Locations of interest
If abuse of neon lighting may be taken as an indicator of how low a population’s morale and aspirations have fallen, then Little Shanghai is perhaps the most desperate place in the solar system. The population of pods and synths is highest here, at times seeming to make up half the press filling Little Shanghai’s sidewalks. Pimps, narcoalgorithm dealers, and sharks ready to loan fast cred with the lendee’s body as collateral crawl the streets in cars whose tawdry glow and swirls of AR graphics compete with the garish, lascivious signage overhead. Beyond the street grid and tramways, there is virtually no design to this place. The buildings are in a riot of styles and intimidatingly dense, a play gym for some of the best parkouristas in the system. The roughest and most sprawling of Valles’s souk neighborhoods—the part of my city that may most clearly be called a slum—wraps around the foot of this dome like the coiled insides of a mitochondrion, filling the space between the transit conduits connecting Little Shanghai to adjacent New Shanghai and Valles Center.
The bars, red market augmentation parlors, and massage parlors here make no bones about what they are, standing in stark contrast to the clinical glamor of the city’s other quarters. Like the catch grill on the drain of a slaughterhouse floor, this quarter collects the city’s dregs—anarchists, scum, bohemians, and addicts—for easy clean-up. I recommend aggressive AR filters, an anti-nanowarfare package, and a breathing mask in this neighborhood. Judging from the occasional deranged behavior of some of the residents, the corps, the syndicates, and perhaps entities we know not of use this unfortunate quarter as a petri dish for memetic warfare, attempts at creating their own basilisk hacks, and airborne trials of designer biochem. Note also the storefronts that sometimes open up offering an exciting new product on easy terms, only to be gone in a week.
The criminals operating here are mostly garden variety triad scum and local gangs who war constantly on one another, but one criminal group stands outside the usual fray. The Moderates arms syndicate is well entrenched here, and they’re a law unto themselves. They walk and talk like glossy Nytrondheim advertising directors, but their heavily armed reprisals against gangs that cross them are savage and leave no survivors.