Monday, February 7, 2011

Tenement Towers

During the pogroms and excesses of the Third Regime, one of the more heinous abuses of power that took place was the deliberate construction of a series of arcological Tenement-Towers within the grotto districts within the Fifth Arrondissement of the Third Tier. Buried and isolated beneath the main areas of this area, the Tenement-Towers were used as prisons, secular gulag-asylums, and repositories for the numerous enemies, resisters and revolutionaries who opposed the increasingly erratic and paranoid dictates of the Third Regime which was dominated by a so-called Council of Marshalls who were supposedly the real powers behind the Prime Minister. They put people here whom it would be inexpedient or inconvenient to lock away within a Sphere, as that would be too public, and those people cast away into the Tenement-Towers not only mandatorily surrendered all civil rights, they were redacted from the records and rendered non-persons.

As reviled and villified as the Third Regime is for what they did, one must remember that it wasn't until the Seventh Regime that the policies of rendition and detention were abolished and the Tenement-Towers granted special dispensation as unique and semi-sovreign sub-districts of Devukarsha, all under the auspices of the Fifth Arrondissement.

Whole generations of political prisoners grew up inside the self-contained Tenement-Towers, cut off from Polite Society, removed from the datanets and expunged from the records of history itself. Some had reverted to forms of neobarbarism, contractual cannibalism, various bizarre religious manias, and other means of coping with their imprisonment and isolation. Four Tenement-Towers were completely dead when the doors were finally opened and the way was cleared. Everyone within murdered by some infovert mediaform that escaped during the initial confusion surrounding the local authorities at their first discovering the extent of the situation. The underclasses of the grotto districts are adamant in their folklore that this is the moment when the Four Apocalyptoi were released. There are, however, only records of one instance and only one rogue mediaform. Things do not add-up. It is a definite anomaly.

Since the Renormalization, as the Seventh Regime referred to it, the Tenement-Towers of the Fifth Arrondissement's Lower Districts, the grotto-levels, have become the heart and soul of the underclasses who have flocked to these Buried Towers in droves ever since they were first granted their special status as semi-sovereign special districts. Kuchimbra has taken-up residence within the grottoes just beyond the Tenement-Towers, in a region of caverns and shafts that date back to the initial efforts at terraforming Riskail, areas that have since been designated parklands and preserves.

Anomalists and Comparative Anthropologists, as well a Political Socionomists lead expeditions and survey-sorties into the various Tenement-Towers, some with permission, and others more clandestinely. The more that is learned about just what happened in these places, the experiments that were carried out, the involuntary modifications inflicted upon some populations, the infections that developed, the cults that formed, and the increasingly outre and bizarre tales of the anomalous events and occurences that dominate the folklore of the Tenement-descended underclasses have become both lucrative and troubling for those engaged in their recovery and dissemination.

Strange things took place within these long closed walls and as psychometrists and others of their ilk arrive on the scene, the tales that are coming forth are increasingly weird, disturbing and politically volatile.

There is talk amongst the Parliment of Hours and elsewhere about sealing the Tenement-Towers back up, of blacklisting the pernicious rumors coming out of these places as though it were a wave of viruxive infections or worse. Some factions are calling for a reinstatement of the old Rendition and Detention Edicts. Others are moving to scourge the Tenement-Towers with sterilization and matter-revision protocols.

What secrets lurk within these mostly empty places? What could be so upsetting or damaging to so many entrenched politicians that hasn't already been revealed? The more some voices clamor and shout to close the doors or to eliminate the taint, the horrid stain upon the past...others wonder and question and more teams are sent in to discover the Truth, one way or another, often competing against other teams that are on less altruistic missions.

Who will uncover the secrets buried in these places? Will they survive long enough to get the dangerous information, the undefiled knowledge, the radical truth out of these buried Towers and bring it forth into the clean, clear light of day?

Only time and the dice know...


  1. Devukarsha's version of the Canton Walled City. Love it!

    It's pretty telling that four successive Regimes considered these places useful as a dumping ground/petri dish. Is the Gibson quote about deregulated areas as "...deranged experiment in social Darwinism, designed by a bored researcher who kept one thumb permanently on the fast-forward button." applicable here?

    ...contractual cannibalsim...

    Is that a typo for/comment on voluntary cannibalism becoming a formalised social practise*, or some form of technologically-mediated anthropophagy of which we unenhanced humans can barely yet conceive?

    PS: Fifth Arrondissement. *facepalm* How did I miss that before? Well played.

  2. @Chris: The Cantons of Riskail are coming later this week, they're more manageable to deliver than the whole Arrondissement set-up is proving to be--that will be multiple posts for sure.

    Social Darwinism is alive and well in Riskail. Experiments are commonplace in a citystate that registeres and regulates Insane Geniuses, Mad Wizards, Bizarre Adepts, and so forth.

    The quote you offered is very apropos indeed.

    As for contractual cannibalism, that was no typo. First we eat the lawyers was the mantra of the mobs that instituted this disturbing legal-dietary practice. An obvious corruption of Shakespeare taken much too far and in all the wrongest of ways possible. Oddly enough there are three competing vidramas (two are musucals) devoted to this aspect of the Tenement-Tower's sordid past.

    Voluntary cannibalism tends to be more prevalent amongst certain orbital habitat-societies and relgious colonies out beyond the prying eyes of dietary infidels. It isn't common, according to the popular media, but there are always stories like the one that surfaced recently about the leather-clad Donnerite separtists who took over a section of the Nuevo Sierra mountain range near Gilpoy. Not a pretty scene, that.

    As for technologically-mediated anthropophagy...there could be a whole post on just that subject, a long one, but it might have to wait until Halloween-time, so it is less jarring, especially around meal-time...

    Actually, the assignment of which Arrondissement got this prize was random. But it was a nice fit. Sometimes the dice can be kind...

  3. Lots of serious ideas in there. Somewhat prosaically I know, it also reminds me of a less welcoming Paradise Towers from the Doctor Who story of the same name.

  4. Paradise Towers? Which season/what Doctor? We haven't been able to catch very many of the new ones (post Peter Davidson), but did see two with the second or third new guy, David Tennant(sp?) that were really quite good. We'll see if we can sign-out the season you're referencing from the local library. It'd be very interesting to see how they handled somehting along these lines...

  5. Seventh Doctor, his first season in the late '80s.

    Reviews here, the third perhaps most interesting:

    Always worth trying YouTube too.

  6. @Porky: Thanks for the links! This will be interesting to look into--we're always interested in seeing how someone else handles similar ideas/concepts, especially since there isn't a whole lot that's really, truly new under the sun. It's all in personal interpretation and how one presents the stuff, and no matter how different something like Riskail might be, people always try to make comparisons, so it's handy to have a few on-hand to help set them at ease and get them to start looking at how we did things differently...

  7. @Porky: Just got a chance to watch some of the Paradise Towers episodes--twisted, weird stuff--and reading the Wikipedia link you sent led to Ballard's High Rise. That goes on the library-list right away. We were inspired more by Paolo Soleri and his arcologies (Arcosanti) with a dash of R. E. Howard's classic Red Nails...but this new tangent that you've pointed out looks absolutely fascinating and well worth pursuing farther. Thank you very, very much!


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