HISTORY OF THE CITY
The city lies surrounded by the wastelands of Anatolia. Centuries of industrialisation and siege warfare has resulted in an inhospitable dead zone. As the city receded behind it's ancient unbroken walls, multiple scorched earth policies were enacted to stop invading forces from gaining a meaningful foothold in the vicinity.
The larger buildings were decimated under defensive fire. Time eroded the smaller, less well built structures. Roads fell into disrepair as a retaliatory act by retreating forces. The end of the EXPANSION WARS gave way to isolation.
As prosperity returned and the populace's attention was focused on rebuilding, the city grew not outwards but upwards; eventually culminating with the INGRAM AEROSPACE TOWER that shone like a beacon on the region. All who were displaced and ambitious eventually found their way to the city. Although welcoming at first, the city struggled to accommodate it's rapidly increasing migrant population. The first solution was to dig down into the bedrock below but that approach was only a finite solution to a seemingly endless problem. Another unintended effect was the increased stratification of it's citizens.
With no other choice left, the city closed it's doors to those in need. Pass papers were given to the chosen few skilled migrants able to travel. The remaining nomads were left to crash and disperse like a wave upon the city's walls. Only a few scattered refugee camps litter the Northern perimeter of the city; playing a seemingly endless game of cat and mouse with the sentries that patrol the walls.
THE INGRAM AEROSPACE TOWER
The tower rose up through the city almost as quickly as Ingram himself. It dominated the skyline and became the tallest man made structure in the world seemingly overnight. Using heretofore unheard of metallurgy and composite materials it looms over every soul around it, breaking into the stratosphere.
Although it employs most of the residents of the city, INGRAM AEROSPACE uses none of the tower's ample space to house it's workforce. In fact only 5% of the company's employees have access to the structure that takes up 50% of the city's volume. As Ingram is considered to be the architect of the city's renaissance and it's most beloved father, very little access has been granted inside to those not on his payroll.
Various attempts at espionage by rival cities and royal houses have borne little fruit. Contradicting reports have ascertained that the mirror like panels that line the cardinal columns serve either as some sort of energy collectors or transmitters between the various IAS supermassive relays across the world.
Reports that various sections of the panels light up in unsettling hues in the middle of the night have been explained away as standard maintenance work coming from inside the tower. The claims of spontaneous combustion and/or disappearances of individuals around the city during those times have been dismissed as coincidence, hysteria or criminal efforts to undermine the public's confidence in INGRAM AEROSPACE.
THE LOWER LEVELS
The city's solution to it's burgeoning population was to expand down into the bedrock below the desert. Rapid development of pre fabricated housing alleviated overcrowding at first, however this proved to be a temporary measure.
Soon the poorest of the displaced and nomadic migrants started tunnelling further down and broke through to the remains of ancient civilisations that once lived there. Dissent grew among the citizenry as these "nouveau pauvres hordes" did not assimilate well to a life that demanded stability and an adherence to the social contract.
The city administration took their mandate given by frightened voters and decided to block all surface access to these tunnels; trapping the nomads underground. A separate city grew beneath the LOWER LEVELS. A dark PIT without light. Without law. Seeking a means of controlling the remaining criminal elements that thrived in the lower levels, the administration started using THE PIT like a de facto prison. It was a "compassionate" alternative to the death sentence. For the mentally ill, political activists and other undesirables banished there it would prove to be a sentence without compassion or reprieve.
Frustrated parents all over the city now frighten their unruly children by threatening to throw them into "THE PIT" if they don't behave. It tends to work rather well.
MID LEVEL INFRASTRUCTURE
If the IAS TOWER is the mind of the city, this super structure would be the heart. All utilities for the mid and lower level habitats coil around the IAS tower and circulate water, power and waste around the city. Waste is sent to recycling centres within the superstructure and broken down into it's constituent components.
Metals are smelted, hydrocarbons repurposed as fuel cells for public transport, nitrates combined with rotting organic matter are turned into fertilisers for underground farms and water is reclaimed for consumption. As for the power, it is granted for free as a gift from Ingram. Since the IAS TOWER contains the world's largest and safest fusion reactor it produces a daily energy surplus that is routed back into the city grid.
Apart from serving a utilitarian purpose the infrastructure that rests underneath the MID LEVEL HABITATS serves as a social barrier as well; a divide between the poor and the middle classes. Life expectation is on average 35% longer for those living on top of the infrastructure due to mostly unimpeded exposure to natural light lower air pressure.
The barriers around the perimeter of the infrastructure have had to be fenced off in recent years due to a spate of accidental deaths. Investigations into the deaths found out that adolescent couples would climb the barriers in order to find privacy and "watch" the romantic desert sunset unimpaired and uninterrupted.
MID LEVEL HABITATS
After the EXPANSION WARS ended the city grew out of it's neo-feudal state. Technologies that took centuries to develop that were lost for decades were rediscovered in years. Traditional 20th Century urban sprawl returned.
As the city took it's current shape with the IAS TOWER dominating the centre and the lower levels sinking down around the edges, the MID LEVEL HABITATS remained largely untouched. The architecture froze into a unique mixture of Brutalist tower blocks and steel skyscrapers. The public's need for a sense of history and continuity resulted in bylaws that prohibited the development of more modern building styles; relegating the latest technological advancements to the hidden bowels of the MID LEVEL INFRASTRUCTURE.
The obvious exception to this decree is the proliferation of holographic display technology. Technically speaking, since these displays are not physical constructions they are not prohibited from being utilised on any hard surface (a loophole that businesses, advertisers and the media took great advantage of). As a result, many in the MID LEVEL HABITATS have never seen the night sky.
Ethnographically, the MID LEVEL HABITATS are primarily populated by the city's original Turkic inhabitants and the first wave of migrant populations hailing from BRITANNIA to the West and the SINO EMPIRE to the East. Assimilation has not been very successful. Minorities tend to live in close knit neighbourhoods where their language extends to the municipal signage dotting the streets.
WALL AND SUPPORT STRUCTURE
Originally built behind THE OLD OUTER WALL to shelter retreating civilians and serve as a weapons platform, the Wall grew through the years to provide defence, support for the Topside and inter level transportation.
It's imposing height and armour plating make land based incursions against the city a futile effort. It bristles with thousands of quill like rail guns to deter long range ballistic threats. In terms of defence the WALL is second to none with zero perimeter failures for over a century.
The four arms that reach up to the TOPSIDE were long considered engineering miracles before Ingram rose to the prolific heights he is now known for. The surfaces themselves are load bearing and made of Elastisteel panels joined by tensile graphene filaments, while the interior is hollow leaving room for mass transit elevators that carry road traffic from to and from the TOPSIDE.
This method of construction allows the arms to bend and sway making them resistant to earthquakes and cross winds. The only gripes the citizenry have are the commute times as the elevators themselves have yet to be upgraded to the latest technology INGRAM AEROSPACE has to offer. In a time where communication is instant and mag lev technology can zip you across the city in minutes, the elevators still find use despite their sluggishness due to their heavily subsidised fares.
THE OLD OUTER WALL
The oldest man made structure that remains an official part of the city has been protecting it's inhabitants for millennia. Originally the innermost part of several concentric defences designed to stop invasions, THE OLD OUTER WALL is where the terrified inhabitants of the city made their last stand in THE EXPANSION WARS. It was their last bastion then and it is their first line of defence now.
Practically speaking, it is an unnecessary line of defence; a superfluous barrier that stands forgotten, slowly eroding into the desert that wants to claim it. The only people that make some use of it are the refugees currently camped out around the Northern perimeter.
These people slowly make their way around the city, using THE OLD OUTER WALL as shade against the harsh sun and as a source of sustenance. They feed off the flora growing around the water runoff from the city that eventually drips through the cracks. Every couple of years or so a group climb up and make a run for supposed weaknesses in the city's defences that they've heard half whispered rumours about.
The result is always the same: the would be intruders are killed and the camp threatened with the same fate if it does not disperse. So the nomads move around, displaced yet again. All that remains are the colourful paintings and graffiti they left as a symbol of their dreams. Those too are swallowed by the desert in short order.
TOPSIDE RING ROADS
As the inhabitants of the TOPSIDE HABITATS are wont to say "Living without a view isn't really living"; this attitude permeates every aspect of a topsider's life including the mundane.
The private skyway colloquially (and erroneously) called the "TOPSIDE RING ROADS" (it's really a single highway) is the ultimate expression of the mundane made breathtaking. Most topsiders choose to take their luxury cars out for a spin and commute between TOPSIDE HABITATS rather than take the mag lev cab service like a commoner.
The TOPSIDE RING ROADS are a single circular highway with multiple lanes that is suspended below the TOPSIDE HABITATS via magnetic locks. The automated traffic management system coordinates a series of ramps to and from each habitat onto the highway to ensure safe travel.
To avoid obstructing the air traffic utilising the airlocks at the bottom of each habitat, the highway flexes and rotates off it's central axis to clear the way for air transports, shuttles and law enforcement patrols.
The result is breathtaking: you truly get the sensation of driving among the clouds with unobstructed views of world beneath you.
There are only two ways a citizen can get into the TOPSIDE HABITATS: be filthy rich or serve the filthy rich. Each habitat consists of luxury apartments lining the outer shell with multiple levels of retail and entertainment centres making up the interior.
Weather you've beaten the odds and earned your place up in the clouds or are lucky enough to be born into it, what awaits you is a life of leisure. Imagine waking up and watching the sun rise below your floor to ceiling bedroom window. Your breakfast is brought up to you and is guaranteed to be full of/free from whatever the latest super nutrient/hyper allergen is that particular week. Your workday happens to consist of a series of chats over rounds of mild sporting activities and meals overlooking whichever direction is fashionable that day. As night falls you can buy the very best drink, substance or person to help you forget that all this is fleeting and sooner or later you'll be dead the same as everyone beneath the clouds.
If you're the one doing the serving it beats working in the lower levels, you'll meet some genuinely fascinating people and the view is rather nice.
A word to the wise: unlike the mid and lower levels almost none of the establishments accept cash. A lot of newly minted visitors make the mistake of not loading up their comm's with credit units. You run the risk of running into disgruntled servers who'll act like total jerks. Don't take offence. It's not you, it's them.
Unseen by most citizens and the source of many a rumour, this is the source of the city's wealth and worldwide influence. Although a long time has passed since the worldwide isolation following the Expansion Wars, humanity still lives in a semi permanent state of isolation relegated to city states.
Ingram was the one visionary who saw an opportunity in connecting the world back together. He knew, as he always does, just what this required: a free exchange of goods and ideas.
The TOPSIDE INFRASTRUCTURE is a honeycomb of factories, warehouses, hangars, runways and launchpads. What this means in practical terms is that the world is finally connected together again and Ingram holds the strings. Food shortages are now a thing of the past. Trade has opened up between rival states. Royal houses who had splintered off bitterly during the darkest of the neo-feudal days are finally talking to each other again.
Humanity stumbled during it's adolescence and almost died off in the process. With the right means and political clout, humanity can transcend it's flaws and find it's place in the sun. This is where the future of humanity is manufactured, packaged and shipped across the globe.