Looking Up, Life from the Geofront
When you live at the bottom, the only thing you have is to look up. If you're lucky you can see the lights of the great towers and the stars. If you're like most people, you just look at concrete. But the stars and lights are still up there.
You look up, you know. There's no point looking down. The only thing that's down is concrete, and rock, and if you have a little bit of luck, a few more levels of the geofront. This is where the refuse settles, where the trash comes tumbling down from above. That's another reason to look up, because you never know when something is coming down.
Aerin, geofront temple maiden
Geofronts are the basements of the arcologies, and the megastructure of choice in areas not stable enough to hold builds the size of mountains. These structures are dug into the earth, and reinforced, wired, and finished so that the majority of the structure is indistinguishable from being in an arcology. Some of the largest arcos in the world do not have a hard boundary between the arcology and the supporting geofront. Others literally create an overworld and an underworld, shifting unsavory and low income elements to the geofront 'basement' while the wealthy and desireable are drawn up into the world of altitude equals status.
Life on the bottom is to live in the shadows. Despite the lights, there is a pervasive sense of darkness and claustrophobia in the geofronts. If the power goes out, if the air circulation fails, the heavy gases, the waste fumes and the rest build up, and the darkness closes in. There are similarities between living in a seacology and geofront, but where most oceanic residents have a more laid back approach, the terrestrial residents are more prepared and paranoid about the hazards of their environments. Most attribute this to the fact that in the case of an underwater or space utility failure death is quick. In the case of failure underground, there is plenty of time to slowly suffocate, starve, or perish from dehydration.
Nothing lights up a room like a bright smile.
Or a nice pair of tits, eh?
Fina and Beretta, Nirvana Bar, geofront residents
The geofront is populated by the bottom of the eocio-economic ladder, criminal elements, and the dispossessed. As such, the civilian quarters in geofronts are cramped and small, and many municipal and infrastructure elements that would be hidden elsewhere are left in plain sight. There are pipes and conduits exposed, some meters across. A residential unit could share space with a power junction, while a shopping center could squat on top of a million gallon water processor station.
The most important function of the Geofront is that of municipal services. The recycling centers, water reclamation centers, incinerators, maintenance housing areas, repair stations, and other necessary equipment for the operation of an Arco is typically housed in the geofront. The personnel who run this equipment seldom venture out of the geofront, unless running errands to manage the system. This further enforces the notion of a separation between arco dwellers, and the geofront dwellers. If asked to describe a geofront dweller, the most common impression is the municipal worker, in a monochrome jumpsuit, carrying a tool belt, possibly escorting a repair droid to where ever the problem is.
Geofronts are also used for storage purposes, and these are divided off into partitioned vaults. The most common use of vaults are for long term storage, typically finished goods awaiting transport, raw materials waiting for processing, or the least sundry use, as prisons. The prison vault is the definition of an oubliette, a place to put someone or something to forget about it.
In the absence of sunlight, isolated by stone and concrete, the residents of geofronts form their own low sort of culture. This culture venerates virtues of stoicism, thrift, and vulgarity. This creates a cultural tell that marks long time residents of the geofronts. A pale complexion, a diet that leans towards the cheapest foods and vitamin supplements, and a certain uncouth directness. This gives most non-geofront residents the opinion that the subterranean folk are sickly, rude, and, borderline barbarians. In some cases this is true, but in most cases, it is not. They just don't involve themselves with the artificial niceties of surface dwellers, and like many modern people, find cheap foods (Kraft mac n cheese) superior to 'real food'.
You know the thing about the food? The machines make it, but machines don't have taste buds, they can't taste anything. It makes sense, we only think we know what real food tastes like, we've only pretended to eat in in a sim, or the fake stuff with the rip off lids. Maybe thats why soy tastes like everything, because the machines, the machines can't taste!
That's bull, there are tasting machines, to make sure the food is palatable, and to make sure it has the right level of salt, sugar, vitamins, and minerals.
I had real food once, it was terrible. Didn't taste like anything like back home.
The most common residents of the geofronts encountered are the unemployed or partially employed youth and young adults. With a burden of free time and a lack of funds or entertainment, these unattached people are the most likely to travel between the geofronts and the arcos, and between the geofronts and the favelas, forming a bridge between the three sections. Security is the highest between the arcos and the surrounding sprawl, and relatively low within the main structure. Criminal factions that don't have a foothold in the geofront, don't have a way into the wealth and influence of the arco.
Chinpira are the criminal go-betweens of the Geofronts, the fixers, runners, gang members, and rough sorts who are suited to loitering, offering violence and opportunity. The term originated from Nippon, where the most efficient model of arcologies were engineered. Most young residents of the geofronts are branded as chinpira due to the simple visibility of the criminal go-betweens and their functionality in the Cosmic Era.
That's the thing about the archies, they look down on you, or avert their eyes. At least until they want something they can't get up in their golden prison. They want drugs, they want the sweet stuff, the black market stuff, they want to press flesh, and taste blood. And they pay good, they pay in credit, in trade goods, the good stuff you can't get easy like anywhere but up their their gentrified fortresses. So you smile nice when they give you a ring, but you don't make eye contact unless they come looking for you.
Never give them a real name, living up there bakes their brains, they've got no common sense. That's how most of them get caught, doing stupid stuff. Then they squeal when the wojeks put the questions to them. A machine, they don't get things like false names, when some kid cries that they got the snuff film from Mister Happy Dreams, the machine tries to cross reference that, and gets nothing. Dumb ass toasters.
Don't cross the Ko girls, they might be shallow, but they're mean and most of them are armed.
The geofront is a repository from criminals. Those who carry out criminal activities, or need semi-regular access to an arco, or it's network, will make their residences in the lower security geofront. The main business carried out is illegal data transfer, especially the operation of black data feeds. After this is the age old industry of guns, drugs, and sex trafficking. This aspect of crime has taken a hit as the CogNet has functions that emulate sex and drugs, and there the relative response to guns discourages weapon crimes.
The actual chinpira, the real chinpira, are unemployed people who make their money off of handling criminal transactions, such as moving data codes and SimSense chips through public sectors. They have large amounts of spare time, and money. Like Ko girls, the chinpira have a visual code, a form of conspicuous consumption that goes in the face of the geofront mentality, but a crude and low fashion that espouses vulgarity in the face of the gentrified arcologies.
Myojin and Maidens
The dwellers in the earth do make efforts to be connected to the natural world but not in the way that most would expect. Most geofront residents are naturist or animists, honestly worshipping nature. This is an increasingly common religious facet of the Cosmic Era as more and more humans are living in completely artificial environments. Scattered through the geofronts there are shrines to nature. These started generations ago from co-opted and abandoned hydroponics centers and failed underground parks. The myojin are personifications of nature that are surrounded by living plants and sometimes petting zoo like animals, providing oases of nature underground. These shrines are tended by a self appointed clergy, a group of 'shrine maidens', who emulate the Miko of Japan. They tend the facility, gather the offerings made, and keep the shrine open and themselves cared for. The generosity of the Chinpira is meager when it comes to currency, but great when it comes to deeds.
The Myojina Maidens are cultural figures in the geofront. They are known for their ceremonial attire, which is very conservative in nature. They carry either a humble broom, used for cleaning the shrine, or a bouquet of branches and flowers as a symbol of the myojin spirit of the shrine. The Myojina carry a box known as Pandor, a reference to Pandora's Box, and to the gehobako or box of mysteries carried by the original shrine maidens. A Pandor is a container for relics and contain a mixture of bones, dolls, and other highly cherished items. A family grieving over a lost child will give the child's favored toy to the myojina, and it is placed in the Pandor, a ritualistic offering of sadness and grief, allowing the myojina to take it away with her.
The faith of the geofront is not a true faith in that it has a dogma, central body of rules of codices, or even coherent history. The shrines and shrine maidens arose naturally over time, and the human penchant for ritual fostered their growth in a place where churches couldn't raise lofty cathedrals, command an agricultural loyalty, or exist on a community largesse.
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? Responses (5)
This submission is ripe with setting. The writing style really brings the sights and sounds of the Geofront to play out and flow uninterrupted.
The communities you create fit into the setting in a sort of balanced, justified manner. One can see not only why they persist and what their motives are but also what chain of events over the ages brought the mixing pot into the state it is now.
Inclusion of the Pandor box is a particularly great touch.
- Great job on this one. The words flow, the setting is rife with realism and sci-fi in equal measures. There was a movie not too long ago that reminds me of this place, but I can't remember the name of it.
Love the paranoia of the residents based on the 'here you can die slowly of suffocation...' comparison
The rich live at the top, the coarse and the criminals live at the bottom, got it. A quick survey of the idea here, I like the time you took with the Myojin shines and the hints at culture that come through. But are the people down here still wired into the virtual reality of the CogNet? Do your surrounding matter that much if you program yourself to experience whatever emotions or sensations you prefer?
Generally not, if you're doing CogNet aid either you're lucky enough to have put your own rig together and smart enough to find a way to get signal, or you're patronize a simsense parlour. Its the other side of Demolition Man where people are living in slums and eating rats instead of zipping around in self driving cars and eating at Michelin star awarded Taco Bells