Following the States War, General Lamson introduced Cylis's Marking program to the new American Union as a part of the Unity. Those who Pledged remained citizens and could use their Mark to make purchases, work, vote, receive health care, and access other benefits. Those who did not Pledge were prohibited from doing any of those things. As a result, most of the A.U.'s population received the Mark. Their sufferings in the States War convinced them that, since General Lamson had ended the war, his plans to preserve the peace ought to be obeyed.
For various reasons, some former citizens chose not to be Marked. Ultimately this meant that the majority of them were forced to become homeless. For roughly ten years, the Markless lived at the fringes of society, focusing on survival.
Protest MovementEditDaniel Peck was perhaps the first Unmarked person to recognize that Lamson used the Pledge to weed out potentially subversive elements of the population. In order to prevent young Pledges from being "swiped" by DOME, Peck formed a group of Markless teenagers called "the Dust". The Dust warned Pledges of the danger and helped those who decided against Pledging to settle into Markless life.
Ultimately, the Dust discovered that Pledges who flunked were sent to a prison called Acheron in Beacon City. The Dust attempted to break into the prison in order to free Lily Langly, Peck's best friend, who had been "swiped" five years before. When the attempt failed, several members of the Dust were captured inside the prison. Erin Arbitor, a computer hacker who had joined the Dust, came up with a plan to empty Acheron of its soldiers, the International Moderators of Peace, so that the Dust could attempt a rescue. Using the Markless shortwave radio system, the Dust spread the news of the failed break-in to the nearby Markless, encouraging them to demonstrate against the treatment they had received.
Other radio hosts, including Dane Harold in the Appalachian Mountains and Sonya and Mrs. Phoenix in Spokie, spread the message across the country. Soon Markless were protesting nationwide, forcing Lamson to use the IMPS to control the demonstrations. Although the second prison break was successful, the Markless demonstrations continued for months afterward.
The protests paused when Project Trumpet rocked the American State. Instead, the Markless stopped to offer stricken Marked citizens what little medical care the Markless community had. Some demonstrations continued until Logan Langly's death sentence. Logan had been the face of the protest movement. Uncertain about his guilt in relation to the Project Trumpet launch, the Markless did not object to his death sentence, despite the pleas of the Dust. The Dust wanted to continue actively opposing the Cylis regime, but with Daniel Peck having left for the Dark Lands, they were uncertain of what to do. In the end, most Markless returned to their normal lives, while the Dust mounted the only resistance it could--a campaign to tell Marked Beaconers the truth about the Global Union.
War with the Global UnionEdit
Because everyone in the Dark Lands was technically "Markless," Dark Landers did not see their Marklessness as a symbol of protest. But when the Global Union continued to encroach on the borders of the Dark Lands, many Dark Landers grew uneasy. Ali's cyber attack on the Global Union revealed its true nature to everyone with access to a tablet, and the Markless in the Dark Lands responded by declaring war. The Markless chose an empty circle of ash as the symbol of their Unmarked identity. The cyber attack also brought electricity to many parts of the Dark Lands for the first time, giving the Markless an advantage in the conflict.
Technically, to be Markless, one has to be thirteen or older. Children of Markless parents may grow up within Unmarked communities, but they are legally considered underage, not Markless. The Markless include both men and women, and they range in age from teens to the elderly. Technically most Dark Landers are Markless, although they did not identify themselves as such until Ali's cyber attack on the Global Union.
There are almost as many reasons to be Markless as there are Unmarked people. What unites the Markless--when anything does--is their belief in freedom of choice.
Some Markless had no particular reasons for avoiding the Mark. Wallace Martin, for instance, was a veteran of the States War who suffered from untreated traumas caused by that war. Although caring for veterans was supposed to be a priority of the new American Union, somehow Wallace slipped through the cracks and found his way to Slog Row.
Other Markless opposed the restriction on freedom that the Mark represented. Under the United States government, they were accustomed to citizenship by birth and basic rights for all people, even non-citizens. When the new American Union chose to restrict those liberties, they protested in the only way they could--noncompliance.
Some Markless--Mama and Papa Hayes and the Harolds' butler George among them--refused the Mark because of their religious beliefs. They oppose the Inclusion, and many of them connect the rule of Lamson and Cylis to prophecies in the book of Revelation. When they can, they hold religious services in secret, away from the watchful eye of DOME.
A few Markless oppose the Marking program, at least in part, because of the selection process involved. Typically these people were impacted in some way by the Dust.
Health is a serious concern for the Markless. Many of them suffer from malnutrition since they are unable to purchase food legally. Undernourishment can make it difficult for them to fight illnesses. Since they do not have access to medical clinics or hospitals, Markless sometimes die from conditions that, in Marked society, would be considered curable. In Spokie, for example, Unmarked war veteran Wallace Martin suffered from a liver disease, but he never received medical treatment. The old firehouse where he lived was filled with people who had similar problems.
Some Markless communities offer better health services than Spokie, however. When the Marking program began, some doctors and other health professionals refused the Mark. While they do not have access to all the resources that they once did, they are able to treat some illnesses. Presumably a black market for medicine helps them to continue offering treatment. Beacon City’s Markless community includes a number of doctors, and they extend their services to the Marked after the influx of Project Trumpet victims forced hospitals to turn Marked patients away.
Crime is a serious problem within the Marked community. While most Markless are not criminals, a high rate of crime persists among the Markless. Because the Markless cannot work or purchase food, desperation sometimes causes normally law-abiding Markless to steal. Other Markless form a criminal subculture of their own. People who live near areas with high Unmarked populations often suffer robberies and home break-ins. As a result, Marked citizens often view all Markless as criminals or potential criminals.
Marklessness means different things in different areas. Some metropolitans regions are less hostile to the Markless. A few can even be relatively friendly. For an Unmarked person to survive, it is essential for him to understand the resources his Markless community offers, as well as tho relationship it has with its Marked neighbors.
The Markless community in Beacon City faces many challenges as a result of living in the capital city. While many roam certain parts of Beacon during the day, trading their services for food or other goods, it is unsafe for them to stay in any one part of the city for very long. DOME's frequent "street cleanings" have caused the Markless to take a more permanent refuge underground. An abandoned nuclear reactor has been turned into a vibrant Markless community complete with a school and a church.
Some Markless live in Beacon's suburbs, which offer dynamic cultural experiences of their own, including a Markless orchestra.
Following DOME's crackdown on the Markless, most Unmarked people fled downtown New Chicago for the Ruins, a suburb that was destroyed in the States War and never rebuilt. The huddles there had to avoid living inside the buildings for fear of being charged with trespassing. Despite these harsh conditions, some huddles have their own libraries of banned books, as well as outdoor galleries made of pieces created by Markless artists.
The Markless in Spokie, one of New Chicago's suburbs, lived on Slog Row. The Row, as its residents called it, was a street about one quarter mile long. Crime was high in the area, but the Markless community had a thriving black market in the Fulmart at one end of the street, as well as a radio program run by the managers of the Fulmart, Mama and Papa Hayes. Slog Row was destroyed by DOME in an attempt to find the Dust, and those Markless that escaped had to live outside the city. Following the DOME raid that killed Papa Hayes, Markless sympathizers Sonya and Dianne Phoenix began broadcasting in their place, helping spread the Markless protest movement across the country. Their broadcast continued until, following Dianne's death, it was discovered by Sonya's Marked son and daughter-in-law.
Sierra City offers the most freedom of the American State's three metropolitan areas. The PODs, its system of public transportation, do not require Markscans, while the public library is stocked with banned pre-Unity classics, along with a copy of Evan Angler's novel Swipe. Markless entrepreneurship is thriving--some Markless in Sierra City have even been able to barter their way into having houses of their own.
Markless culture is complicated. For one thing, it varies by locality. For another, some Markless are genuine criminals, and their culture is much like any other criminal culture. Frequently, however, Markless culture is more vibrant than is culture within the Marked population. Since the Markless are outside the law in many ways, they have access to banned books and other materials forbidden to the Marked.
Educational opportunities for the Markless vary by locality. Schools do exist in some large Markless communities--Beacon City, for instance, offers K-12 education for those living in the Markless sublevel. Since teenagers who chose Markless life after the introduction of the Marking program had to drop out of school, access to Markless sources of education is particularly important for the younger generation of Markless. Unfortunately, many young Markless nationwide do not receive any schooling beyond the eighth grade.
Some adult Markless, however, are very highly educated, having completed their education before the Marking program was introduced. These more educated Markless include doctors and others.
Underage children who have grown up in Unmarked communities are supposed to be able to attend school until they reach Pledging age. Joanne, the daughter of Unmarked parents, went to school until her parents' arrest forced her to begin providing for herself. Markless orphans like Rusty and Tyler are frequently never enrolled in school. Unless someone within the Markless community takes responsibility for them, orphans may receive no education at all.
LiteratureEditSince they cannot work, many Markless have a lot of time on their hands, and some of them spend that time working on creative writing projects. No organized Markless publishing system exists, however, so most of these writing projects are not shared beyond local Markless communities. Evan Angler's Swipe series is an exception. So far, he has written four books, Swipe, Sneak, Storm, and Spark. The series is based on history of the Markless activist group known as the Dust. Markless works are not protected by copyright law, and, as a result, myriad copies of the books exist. Some, like the copy of Swipe circulating in the Sierra Library, are traditionally printed and bound. Other copies are handwritten and loose-leaf. Because of the controversial nature of its content, the Swipe series has been banned by the government, and Angler was recently arrested for his writings.
Most Markless do not have access to tablets and other normal means of communication. While a few have managed to barter for such conveniences, they are of little use in contacting fellow Markless, since the vast majority of Unmarked people are not so fortunate. As a result, the Markless have turned to older technology, such as shortwave radio. The Markless shortwave radio hosts all broadcast on one frequency so that frequency becomes a nationwide Markless conversation.
Since the Markless cannot use most public transportation (with the exceptions of Sierra City's PODs) and private vehicles are extremely expensive, the Markless have developed their own way of traveling between the metropolitan areas of the American State. The Unmarked River is a system of Markless and Markless sympathizers who cooperate to transport travelers from one stop to the next.