirer of Cylis, introduced Cylis’s Marking program to the American Union as a part of the Unity. At first it consisted only of a simple Pledge and Marking, without any attempt to screen Pledges. After a short period of time, however, the Department of Marked Emergencies recognized that the Pledging procedure would not necessarily ensure unity. Since the Pledge was essentially required to remain part of mainstream society, people might Pledge allegiance to Lamson and Cylis without possessing any real loyalty. To deal with this potential problem, DOME instituted the brain-computer interface as a part of the Pledging process. The interface would screen Pledges, measuring whether a Pledge’s brain patterns suggested deviance. Deviant Pledges were then sent to join the International Moderators of Peace (IMPS), Lamson’s secret army.
Originally, only the most deviant Pledges were “flunked.” As the program grew, however, the number of flunkees grew with it, increasing every year following the introduction of the Mark.
The Mark is a sign of citizenship. Most services within the Global Union require Markscans, so to be without a Mark is to be locked out of mainstream society. For young Pledges, the Mark is seen as the crowning achievement of a childhood well spent. The Mark provides access to shopping, banking, health services, transit services, employment, security clearance, and voter registration.
The Marking ProcedureEdit
The Marking procedure, also known as the Pledge, takes place in the Center, a governmental building located in each reasonably sized town or city. Pledges usually set up an appointment before coming to receive the Mark. On the day of their Pledge, they wait in a reception area and fill out several electronic forms. When their name is called, a nurse leads them to the room where their Pledge will be held.
Once in the room, the Pledge will then sit down in a chair which includes an armrest and stirrups to hold his hand in position. A nurse will give him a spoonful of nanosleep and then begin attaching wires to his head that will connect him to a brain-computer interface. The nurse then asks him questions about his goals, hobbies, childhood, family background, academics, and opinions on the American Union (later the Global Union). The brain-computer interface then flashes lights that reveal abnormalities in the pattern of his answers, as well as whether or not he is lying. As the nanosleep takes effect, however, it becomes progressively more difficult for the Pledge to say anything but the truth. Provided the brain-computer interface shows no abnormalities, the Pledge is then given a shot in the wrist—a vaccine against the Project Trumpet virus—and Marked.
A small number of those who Pledge show abnormalities on the brain-computer interface. These Pledges are “swiped” to prevent disunity within the Marked population. Swiped Pledges, or “flunkees,” are taken away under armed guard and transported to various centers across the country where they will undergo a reeducation program. One of these centers is Acheron, located beneath Beacon City. The flunkees taken to these centers are attached to brain-computer interface helmets that simulate torture. If the flunkee truly wants to Pledge allegiance to Lamson and Cylis, he can remove the helmet, which will then Mark his forehead and make him a part of the IMPS. Flunkees who do not want to Pledge their allegiance may attempt to keep the helmets on to avoid being Marked, but only rarely can someone hold out for more than a few days. However long it takes a flunkee to be Marked, he generally joins the IMPS within a week.
Flunkees are not permitted to have any contact with their families, and the families are told that their children have died as a result of “procedural risk” within the Marking process.