The following is an excerpt from the book, City of Ruin, by Naria Heft. [Originally published five years ago.]

For those with a desire to leave the ruins, their choices are limited. The few available options are perilous, left only to the most desperate individuals willing to risk severe bodily harm or even death. The multi-sectional wall that separates Kurtow from the rest of Pallad City is too high to climb—but that hasn’t stopped many from trying. As of this writing, no one is known to have safely scaled the wall and survived. To the other side of Kurtow is the Sirenic Ocean, where swimming is a questionable alternative. If one were to navigate the strong currents, waves, and undertows, they would likely have to contend with the various sharks indigenous to those waters. If an individual were to survive that, there are several islands they could potentially swim to—but most would tire before reaching land. There are also rumors that areas of the coast are populated by naval mines, placed there by the government. Whether this is fact or just myth has not been confirmed.

Subterranean passageways stretching from Kurtow to beneath various districts of Pallad City have long been said to exist but, to date, none of these underground tunnels have been officially reported—at least to the public.

Over the years Kurtow has become a place of interest for private military companies to scout for potential employees. The ruins are a breeding ground for hardened individuals, survivalists, scavengers, and those with little or nothing to lose. Most inhabitants endure a harsh day-to-day struggle and must hone their instincts in an unremitting ‘survival of the fittest’ lifestyle. This places many Kurtow survivors in a uniquely qualified position for PMCs that are on the hunt for ‘pre-trained’ employees. Kurtow residents who join PMCs are reportedly more willing to take on precarious, high-risk assignments than traditional mercenaries. They also perform exceedingly well in harsher locales with hazardous, unforgiving terrain where survival tactics play a key role.

PMCs typically fly into Kurtow to scout “talent”, despite there being an unofficial no-fly zone over the ruins—with the exception government-authorized aircraft. However, the no-fly zone is rarely enforced, especially since Kurtow’s dangerous reputation keeps most away from the megadistrict.

GunRiot. Story by Midnight. Art by Kuraikabe1990.