Lilliput

This is the best part of the worst part of Saskatoon. It’s far enough east of the bank that you might get mugged every so often, but you usually won’t be shot dead in the street. The trains still run, but the hovercabs don’t. You have your own house, but there’s 7 other people in it and only 3 of them are part of your family. Statistically speaking, if you’re a Saskatoon local then this is probably where you’re from—according to the 2304 Saskatoon census, 21% of the city’s population lives in the Lilliput neighborhood—a whole 3.15 million people in just 22.5 SQKM.

At a glance, Lilliput is immediately distinct from any other neighborhood in the world. The buildings are made of real red brick like something out of the 1900s; the windows are made of real glass, which has stained and swollen and cracked under the march of time; and their facades betray no plasteel or inkiron. The houses are scarcely larger than the apartments in Croesus Quarter, often containing only one or two rooms. They are stacked on top of each other like bricks themselves, often at odd angles—their foundations cling to the edge of irregularly-shaped and irrationally-spaced hills, which show no adherence to the laws of landscape formation.

There are no roadways between the buildings, but there are many paths and numerous bridges which cross between the peaks. All but the very narrowest of valleys have been filled with the clutter of brick homes; and those which have not have been consumed by fetid ponds and ankle-deep canals where the runoff of the entire district collects. Lilliput exudes an air of barely-restrained tension which all but the most tone-deaf creatures can easily detect. There is a common wisdom that life in Lilliput is too close-knit, and that there is no real sense of privacy or distance between its residents: they can hear each other’s every grunt of pain or pleasure, every crying baby, and every curse or gunshot. They spend their whole lives waiting to boil over.

Southwark Security has kept the Lilliput municipal contract almost since its foundation, and it is very common to see their patrols on the roads, or in one of the district’s many watchtowers. Despite being consistently mired in complaints of privacy violation and abuse of power, it is believed by many Saskatonians that Southwark is the only reason the district hasn’t devolved into a nonstop gang war; and it is, ultimately, a much nicer place to live than Croesus Quarter or the Covered Market. At least in Lilliput, there is a chance that your cries for help will be answered.

LIFE IN LILLIPUT

The Lilliput economy is primarily concerned with maintaining itself and its inhabitants. About 61% of its residents commute to work—54% by foot or bicycle, 32% by train, 11% by bus, and 3% by private vehicle. Of the ones who remain, the labor force is unerringly split along the Bindleberg pattern. The industry’s largest service is, unsurprisingly, retail: 9.4% of Lilliput’s residents are employed by either Megalodon or Winsmore. Curiously, its second largest industry is clerical work—a whole 5.3% of the district’s population are employed full-time by one of the neighborhood’s churches. This is reflective of the remarkable prevalence of organized religion in the district: there are 71 registered churches in Lilliput, each of which must hold multiple services every day to accommodate the sheer size of their congregations.

Of these churches, 31% are Glyphian, 26% are Christian, 22% are Sunni, 16% are Sikh, and the remaining 5% are a mixture of other denominations. Religious festivals, many of which are entirely localized to Saskatoon, are commonplace in Lilliput: the roads are often awash in plastic lanterns, floral displays, and portraits of venerated persons. There is a small but persistent industry of religious tourism surrounding these: people from elsewhere in the city will sometimes make day trips to Lilliput to observe one of the many feasts. While there, they will often find lodging in one of the district’s open-air hotels.

Among those who have been, it is generally agreed that Lilliput is a nice place to visit but a dreadful place to live. As a resident you will be constantly barraged by noise, foot traffic, and oppressive proximity to your neighbors. You will rejoice in the silence of noontime prayer, and will spend a lot of time being rained on through the ceiling. If you do not very rapidly acquire a set of earmuffs, you will almost certainly come apart at the seams. The two things you will have to look forward to in life are church and hard narcotics, both of which are readily supplied.

THE CONSTRUCTION OF LILLIPUT

While it was zoned almost immediately after the dust had settled, ground was not broken on Lilliput until some 10 years after I-day. It was Saskatoon’s first real low-income housing option: Lilliput was intended to provide housing to the reconstruction workers who had been (or were about to be) priced out of Hope Point.

The immediate problem with Lilliput was its location. The designated land had suffered badly during Bloody March: numerous rampaging giants were killed by artillery fire from the Canadian army, usually several times each. Their bodies transformed into dirt shortly after death, marring the landscape with irregular and unnatural hills. With each one being dozens of meters high and long, conventional terraforming options were simply out of the question: there was too much earth to move and too much empty space to fill in. Lacking any better options, the city planning board decided to follow the example of past generations: they went full steam ahead and spun the exorbitant maintenance requirements as “job creation” once they went up for re-election.

While the construction itself was uneventful, the finished product was immediately distinct among Saskatoon’s neighborhoods. For first thing, the houses were built adobe-style, often consisting of one or two-room dwellings where part of the structure was carved into the hillside and the remainder was built on top of lower buildings. The prohibitively awkward spaces in between the hills meant that Lilliput was nearly devoid of vehicle roads upon completion. Instead of streets, the district was criss-crossed with footpaths and bridges of questionable merit—many of which often ran across or were built on the rooftops of lower structures. The considerable wear and tear of foot traffic, along with the dubious materials used in much of the neighborhood’s construction, meant that within just a few weeks leaky roofs and collapsed roads were widespread in Lilliput.

These issues with Lilliput’s construction persist to this very day. The upper residences fare far better than the lower residences for obvious reasons, but both strata are plagued by the same issues. According to the UCAS department of labor, nearly 5% of Lilliput’s residents work in maintenance specifically of the district itself; and at all hours of the day the air is filled with the sounds of drilling, sawing, pouring, and soldering. Because of this, the term “Road-roof repairman” entered into the Saskatoonian regional dialect to mean a person who is called in by a second party to rectify the mistakes of a third.

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The Undernests

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  <p/> Lilliput is unsafe. Let’s just call that what it is. There’s too many people and not enough money. That being said, it could be worse: underneath the irregular hills and winding roads, you will find a place that is to Lilliput what Lilliput is to Beverly Hills. This is The Undernest: an unchartably complex network of tunnels and caverns, most of which are too small for humans. The Undernests were carved out by two centuries’ worth of sapient (and nonsapient) rats, rabbits, foxes, gnomes, and other assorted small creatures—people who are too small to operate firearms and too poor to hire specialized RPAs. Most accounts tell that it is an exceedingly dangerous place to be: reports abound of cut throats, loose alliances, and appalling shows of cruelty. A UPN examination in 2300 likened it unfavorably to Cob Country—but so far nothing has been done to address the situation. The people of the undernest are, quite literally, beneath public notice. 

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