Fear Is Darkness
The upper class of North America would call Chicago a well run machine with an old world government that keeps its citizenry happy and civilized. Truthfully, there is little in the way of order underneath this guise of an exceptional city. The Knights have guarded entrance and exit to Chicago, but the minor corporations of the ring know it to be a raucous place of extremes. From peaceful morning commutes to crime sprees that terrorize the night, Chicago is a city on the ring that is ripe for anarchy.
The City Built in Tiers
The mid-level being only way outsiders are allowed to enter the city, this once thriving middle class paradise has slowly become overrun by the crime and poverty bursting from the city’s lower level. The wealthy have retreated further into their cocoon on the uppermost level, where Governor Walters has sealed out any undesired people and maintained a psychotic sense of order-feeding the mania of the terrified ignorants sitting atop the garbage fire of once prosperous Chicago.
- Mid-Level South Side
Chinatown, the Downtown, and the highway leading out over the refugee camps are the landmarks of Chicago’s south side. The Downtown area is defined by partially lit commercial buildings at all degrees of abandonment. Lights shining from the tops of buildings and out of the street level shops reveal the cloud of smog separating the mid-level from the domain of the upper class. Structures supporting the upper level crown the buildings in the Downtown and inspire awe for the city’s ambitious architecture. Chinatown is far more dim, with a few primary businesses operating at all hours and a massive market crowding the streets during the day, when light trickles in from the edges of the south side that face east. The highway is guarded by high walls except for its exits, and features an upper walking level often crowded by incoming refugees. It was constructed to keep them off the streets below, but its hardly sturdy structure hasn’t exactly fulfilled the task.
- Mid-level North Rim
Guarded well against the shores of Lake Michigan, the north rim is the mid-level’s last bastion of UCAS government, consistent order, and relative safety. The people themselves have banded together in the north rim, searching for an opportunity to be accepted into Chicago’s upper class. The people here are salaried middle class workers, the last of their kind to hold out against the impending rise of the lower class. They work the docks and travel into Future City for day jobs, or they jostle for position in the obsolete city bureaucracy. There are department stores and suburban dreams on the north rim, but the panic filling the lives of the people is pulling at the seams of their reality.
- Mid-level Future City
Future City is the surviving corporate district of Chicago, located in the same place on the Mid-level and Upper level. Several megacorporations are represented in Future City, and it remains the last place to work a white collar job on the Mid-level. Gangs also operate in Future City, where the multi-national businesses are practically ambivalent about their existence and general affect on quality of life in the city.
- Mid-level Docks
The Chicago Docks stretch for miles from the north rim to the south side, largely guarded by military forces of three different governments. Passage through Lake Michigan is coveted in the world of the PANvirus and the Docks have become some of the most valuable territory in the whole UCAS. Lined with any number of abandoned, corporate, and military buildings, the Docks are kept safve by a well-oiled matrix program tracking the identities of individuals belonging to factional powers on the seas. The program is named after the conglomerate of organizations working together to secure the Great Lakes passage known as JONAH.
Chicago’s underworld is also known as Subterrania, a city constructed amongst the network of utility tunnels reaching to all ends of the city. These tunnels were long ago put in place by the UCAS government and they quickly became the home of vulnerable people in the wake of the PANvirus. Whether actual infected and their families or simply the dramatically hopeless and poor-whether ordinary ganger or the scummiest criminals thriving in the cramped darkness, these tunnels are home to the lowest of post-apocalyptic Chicago. Subterrania can hardly be called structurally safe, since the residents’ primary struggle is one against their own shelter randomly crumbling down upon them. Cave-ins are not uncommon in Subterrania, and travelers should be weary of the stability of its winding corridors and tight crawl spaces.
The Sixth World has not been kind to the once charming midwestern city of Boulder. Although the ultra rich managed to save the great mile high city of Denver, Boulder became a city on the ring, a carcass of civilization dominated by the will to survive in a world that has lost its mind. There is no leader of Boulder in the Sixth World, the streets are owned and operated by an amalgam of pirates and scavengers that have spent the last ten years in factional war, though they would sooner treat one another as family than allow an outsider to walk among their dogmatic creed of wretches. As a result of this chauvinistic anarchy, Boulder is controlled by countless criminal organizations, mobs, gangs, and families that have decided their only way to survive is to band together in a traitorous hive stuck on the Ring of Fire.
Prior to the spread of the PANvirus, the city of Boulder was merely a great neighborhood in the urban sprawl of Greater Denver, an area considered occupied by the Ute Nation.
“Boulder sure looks nice from the Burning Plains, but you’d beg to be walking through fire after a night on this town.” -Johnny K
- The Tribes
Remnants of Ute populations that controlled this area prior to the PANdemic are still the primary occupants, though the area is considered disputed on the north end of Boulder.
The no man’s land of Boulder, hundreds of gangs have laid stakes in the corners of this vast neighborhood and claimed businesses as their protected territory.
- The University
Boulder’s makeshift medical operation has settled in the University, where amateur physicians always wonder who will be in charge of the place next. Power from Denver is diverted to the University first, in a merciful show of pity for the damned refugees that dwell in waking comas in the halls of the University. If there is a power outage or rolling brownout, the University is usually the last to feel it.
The Sisters of Caritas are stationed in the basement levels of the University, protected by Fifth World technology that could have survived a nuclear war, where they selectively treat and rehabilitate the refugees that come to their door.
The safest place in town for a runner, the streets are packed with bars as alive as the Burning Plains itself. If you find yourself in Cavedog there isn’t much else to be seen, but its said that asking the right questions could gain a person access to a whole new side of Boulder.
Dallas and Fort Worth were thriving cities of the ultra rich in the days before the PANvirus, though the guarded walls have shrunk closer to the windows of their towering residences where they are forced to watch over the chaos. The Dallas Dropoff has become the very largest section of the Ring of Fire. A place of disorganized crime fueled by rampant starvation and dehydration, the Dropoff is a dangerous place even for a seasoned runner.
Since the forced evacuations that began ten years ago, few have entered and few have left the walls of Denver. Storytelling has led people to believe that the ultra rich of Denver have themselves never seen the Ring of Fire that passes only miles beyond the high walls of their city.
Denver is now home territory of Lone Star, the megacorporation that has earned an even more bloodthirsty reputation in the past decade.
This port city fell to two caribbean warlords during the pipeline catastrophe that crippled the North American supply of petroleum and diminished the desire of megacorporations to defend the territory.
Home of the Japanese arms manufacturer Renraku, protected by the disturbingly well armed Knights Errant that guard its walls.
City on the Ring, operated by a militant quasi-government that has been contracted to protect one of the last surviving oil pipelines to the east coast.
The end of the Caanad pipeline, this city is a cold and windy reminder of life before the PANvirus. Gatlan protects the streets of Milwaukee, so some semblance of peace through order has been established in the last few years.
Well guarded port city of the C.A.S. that has become an upper class paradise, some of the world’s best soldiers stand at Houston’s wall.
Well protected by the Knights Errant as a paradise for the entertainment of the upper class. Horizon is the dominating megacorporation in this town.