The Autonomists were a political activist group from the Shadow Years who advocated the old system of separate sovereignty, where each state can maintain their own laws and customs. This was in direct opposition to the League of Free Men, who wanted a united world government.
Although records of the Shadow Years are hazy, is believed that Autonomists were blamed for a deadly terrorist attack that killed some 5,000 members of the League of Free Men, who were peacefully demonstrating for a unified would government. The LFM made no formal accusations, but three months later, on December 23, several hundred known Autonomists were assassinated in separate locations. In addition, the three main offices of the Autonomists were the targets of the release of a newly developed nerve gas. The nerve gas was responsible for approximately 3000 deaths, the majority of which were Autonomist office personnel, but many of those killed had no connection with the Autonomists. Blame for the killings was placed on the LFM, but there was no proof. The failure of official investigations to convict the perpetrators of these mass murders created a wave of vigilante actions; retaliation followed retaliation. The problem was compounded as the terrorism spread across national boundaries, engulfing the world with bloodshed.