The Plastic Jungle
The Plastic Jungles circa 2074
The Plastic Jungles are quite a sight, even by Seattle standards. Acres
of dirty grayish and tattered canopies of bioplastic stretched high
overhead from support struts create a near-tropical world underneath,
warm and filled with greenery, the rainwater and (to a degree) the air
filtered by the bioplastic netting and the plant-life. There are small
trees and bushes, creeping and climbing vines, and exotic flowers in
every color of the rainbow, filling the air with a heady scent. Under the
foliage are tents and shelters built out of discarded bioplastic sheeting, scrap wood and plastic, thatching and materials harvested from the jungles. It is a strange indoor-outdoor rainforest on the outskirts of one of the largest cities in the world.
Back around the turn of the century, a wealthy agriculturist built
a series of massive greenhouses in northwestern Redmond, near Echo
Lake. The tent-like buildings were several kilometers across and stood
on land considered too polluted with toxic contaminants to grow anything. The agriculturist proved the skeptics wrong—almost. The land yielded amazing harvests of food, but most of it was too contaminated for human consumption.
So the greenhouses were converted to grow tropical plants and
flowers until the Crash of ‘29, when the owner lost his entire fortune
and the complex went into receivership. As the depression left by the
Crash worsened and Redmond was slowly abandoned, nobody bothered
to look after the place. Since then, the abandoned agri-domes have
become home for much of Redmond’s metahuman population, the
various plants and flowers allowed to grow wild.
The metahuman squatters in the Plastic Jungles are understandably
mistrustful of outsiders, especially humans. They are organized
into neo-primitive tribes, living off the land. Ironically, decades of
land-reclamation here have worked and managed to clean up the area
enough to grow food again. This makes the Jungles targets for Barrens
gangs and scavengers looking to steal harvests and food supplies.
Redmond used to be one of the wealthiest and most successful communities of greater Seattle. In the 20th century, it was a major center for the burgeoning computer industry. Huge office complexes and skyscrapers sprang up along with suburban homes as businesses expanded and moved into the area.
In 2013, a partial meltdown of the Trojan-Satsop nuclear plant contaminated Beaver Lake and the surrounding area for several kilometers, creating what would come to be known as “Glow City.” A lot of Redmond residents began leaving the area for greener (and less glow-in-thedark) pastures as property values plummeted. Then came
the Crash of 2029. Redmond’s primary industry vanished overnight. Some eighty percent of local businesses collapsed. A large number of residents simply left, leaving behind defaulted and foreclosed homes and businesses. Lured by the abandoned apartment buildings and condoplexes, numerous war refugees and Seattle’s homeless began moving into Redmond. This led to further violence, more flight, and more empty buildings, repeating and reinforcing the cycle. In the space of a few years, Redmond became a virtual ghost town, inhabited by criminals, transients, refugees, and those unable or unwilling to get out. The metroplex government shifted focus away from shoring up Redmond to “containing” it, effectively walling it off (literally, in some spots) to keep it from “infecting” the rest of Seattle.
The Redmond Barrens are practically lawless, where possession of
the smallest amount of food or the least valuable trinket can be a reason for someone to kill you. Weekly convoys of armed trucks deliver food to the district’s few stores and charitable shelters, frequently attacked by roving bands of squatters and gangs looking to steal the shipments.
Around half a million live in Redmond today. The actual number
is difficult to determine, since most of the population is SINless and
it’s impossible to do an official census. Backgrounds are diverse, but
the percentage of metahumans is relatively low, owing to violence
from the Night of Rage and similar incidents, and metahuman flight
to Puyallup. Orks make up the majority of metahumans in the district,
followed by various changelings, still a relatively new phenomenon,
and somewhat more evenly spread throughout the metroplex.
The Mafia and the Yakuza run Redmond far more than the local
government. Since even legal goods are difficult to get, the black
market is massive, including daily necessities like food and medical
supplies, followed by entertainment ranging from pirated trid, simchips, and BTLs to booze, porn and similar money-makers. Arms sales tend to be small unless the mobs are arming their own gangers and soldiers for some kind of war, which they do frequently. Neo-feudal allegiances to the syndicates are a common way for people to survive, so long as they don’t draw too much attention from the other side.
Yakuza and Mafia recruiters keep their eyes out for promising new
talent in Redmond, especially from the local gangs. Working with the
syndicates is one way out of the gangs and offers the promise of wealth, respect, and hitting “the big time,” although most prospective “made men” get nothing but a body bag at the end of the day.
Redmond’s terrain is mostly flat, with a few hills in the southern
part of the district. The winding path of the Snoqualmie River dominates almost a third of the district. The river is filthy, choked with toxic sludge and other refuse (including the occasional bloated corpse). Packs of devil rats hunt all along the shoreline, some of them further mutated by whatever is in the water. Apart from kilometers of abandoned buildings, the cracked and deteriorating streets, and the vast slums and squatter “towns,” the most distinctive features of the Redmond landscape are the “toxic castles,” the various factories and corporate manufacturing plants. Plenty of them do look like techno-Gothic structures of rusting metal and soot covered brick, surrounded by high walls topped with razor wire and moats of their own poisonous filth. Armed guards patrol the ramparts to keep the facilities safe from squatters and roving gangs while most plants ship materials in and out via helicopter or tilt-rotor these days, to avoid having to bring trucks through the streets.
> The Matrix in Redmond is spotty almost to the point of non-existence in many places. Static rules supreme pretty much everywhere but Touristville, which is mostly one big spam zone. The only tags you’ll find beyond Touristville are either corporate castles or gangs marking their territory. There are a few pirate jackpoints scattered around the district but a lot of them are so old and out-of-date that they’re more likely to fry your wetware than anything you’ll meet in VR.
> The ethereal plane of the Redmond Barrens is in a similar sorry state. The radioactive and chemical contamination, coupled with generations of crushing hopelessness and violence, have combined to make the astral atmosphere positively toxic.