“Fight for your Homeland” is written on the gates that lead to Athens. The heavy-set, grey industrial walls encircling the capital are covered with engraved inscriptions in an ancient language, long forgotten to the citizens of the bristling, industrialized city-state. These are in turn covered with graffiti expressing the profanities, social concerns and anti-establishment notions that fill the minds of its current, more modern and rather impoverished inhabitants. The proud message is remnant of a time the city is eager to forget, back when the second jihad declared by the Alliance of Allah once again left the once-proud city looking like a crater.
…And craters are fertile soil to plant industrial sprawls. The city-state is flanked by huge industrial complexes belonging to Ares Macrotechnology and Renraku Corp., the iron lungs of its faltering economy. The Awakening led to a curious revival of some sort of Greco-Roman aesthetic, so the industries’ chimneys are shaped in the form of Doric columns, spitting black fumes into the atmosphere like incense offered to appease a vengeful god.
The main city’s arteries are its rail network, many a politician’s over-used symbolism for progress. High above the walls, monorail bridges invade the city’s sky, and provide a low ceiling to its avenues and buildings. Their monolithic columns make the ground below look like a concrete rainforest, and the shivering caused by a high-speed train passing overhead soon becomes an Athenian’s instinctive way of keeping track of time.
Under the railroad bridges is where the city’s vibrant heart beats. Ardent and somewhat sloppy rebuilding has left the city with a scar tissue of narrow avenues, labyrinthine byways and roads, inadequate plumbing facilities and tall, featureless concrete buildings. Fast-food joints rashly deliver their take-away specialties, street gangs prowl in byways trying to sell their stolen goods back to the consumers, drowsy bouncers guarding small-time shops, bars and gambling dens.
Thousands of civilians walk on roads lit by the multi-coloured, flashing hues of neon signs in mock-archaic fonts, and screens flashing advertisements and notices. 21.00 o’ clock every day, the streets are flooded with workers returning home from the factories, parading through the streets in Ares’s orange work attire. Apartments are usually small, and adorned with cheap, graceless Greco-Roman decorations, and the buildings’ uniformity is sometimes interrupted by the domes of ill-repaired orthodox churches.
Tiny apartments, small shops and hovels, the city’s cells cover Attica’s ground like an overgrown tumor…