Following the disconnection of the Containment Zone from the outside world, a local bulletin board system was established within by a group of deckers. All information provided here about the Containment Zone reflects a partial bulk download of that BBS that was anonymously released onto the Matrix on January 21, 2056. While it should be appreciated that this information has not been verified and is considerably out of date, it nevertheless represents the best picture into the interior of the CZ available to the general public.
The Containment Zone ("Bug City")
This is what we know. Around 4 p.m. on the 22nd of August somewhere west of the Shattergraves, a hive of insect spirits in the Chicago area vomited a swam of spirits that ravaged the city and made it into a war zone.
The UCAS military has used force to isolate much of Chicago from the rest of the country because an unknown number of insect spirits have infected the city. These are creatures from the metaplanes, quasi-real levels of existence beyond our own. They manifest in the forms of, and to some degree demonstrate the powers or abilities of, familiar, everyday insects – ants, beetles, wasps, and so on. These spirits, however, cannot appear in the physical world without acquiring a physical host. That be us, folks. They need to inhabit living human bodies in order to be here. An all-too-real ‘’Invasion of the Body Snatchers’’.
The Containment Zone, Bug City, is blacked out. All wired communication lines into the CZ have been cut, and the UCAS military jams all radio frequencies. As such, information about the interior of the Containment Zone, outside that available to military and other high-clearance personnel, is sparse and unreliable. The best source of information is a set of Matrix transmissions that managed to work their way out through the black out, a collection of anecdotes and personal observations providing a scatter-shot view of life behind the Wall.
’’Anybody notice that we ain’t seen no sunshine since the Wall went up? Cloudy every fraggin’ day—and no “partly” about it, neither. Buzz I hear says the big boys running’ the UCAS keepin’ it cloudy so’s nobody can get satellite pix of the Zone.’’
— Pretty Boy Floyd
’’O’Hare used to be the busiest airport in the world. These days, seems like the only traffic at OH is military—and lots of it. Sec-wise, it’s a fragging military checkpoint. Anybody heading in, don’t try O’Hare. Or Midware–it’s closed down, and the soldier boys cratered the runway. That means nobody can use ‘em, no matter how fancy a flyer you style yourself.’’
’’Forget gettin’ in by road. All roads into the CZ stop at the Wall—a huge barrier made from the rubble of collapsed buildings (blown up by the UCAS military, thank you very much). Oh, and the military left a nice wide kill zone, about ten to fifteen meters, so they can take their sweet time drawin' a bead on any slag trying to run across. And if the the soldiers don’t getcha, the gangers will.’’
— Road Skill
’’The Amtrak trains don’t run anymore—the tracks stop dead at the Wall, blocked by huge barricades. People are living in the cars inside the CZ—friend of mine fixed one up real nice.’’
— Mr. Mestopheles
’’Some of the high-priced hotels in the Noose have been turned into armed camps, full of the privileged folks who can pay for that kinda security. Of course, we’re not talkin’ crew—we’re talkin’ some kinda goods or some service that’s still some fraggin’ use to somebody in the CZ… But stay away from the high-rises, like the formerly ritz ’n’ swanky Hyatt, the Omni, those kindsa places. Bugs just loooove tall builds—especially wasps.’’
— Big Shoulders
’’The best hotel these days? Somebody’s house. Makes them an offer—food, supplies, ammo, services, whatever—and the right-thinking may just put you up. Of course, you may have to give them “your” weapons first. Can’t trust everybody, doncha know.’’
On the Roads
’’Thanks to the good ol’ UCAS, u don’t have to contend with rush-hour traffic anymore, as long as u don’t leave the Containment Zone. Of course, if u wanna get out or get in, I suggest u avoid the e-ways, unless u have a death wish. The border patrol has blocked off all these roads at the Zone demarcation lines and placed extra missile batteries at these points, making these roads pretty much useless.’’
— Mario A.
’’They may be useless for getting in and out, but if you’ve already got yer sorry hoop into the Zone and wanna get from one end to the other, they can’t be beat. Of course, you’ll want to make sure your vehicle is well-armed and armored, cuz it’s pretty fraggin' hard to slip by unnoticed when you’re streaking down giant ribbons of ferrocrete. And watch out for the potholes.’’
— Sunday Driver
’’If you’ve got some nuyen or something else to trade, you may be able to hire an armored cab. I’d say at least fifteen enterprising souls have started offering such transportation services—you can usually find them along the old e-way entrance ramps. Generally, they’ll charge extra to take you anywhere off the e-ways, but they know the roads and can save an out-of-towner valuable time. And they get you where your’e going fast. I’ve seen armored cabs plow through roadblocks, bugs, you name it. Just the other day I was cruising down Lake Shore Drive with my favorite cabbie, Chi Chi Oldfield, when a group of troll gangers tried to stop us, probably to collect a toll. We relaxed that same night by pulling body parts out of her cab’s grill.’’
’’There’s a few armored buses running parts of the old routes, offering the same kinda service as the armored cabs—some of the bus drivers are crazy enough to try to keep public transportation going in Beirut-on-the-Lake. Then there’s the bus drivers who are just plain crazy—they drive around looking for saps who’ll board, then geek them first chance they get. I heard some of them are hosting bugs—which gives their victims an even nastier fate, so I hope to god that’s a lie.’’
— Little Jake
On the Rails
’’A group calling itself the Angels—bunch slots who like to deck themselves out in red berets and other military garb—runs an informal transportation service using the old elevated tracks. They can’t take you into or out of the Zone, but once you get inside they can usually get you anywhere you need to go along the old CTA lines. They’ve got their own generators hooked up to the tracks and a couple of old elevated train cars all armored up nice ’n’ purty. Their rates start at 1,000 nuyen and go up from there, depending on where you want to go, how many are in your party, and how restless the native gangs are at the time The “fare” can get pretty steep, but they will take items in trade, like weapons, ammunition, or body armor. However, they can only run you along the old elevated lines–all the subways have been sealed off because the roaches and giant mutant rats have taken them over. And every now and then some slots will block the tracks and demand “toll.” Usually the Angels just plow over the framers, but occasionally someone’ll manage to get some large immovable object–like an old truck–up on the tracks.’’
’’These days, folks walk from place to place on the old “L” tracks ‘stead of the street–cuz you can see things coming from up there. Aside from the cars the Angels run, there’s hardly any trains, so walking the tracks is safer than it sounds. Don’t go in the subways, tho–he roaches have taken over. You wanna tangle with them, you better have one BIG can of Raid.’’
On the Water
’’The Coast Guard’s intercepting all boat traffic these days. Two choices, chummer—let them capture you, or take a fast trip to the bottom of Lake Mich. You get a single warning, so make your choice quick. I’ve heard rumors about “stealth boats” making it to shore, but I’ve never seen it happen and I don’t know anyone who has (at least, not anyone whose word I’d trust). I’ve also heard that a few indies are running boats up and down the Chicago River—and some slag told me the Wendella Boat Lines are ‘’still’’ doing sightseeing cruises!’’
’’Wanna hear something really funny? Ain’t no scuba gear left anywheres in the Zone—every slag who could get his hands on some used it to walk outta here across the bottom of the lake. Wild, neh?’’
— Big Shoulders
In the Air
’’Airspace over the CZ is restricted. One warning, then a missile up your hoop. Better fly fast.’’
’’Best way to get in by air is to sneak your bird in during a supply drop. No one’ll notice you if you avoid doing anything that might attract attention.’’
— Stealth Bomber
’’Bulldrek. A few too may folks have tried that little stunt, and the brass are well prepared for it. They know ‘’exactly’’ who’s dropping what where—they’ll notice you, believe me. And if too many more of you sheep-brained aerojocks try to tiptoe over the Wall, the Powers That Be will stop you by using the surest way I know—they’ll suspend the food drops “until further notice.” Won’t that be nice?.’’
Not my best subject, but I've been told the UCAS military quickly transferred nearly every available magician currently assigned to nonessential duties to the Chicago area. Priority one: keeping the bugs in. They seem to be succeeding at this task, according to my sources. Maintaining the border in astral space ranks as priority two—keeping folks from getting in and from getting out. My sources also report that astral space around the border teems with watchers and elementals galore, and a number of shamans contribute their skills to guard duty as well. These aren't even UCAS military shamans; they're NAN shamans sent here by the Sioux and Ute to keep things contained. Again, thanks, guys, for your concern.
— Jane Oblivion
I've heard tell that various military officials "have initiated a dialog with certain individuals" in a not-to-be-mentioned formerly Irish nation about creating a mystical ward around the city. I suppose sealing us off completely make it that much easier to forget us.
Not that you'd want to fly around in astral space. The whole Chicago area is a bit hazy on the astral plane, thanks to the background count. But over the CZ it's like a column of fog from ground level up to the clouds. It clears up enough at the wall for the astral patrols, but beyond that it would be like flying through pea soup. You could be ten feet away from an insect spirit and not know it. No thank you.
— Jane Oblivion
Yeah, that started thickening up right after the outbreak and has only gotten worse since. Stand on top of a building near the wall with a good pair of binoculars and you can see the wasp spirit nests at the top of downtown skyscrapers. Switch to astral perception and they're hidden in the clouds.
’’There’s a zillion and one would-be power players left behind the Wall, lots of ‘em corp people that got caught behind the lines when the balloon went up. Two of the corps with the biggest remaining presence are Truman Technologies (natch) and its big bad rival, Fuchi. Not the bug, not the bomb, not ‘’nothing’’ has made them stop going for each other’s throats—with the city dying around them, they act like there’s still nothing more important than fragging each other. Both of them have an awful lot of research and product-testing facilities in the CZ, and the whole disaster went down so fast they didn’t have time to close up shop. So they can frag wit ha whole lot of each other’s projects. Must make them all feel warm and cozy inside.’’
— Sunday Driver
Chicago is divided into six broad sections: the O’Hare Sub-Sprawl, the Noose, the Northside, the Westside, and the Southside. These sections have no political basis, but have developed along economic lines.
’’Tcha. Irrelevant. There is now only the Containment Zone. It castrates the Northside along Irving Park Road, slices the Westside down Harlem Avenue, and then divide the Core down the middle along 115th Street. Most of Chicago is outside the CZ, and I only care about what’s in my world now.’’