In the Mess

North America

VisionQuest Virtual Theme Park

At the junction of the Salish-Shidhe Council, the Athabaskan Council, and the Algonkian-Manitou Council, the VisionQuest corporation (AA extraterritorial) runs territory around Lake Louise. The deal that established the theme park created mini-parks in Edmonton (in the Athabaskan Council), Calgary (in the Algonkian-Manitou Council), and Spokane (in the Salish-Shidhe Council).

The standard way for a tourist to get to Lake Louise is to board a VisionQuest bus at one of the mini-parks and ride it into the mountains. There are well-patrolled parking garages at the mini-parks, and shuttles from their nearby airports. Only well-vetted VIPs (the sorts with an entourage including personal security) take their own vehicles up to Lake Louise. This avoids the traffic jams that plagued the area before Dunkelzahn made the deal.

The other traffic on the VisionQuest roads includes supply trucks, employee buses, and maintenance and security vehicles. Security dress in royal blue.

The park is a combination of real-life and virtual-reality environments that allow visitors to play in a pseudo-medieval fantasy land full of knights, wizards and princesses, which use the hiking trails, canoeing and kayaking as part of the pacing of the story; people there just for the regular outdoors are still integrated in the virtual reality so they know not to break someone else’s immersion. The storylines never make a dragon (or any other Awakened critter) the bad guy.

At VisionQuest, almost all of the dragons customers meet are high quality animations. For about a dozen groups a year, they meet a real dragon playing the part of the Wise Dragon Providing Advice. (Said dragon is usually a young adult trying to curry favor with Dunkelzahn.) And about once a year, that’s Dunkelzahn, who apparently loves to ham it up, to the degree that customers are now asked to provide notice of any history of cardiac problems.

Intermingled in all of this are forests and meadows that are home to the Lake Louise centaurs. Their leader is named Keiiha. Most centaurs are equipped with ScapeGogs and have access to well-fitted body armor and centaur-adapted weapons should trouble arise.

Above Lake Louise at the Beehive (and visible from the resort), Dunkelzahn has a lair reminiscent of Hohenschwangau Castle and Neuschwanstein Castle that extends into the mountainside. While he has been known to occasionally go swimming in Lake Louise to wow the tourists, he reserves the nearby Mirror Lake for sunning himself in private. (Great dragons apparently have no difficulty swimming in water that never goes above 4°C.)

There is also a ski resort here, whose slopes open in early November and close in early May.

Seattle

Spirits

Seattle city spirits have been known to appear as:

Diners

32,767 Flavors

A decker hangout that produces any ice cream you want, on demand, using liquid nitrogen to speed up the process. It has booths for secure meets. Shadowrunners take a perverse delight in getting Mr. Johnson to meet them there, just to see what he orders when the vocabulary of nightclub drinks is denied to them.

Waffle Fortress

Waffle Fortress is a diner printed from concrete and painted to look like it’s made of waffles, with drainage in the sloped roof so it sluices out every time it rains. It’s near the Redmond-Snohomish border where 9 and 242 meet.

Family Entertainment

Bouncy!

An augmented reality trampoline playground in the Redmond Center, where you can tire out the kids playing platformer games. Kids wear vests with airbag collars, using the same technology that allows go-gangs to go without helmets.

Nightclubs

Niagara

A nightclub in Redmond that caters to people who want to talk biz. The walls all sport projections of videos of spectacular waterfalls from around the world, and the speakers near the walls play the matching white noise. (Speakers in the ceiling supply music to the dance floor.)

Solarium

A trendy nightclub in downtown Seattle where people with chloroplast skin get to cut in line. They have daylight bulbs, a beach volleyball pit, and temperatures set to be comfortable with plenty of exposed skin. The stated purpose is to provide light for all the people with chloroplast skin, but it’s really about thirst traps.

Gangs

Brain Eaters

The source material doesn’t have much beyond the gang being fond of fezzes and big enough to eventually franchise into other sprawls. Fleshing that out: they have all varieties of panhuman who can survive the initiation, which involves taking a dose of combat drugs and fighting. In addition to the fezzes, they also wear gaudy neck torcs (pinchbeck studded with rhinestones) that conceal injectors that can fill them full of combat drugs in a single action. They are fond of Red-3 combat axes and shotguns.

Silver Screens

A Redmond neighborhood protection gang. Joining the Silver Screens requires getting cheap biosculpt from a street doc to look like anyone who ever showed up on the big screen in the Twentieth Century, and taking the name of the actor. The gang leader is an ork now going by Marilyn Monroe. Their tag is a 35mm film reel, and their colors are grey and black.

Snow Beasts

The Snow Beasts are a sparkgang in Snohomish, where you need to be able to shapeshift into an animal to join; they are all shifter sparks, though shapeshifters willing to put up with irritating fanboys and girls find them useful as contacts. They are a neighborhood protection gang that engages in some light smuggling; you can leave a credstick with a ribbon tied to it on an upper story window and in the morning an owl secured a bag of drugs (matching the color of the ribbon) to your windowsill and the credstick is gone. Their colors are white and green.

Miscellaneous

Field of Reeds

A small organization set up for ethical ghouls. They run a hospice where palliative care is free, the attendants are all very well trained and expert in matters of philosophy, and when you die, your flesh will be reverently consumed, your picked-clean bones will be interred in their ossuary, and they will pray for the repose of your soul in your preferred religious tradition. The name is reference to Aaru, the paradise ruled by Osiris.

The ghouls here are committed to never taking a sapient life, and also receive bodies from donors throughout the metroplex. They also all get vasectomies or their tubes tied, because they are committed to not propagating what they believe to be an ancient bioweapon that was created to destroy civilizations.

People willing to donate their bodies to be eaten by ghouls are even more rare than people willing to donate their bodies to body farms and medical schools, so this does not sustain very many ghouls.

Ghouls need about 2400 calories per day from raw flesh (mycoprotein, vatgrown tissue, and even clones do not satisfy this), and 800 from sapient flesh— about a quarter pound per day. About 1 body in 1000 goes to science (mostly medical schools); about 1 in 10000 goes to ghouls. US death rate is 869.7 deaths per 100,000 population. Seattle's population is about 3 million, so that's about 26000 deaths per year, which means about 3 people, which is about 471 ghoul meals per year, which is enough to sustain 1½ ghouls. (A human body is 125,822 calories or 157 ghoul meals.)

They also farm pigs to provide the nonsapient part of their diet.

The palliative care angle brings in more, and the service-and-contemplative-prayer angle brings in religious practitioners. The whole place still only sustains a dozen ghouls, and has to spend a fair amount on security because of freakouts over ghouls existing in public at all.

Some ghouls identify with greater panhumanity and proclaim that the ethical thing for them to do is refuse to pass on HMHVV-III. Others say frag you, we’re a distinct people with our own culture and have a right to live and have kids like anybody else. If all of Seattle donated their bodies when they were done with them, they could handle a population of 11,000 ghouls.

Legally, ghouls are not people. Seattle has a bounty of 100¥ for male ghouls and 150¥ for females. (Eye Witness p58)