Strolling along with the hordes of tourists on Mainstreet in Nasdaqar, one can’t help but notice what lies towards the end.
The gold-plated walls and diamond windows blind any motorist who dares drive by. The parking garage is a traffic nightmare.
The city trembles ever so slightly due to the sheer weight of this monstrosity settles into the ground.
But for all it’s worth, the gargantuan 2-tower, 151-total-floor Mansion Estates & Hotel Complex, owned by Podje, is a sight to behold.
“We have been wondering where all the gold and diamonds in Nasdaqar have been going to. Well now we know.” says Lily Silva, a
resident in nearby Skyscraper Troel. “It’s hard to find even a camera to buy. The over-extravagance of this building disgusts me!”
For the people who live here, however, life takes on a whole other meaning.
On a tour through the main 101-story building, escorted by security guards, of course, one can’t help but imagine him or herself
rich enough to be able to live here. At 750 I-Shells per day for a basic room, the residents here get what they pay for.
The glow reflecting off of the solid gold floors radiate throughout the main lobby. Diamond chandeliers sprinkle dancing slivers of
light atop the faces of those strolling among the multitude of expensive shops and restaurants. Beautiful music flows from
the resident orchestra set-up in the corner of the lobby. In the middle of the lobby, displayed in a secured, closed-off exhibit,
are rare paintings and sculptures, the likes of which are not found anywhere else in the Federation.
The hedonistic exorbitance does not limit itself to the surroundings, however. The residents themselves display such a pretentiousness not
only of clothing and style, but of personality, that if one were not sure if he belonged in this tower, the disapproving and haughty
glares from one of the tenants would tell him all he needed to know.
Yes, the Federation’s small and select group of the Rich and Beautiful call this place their home.
Despite the intimidating nature of this environment, however, we were able to get an interview with one of the residents.
75 year old Madame Katelyn Mathieu, heiress and benefactress of the Valuta Oil Conglomerate, lives near the top of the main tower. She
sits with us in her parlor.
Her thickly applied lipstick, blue eye shadow and wild purple hair would remind one of some kind of exotic bird, if it weren’t for the
contrast with her pale, geisha-like, but wrinkled face . As she sits down on her plush antique settee, her posture is bent from the weight of the gold
and diamond jewelry she has hanging from her neck. Her hands, though soft and milky, are barely seen under the multitude of platinum and
emerald rings she wears on her fingers. The smell of mothballs and expensive perfume permeates the air.
She begins to talk at length about her father Bonanza, the founder of Valuta Oil, of the trials and hardships he and his family went through
while building the company, the rise to success, and eventually, the windfall of money, the bulk of which evidently found its way into the hands
of our heiress. She shows us a picture of her and her father at the grand opening of the factory.
“My father was a good businessman, but his best quality was that he was a people person through and through. He knew how to get the contracts,
build relationships, and ultimately end up as the only one with rights to drill for oil in the Valuta river. By the time I was 12, we were rich
beyond compare. I remember the day my father bought me my first horse, along with this golden bridle and saddle. I still have it on this wall, as
you can see.” Madame Katelyn stops her story for a moment to slowly sip her tea. Her eyes seem to gaze into the past as she reminisces.
I begin to glance around the room. The apartment is cluttered with antique artifacts, furniture, jewels, paintings and the like. It almost looks like
the attic room at Hogwarts. Heaps and heaps of priceless items are piled into corners, atop furniture, and stuffed into over-flowing closets.
“I’m relieved that I could find a suitable suite that can accommodate all of my treasures.”, she proclaims. “I used to live in Zwollar, but the economy
is starting to shrink. The shops started to close, and I found less and less places to shop, and even the quality of the shops have gone down in the recent past.
I demand the best, and as far as I’m concerned, there is no better place to live at the moment other than Mansion Estates. This old woman loves to shop!
But if you’ll excuse me, I must take my milk bath, as my boyfriend Ronald should be arriving in his carriage this evening to take me to dinner and shopping.
I love these young men, so full of energy, they make me feel so alive!” She cackles and calls for her butler, Brendan, to help her to her room.
Brendan, tall and unassuming, helps the dazzling old woman to her feet. She begins to shuffle away to her bedroom, her necklaces clinkity-clacketing in
rhythm to her walking cane. I show myself to the door where the security guard escorts me to the elevator and back through the lobby.
Across the street has gathered a small group of protesters, holding signs and shouting “Save our city! Down with Podje!”
Being the reporter I am, my cameraman and I run across the street, dodging the honking traffic to get live testimony from the angry crowd.
I approach one angry looking young man who identifies himself only as “Forsties”.
“It’s bad enough that the mayor has taken all of our gold to create his lavish trophy, but to sacrifice the lot state that he is responsible for in order
to show off his wealth is a travesty. The Mayor owns the town, and everyone knows it. His corruption and greed runs rampant throughout the city! Did you
know we have to pay 5 I-Shells just for the privilege of driving past his Tower?” The crowd continues to chant for the demise of the Mayor-Millionaire.
Another demonstrator runs up to us, obviously excited to get herself on camera. “The Mayor’s Tower is beginning to sink into the ground! It’s too heavy!”
she screams into the camera. “It’s going to fall and kill us all!” She runs off into the crowd, her screams fading away into the cacophony of noise.
My cameraman and I begin to notice the protesters becoming more and more out of control. Police sirens begin to fill the air, and we start to head off onto
Loco Road, where we find Aximili, the owner of Axi-Guns and Bombs, standing in the doorway of his shop with a rifle strapped across his back.
“This town is gonna revolt, and I plan to be armed and ready when it happens. Ain’t nobody gonna try lootin’ MY shop when that happens, that’s for damn sure!”
he remarks grimly. “If they want a gun or a bomb, they gots to pay a fair market price.”
“I agree”, says tourist-resident Tom Butler, who is looking through Aximili’s display case of rifles. “This town has run amock. I’ll tell you what’s really
goin’ on. Mayor Podje is set to take half this town for himself. He’s gonna gate off his towers and create a separate city inside of a city. A gated community
for the rich.” He spits a wad of tobacco into an iron spittoon in the corner of the shop. “We folks don’t take kindly to politicians cuttin’ our city in half.
When the shit hits the fan, I’ll be ready with my guns and bombs. I’ma tell you, if you want a gun, you’d do well to get one before that mayor’s fancy police wife Troel starts confiscating weapons. If these rich folks want a war, we’ll give ’em all they can handle. It’s time for a revolution.”
Tom spits another wad into the spittoon, adjust his rifle strap, tips his blue and yellow Virtua cap and walks off onto the road with his new weapon.
As we head off to find a cab back to the vNews HQ, it still remains clear through all of the controversy and conspiracy theories, the economy of Nasdaqar remains
strong and vibrant. The shops still shine, the traffic is still busy, children are playing in parks, cash registers are cha-chinging, and the light reflecting off
the gold-plated walls of Mansion Estates still blind passer-bys. Construction machines whine and grind as the 51st floor on Podje’s Hotel begins to take shape.
The ground trembles slightly as the new building settles.