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Arcadia is the name of the world encompassing the first book of Sleepless Flame. The defining, and only, feature of civilization is the capital city. Since no one has ever crossed the borders on the fringes of the world, the inhabitants have never bothered to refer to the city itself as anything else. When you go to Arcadia, you are going to the city.
The rest of the planet is featureless and devoid of life, most likely as a result of centuries of resource harvest abuse. Uninhabitable to any living creature without some form of mechanical support, most corporations have considered it a lost cause.
The city itself is composed of megascrapers that span upper atmospheric levels of the planet, and bore deep into the crust for stability. The height of the scrapers are divided into two sections, aptly named the Uppercity, and Undercity, and the borders of each is marked by an eternal purple cloud known as the Haze.
The Upper and Undercity are two completely opposite worlds: one the pinnacle of luxury combined with technology, and the other a desolate wasteland, inhabited by the unfortunate and the criminal hierarchy. With the unsteady peace that has formed between the two worlds, visitors from each are allowed to cross the Haze with the use of giant automated elevators. The most common method for an Undercity dweller to travel is from the use of public elevators, provided they can afford the passes. But the most fortunate of the Uppercity echelon have personal elevators built right into their sky-groping homes.
Arcadia does not have a central government system, rather the control is shared over five of the largest Megacorporations, Galavantier Corp being arguably the largest, and each is fighting an invisible war to gain more influence. The police forces are sponsored by each of the corporations, their jurisdiction determined by mini treaties or business agreements established by the companies.
Their reach does not travel far beyond the public elevators of the Undercity, a condition made by the treaties established. Down below, there is a sort of chaotic anarchy, but many crime lords have taken power, maintaining strongholds in a semi-feudal system.
A marvel of human achievement, the Uppercity is composed of the habitable half of the forest of skyscrapers, far away from the noxious fumes of the Haze. By day, the sun radiates over the shiny ivory colored metals, creating a façade of holy auras.
But at night, every building emits and reflects a kaleidoscope of light, colors shifting at random intervals of the eve, coordinating with the floating billboards that pass by. The nightlife is teeming with energy as most of the inhabitants emerge for their nocturnal adventures. Pedestrians walk between buildings by transparent walkways which amplify light, making it appear as if traversing over a rainbow. The roads are maintained by cleaning drones, and patrolled frequently by the corporate police.
There is entertainment for almost every taste in Upper, ranging from quiet shopping centers, brightly lit clubs, and exotic restaurants, provided they still cater to the picky tastebuds of an Upper dweller. For the youth, streets composed of gaming simulators completely take them on a trip away from the drudges of privileged life.
Transportation is never an issue in Upper, you could travel along the laser rails by trolley, a most relaxing method of traversing, though many people here have their own personal air cars to get around in. Or perhaps you are craving a tad of danger, and fancy a visit to the Undercity in the magnificent public elevators, closely guarded by police for the safety of the individuals, and also to keep the riff-raff of the Undercity in check.
The monolithic offices of the largest megacorps are the tallest buildings of Upper, giving of a false sense of security, as if the leaders are watching over the populace inside their steel towers. To the placid sheep-like inhabitants of Upper, the heads of the corps are seen as their protectors, always trusting they had their safety and best interests in mind. But ask anyone in Under, or anyone intelligent enough to pay attention to their surroundings, they know the big wigs are nothing but generals in a militaristic state.
Upper is also a hub for intergalactic trade, its ports heavily monitored for illegal cargo and misconduct. But the savvy criminal knows to land in Under to deposit its contraband, and which officials turned the blind eye for a cut of the profits.
In general, Upper is a nice place to visit, if you enjoy false atmosphere. Or amusement parks. Just be sure to keep your head down and your mouth shut.
At the crusty, calloused feet of the Uppercity’s daunting structures reside the tattered remains of civilization known as Undercity. A polar opposite of the decadence above, an individual born there may live their entire life not ever seeing the sun. It frequently rains, courtesy of the chronic condensation of the Haze. Though not caustic, it is highly recommended to avoid drinking the water the sky sheds.
It is home to the most forward and thriving crime culture of the planet. The corporate police hold no jurisdiction here, apart from the minute boundaries of the public elevators. The most successful businesses, bars and brothels, can be found in close proximity to the public elevators, giving Uppercity “tourists” a less dangerous route to fulfill their vices.
The majority of businesses and civilization is settled along the traveling market caravan routes. Outside this, a great distance away, can be found all the “dirty little secrets” reputable companies of the Upper don’t want the public to stumble upon. But with a little digging, one can find a whole treasure trove of filth, especially to the right buyer, as information is Under’s prime commodity.
The Undercity is not home to just criminals and the corrupt, many individuals who are simply down on their luck, and can’t afford a ride on a starship, make do in squalor. They take jobs ranging from package couriers, escorts, and the ones with fighting capability, mercenaries and bodyguards. Some even make jobs as bar hands or maintaining other businesses that thrive in Under. One of the more lucrative and equally dangerous jobs includes scavenging in the Fringe for old valuables and supplies inside the ruins.
The city is divided into two areas: The Civilized Zone, surrounding the public elevators to Upper (and where Uppercity dwellers feel most comfortable crossing), and the Uncivilized zone, where Under dwellers can live in peace without the interference of annoying Upper tourists.
As with any territory, Undercity has its pros and cons. You can keep your mind, but leave your money at the gate.
The city’s chronic affliction, The Haze. A purple murky cloud swirling around the skyscrapers waist, acting as an ethereal border between the two cities. It responsible for the weather system in Undercity, frequently precipitating the inhabitants below with a semi-safe liquid. Because if its unclean taint, the residents of the Uppercity have constantly moved their world higher in order to evade its rising.
Its origins are unknown, but the most accepted theory is that it formed as a result of a combination of pollution, unrestrained experimentation, and chemical warfare. Many operations have been attempted by corporate militia to cleanse the air, due to its corrosive nature and its radiation interfering with surveillance drone sensory equipment.
Ultimately, both Under and Uppercity dwellers have resolved to leave well enough alone. Neither wants the other to have open access to their borders anyway.
Beyond the borders of Undercity, is another concentric circle known as the Fringe, a desolate place of ruins covered in a deathly quiet. Undercity dwellers know of the best dealers that reside inside the Fringe, and there are few who travel the distance to reap the rewards.
There are many dangers that lurk inside this jagged tranquility, beings such as the Experimentalist hordes or the Enforcer specters that roam the cracked pavement. But it is the best place to avoid politics and social obligation, which is exactly why Nara has chosen prime real estate to settle in.
No Man’s Land
This describes the area beyond the Fringe that no living creature is able to survive inside. The atmosphere has been replaced by a swirling green-blue gas, and those who are unfortunate to cross its influence have never returned.
To the keen eyed, Enforcers have been spotted passing through No Man’s Land to unknown destinations, but no one is willing to find out where they stop.
Arcadia is a teeming metropolis that caters to every walk of life from roguish thugs to corporate monarchs. But where would YOU fit in? I made a quiz for you to try and find the answer!
I will be your galactic guidance councilor, and together we will discover: