Eurosource Plus p. 4. ISBN # 0-937279-67-6. Property of R Talsorian Games, Inc.


Saint-Denis: A war on two fronts

Saint-Denis vs Paris

Saint-Denis, a large, multi-cultural, and dual-natured commune right north of Paris. Both the home to many diverse and rich communities and a den for crime and gang violence; a thorn in the back of Paris. With a long history of racism and discrimination against its people, the Dionysien and the rest of the Parisians have a gap amongst themselves that no one bothers to decrease nor anyone appears to want to. A mix between Maghrebian-French citizens, African peoples, Eastern European immigrants, displaced Southern Europeans, impoverished workers, and any other minority without the eurobucks to make it on their own, the stories of Saint-Denis and its surroundings go from hopeful opportunities to rejection and a descent to the bottom.

The commune kept deteriorating through the years, and the post-war era hit the already desperate Saint-Denis hard. The people were doing whatever they could to survive and theft was common during the mid and late 2020s, both to private citizens and public facilities: University campuses, the Stade de France, the railroads and the train service centers in and around Saint-Denis, food distribution centers; anything unused (and sometimes still used) was robbed, scavenged or ransacked. The department council was being pushed from everywhere to keep Seine-Saint-Denis under control. The Parisian government, local business federations, the general government, even some mega-corporations, were seriously concerned over the proximity of the deteriorating situation to businesses in the neighboring communes.

Desperation made the local governments rush to solutions, and hurry brings carelessness. The pressure was looming the Saint-Denis city hall, very close. A stressed police force worked way past their limit, a mandate from high-up to prevent crime in the city fast, and a history of stereotyping and discrimination was a recipe for disaster. The police, in their eagerness to meet their goals, took a one-size-fits all approach to the problem and instead of targeting criminals, they did everyone. They subjected regular citizens to stops and searches when going in and out of the developments, long questionnaires, abuse, beatings, and even arrests for failing to respond as the police wished you to.

Police harassment and abuse were just one more inconvenience on the life of the Dionysien, but the extent of this newfound push just made life in Saint-Denis nearly unmanageable. Those fortunate with a job would take much longer to reach them, if they even could, courtesy of the police barricading entire areas. Anyone trying to socialize, entertain themselves in the open, or even walk around, would get intimidated out of the streets. The few showing any resistance might not come back home, either beaten and arrested or killed. All the mistreatment while the criminals still operated, with almost no change. Such a level of over-policing might catch you more criminals, but probably not be the ones the police wanted to get. The syndicates adapted, moving north and east, hiding better, avoiding police detection, creating decoys, hiring mules. No inventive is larger than the criminal one.

Paris exploded during the food shortages’ riots, loud and proud. But no place had the anger of Seine-Saint-Denis. Years of rage and resentment turned into strength and rebellion. The poverty and famine were very real and common, and left alone, communities looked into themselves for support and against others as invaders. Activism surged; artists turned into social advocates and regular people became fighters. Entire areas became islands in control of either criminal or defensive gangs fighting for their turf or their people, they against the rest. Radicalism increased, people rejected any outside authority, armed themselves and fought the police like they never did before. Criminal rings became more territorial as scarcity spiked, with violence inside but specially towards the outside. The so-called no-go zones of Saint-Denis grew large, swallowing almost the whole commune, and expanding towards La Courneuve and the south of Stains. The dangerous and dense banlieue of Clichy-sous-Bois took over neighboring communes of Livry-Gargan and Aulnay-sous-Bois but never reached the level of violence that Saint-Denis did.

Saint-Denis vs Orbital Air

The expansion of the Saint-Denis no-go zone into La Courneuve rose the tension with corporations to the tipping point, and in particular, with Orbital Air. They were concerned with the criminality of Saint-Denis leaking into their facilities and their associates’, and heavily lobbied to control the growth in their direction. Many had argued and keep arguing whether the fears Orbital Air brought in the early days of the criminality of Saint Denis were genuine or just a faked agitation to disguise their wishes to expand the Le Bourget facilities to La Courneuve. Nonetheless, the fight over it was fierce and one of the most interesting chapters of Parisian history.

The war between Orbital Air and Saint-Denis was one with no clear beginning. The gangs and the people of Saint-Denis never attacked Orbital Air facilities themselves, but did steal and raid smaller firms doing business around the space station. One can guess that was enough hurt to their bottom line to anger them. The front line of the conflict was on the Georges-Valbon park, a large marshy public park at the border between the combat zone and the Le Bourget Complex. Orbital Air corporate security and the skater packs clashed regularly there, but mostly harmlessly. Teenagers who met in the park liked pranking and irritating the corporate forces as well, admittedly with some vandalism sprinkled in, and the patrollers responded in kind. For a long time, the fighting did not go any further than that.

The Georges-Valbon park was, in reality, one of the most peaceful places in the area. Of little interest to the gangs, on the edge, often used by kids, skaters, and performers, conflict on it was rare. Of course there was criminality, and sometimes combat broke out, but it was by far much less crime than going just a few blocks west. However, to Orbital Air, these lands were very attractive. A mostly open park on top of wetlands, right on the southwest edge of Le Bourget, impeding them from expanding closer to the center of Paris.

The first intrusion by Orbital Air came when permits to build a business campus were granted on lands on the northern fringes of the park, where the old jogging paths that no one dared use anymore were, almost as if testing the ground. Projects continued, little by little, taking over 30% of the park surface. It was obvious that the corporation was trying to take over. The rappers were the first to voice their discontent, mainly smaller ones that made life and music in the park. But their plight resonated, and bigger artists joined their protest. A huge concert was planned very close to the new border with the Le Bourget facilities, bringing thousands of people. The festival ended up in tragedy. After a few hours of performance, shooting broke out and chaos ensued. Close to two hundred people died, shot or trampled. It was all very suspicious, a huge concert with no reason to escalate as it did, and no side knowing what sparked the fighting. No one really knows for sure to this day, but the gangs were convinced Orbital Air had its hand on it. The massacre caused a militarization of the surroundings, not only in La Courneuve and the park but all around. On one side the Parisian police forces and the Gendarmerie and at the other the Orbital Air’s corporate military forces.

The Maghrebis, the Islamist, the Ethiopian, the West-African, and even the few Corsican families who often clashed for territories met. They were doubtful of what happened at Georges-Valbon. None of them really had a heavily armed presence at the concert, just some of their people around, so the extent of the bloodshed was irregular to say the least; and the retaliation seemed quite convenient as well. Also, the targets were spread nicely, with people from different warring groups dying. Someone wanted the gangs fighting with each other.

So, they pretended to eat the lie and fight, all while in a truce. The Maghrebis planted fake informants in the Gendarmerie, high up people in their ranks, supposedly scared members trying to flee the upcoming war. Other groups put phoney sold-outs selling information to Orbital air. They convinced the authorities that they had the upper hand, and that their moles would help them stop their hits. They also assured Orbital Air that they were safe and that they were eating each other up. Their plan was in full motion.

All warfare is based on deception

You see, the Dionysien underground knew they could not fight a single one of those two enemies, let alone the two of them. Any of the two had resources and firepower enough to take every single gang. They investigated, slowly built up trust from both the French police and Orbital air, got intel from them the same way the police thought they were getting from them. Their informants learned something crucial: unlike they initially thought, the government and the corporation were not working together. The timing of the Parisian police forces clamping down on Saint-Denis in the aftermath of the Georges-Valbon massacre convinced them that both Orbital Air and the police were allied, but either the police were piggybacking on the event or Orbital Air pressured the local government to act. This changed everything. The gangs initially wanted to keep the status quo running. To profit by feeding information, to recede and give ground while preparing themselves with intelligence, resources and money. However, two separate enemies, unknowing of each other, the potential was limitless.

The gangs kept the ruse going for longer; they needed more, and they needed a solid plan before acting. People, routes, safe houses, mercenaries, response times, strengths, weaknesses, how they operate. The idea of the plan was deceptively simple: make the police and Orbital Air fight each other while believing they are doing so against the Dionysien milieu. The practice was much more complicated. There wasn’t a huge window to act without compromising the informants or jeopardizing their plan, and just putting them together in some undescribed warehouse to fight would not have the effect they wanted. They planned an entire week’s worth of hits, different places, different times, fake attacks, all intended to make the French police and the Orbital Air operatives fight.

The operation was huge and complex, and the coordination and planning it required was unlike anything any French criminal ever did. Divide and confuse Orbital Air security, distract them with several hits, scattering their forces and focus; stage battles close to the border of Paris and keep their officers tied there; give Orbital Air the location of a warehouse with stolen goods, only to make the French police arrive slightly later; send Orbital Air agents to investigate a safe house supposedly with Islamic operatives, only to be a vantage point for undercover Parisian lawmen; feed Orbital air with the location of a sale, and, at the same time, knowing their routes, pass to the police the place and time they will pass through; and the last and most important of all: falsify a transport operation of stolen experimental electronics through the Georges-Valbon park and inform both sides of it, and in the only direct assault, ambuscade them. It was a success. Orbital Air’s security, mercenaries and runners fought against the gendarmerie and the police. Dozens died during that week, and most important for the Dionysien gangs, it was all recorded. And to top it all off, thanks to months of counter intelligence with their supposed informants, the syndicates had evidence that the fighters involved were indeed part of the security forces and Orbital Air, so even if they wanted to deny it, they couldn’t.

The aftermath

With an unlikely battle against two of the largest enemies they could go against in their pocket, the criminal underground of Saint Denis became stronger than ever. The Parisian police gave up, retreating from Saint-Denis to only preventing crime from leaking from it to the rest of the metropolis. But with the police left the rest of the little available public services in Saint-Denis, isolating them even further. No more transportation, food, unemployment or maintenance. The chasm between Saint-Denis and the rest of Paris became deeper and still stands large, with few ever leaving the combat zone and even less wanting to ever enter it.

On its side, Orbital Air learned its lesson. They underestimated the people of Saint-Denis; they got bested, and so they stopped their southwest expansion. The spacefaring corporation instead went on the opposite way. They might not take more from Saint-Denis, but ensured they won’t take easily from them anymore either. A large perimeter between the Le Bourget facilities and La Courneuve and Stains got built, some of it walled, some of it fenced, but certainly all heavily armed and guarded.

The continuance of the 8th republic did nothing but grow the needy and the displaced, and with it, the combat zone. From the commune of Saint-Denis, to encompass now La Courneuve, Stains, Drancy, and Bobigny, the Parisian combat zone is large and dangerous; a behemoth towering over the capital yet invisible to most. Some considering it a ticking time bomb. Within itself, the peace in the combat zone did not last long either. Without a common aim the shaky alliance between the criminals did not last, and internal conflicts broke the truce. But to the few gangers still alive that witnessed the one time when Saint-Denis joined to fight against the outsiders, how their cunning, anger and disparagement became a weapon strong enough to repel a city and a megacorp, the Georges-Valbon park stand as a memorial. A shrine and a testimony of rebellion and unity.

A Polluted Paris

The true industrial revolution

The crash of worldwide transportation made Europe eager to repatriate industry, and the 8th republic carried the torch for France, creating within their borders an incredible amount of manufacture and industry. In a politically savvy move, France kept out the most pollutant and less profitable industries with a pretense of environmental concerns, even if the ecological effects of that were minimal. After all, many of them were right across the border in Spain. Regardless, futarchy allowed the French industry to grow thanks to incentives to manufacture of business grade parts and consumer goods. And the new business brought with it an immensely increased energy hunger.

The French people were not strange to the woes of a battered climate, one might say they were even desensitized to them. Shortages, on the other side, are not as easy to become numb to. When push comes to shove, it’s easier to give up the future to fix the immediate; even easier when you already have learned to live with what you believe will come next. Do we need goods? Let’s produce them. Not enough energy to produce them? Burn some chooh2 and produce more. And it worked, consumer product scarcity is rarer in France, and the economy looks very healthy. But of course, it couldn’t have been that easy, or we wouldn’t be talking about it, wouldn’t we?

Toxic Seine

Mobility is king, and this is truer in the time of the red more than ever. The reborn industry of France yearned to be consumed; follow the money, and the people. To the surprise of few, most of the new business was born around Île-de-France and Normandy regions, and the transport for it flowed through its artery, the Seine river. In comes materials from Spain through the English Channel all the way to Rouen and Paris, though goes chooh2 and its wheat, out goes consumer goods to all of France and even Benelux, the UK and Spain. Such a vast and fast industrialization around the river with little environmental regulation took its toll on it. Between millions of liters of industrial water per year, agricultural pollution, and a slew of airborne contaminants, the water of the north of France is unusable and uninhabitable, and the Seine in particular even more. The damage to the river is extensive. Not only is extremely discouraged to ever enter its waters, but under certain conditions proximity alone might be dangerous. Bacterial diseases are usual and extended exposure to the river and its fumes can be lethal. Certain weather conditions such as heat might trigger toxic gases to be released into the air from the chemical pollution. In response, the wealthiest neighborhoods of Paris have domed the Seine, not to protect it from the outside, but to contain and process the toxicity coming from the inside.

eAir® purification systems

France is no stranger to the tribulations of polluted air, and Paris even less so. Little was usually done about it. Just go out with protective equipment or stay inside. What else do you expect? But Paris from the 2030s is a different demon to anything seen in the core countries. Dangerous particulate concentration or chemical pollution often disrupted life and business, making it plainly impossible to be outside some days. Acid rain was more prevalent than ever before, and the days without haze and summer smog were rarer than the days without. Paris was even getting compared to Night City because of its inhospitable and unpredictable weather.

Enter the picture Dr. Antoine Lucy. A materials scientist and prolific engineer who, unlike most of its peers, it’s influential enough to work without committing to a single corporation. With an enormous grant from a dozen companies and governments, Lucy’s team claim to fame was its work on low earth’s orbit researching semiconductor synthesis methods, in particular, of the gas-phase synthesis family. An experimental and scarcely pursued group of techniques aimed to build more effective semiconductor morphologies, Dr. Lucy’s research on this process has been cited several hundred times since he wrote it. The biggest contribution from his research in space, however, was the creation of a semiconductor, using his developed reactions, with some very useful traits.

There are some characteristics very desirable in a semiconductor, and Dr. Lucy’s design filled several of them. As the name implies, the most interesting part of a semiconductor is their conductivity, not too high and not too low, and two metrics are useful to describe said conductivity in practice: carrier generation and recombination rate. Semiconductors’ nature as something in between a conductor and an insulator comes from a phenomenon called electron-hole pair generation or carrier generation. In short, with the help of some excitation a semiconductor molecule enters a state in which electrons get freed and those empty electron spaces or the electrons themselves travel through the material, carrying energy with them. The higher carrier or electron-hole generation rate, the better conduction a semiconductor can achieve. The opposite process to a hole generation is called carrier recombination, and it’s simply the process of the semiconductor losing energy, leading to the empty holes and their free electrons joining. It is desired that a semiconductor has a low recombination rate. A third related feature of a semiconductor is how easy it is to excite it to trigger electron-hole generation. In some semiconductors the energy comes from light radiation, and the ideal situation is that the excitation occurs with visible light. Dr Lucy’s concept had a high carrier generation rate, a lower electron-hole recombination rate and was easily excitable with visible light frequencies, when most of them require UV light. This translated into a semiconductor that keeps its surface with many holes/electrons ready to react to the environment; very useful for air purification via photocatalysis, as it leads to a high generation of reactive oxygen composed molecules (called reactive oxygen species) able to decompose pollutants. The biggest drawback of Dr. Lucy’s semiconductor was its low photocorrosion resistance, lowering its lifetime.

As soon as the semiconductor created by Dr. Lucy landed in the market, it got widely adopted almost immediately. The material was not perfect, but further iterations improved it significantly. Next versions of the product decreased the problems of photocorrosion, although it’s still present. Other enhancements included some material doping, heterojunctions, and grain size reduction (better performance, more radical production). Other engineering work by Dr. Lucy’s team created the technology to use the semiconductor in air purification systems effectively. The initial machines were mostly low scale, but turned very promising. The systems themselves also became very advanced: impressive photocatalytic reactor designs improving air purification; adding multiple variations of the semiconductor to allow for different pollutants to be dissolved; sensors to excite the required semiconductors and generate the required radicals; multiple stages of photocatalysis; even other purification methods being used, such as electrostatic precipitation.

The material, registered and marketed as ehSC (electron-hole rich semiconductor) with its partner line of equipment eAir, was not perfect. The production for it was expensive and almost impossible to manufacture on earth, except with some very prohibitive technology. Dr. Lucy and the consortium of corporations and governments interested in the eAir systems had to create a factory on earth’s orbit to manufacture the semiconductor, making the product a luxury commodity. ehSC’s shorter life did not help the product’ affordability, making it even more unattainable to most. Some suspect that this might have been done by design, but the patents and secrecy around the product have not allowed confirmation so far.

The city of Paris, along with several megacorporations, requested Dr. Lucy to create a large scale air purification system usable at an outdoor city scale. The so-called eAir air purification towers are massive buildings of varying sizes seen all around the center of Paris and its wealthiest areas, and in the arcologies and headquarters of the government and large firms. Although they do not fully clean the air, its surroundings become much less contaminated, and under better controlled environments (domes, air flow controlled areas) they can provide high-quality air. The price of the eAir towers, along with its operational and maintenance costs, makes it almost impossible to have them covering an entire city. The center of Paris, La Defense, the EC arcologies, and the executive areas are covered with eAir towers, while the rest of Paris is left to breathe the noxious air of the capital.

The Charles de Gaulle encampment

France couldn’t be in a worse location for the conflicts in Europe. Neighbors to the civil war in the Basque Country and right next to Italy, the displaced refugees fled right to their doorsteps. The baptized Peregrinación de los Pirineos saw thousands of people fleeing Spain through the Pyrenees mountain range, with, unfortunately, hundreds dead during their travel. Others crossed through the bay of Biscay, facing similar fates. From Italy, the Corsican mafia smuggled most displaced people in while others tested their luck in the Mediterranean toxic and dangerous waters.

The packs of travellers started big in the south, thinning slowly with refugees settling at the southern cities: Nice, Marseille, Lyon, Toulouse. Others became reclaimers or joined traveller tribes. However, the vast majority aimed at Paris and its surroundings; not because they wanted to, but because it was their better chance at some prosperity. The first displaced people in Paris gravitated around Saint-Denis; cheap and diverse. But Saint-Denis was quickly running out of space, and becoming dangerous.

Paris is a large place, but not a vacant one. Expensive, dense and competitive, making it in Paris as a foreigner, without the language and broke, it’s not an easy feat. While most of Paris was just becoming busier and crowded, a few places were going the other way around. The Charles de Gaulle Airport was the intercontinental flight hub for excellence, connected with dozens of cities all around the world; a trade and transportation hub for excellence. There is little need to remind that intercontinental travel is, in the time of the red, almost nonexistent. The airport was not closed altogether (hope is the last thing to die after all), but the businesses around were slowly but surely perishing. Hotels, parking spaces, distributors, airplane services, and catering, all struggling to survive, most simply giving up. And as fast as business moved out, refugees moved in. Abandoned hotels, warehouses, office buildings. If it had a roof, anything else was optional.

Soon illegal immigrant joined. Blending in among the exiled, NCE-ers, Neo-soviets, UK escapees and even some American or another followed for a chance of the European dream. Now, picture a dying industrial and business hub, to the brim of unemployed and desperate people, in a city and a country trying to solve their own problems. Imagine thousands knowing nothing more than their home country’s language, no French, no English, killing any opportunity of getting the few jobs not yet automated. Crime, both from the inside and from the outside, made its way in. The Italian mafia, the Organitskaya and the Sicilian mafias were the first, later joined by the Maghrebis, the NCE criminal underground, even eco-radicals looking for recruits. It was a vicious cycle: the decaying and seedy Charles de Gaulle attracted more crime, and the danger further expelled the little commerce and life that remained.

The airport managers pleaded to the city of Paris for help, and as usual, the first solution was force. They deployed the military to, if anything, keep Charles de Gaulle under control. Nevertheless, it was far too late. The size of the encampments and the number of people to contain were far too large, not to mention the optics of the military once again on the streets after the second Bastille day. Since the vinegar did not work, honey was next. A nice proposal of housing, education and integration passed the futarchy’ prediction markets, with mixed results. The project built several megabuildings in the Villepinte commune while language and integration classes were made for the refugees. Unfortunately, the scale of the projects was not enough, nor included illegal immigrants, only demonstrable citizens. Also, aware of the limitations, the eligibility requirements set by the managers were very strict. They wanted to, at least, make the project self sustainable, so they gave priority to the most skilled.

But as soon as one refugee left de Gaulle, more came in. Goussainville, Louvres, Puiseux-en-France, Le Mesnil-Amelot, Mauregard and Chennevières-lès-Louvres, all small towns in the northern limits of the airport, became the closest the core countries have ever seen to a Slum. Stacks of container housing, tents, makeshift houses, and old repurposed buildings were the houses and businesses of the new residents of the edge of Paris. Drugs, violence, crime and murder were the employment of de Gaulle, and the Parisian government was silently giving up on it, with many other focuses to attend to.

And eventually the inevitable came to a head in de Gaulle. The airport manager corporation and owner could not keep the airport running anymore. Between the almost unexistent flights and the danger receiving the goods and people arriving, the airport simply became unprofitable. The de Gaulle complex was not only an airport, but also the barrier keeping the slums from the businesses and technology campuses in the south away, and there were a lot of resources to steal at the airport itself and south of it. It did not take long for attacks to start. The airport was not even close to empty when the first assaults began.

It wasn’t much longer until the conflicts reached yet another threshold. During the first weeks most of the conflicts did not go further than robberies with some armed resistance once in a while, but as the retiring businesses gave up trying to recover their property, it shifted into a gang fighting another. And the smaller scuffles picked the eye of the bigger fish, soon joining to the battle with their bigger numbers and higher firepower. And that only translated to larger fights. When the Corsicans fought, so did the Organitskaya, and when they did the East Europeans followed. Since then, the combats in the airport grounds have never stopped, even though the airport was ransacked of anything of value. The combat in it carries on for the same reason most old wars keep happening, force of habit and show of force. There is some territorial usefulness on controlling the airport (access to the old metro tunnels, illegal goods smuggling to and from Paris, vantage position at the border of the combat zone) but to say that the motivation in the front of the minds of the criminal Milieu is that, would be a lie.

The crypto nation

The crypto society

Paris is no stranger to fringe societies out of sight, as we have seen already, but none more interesting than the cryptos. Started as groups of teens growing in the early 2020s, cast away, rowdy, lonely, and, frankly, bored, whose pastime was to explore the old tunnels below the city. Picture the usual kids running around the block, but instead of doing so around the dangerous neighborhoods of Paris, finding refuge in the abandoned underground of Paris. But while most kids get to have their parents to feed them, to enjoy their childhood, the crypto kids grew, intentionally or not, neglected, fed by vendits if at all, and barely educated. The kids were mostly friendly between the groups. Even if cliques were the norm and squabbled every once in a while, it rarely increased to anything bigger than a few punches.

Time takes it all, time bears it away. The kids of the tunnels were no longer kids. They traded their houses in Paris for shanty towns in the entrances of the old metro system and villages underground. The packs transformed into tribes, zealous, violent and territorial. The innocent expeditions were no longer for exploration but to rid their tunnels of the opposing groups. Their loneliness and rejection transformed into abandonment and tribalism, a never-ending pursuit of belonging and identity. The largest clans had multiple towns, with routes joining them, while the smallest ones survived in small camps. Fighting and killing were the only way to grow their territories, with continuous bloody battles all around.

Ensar Vidovic

There was one lonely dweller of the tunnels that did not want any part of the wars, nor wanted anything to do with the tribes. A young boy who saw on the tunnels not a battlefield, but a sandbox. A shy and meek kid, often the victim of the abuse of the gangs before they turned into their factions. His name was Ensar Vidovic, the child of a Bosnian illegal family. He grew, same as the rest of the crypto kids, in the underground. Ensar loved the tunnels; the thrill for him was in building, scavenging and creating. He was very talented, a guerrilla engineer by nature and a constructor. His network of camps was extraordinary, one encampment bigger than another, concealed, secure and, to the extent it was possible, comfortable.

Vidovic actively evaded the tribes. Not only were they their bullies, but he disliked the way they treated the underground. He deliberately hid his shelters, himself and his creations. But he could not keep himself as a bystander in the underground’s brutality for longer. More and more he was finding himself with dead or injured cryptos. Something in him did not allow him to look away, to let the bleeding dwellers to die. He brought them to his hideouts and patched them up to the best of his abilities, usually leaving them somewhere close to their towns to pick up before they regained conscience, not wanting them to know his whereabouts. But that did not last long, and Ensar got some of his camps destroyed. One of his camps even got destroyed while he was tending a fighter. He was being watched by another group, waiting for him to bring one of their enemies to their hands. Ensar almost ended up dead from this encounter, or even worse, captured.

But he didn’t want to give up, he couldn’t let himself abandon others to die, even if after they would hunt him down. Ensar knew, however, his strategy certainly had to change. The problem of healing the wounded without exposing his bases was, in his mind, an engineering one, so he solved it as he knew best. Ensar designed a carry-on kit that allowed him to build small and discreet campsites where he could attend the gang members far from his shelters. Regardless of the danger and the problems his fixation brought him, Ensar’s resolve was unyielding. And without knowing, his love for the underground was leading Ensar to a path he could not have foreseen.

The baptism of a new nation

The tunnels of the Parisian underground were rotting away, almost literally. Old constructions from the 20th century, in disrepair for decades, slowly decaying. And water is the strongest enemy of architecture, specially below ground. The tunnels were flooding often, more than usual, and the most worrying, some were collapsing. To top it all off, the underground water, same as the Seine, was extremely polluted. Ensar noticed the issue soon and made several solutions to the problem, but his fixes to keep the water away were becoming less effective. For once, a problem was too large for Ensar to fix; he needed help. There were several problems to overcome in his quest to save the underground: get resources to repair the dilapidated tunnels, find more hands to do so, and to be left alone to do his work.

Societies, big or small, are very proficient at kicking the can down the road, as long as they can. Ensar, for the first time, asked the tribes for help. Pleading the ones he helped for support, he got audience and tried to convince them to work with him before the issue became too big to handle. He talked with all of them, but they did not care, even if he was just working for a temporary ceasefire long enough for them all to fix the issues. But of course, eventually, it hit them as well. When their people fell sick or their towns got affected, the houses finally paid attention. Not enough to commit themselves to solve the issue, but at least to let Ensar work in peace.

Ensar took some liberties with what this license meant: if the cryptos would not help him, he would find his own clan. His influence might not be large, at least that he knew of, but his skill, his actions, and his conviction on the future of the underground followed him. It was the time to transform his crusade into usefulness, and so, every tribe member he healed he tried to convince into working with him, even if temporarily. A few of his previous patients already joined, and with the newfound members, his workgroup grew.

From a small gang, Ensar recruitment transformed his people into a clan, even if not bound by the same zealousness the others had. His new tribe was driven by the same old hunger for discovery, but not of the tunnels; there was nothing left there. They wanted to build, to create. And the rest, well, the rest were comrades, friends wanting the same; a genuine family where to belong.

And once again the cryptos fill a place in the ecosystem that is Paris. Thanks to the public works Ensar and his clan have created, the cryptos are now very productive: food, materials, and even tech. The cryptos trade often with the above ground, particularly with nomads and near to the combat zones. Although peace has never reached, the tribes acknowledge the value on Ensar’s methods and work for themselves instead of against each other. Fighting is almost unexistent, even if the antagonism between each other remains. The old ways have not been forgotten either. If you want to get somewhere in Paris without ruckus, the cryptos are your friends. Their secrets? Some might have been lost in the years, but perhaps if you venture in the underground you might find relics of the past.

Next: Paris: Places of interest and power players