A mostly airless, hot, desert world with a single sprawling city that goes down as well as out. Trade is the lifeblood of this world, and it wouldn’t exist without it, but there are two sides to trade, and the darker side can be found in the lower levels of the city.
Imisaa is a dead world, that much is apparent from orbit. It is a dark lifeless brown with rocky mountains that mostly cluster in the northern hemisphere. The air is too thin to survive without a pressure suit, and the surface gravity is only 40% of standard.
Situated at one of the lowest points on the surface of the southern hemisphere is Star Canyon, a 300km long rift which was chosen as the initial colony site and has since expanded into a sprawling metropolis and star port of a hundred million people. The air density here is enough to only need a breather mask, though long term exposure to the stellar radiation can be dangerous.
For many, Imisaa is considered the last real port of call before leaving Imperium space. Though Fist is actually the last Jump within the border, that world is less likely to provide recreation, trade opportunities or ship servicing due to its more exclusive nature.
There is a high port here, a spinning wheel that is home to over a million people, as well as the location of engineering workshops, dry docks, refuelling stations and most of your other ship servicing needs. However, what Imisaa Station lacks are trade centres, simply because the trade of goods here is extremely limited. If you want to trade, you do it down on the planet. This has been a recent change in order to force people down to the surface where it is easier to part them from their money, in the form of rest, entertainment and shopping.
Descending towards the city, especially at night, the canyon is a twisting line of bright lights. Almost 2km deep in places, and as much as 10km wide, it provides a vast area into which the city has grown. The starport itself is at the southern end of the canyon, providing large interconnected domed hangers for larger freighters and plenty of smaller bays for smaller ships.
These cluster around a central trade and administration hub, which provides basic accommodation and entertainment facilities before opening out into the city proper. Customs checks are basic, mostly consisting of automated weapon detectors. The largest of the buildings at the star port is the Cube, which the is the world’s administration hub. Technically, Imisaa is a colony of Tobia, but about 40 years ago Ardasii Metals did a deal to take over direct administration for a fixed yearly fee. This encourages Ardasii to make as much money as possible, so they tend to turn a blind eye to anything which isn’t obviously illegal. The world’s government is currently Lynn Irkirin Mangilumar, a sharp career woman from Ardasii who got her position through ruthless efficiency. She is hated by the natives, who accuse her of stripping the world of every Credit it earns and sending it back to her bosses on Ardasii. It is an accusation she has never denied.
The starport opens into the Grand Hall, a 2km long street with a high glass domed ceiling and boarded either side with shops, restaurants and hotels, many of which tower up above the surface. Side streets lead to bustling markets and more specialist shops and entertainments. These are filled with both locals and visitors, the former often easy to identify due to their pale skin which is often heavily tattooed. Generally the tattoos are signs of gang affiliations and are shunned by the richer locals.
Straddling the middle of the street is The Bath House, a Vilani style restaurant, spa and brothel which is guaranteed to put a dent in anyone’s credit balance.
At the far end are the Steps, several large pyramidal buildings which is the main hub of high class hotels, restaurants and commercial offices. It is here that wealthy Travellers will head, or simply those looking to make deals with the various companies that have offices here. The primary hotel here is Imisaa Comforts, a traditional Vilani affair with anything from reasonable pricing to exclusive suites with views out across the entire city. The TAS lodge is nearby.
The Alien Districts
For those on a tighter budget, but who still want some level of standards, there are the so-called alien districts which are closer to the starport end of the Grand Hall. To the west are the Solomani and Florian districts, which are heavily dominated by these cultures. Surprisingly, especially to many Vilani who think of the Solomani as a single unified culture, the Solomani district is heavily influenced by Japanese culture, including food, clothing and language that calls back 3,000 years to a Japan that probably never existed.
The largest hotel here is the Blossom House, a towering edifice of fake wood shaped to look like a nested stack of Japanese temples. Despite its looks, it’s sensible priced and good quality, and can be a good place to find patrons and trade.
The neighbouring Florian district is tiny by comparison, but far more genuine, and there is an Embassy to the Imperium located here, as well as a trade hall.
To the east is the Aslan District, also significantly more genuine and claims to be under actual Aslan jurisdiction. The extent to which this applies in practice is debated between the Aslan Embassy here and the Imisaa governer, but it hasn’t yet needed to be put to a practical test. Fights between Aslan and Humans are common, though death is not a frequent outcome.
Beyond the Great Hall the city spreads along the canyon, with buildings often within either large pressure sealed clusters or built as tall towers that can be several hundred metres in height. Generally, the taller the building the richer the inhabitants. The sealed clusters though provide an ‘outside-like’ environment, with open spaces filled with markets and cafes between the shops and apartments.
Most of these are connected by subterranean or surface passages, leaving gaps of bare brownish ground between them. Beneath the surface though are warehouses and less desirable parts of the city. Most travel is either by foot or bike, or by using the numerous trains or travelators which link all the major areas. Private powered transport is rare, with only engineering or security teams generally being permitted to fly or drive within the canyon. Unless of course you are rich enough to afford the exorbitant license fees.
With a population of a hundred million, the city is immense, but only about a third of the population live on or near the surface. The city goes down as well as out, and the deeper one goes, the further you get from law and order.
The world’s legal rating really only applies to the surface, and the lower levels pay little attention to what the government would like to enforce. Beggars are visible on the upper streets, but they are generally moved on when possible. As you descend through the levels, so the crushing poverty in which most people live here becomes far more apparent. People are paler, with more tattoos and if you go deep enough often showing signs of malnutrition.
The levels immediately below the streets though are a blend between the safe surface and the ‘anything goes’ approach of the Deeps. Shops selling almost anything can be found down here, from drugs and weapons to slaves and most forms of entertainment. The gangs have the most influence here, notably the Red Jacks and the Feathered Ladies. These can be trusted to not screw with their clientele, as long as their clientele pay on time and don’t cause trouble. The Red Jacks have contacts on other worlds, and are a prime source for information and smuggling jobs, whilst also running violent on-world sport and betting events providing ‘protection’ for a lot of the businesses. The Feathered Ladies are mostly women working in the various sex trades, though they have contacts throughout the city and are known to dabble in black mail, extortion and sometimes assassination (though never of a paying customer).
Very few travellers here find a reason to venture too far into the depths of the city. Most of the black market goods are available closer to the surface, and gangs in the deeper sections are more interested in protecting their territory than dealing with outsiders as anything other than a source of organs or free cash.
In conclusion, Imisaa is a world of stark contrasts. A traveller who sticks close to the surface will find it a cosmopolitan world full of opportunities for trade, entertainment and promised riches. The real nature of the world is only revealed by those who dig beneath the surface to reveal the ugly realities beneath.