Swappernetter Society is a movement in Swappernetters, part of The Gerosha Chronicles. In-universe, it developed as a reactionary front for an offshoot of the Navyrope Society, growing rapidly in numbers in response to events that happened shortly after the Vindication arc in Sodality.
Fall of the Sodality
With the Beliah Amendments still being hotly debated for repeal or replacement or amendment, the Sodality of Gerosha is dismantled and the Sodality of Florence was deported back to Italy. The Navyrope Society was unable to help Texas officials defend Arkansas as part of Toklisana, and the Society of the Icy Finger put its Chrome Kite puppet regime in charge. The Chrome Kite has since installed numerous measures of security across the state, in an effort to prevent Altered Humans from being able to lend their resistance any credible edge in the form of a Phexo, Meethexo, or Marlquaanite adversary. They also began imprisoning and assassinating suspected resistance members.
As a consequence, the various Estates and Legends in the Geroshan Sodality were unable to assist. Without a clever way around the security measures, the Toklisanan government knew that restoring the Arkansas state government in exile to power would be difficult. They'd need someone - anyone - to infiltrate Arkonia and recover the secrets of its security measures. Moreover, they'd need to start with a small team and then allow larger and larger waves of teams in to invade once more and more security had been cleared. Until then, neither the National Guard nor SCALLOP were authorized to take Arkansas back. The civilians enslaved by the Icy Finger hostile takeover were on their own.
Arkansas was renamed Arkonia. The Cormier Estate was retired, as were the Freneti and Mercreek Estates. The McArthurs were placed on probation, with Candi still in prison. Extirpon and his family had joined the Navyrope Society, and gone deep underground. The Navyrope Society focused its efforts on ensuring that the Icy Finger couldn't place any more puppet governments in charge anywhere else the way it had done so with the Chrome Kite in Arkonia. Lambrelli Labs mothballed its militarized Pilltar units, seeking a way to sue the Chrome Kite for stealing the patent and using it for their new generation of Stagtar security drones. Meanwhile, Ron Barrin focused on getting help for his ill daughter Stephanie and helping his new son-in-law Jonathan become a part of the company. He was also managing the merger of Lambrelli Labs with Malestrom Industries, and helping Dolly and her family adjust to their new lives as a part of Lambrelli.
There were unconfirmed sightings popping up of literal angels, allegedly to keep the Church alive in spite the crippling of superheroes. The Gray Champion, John Domeck, now had an apprentice: Roy Bernald. However, the MPF generator system, dubbed, "the Tug," that was put up all over Arkonia by the Chrome Kite, mostly kept the two Gray Champions out of Arkonia.
Development of a new resistance
Citizens began taking measures into their own hands. They saw the reaction of Rappaccini to being personally threatened by Maurice the Ferryman, and instantly knew that the real nature of the Icy Finger's conquest had little in the end to do with mere money, resources, politics, or distribution of wealth - the usual suspects. This was, at its heart, a religious war that the Icy Finger had declared. It had its roots all the way going back to Babel, in fact. They wanted to re-create the mythical Abdygalis, and to overthrow God himself! And they weren't at all concerned about the ramifications of what they'd have to destroy in the attempt!
One of the Chrome Kite's main areas of attack involved leeching on not only to pre-existing corruption in Arkansas politics, but more specifically into joining the movement by some going as far back as 2014 to have the state monopolize the education of youth. The earliest founding of the Swappernetter Resistance dated back to Anthony Partel back in the early 2000s. He was a young advocate of parkour and of private education, as well as a friend of the late Joo-Chin Pang. Outraged over the fact that Joo-Chin was murdered for his resistance against Kevin Jennings during Fistgate, Anthony moved to Arkansas. He became a huge advocate of extreme sports, including freerunning and parkour. He taught self-defense classes, as well as encouraged families to homeschool whenever possible.
His actions continued until his death in 2025, when he became a martyr at the hands of the Screwworm Network. Lack of empathy from state officials as they continued to put the squeeze on non-government-run schools resulted in a backlash from about a third of the population, though only a few thousand were successful at resisting further efforts to monopolize. Many early Swappernetters were either also part of the Navyrope Society stated by Vince Finton, or else recruited for themselves from Navyrope members who wanted a more low-key and less violent approach to keeping to the Navyrope mission.
Keeping to the principles of Anthony Partel, this society became known as the "Sneakernet Underground," or "Swappernetters." The Chrome Kite's aggressive and ultra-violent campaign to eradicate the Sneakernet Underground from the face of the planet in order to secure its Common Core-inspired totalitarian curriculum forced the Swappernetters underground, vowing to one day overthrow their oppressors - even if the rest of Arkansas was too scared to assist them.
This led to the development of Frontliners - a special class of Apprentices and Mentors within Swappernetter Society that did more than just attempt to avoid notice from Chrome Kite forces. These would actively defend others - Swappernetters or otherwise - from overreach and hostile assault by Chrome Kite troops. They would also look for ways to undermine security and control, and to relay information to allies outside Arkonia's borders. Their hopes were to get enough of the right blueprints and other important data relayed back to Texas in time to convince Congress that the time had finally arrived to launch an invasion.
The Chrome Kite responded by adjusting the Tug so that it would allow for certain Marlquaanite creations of its own to give them that much more of an unfair advantage. They placed in their "lightning quick" SWAT troops called the "Mercury Troopers" - dubbed "Hgs" (pronounced: "Hogs") by their enemies - to raid suspected hideouts of resistance and crush them without mercy. To deal with the Frontliners, the Chrome Kite created militarized Stagtar drones - modeled after Scott Morrisson's old design. They also recruited more Microwave Mouth Corps., to boil alive stubborn resisters.
Much to the Chrome Kite's frustration, it was never able to recover the one Marlquaanite ruby it most prized: Hester's locket. This was in spite raiding Hea Pang's home - and putting her in prison. The ruby remained with whereabouts unknown. However, Tabitha Pang and a few of her friends used a different ruby they'd recovered to transfer the powers of Mapacha del Feugo to themselves - allowing Marge to retire. As a result, the Twirlflame Trio was born. This specialized group consisted of Tabitha herself, Tobias Reno, and Sarah Ruben - Tabby's old cellmate. The three of them would often embark on missions deemed too dangerous for ordinary Frontliners, as their abilities via Marge gave them a fighting chance against the Stagtars and Microwave Mouths. However, they'd face many other enemies too: Bliksemhek, Sicklesaw, Lady Chillingworth, etc.
After about two years, the Twirlflame Trio and its allies allowed the Swappernetter Society to get to SCALLOP all the information necessary to get Congress down in Texas to approve of an invasion. Some of the Sodality of Gerosha's members were reinstated to assist. The Chrome Kite fell, but the Swappernetter Society remained intact - as a reminder to the reinstated government of Arknasas that government monopolization of education is wrong - and will be resisted.
Victory came at a cost: Tabitha had to be interned at SCALLOP Women's Containment Center for two years, and other Swappernetters had to seek special pardon for their sketchy activities deemed illegal under the Chrome Kite's reign. Many members of the society were also brutally overkilled by the Chrome Kite right up until the moment of its fall. While Hea Pang and Marge Ramirez survived their prison stays, many others who were of similar ideological persuasion became casualties of the Chrome Kite's totalitarian war against its own citizens.
These are the leaders that manage the major finances of the society, and keep its organizations going.
Financiers operate fronts, and keep funneling spare money into the movement. They reward Hosts for completion of odd jobs, and a cut of that goes as commission toward Frontliners who do the actual dirty work. When Tabitha joins the Swappernetters officially, the financier that is most active is Steve Trussel - who must maintain an illusion of total legitimacy before the Chrome Kite in order to keep his fortune.
Hosts provide homes for Swappernetters, though they usually alternate which ones they are hosting. Hosts divide their operations into Camps, named after whoever is the host operating the camp. Pete Hassler, Bret Kamhold, and Trista Clarion's camps are the three main ones active that Tabitha and her friends have the most involvement with, although other camps exist. Frontliners may do odd jobs for camp hosts, including camps they don't technically belong to. Membership in camps is fluid by design, and a Frontliner may have a new "boss" any given day due to their freelance-like nature.
Hosts come in two flavors: Fosters and Frontline Bosses. Fosters house both children and Frontliners. If a family is intact, then the parents tend to their own young. Free Agents are emancipated youth who have yet to become parents themselves. They may become any of the other ranks later on, but usually become mentors or assists to mentors. Parents may take in and host more than just their own children, but this can get things complicated. At the age of 15, children have the option to remain with their parents or else join another host's camp. It is preferred that host camps without children of their own only take in children who do not have intact families. Children who are taken in by hosts that are not their parents are encouraged to become Frontliners to "earn their keep."
Frontline Bosses are hosts that only take in Frontliners, and who will redirect all other children and teens to a host that specializes in other forms of child custody. They seldom allow children to remain around them who are incapable of being Frontliners for long periods of time. These bosses are focused on the jobs at hand, and tend to hire back the same Frontliners multiple times. They do care about some of their Frontliners as family; but realize that at day's end, they're bosses and not parents. Trista Clarion is a Frontline Boss, though she is friendly to most others in spite the nature of her job.
Mentors may or may not be hosts as well, but they are definitely associated with a host if not a host themselves. While few of them get directly involved in the activities of Frontliners, they serve a critical role for the whole of the Swappernetter society.
Professors are the field agents that teach professions to children placed in their care - either as hosts or by hosts. Their job is to take the "world is your classroom" mantra as far as possible, and educate children outside of a traditional classroom setting as much as they can get away with.
Sarah Ruben was arrested during the Beliah Purge after she was caught trespassing while helping her professor escape certain death at the hands of the Screwworms. Due to her inactive Phexo nature at the time, she was able to apply for SCALLOP internment rather than traditional juvenile detention. This resulted in her being sent to SCALLOP Juvenile Containment Center, where she met Tabitha Pang.
Chaplains are professors who double as ordained ministers. They can perform weddings, and can distribute communion. They are expected to focus a lot on reading their Bibles, as well as coming up with apologetics material. They are also charged with putting verses in modern context, to imbue wisdom to youth in their presence at every possible turn. They can also offer counseling that regular professors cannot, given credentials in psychology. Otherwise, there is little distinction between them and an ordinary professor.
All children and non-emancipated teens are potential Apprentices. In practice, an Apprentice is any student-age individual that needs a host and a mentor. The term mostly applies to those who seek out a mentor or host and do not have their parents to homeschool them. They come in two flavors: Students and Frontliners.
Students are essentially civilian Swappernetter children. They may swap lessons on flash drives, but are otherwise encouraged to blend in and avoid being seen doing activities deemed illegal by the Chrome Kite. Dangerous activities, such as stealing equipment or relaying plans that could bring the Chrome Kite down, are reserved for Frontliners.
Frontlinters are the Swappernetters that are assigned the particularly dangerous espionage missions needed to keep the society functioning, as well as finding ways to undermine the Chrome Kite's logistics - and relay information about it to SCALLOP and to the Toklisanan government. They are encouraged to study parkour, as well as learn from professional thieves on how to be effective and burglary and espionage. These modern-day ninjas know exactly what to do and how to do it. They mostly come in four flavors:
Infiltrators are the main burglars. They can break into places that no one else can, and steal what others cannot. They are the master thieves, and are said to be able to walk through walls. Sarah Ruben can do so literally, due to her inheritance from Mapacha.
While often doubling as secondary-line infiltrators, Decoys are con artists whose main job is misdirection. They are experts at bait-and-switch, Kansas City Shuffle, and other games to keep the enemy distracted while the main infiltrators do their main dirty work. They will sometimes switch places with a more talented Infiltrator, in order to keep the enemy confused as to who's who. The only giveaway clue is regarding the difficulty of the job. A truly difficult infiltrator job will never be given to a decoy. Sometimes, a decoy may actually have to tell the truth in order to throw enemies off, relying on the enemy's pride to yield the reverse-psychology result.
This can become difficult, however, when the enemy is unable to see past their petty hatred for the greater good when truth is essential. Tabitha Pang's efforts to warn Arbini and Clamdor about Bliksemhek go nowhere, as they let their hatred of all Swappernetters blind them to the possibility that Tabby had a point. In addition to Tabitha, Jordan Sterlie has alternated amongst being a decoy, an infiltrator, and a muscle.
Hackers, whether doing things in the discipline of the disbanded Critter Resistance Network or through more traditional social engineering, are the digital infiltrators that focus on the tech end of matters more than anything else. They are slightly less physically adept than other Frontliners, but use their intelligence of technological vulnerabilities to gain an edge. Atroce is a prime example of one. Cassidy earned the nickname of "Atroce" by being a "Hellish pain the rear" to Chrome Kite enemies for her ability to disrupt their online activities. She idolizes Sniperbadger in much the way Tabby once did Ciem.
Muscles: These are the physically strong backups on missions, usually male. They are there if something goes wrong, and to keep Chrome Kite security from roughing up the other Frontliner classes too greatly. When in rage mode, Tobias Reno can even become super strong.
Swappernetters are huge believers in the mantra of "Always live beneath your means," as was first touted by Shalia Flippo and put into practice first by Shalia's daughter Candi for many years. They prefer a minimalist "Spartan" lifestyle more often than not, with some concessions for gadgetry and basic utility. In aesthetics, when not re-purposing others' "old junk," they prefer simplistic Bauhaus and Minimalist designs. Children and teens are fond of wearing beanie caps, even in warmer weather. They tend to dress modestly, except when the weather doesn't permit them to cover up comfortably.
Children with intact families will adhere to their parents until they reach about the age of 15, when they seek out a different kind of benefactor to cling to until they are ready to become independent - or become benefactors or mentors themselves. Children whose families are not intact will seek out benefactors and mentors to be their sponsors, in a sort of unofficial foster system. They may migrate between several sponsors, staying with whichever one is most like family or temporarily staying with whomever can offer them odd jobs.
The core of Swappernetter society tends to be very religious, and chaplains holding devotions are essential both to securing confidence in the afterlife in case of tragedy and toward maintenance of morale for teams. The majority of Swappernetters will know at least one chaplain, though there is an emphasis on not drawing too much attention to themselves. Staying "low-profile" is critical to them, as they suspect anyone could be a Chrome Kite spy. One of the most important issues to a Swappernetter is the nature of education and its method. They believe that the entire world needs to be one's classroom, and they reject the Prussian model for education. They place heavy emphasis on seeking out new mentors for learning new tasks, and live for DIY projects.
The Swappernetters get their name from their preferred method of handing textbooks to each other: unauthorized copies of material saved to USB flash drives. They swap these with each other in back alleys, as if dealing drugs. This is why their movement was at one point called the "Sneakernet Underground," borrowing an old term from the early 2000s that referred to swapping of data between individuals via flash drives as a means to avoid exchanges being easily tracked via internet traffic. Flash drives quickly become a symbol of their resistance, though the Chrome Kite realizes not everyone in possession of a flash drive is part of the resistance. Regime loyalists will often distinguish between "Friday Swappernetters" and "Navyrope Swappernetters," to distinguish the resistance members from normal individuals who swap flash drives because of a trend.
Swapping of flash drives is seldom done in open view of the public, for fear of being stopped and the drives scanned for textbook contents. Any textbook found on a drive that contains information the Chrome Kite doesn't want taught in its schools - especially Christian apologetics - earns the individual an immediate arrest and possible imprisonment. Resisting arrest may be met with deadly force; and the Chrome Kite doesn't shy away from leveling entire city blocks to take out a single target.
Swappernetters only show concern with information for fear of spies. However, they otherwise share information with those they trust freely. They can be somewhat protective of certain assets and possessions of theirs, but will freely share others. They attempt to be as altruistic with each other as possible, believing it to be "tempting the Hand of Judgment" to leverage or extort one another. Suspected traitors are shunned, though violence against traitors is discouraged - except in self-defense.
The most religious of them model themselves after the First Century Christian Church, and even show an affection for Coptic architecture. However, they have learned to keep this hidden away; lest it become clues to the Chrome Kite that could compromise the safety of an entire network of Swappernetters.
Swappernetters are also fond of building catacombs underneath their cities, to serve as their true dwellings. The ones without intact families show a particular preference for this. They will often form fronts in order to feign compliance of children with Chrome Kite education demands - all whilst secretly defying those demands at every turn, and teaching children lessons to immunize themselves from Chrome Kite indoctrination.
When they do take over a dwelling, Swappernetters tend to prefer run-down houses with catacombs already beneath them. Most of them attempt - within reason - to blend in with their non-Swappernetter neighbors, taking special pains to regulate who is and isn't allowed to know the truth of who they are - and who else they know. Evasion is preferred over combat, and occasional self-sacrifice is lauded as honorable. Only Frontliners are expected to be routinely involved in combat situations; and even they are encouraged to limit combat to only when the enemy forces them to.
The especially skilled have developed the means to create their own geothermal plants inside certain catacombs, specially feeding lines of power to Swappernetter-controlled locations. These locations put self-restrictions on their power outputs, to reduce suspicion from the Chrome Kite. Some also remain connected to the main power grid, and attempt to mask their energy sources while paying minimal electrical bills.
Solar panel power is discouraged. Not only do solar panels produce toxic waste in their production; but they are too easy for the Chrome Kite to locate via Stagtar droid surveillance. Any non-approved building with solar panels on the roof is assumed to be trying to disconnect from the grid, and is considered a potential enemy. Unauthorized use of solar panels may lead to incarceration, due to the Chrome Kite wanting absolute control over how much energy one uses - and how much one pays for that energy.
Catacombs contain their own libraries, complete with computer labs that use internet connections with multiple proxies to mask their locations. Frontliners who work as hackers are encouraged to find holes in this security anywhere they can and patch it, so the Chrome Kite can't pinpoint underground networks.
Following in the heels of ideas for Sniperbadger: Fall of the Critter Resistance, there was an emphasis on creating a premise for a spin-off series to Sodality happening before the events in Centipede + 49 and Ciem Tomorrow, but showcasing after the events in Vindication. Since the Sodality of Gerosha failed to stop the Society of the Icy Finger on its own, being torn apart by legal ramifications due to their war to destroy the Hebbleskin Gang, the next generation would take over.
Younger characters that didn't get much time or attention or ability to do anything interesting during Sodality' needed to be aged up slightly, and allowed to take over the helm for the previous generation. With the scattered Sodality either in hiding, on probation, or in prison; their surviving children needed to get the job done. Jordan Sterlie and Tabitha Pang's budding romance also needed a backdrop. New characters Sarah Ruben and Tobias Reno also needed a backdrop. It was also decided that the society started by Navyrope would produce offshoots. Vince Finton and Joo-Chin Pang, therefore, became twin inspirations for the Anthony character that becomes the Swappernetters' founder.
As stated elsewhere, the idea for the term "Swappernetter" is derived from the term "sneakernet," which was coined in the early 2000s to refer to file swappers that shared flash drives with each other in order to avoid traffic detection by ISPs and the government. This was considered a problem in the early 2000s in particular, when the RIAA was cracking down on music piracy and noted this trend by users as a way to get around the crackdowns on sites like Napster and BearShare. The Swappernetters in the new series would share Creation Science, anti-socialist, and other materials with each other on flash drives in order to avoid interception by the secularist Chrome Kite regime and its totalitarian crackdowns in a similar fashion to how the old 2000s pirates would use flash drives to avoid getting caught by the RIAA sharing stolen music.
In this fashion, the Swappernetters are putting into practice what Thomas Jefferson is often attributed with saying: "When injustice becomes law, resistance becomes duty." Their society's values take a lot of cues from 2013 podcast messages and YouTube videos hosted by Bradlee Dean and the Sons of Liberty radio network. Their aesthetics took a lot of hints from 2012-era preppers, as often featured on shows like Doomsday Preppers.
Initial inspiration for the running and hiding came from the SatAM Sonic the Hedgehog cartoon.
Inspiration for the Frontliners took a turn after exposure to Mirror's Edge and Mirror's Edge: Catalyst. Frontliners - particularly the Twirlflame Trio - became modeled after the Runners from that game series in terms of overall mission. However, their overall look and clothing choices were dictated by the limitations of The Sims 3 and The Sims 4 at time of inception. Tabitha has made the transition to MakeHuman, and also has been portrayed by DeviantArt Ulzzang model Ja Young Kim. Within those limitations of Sims software, however, Tabitha and her friends took style cues from Dying Light (which also features a faction called "Runners") and Grand Theft Auto V.
Non-Frontliner Swappernetters began to take inspiration from the non-Runner offGrids from Catalyst. There is some debate if Chanticleer Cleems is a true Frontliner or not, though he's definitely a Free Agent. This is similar to the Catalyst character Nomad.
The contrast can also be seen in that the Chrome Kite is trying to distract orthonoid citizens from what it's really about and doing by tearing down both good and bad parts of Arkansas to replace its architecture with "soul-less glass." Little Rock becomes a confused mixture of ghetto slums and glass structures symbolic of oppression, throwing in the "ruin porn" aesthetic in the place of the minimalism in Mirror's Edge.