The Red Mile
Every city has its iconic residential neighborhoods: Alphabet City; Hyde Park; Beverly Hills; and in Saskatoon’s case, the Red Mile. This is a place where people end up, more than a place where people go: there’s not really a whole lot of street life or iconic attractions; the houses aren’t very nice and they’re all a bit smushed together; but there are many people living here. The rent is affordable, the amenities are plentiful, and on the whole it’s as good as a middle-class citizen can get in this town. More important than any of that, though, is the Red Mile’s status as the ‘neighborhood of the future’: the first ever large-scale subterranean dwelling engineered for its residents’ psychological health. Since its establishment in 2063, the Red Mile has been held up as the gold standard by which other underground neighborhoods may be measured.
The Red Mile was first blueprinted in 2046 by Isaac Arthur, the notorious Croesus Co Engineer; but it only began work in 2051, 2 years after his incarceration. The project was unparalleled in its scale: 106 square kilometers’ worth of structure, intended to house roughly 2 million people. Stretching for 25.6 kilometers on either side and descending 5 stories, the Red Mile is the largest underground structure in the world—though it has been imitated on a smaller scale in several other places on Earth. More notable than any of those, however, is the use of Arthur’s theory of synthetic terrestrial habitats in the construction of the Chinese Ring—the residential districts there bear an uncanny resemblance to the Red Mile. Curiously, Croesus Co never took any action against the Chinese government for its blatant theft of their floor plans.
LIFE IN THE RED MILE
The Red Mile is not a Mile long, wide, or deep. Indeed, the mile as a length of measurement has been deprecated in the UCAS for some 200 years. However, the structure’s internal lighting relies on low-intensity red bulbs, which means that part of the name is accurate. The term was actually coined by the construction’s detractors, in reference to a novel which we shall not besmirch by naming here: in the early days of its construction, a number of conservative Saskatonians derided the cramped conditions and unfavorably compared it to prison life. History has made a thorough mockery of those initial doubts, to such a degree that Croesus Co officially rebranded the building as “The Red Mile” in 2067.
Today the Red Mile is generally seen as a very nice place to live by the modern standard, and much of it will be recognizable to the freshly-incarnated: the larger apartments can accommodate a post-nuclear family; the smaller apartments are affordably-priced for couples or lone professionals; and they all have private bathrooms—something which you would be hard-pressed to find outside the UCAS. The first, second, fourth, and fifth floors are all zones for residence; the third was instead designed as a mercantile floor with shopping and entertainment. The building is maintained by a round-the-clock maintenance staff of some 8000 people, most of whom live in the building themselves at a discounted rate. There are, however, a number of facets to Red Mile life which might initially perplex someone who is more accustomed to a Pre-I-day mode of living.
The most immediately peculiar thing about Red Mile living is the sun. Obviously, being a self-contained structure, there is no sunlight in its halls; but the building was engineered with the psychological needs of diurnal beings in mind. Each residential floor of the building runs on an independent 12-hour cycle of high activity and low activity, to more easily accommodate the round-the-clock business of Saskatoon. Normally, these are lit with low-intensity red lights; but during high-activity hours the thoroughfares are lit by white lights designed to simulate the sun, while the ceilings are painted to resemble the sky. The third floor remains under constant high-activity illumination, allowing the Red Mile to use the same 24-hour business as the rest of Saskatoon.
This variance in light levels has lead the people of Red Mile to adopt a peculiar health craze: light goggling. Light goggles are goggles which, through various means, purport to “train” the wearer’s eyes for exposure to natural sunlight. The methods by which they do so range from “special polarized lenses” to simply mounting low-intensity LEDs on the inside rims; and the scientific veracity of these devices remains dubious at best. Despite this, they are quite the fashion among the people of Red Mile—especially among the aspirant yuppies of the upper floors, who are historically prone to great fits of worry.
Another unique aspect of Red Mile life is the popular mode of transportation. The building is crisscrossed with a circuit of self-contained highways, which intersect every .8 kilometers. However, these are almost entirely devoid of automobile traffic: because the Red Mile is largely enclosed, carbon-emitting vehicles are strictly forbidden within. Instead, most people rely on pedal-powered mechanical transportation. The Red Mile observes a bicycle sharing system, of the sort which was first prototyped in China; but many families, instead of keeping several bicycles at once, maintain a load-bearing tricycle designed for 4 or more passengers. The most expensive of these are battery-powered, and there exists considerable debate over whether it is better for Red Mile families to purchase load-bearing tricycles or a golf carts.
Aside from this, there is a devoted industry of load-bearing inkmen: sapient automobiles or beasts of burden can easily find employment renting themselves out to the infirm or disabled. Sadly, this industry is but a shadow of what it once was: like most fun things, it was ruined by a small group of determined shitheels. In the early 2210s, the prevalence of “Body on Board” flags—which were used by inkish transports to distinguish themselves from non-sapient machinery—lead to the creation of the derogatory term “BOBby”, which was soon adopted by SPARC and similar segregationist groups. The inkish transportation industry soon fell from grace and is today derided as a symbol of servitude before conventionally ambulatory sapients. Despite many attempts by city officials to paint the industry as noble and necessary, today it remains an exception and not a rule.
The Canine Quarter
USING THE RED MILE
As a place of intrigue. The dark corners and dim lights of the complex lend even the most innocent exchange. Here the players will find shifting shadows and thick crowds crying out for misdeeds both great and small. The players might try and make a quick buck selling drugs to the curious teenagers and desperate parents of level 3; or they might become unlikely heroes when they foil a nefarious organization’s bombing plot.
As a place of great amusement. Life in Red Mile is peculiar, to say the least. If you are running a more lighthearted sort of campaign you will find it ripe for surreal and amusing adventures. Maybe your players’ bootleg sungoggle business can run afoul of the dog mafia; or they might make a dangerous ingress into the world of underground tricycle racing.
As the players’ residence. This is maybe one of the best places for the players to start their campaign: the Red Mile is a microcosm of average Saskatonian life: it’s cramped and utilitarian but it could be so much worse. People who living here have a lot to lose…but so much more to gain. This is the perfect staging ground for a classic crime story.