Five Minutes To Midnight
On the bottom floors of the Enclave, on decks that nobody was ever meant to live in, is the Undercity.
When the Plague set in, the Enclave reluctantly opened its gates to refugees at the bidding of the Overcity. The warehouses, cargo decks, and factory floors of the Enclave were repurposed as living space. And, in time, as temporary structures became permanent, the Undercity became a chaotic sprawl of tenements and houses in neon and rust.
The corps like to leave the undercity at arm’s length, so it’s rare for them to get directly involved there. In theory, a corp might send a Mr. Johnson down to rent some muscle and send them against their enemies, but it’s considered to be an approach a little like grabbing raw sewage and hurling it at your enemy: sure, he ends up with shit all over his shirt, but you end up with it running down your sleeves too.
Instead, most of the power in the undercity has aggregated around a network of mobs and gangs, and most of them ultimately answer to one or more corps. They stake out turf, collect protection money, keep the small-time muggers and thieves from pissing on their own doorstep, and generally stop the situation from devolving into utter collapse.
Stacks of cargo containers repurposed as houses. Tenements dangling unstably from a giant electromagnetic crane. A protection racket named Steve. Welcome to Haulage.
A city full of people means two things: a lot of people drinking, and a lot of people pissing. The reclamation deck turns one problem into the other’s solution.
Eerily-lit hallways, heavily lined with lead. This is the turf of the Church of the Atom, and they keep their holy vigil over the nuclear pile that powers the Enclave.
The factory decks were intended to be much more, but they’re still impressive. Automated mechanical lathes and makers remain under the control of the Overcity, but they’re not the only thing that gets made in Fabrication. Hand-made goods are at a premium in the Overcity — a status symbol for the man who has everything. In the sweatshops of Fabrication, there’s nothing that can’t be bought.
The Rail Riders make the cramped ventiliation shafts and transit tunnels their own, in the hidden spaces between tube stops, and dream of the days they’ll take back the metro from the corps. If you need something hidden — out of reach even of the Overcity — then the Rail Riders can do it for you. Careful, though. A group in open rebellion against the Overcity make for dangerous company.
When you’re young and bored and rich and from the Overcity, you can’t very well go getting your kicks in places the law is competently enforced. Fortunately, they have a whole underslum to terrorise.
Buzzers are gangs from the middle floors out and looking for trouble, all overpuffed egos and hot-rod hovercars. The gear they bring down when they’re looking to cause trouble is worth at least a month of your wages, maybe more, but take one down and you can bet that their gang will be all HONOUR and COMRADESHIP and ALL FOR ONE as they hunt your sorry ass down, and the cops won’t do a damn thing to stop them. The mobs like them, because they have deep, deep pockets and aren’t shy about blowing them on narcotics. The cops like them, because they’re the children of the people who pay their wages. The people who they’re pushing around and strutting all big in front of? Not nearly so much.
Buzzers aren’t the real danger, though. Knights are. Some executive who’s seen too many superhero films looks at his vast bank account, reads a news story on his infofeed about crime in the slums, and decides to funnel his wealth and his ego into building a cyberware suit that he can fight crime in.
Some of them genuinely do mean well and aren’t just in it as an excuse to hunt and kill poor people. Even they they cause more problems than they solve. Knights don’t do the math and they don’t consider the consequences because they don’t have to live with them — they just want to punch bad guys.
And they are good at it. When you get passionate about a hobby there’s a tendency to pour your entire income into it, and execs have a lot of income to pour. The armoured suits they wear are top-of-the-line stuff: even accounting for their owner fitting them out based more on what they think is cool than what is effective, a well-equipped exec is a one-man army. They can be taken down, but it’s far, far easier just to make sure they get sicced on somebody else.
Corpacops are the Overcity’s police force. The corps like to leave the undercity at arms’ length, so it’s rare for actual corpacops to get involved. Where a permanent police presence is required in the Undercity, you can guarantee that the jerks who get stationed there are the ones whose presence is too unpleasant even for policement to tolerate.
When the Overcity has no choice but to step in — in the case of severe breakdowns of order like, say, a riot — or in the event that someone is being enough of a thorn in the corps’ side that the mobs can’t or won’t do anything about it — then it’s a different story, and you’ll be getting troops who are well-trained, well-armed, and efficient. Corpses on the evening news is still bad for share prices, even if they are undercity corpses, so corpacops won’t just go in shooting, but they will be quite happy to disappear people once they’re in their cells.