|written by Eldritch
Paxton Street is located in DownTown Sector 37, close to the CanSec
One gates. Starting at Ashfield Street - close to the location of
the infamous "Boiler Room" - it is a broad four-lane street
running in a general north-south direction.
The next big intersection (after 3 miles) is Hawkhead Avenue; from
there on until its end, Paxton Street dwindles to a narrow two-lane
Its EastSector location clearly shows; none of the houses is higher
than 30 storeys, most of them dipalidated and run-down.
Old man Whiley is famous, at least in the area close to his small
appartement on Paxton Street in sector 37. He is the odd one in
the neighbourhood, always a smiling, nice and courteous. He is one
of the few lacking the bleak and empty expression of the normal
DownTown residents. People greet him, the local strong guys ignore
him, probably because he is always broke to the bone and the occasional
sane kid is happy to meet him, because he is the Toymaker, sole
creator of toys and puppets in Sector 37.
Especially puppets. He used to work in one of the SLA Industry
clothing sweat shops until he retired, sewing, stuffing and cutting
clothes, but even then his biggest hobby was making puppets. His
whole flat is covered by them, an endless array of puppets of every
size, ranging from small to huge, some almost looking alive, frighteningly
real. When he started he only used cloth to prepare his toys, but
with the years he began to integrate almost every material he could
come by into his puppets.
Since he wasn't able to use those skills to stay alive, he used
his talent for fixing broken clothes and similiar material in exchange
for food or things he needed. Given enough food and raw materials
to work on, he would make new clothes, sometimes even leather jackets
and shoes. When the local tough guys showed up, he agreed to create
a sign for them and fix it onto their jackets. They might not be
a very tough bunch of guys, but they certainly fly the best looking
gang color in the area.
But then the rumours started to fly. About the puppets, about skinned
animals and skinless human corpses found in the area. And about
the missing kids. Since Whiley was the only one not buying into
the paranoia, the locals began to include him into their dark legends.
Yet everyone that visited Whiley proved the contrary, no skins on
the puppets. No strange muffled sounds or whining in the house.
Only old Whiley, the master of his puppets.
Originally Ming was called Joyce, but due to the very famous TV
series "Ming Lai: Tortured Souls" that ran during her childhood,
everyone insisted on calling her Ming, even though she did not look
the least like that Orienta actress. She hated that name, but since
she grew up in the only Orienta family in an otherwise pure Mort-bred
DownTown neighbourhood and because she's never been much of a fighter,
the name stuck. Living in Downtown her whole life, she survived
the soft way, horizontally. From the age of twelve she went from
one "protector" to the next, usually the guy that killed the previous
one. Being fairly attractive, but modestly stupid, that worked well
enough until her mid twenties. But when her last "protector" died
and the new one turned her away, she had to re-evaluate her position
She managed to seduce some more or less naive owner of a diner
and in time, she even showed some skills with money and the diner
began to florish, especially when Ming began to offer a select few
of her staff for some backdoor services of the erotic kind, usually
for very special customers. Finally the local protection racket,
one of the first Orienta gangs to operate in Mort - and the only
gang in the area after a vicious battle against all other gangs
- came to collect their share. But instead with money, Ming offered
to pay with flesh, her flesh. Due to her willingness - and experiencing
the first positive effect of her nickname - she managed to become
something like a mascot for the gang.
Within short time she had a nice litttle running diner at front
and a brothel in the back. When her partner, the original owner
of the diner, tried to intervene, she managed to convince her gang
buddies to take care of the problem and to fully invest into their
Ming has established herself in several ways; still not being the
brightest streetwise, she makes it more than up through being utterly
ruthless and cunning when it comes down to money and financial affairs
Through the years, Ming met many people from the street and a whole
assortement of Props, scam artists, assassins and other shady characters
became her regular customers, most of them having a rather special
connection to her. Quite early she realized the that her customers
needed a place to conduct private business, have secrecy or just
relax without fear of being stabbed, shot at or beaten. She catered
for these needs and began to act as a broker, financier and bank,
also making sure that the diner is a safe haven for them, where
they can meet, make plans and deposit information in case a scam
goes wrong and they are in need for backup . or retribution.
The diner itself is located in 1 Paxton Street, in a house that
originally was a Shaktar HotBath. But slowly after the collapse
of 300, the Shaktar population began to dwindle in the sector and
soon the bath was left deserted. Since then it has seen various
incarnations, from hotel to chop shop, the latest being Ming's Diner.
The diner takes up the whole ground floor, the area that was initially
the great entrance hall, carried by intricately adorned and ornamented
columns full of Shaktar mysticism that still remain, but nowadays
harbor a distincly Orientan flair. Most of the front has been replaced
by windows, since protection is more or less steadily available
at the diner, and a variety of neon signs cover the outer walls.
The entrance windows have elaborate Orientan decorations; lamps,
dragons, fans and the like, but for the initiate they are far more
than simple decoration, for they are color coded to reveal if it
is safe to enter the diner or if authority figures such as Operatives,
Shivers or worse are present and they also give clues to the nature
of the threat.
Entering the diner through the double doors, the huge dining area
is surprisingly clean and flooded in dimmed, predominantely red
light coming from the fleet of red ballon lanterns that can be found
everywhere. The steel tables are covered with cheap, but clean table
cloth and the chairs are more comfortable than their first, harsh
impression would suggest. The area is shaped like a septagon, with
the windows taking up 3 of the seven sides, the bar taking up another
3 and the doors to the kitchen, toilets and the back rooms upstairs
taking up the seventh side, directly next to the entrace. The sides
adjoining the entrace harbor several cubicles and booths, separated
by thin walls and statues, perfect for private conversations. Not
surprisingly the sounds are not carrying far and the lights are
even dimmer than in the rest of the area. None of the waiters lingers
longer than it is necessary at those tables.
Food and drinks are inexpensive and the quality is DownTown standard;
nothing special, nothing fancy, but affordable. The kitchen is close
to the stairs; it is not possible to enter the stairs without being
seen and having to pass by two massive cooks toying around with
huge steaker knives, who only seldomly chop some meat, but spend
the rest of their time watching the stairs and the diner. No one
uses these stairs without having been invited by the lady herself,
or having been cleared by one of her two nice waitresses, who will
lead new visitors upstairs to introduce them.
Trying - and succeeding - to get past the cooks without invitation
is a bad idea, for the tenants of the upper levels of the building
all belong to Ming's Orienta trang partners, who are using the upper
floors as home, meeting and staging area. A fight is usually a very
bad, short-sighted and lethal idea.
The first floor is the original bath area, and it is a class beyond
the usual DownTown standards. Coming up the stairs from the diner,
the corridor widens into a small hall that has a clean and hot pool
with running water. The floor of the pool is covered in a colourfoul
mosaic, the imagery full of Shaktar myths. The lights on the wall
are working, and clean, red, fluffy carpets cover the floor. Around
the pool, the floor is not covered by carpets, revealing the original
floor - a combination of mosaic stones and polished marble. A second
flight of stairs leads up to the second and third floors, both of
which are galleries built around the pool hall with a number of
adjoining small rooms, while a third, circular stairway ascends
beyond the two gallery floors without exit and then opens up directly
into the fourth floor. Aroud the galleries a durable and intricately
ornamented railing with a white, wooden hand-rail prevents the customers
from falling into the pool below. Along the walls there are pictures,
all showing erotic scenes, ranging from tasteful to outright pronographic.
The rooms on the second and third floor initially were the bathing
cabins, now two or three cabins are connected into one room, rather
spartanic, reminiscent of hotel rooms. They are cleaner as can be
expected from DownTown and most have a running shower. For an extra
price, even a short five minutes of warm water can be organized,
however, only for the very special or very wealthy customers.
The men and woman serving "personal favours" are mostly the usual
bunch of DownTown street sluts, but also some of the beautiful girls
of Ming's serving staff from the diner. The only difference to a
street hooker is that for the higher price at least a dry and clean
bed is provided. And as a very positive extra, they are not as diseased
as the rest of the DownTown Street Sex Gang and that alone is for
many visitors a good reason to spend their earnings in this establishment.
Prices range from fairly acceptable, to ouragous, depending on looks,
being a regular and the mood of the staff.
The two top floors both belong to Ming's partners, the Orienta
Trang that operates out of the building. The fourth floor originally
was a Shaktar saloon with excellent acustics and during its time
it was renown for its customers' sombre interpretation of famous
Shaktar arias. Today the saloon harbors a dance-floor for the Trang
members and their ladies (and for the more famous and willing prostitues
from below). The dance-floor is as gloomy as the diner on the ground
floor, and its decoration consists of the same weird combination
of Orienta embellishment covering columns, murals and stairs painted,
carved and embossed full with images ans symbols of Shaktar mythology.
Four walls of the dance floor are covered with mirrors, creating
the illusion of a far bigger room than it actually is.
The stairs to the fifth floor are hidden; they can only be reached
through a door near one of the bars, fiercely guarded by the staff
at the bar, who all have an assortment of various weapons under
the counter. Next to the stairs, the floor is elevated along one
wall, giving enough space for one huge table that comfortably sits
12 people, usually covered with Orienta orange cloth embroidered
with the symbol of the Trang, the pale white coils of the chaos
dragon. Here the top management of the Trang comes to discuss, party
and watch over their following during the nights and here messengers
from other trangs or in rare cases local gangs are also received.
For important meetings, the whole dance floor can easily be converted
into a meeting room; on such days a long mahagony table with matching
chairs is the only thing left on the dance floor.
The top floor consists mainly of the spacious living quarters
of the Trang members, as well as small storage rooms for the bare
necessities of life: drugs and weapons. No outsider is ever allowed
to enter this floor and this rule is rigidly enforced at the bar
overlooking the door to this floor on the dance floor level below.
All in all, "Ming's Spicy Fruits" in Paxton Street is a very popular
place, known for the clean and more or less healthy food to some
and the special services to others. It has a big crowd of regulars
and even for the occasional visitor it is a nice and safe change
from the ususal service that can be acquired on the streets of DownTown.
This little store is fit into a side alley between 15 and 16 Paxton
Street. The alley ends up in a large dead end, sourrounded by 12
storey tall apartment blocks on all sides.
The Shed, run by Trimble and Walt is located in the middle of the
alley, behind a sturdy and rusty iron gate, in the shadow of several
sheets of transparent plastic plane that span the entire breadth
of the alley for several meters, billowing in the wind but constantly
leaking a stream of dirt water through the seams on the wares displayed
below. Both have founded this little shop, concentrating on mechanical
repairs, several years ago. Here they try to fix everything that
is brought to them by their customers; broken radios, TVs, the occasional
motorbike and sometimes they even sell some of their spare tools.
The shop is a confusing assortment of metall junk, plastic crates,
storage shelves and finally a workbench, leaving barely enough space
to move through the narrow confines of the alley to then end. Sometimes,
if asked nicely enough or offered enough money (which is usually
the reason), one of them even fixes stuff at their customers' homes
- may it be the door, after one of the usual burglaries or something
trivial like a broken pipe.
Even if the repair services are an important part of the social
interaction around Paxton Street, the Tool Shed has yet more than
this to offer.
Beginning right after space sheltered through the plastic planes
of the Tool Shed up to the end of the alley the ground is filled
with a vast assortment of trash, rising in several hills, growing
steeper towards the end of the alley. Movement through this field
of rubble is tricky at best, and outright treacherous at worst.
All the ground level windows and doors of the apartment blocks in
this area of the alley are closed with thick pieces of wood, plastic,
brick or similar materials. At the end of the alley only one metal
door is accessible, but this is usually locked.
It is advisable to make the trip to the back of the alley and
beyond only when invited by either Walt or Trimble, although Walt
seems to be the better choice, as he is usually the deciding part
of the two. The lucky ones who decided to force the issue ended
up beaten senseless, while the unlucky ones who were too insisting
or were waving around some piece of hardware, were never seen again
after entering the dead end.
Behind the steel door, a junk-covered, slippery stairway leads
into a basement storage and display room, filled with several cloth-covered
shelves and wooden display benches. Here a great variety of weapons
can be found, together with the friendly neighbourhood arms dealer
Stash, a feral Ebon who decided that selling weapons provides a
higher profit and longer life expectancy than his former job as
The weapons are usually of the DownTown makeshift varity, ranging
from knifes, huge spiked clubs, bats and chains, to some crossbows
as well, although with the ongoing gang war some better equipment
has found it's way to Stash's displays.
For the reliable and well-known customer, or if known or vouched
for by Walt or Trimble, Stash also carries the not so readily available
stuff, locked away one room further. Here - depending on season
- "anything goes": from Firearms to Grenades and various "special
offers" everything is for sale and Stash's favourite customers can
prepare to kiss their funds goodbye and leave with a reassuring
weight in their pockets, bags or hands.
Stash is never alone with his customers. He has at least one merc
of his outfit at his side all the time, while the rest of them,
all equiped with rifles, rigged silencers, and low-vision scopes
are usually scattered in the apartment houses around the alley,
covering the dead end from the upper windows for a superior field
of fire, changing the junk field into an kill zone if the need arises.
With Walt and Trimble covering the only exit on the ground floor,
so far everyone who tried to take out the operation failed.
It is not known where the Tool Shed gets it's equipment from, no
shipment has ever been seen delivered and no one except Walt and
Trimble has been seen outside the alley's dead end, but it is rumoured
that at least one of the buildings has a direct access to the sewer
This small club, located in the basement of 50 Paxton Street, managed
to stay open for the last couple of years. There are no big advertisments
from the outside, no neon sights or such; you really have to know
that the "Little Pig" is in this building to find it.
The house looks inconspicious, like any other DownTown appartment
house; 15 stories high, sludge-grey fašade, pools of dirt and trash
on the pavement in front of the door and dirty rainwater gushing
openly onto the sidewalk through the broken rain-drain like thorugh
a puncutred artery. The door is in its final stadium of decay, originally
made of reinforced wood now only the metal skeleton remains, with
a few strands of gel-like, oozing wood. Directly behind the door
a narrow corridor connects to a hallway with a flight of stairs
that leads up to the first floor and and a small, rusting steel-door
at the end of the hallway, excessively covered with advertisments
and unreadable graffiti; the entrance to the basement. Directly
next to this door another opening allows passage into the backyard
of the building, overcrowding with barrels, dirt, trash and the
rusting remains of a former shed.
The entrance hall of the building is commonly occupied by apathic
winos, who spend all their monthly check on the spirits available
at an off-license only a few convenient houses away. The stairs
that lead to the first floor are made of wood, but are treacherous
through the constant barrage of rain and collapsed in a few places.
Only the brave try to master them.
The steel door to the basement opens to a narrow and steep stair
of rough stone, with worn-down and curved in steps, leading down
into the darkness. A few naked lightbulbs, some of them constantly
flickering on and off, provide a hazardous illumination. At the
end of the stairs a narrow tunnel goes off to the right, while another
steel door, this one locked, clean and marked with a warning sign,
allows entry into the generator room of the "Little Pig". The corridor
to the right is long and as narrow and dark as the stairs that led
into the basement; this time, howver, the illumination consists
of salvaged traffic lights. The corridor ends without any other
doors or corridors in front of two two sturdy doors, the entrance
to the "Little Pig".
The first room is small and rectangular, with a counter to pay
and leave your hardware complete with a couple of brutes to convince
anyone that paying and giving up the weapons is actually a good
idea. Directly opposite of the entrance is anther set of steel doors,
closed and marked with a hastily sprayed on "The Little Pig" in
dark-red, smeared letters; the true entrance to the club. The first
you notice after passing through these doors is the rather chilly
and wet atmosphere of the "Little Pig". This is because the main
area of the club, an area of roughly 20 by 20 meters width and 4
meters height, was initially the water-storage of an old cistern
located underneath the backyard. The ceiling at the centre of the
main area has a hole that opens to the backyard above the cicstern,
originally used to channel the water from the backyard into the
cistern. Nowadays the hole is covered with an iron grating, rusting
in several places and not too stable, but still strong enough to
support the weight of a grown man. Through this hole a never ending
shower of rain falls into the club, as well as a stream of fresh
air, necessary for ventilation as the club is lit exclusively with
candles and with the fires of trash burning in corroding, battered
barrels. The floor underneath the central opening is covered with
iron grates, that hide a clever system of drainage canals, so that
the rainwater that falls through the hole in the ceiling into the
club can pour down into the canalization. Some say, however, that
this same water is used to run the restrooms and the bar, but these
rumours are usually not commented on.
All the walls in the club, as well as the ceiling are all painted
in a dull, non-reflecting black, so that the club appears like a
black limbo, sparingly illuminated by flickering and unsteady lights
and a few rotating, colorful beams from the dancing area.
The dancing area in the far left corner of the club is sheltered
from the constant downpour of rain. A couple of flashing lights
are fitted to the ceiling and the columns supporting the ceiling
around the dancing area, which itself is about half a meter lower
than the rest of the club. The floor of the dancing area is covered
with squares of hammered steel, all somewhat hollow so that the
music is constantly accompanied with a stomping beat from feet crashing
to the rhythm of the music onto the metal plates. As there is no
proper DJ, you only get canned music controlled by the folks behind
the bar, who like to put on some aggresive and fast stuff and turn
the volume to deafening.
The dancefloor is usually deserted until 1 o'clock, or until the
booze scale has reached a high enough level to make the people daring
enough to brave this area. At around 2 o'clock the floor is usually
packed with all kinds of people, dancing to the music, which to
an outsider looks like a major sized brawl.
Running the complete length of the right wall, the bar is a slab
of blackened metal, with lots of dents, nicks and messages scratched
into it with small, sharp, pointy things. It rests upon a block
of dull-grey aluminum, supported internally with strong iron girders.
In a shelf behind the bar, a huge assortment of unmarked bottles
and casks is on display. The wisest choice is to know what to ask
for, because choosing blindly can leave you exactly that. Next to
the bar, a locked door leads to a storage area. According to rumours
the storage area is only the beginnig of a whole labyrinth of rooms
and tunnels that are said to run the entire length of Paxton Street.
Nobody is knows why they are there, but everybody is sure that they
On the left wall an irregularly shaped opening, actually an unfinished
breakthrough into the next room, leads into a dark area with some
chairs and tables, forgotten about in a chaotic pattern. The volume
of the music here is a little bit more acceptable, but you still
need to speak at the top of your voice to make conversation possible.
The "Little Pig" is usually open 24/7, except when the staff is
not in the mood to open. Most of the time there is no big crowd
around, but this is more or less due to the opening times. On the
other hand there are almost always guests around.
On ground floor of 67 Paxton Street there are two little shops.
The left shop is one very traditional shop, a barber shop owned
and operated by the 52 year old Owen Sheannesy and his family for
a long time. The shop was founded back in 841 by Owens grand-grand
father Pete "Magic Scissors" Sheannessy, who worked at that time
for 3ird Eye News as a hair stylist. He was quite well known in
some circles, but a "mess up" with the hairs of a very famous and
influential news speaker got Pete fired. So considering his talent,
this left him only with the option to found this little barber shop
in DownTown to support and keep his family alive. Owen seems to
have inheritated the talents of his ancestors with the scissors
and knives, but the times have changed and the demand for a good
haircut today is abysmally low in DownTown. Fortunately, the opening
of Ming's Spicy Fruits gave his business a little boost as well
as a small and steady income from Ming and her girls. It is enough
to keep him and his familiy alive, although he is secretly dreaming
of following his grand-grand father's footsteps aspires to work
for the high and mighty, living in their shadow, enjoying some luxury
The familiy business consists of Owen and his Wife Gwen. They
are helped out by their their daughter-in-law Jennifer and the grand-daughter
Newt, when help is needed and personel is short - a very rare occurrence
in the barber shop nowadays. Owen's and Gwen's son was killed a
year ago, when running across some Dust Riders in a very foul mood
and Owen has still not forgiven the crime, but it secretly thankful
to the unknown assassin who wiped out the whole Dustrider gang recently
through a well-placed bomb.
The barber shop has clearly seen better days, although not recently.
But some years ago Pete could get hold of a collection of used furniture
for a fair price, which enabled him to replace the worn and used-up
furniture that already was present in the barber shop when he himself
was still a kid. With the "new" furniture, he can now run the shop
in an orderly and clean fashion, a cut above the usual DownTown
Upon entering the shop the first thing noticeable is a small area
with a coffee table and a sofa inviting the customer; not in a big
demand most of the times. To the far wall is a small desk with the
cash register and behind that a shelf with a variety of shampoos,
creams and other cosmetics for sale. Most of them are SLA fabricated,
but amongst them the odd unmarked bottle from the family's private
production can be found. Most of these go back to some receipt or
special formula of the family's hero Pete.
Further into the shop are three barber chairs, side by side, facing
the normal assortement of mirrors, desks, shelves and barber equipement.
The far wall is filled with pictures, mostly photographs and cut
out news paper clips, many of them showing the family legend in
his best times with the high and mighty. But there are also some
depicting all of the owners of the shop, standing arm in arm with
the powerplayers of the block around Paxton Street. This is perhaps
the one and only documentation about who was the driving force and
influential around Paxton street during the last decades. This collection
is rounded up with pictures of the local regulars, heavy-hitters,
legends and crooks; the newst pictures show Owen together with Miss
Ming and her partners, right next to an aged looking photo of Owen
arm in arm with old Whiley, the Toymaker, whose payment (one of
his dolls) is now the wholly owned property of Owens 4 year old
Directly next to the barber shop in 20 Paxton Street is the Jelly's
Off-License storey. It is a small little shop for the usual assortement
of alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages, cigarettes, magazines
and assorted other stuff. The main selling area is very small, just
3 times 5 Meters, but packed with shelves, although most of the
shelves are only half filled. There is a refrigirator at one side,
filled with a collection of cool drinks, but as usual, they are
more expensive than their non-cooled counterparts available on the
shelves. Strangely enough for this area, especially as the shelves
are only half-stocked, the assortement of wares is very good. And
to his customer's great surprise, Jelly can usually produce most
things from a small storage area in the back, even when asked for
something special or unusual. The real reason for the empty shelves
is to minimize temptation for Jelly's customers to just come in
and take without paying, as well as to minimize loss if the temptation
proves too strong. Since the number of robberies went up recently,
Jelly has had the counter reinforced and installed some steelbars.
The helping hand in the store is Hudson, a completely confused
weirdo, even more paranoid than Jelly himself. One day Hudson showed
up, smelly and run down and asked for a job, but before Jelly could
turn him away a couple of street punks bursted into the store trying
to get some freebies. Without even being asked for help, Hudson
took care of the problem swiftly and mercilessly and Jelly glady
offered him the job afterwards, not only to help in the stores and
to clean, but also for protection. Both are metally a little om
the unstable side, but while Jelly is only greeedy and paranoid,
Hudson is prone to bursts of violence and anger, complemented by
an unhealthy dose of neurotic paranoia. When Hudson is not in a
paranoid fit, he tends to whine about almost everything, but strangely
enough Jelly and Hudson seem to get on quite well together.
Another strange relationship is between Hudson and the Barber's
little grand daughter. They don't like each other, but they are
often seen on the streets bickering and shouting at each other for
the one or the other reason. First a source of concern, because
of Hudsons fits, it now is a source of contious amusement for both
the Jelly and the barber family .