Deni Leemos, Pallad City Post

Ardus, Alka, and Lago are often considered to be Pallad City’s most notorious districts, each one similarly overcrowded, poverty-stricken, and plagued by failing infrastructure. Last year, Mayor Hynden Neville referred to these areas as ‘problem districts’—a term that has now found common usage among Palladians.

The recent presence of Afterlife in Ardus has eroded what little functioning lifestyle many in the district had left. With crime rates reaching unprecedented heights, Ardus has undergone a transformation from destitute slum into a haven for drug addicts willing to do anything for their next fix. Adding to the volatile equation are criminals eager to take advantage of an increasingly limited police presence—reportedly, many 911 calls go unanswered in the district, regardless of severity. The residential areas offer little refuge, comprised of buildings in nightmarish condition and in dire need of renovation. It is estimated that 90% of all buildings in the East End are condemned, but the Department of Health has done little to penalize property owners and landlords.

At one time, the Alka District was known for spectacular venues like the Heffen Concert Hall, Olander Auditorium, and the Yukotan Sports Arena. Today they exist as empty, decrepit remnants of a bygone era. The age of tourism in Alka is long dead—only residents too poor to leave the district remain. Various attempts to revitalize Alka’s image and reopen the Yukotan Sports Arena have all failed. The residential areas aren’t quite in the same disarray as the Ardus District—but neither are they desirable housing options. Despite the hardships, a handful of long-standing businesses have stayed open in Alka—among them, the Fit for Fight gym has remained in business for nearly 35 years.

Elegant theaters boasting live-performances, a world-renowned opera house, and the famed Kanady Zoo were once thriving destinations in the Lago District. The years have removed all traces of these attractions, however the remains of the Kanady Zoo still stand—minus the animals. But if you’re looking for rusted cages, dilapidated vestiges of artificial forest habitat, and shattered glass remnants of aquariums, you’ve come to the right place. The theaters that once held popular musicals and stage plays are now gutted, their one-time lavishly-refined exteriors replaced with garish neon signs that promise all manner of sexual fantasy. The streets are now populated by those who bare their skin for a host of unsavory patrons amid destitute buildings of equally ill repute. Lago has transformed into a sprawling red-light district, a “secret” in name only that operates without interference, possibly because the bustling pleasure industry has grown to such an extent that dismantling it now would be beyond what any one law enforcement agency could handle.

There is one modicum of praise Palladians can grant the districts of Ardus, Alka, and Lago. If given a choice, most citizens would still opt to live in a ‘problem district’ than spend a day in the Kurtow Ruins.

Danger Zone One. Story by Midnight. Art by Salaiix.