A massive metropole sprawling from Baltimore harbour to the Occoquan River, Washington is almost wholly urbanized with a healthy dispersion of well maintained green spaces. The area around the Capitol is deliberately kept below forty meters by ancient decree, but beyond the constricting labyrinthe of circular highway known as “the Beltway” has towering skyscrapers and looming monuments folks have built up, around, and inside of over many years.
The E.F.S. has a state citizenship process which renders citizens of every state citizens of the E.F.S. An archaic holdover from the early days of the nation, it’s now mostly used as a formality for voting and tax purposes: citizens who move to a new state renounce their old citizenship to avoid people trying to vote in multiple states, or trying to game the taxman (most states impose a higher property tax on non-citizens).
Mostly this does not impede cross state travel, however, there is a key exception: Washington itself requires a pass to enter. Wildly unpopular and hypothetically opposed by both major Parties (but not the Capital Party) as an elitist move, in theory it is meant to deal with overpopulation and sprawl. In practice it makes deportation a constant threat for anyone not born locally or sufficiently economically powerful, being used as a constant source of leverage for local business magnates against vulnerable workforces and uncooperative voting districts: thus it stays in place.
Gaining a pass requires one of three things: a pass requiring a monthly subscription and the signatures of a dozen confirmed Washington citizens, citizenship in Ottawa, or citizenship in Washington itself. The simple way to get citizenship is buying a house in Washington but this is usually beyond the economic means of those striving to get in, or who are already there: the vast majority of citizens rent apartment space or squat.
Ottawans get the cleanest deal but not every Ottawan citizen carries governmental identification papers, which normally requires birth certificates they may have either never had made or do not have easily available to them. The Ottawan “Embassy” as it is known is happy to help facilitate that process remotely through direct contact with their state’s government, but normally for a fee.
Those wanting a pass may acquire one via mail order simply enough, but it is a steep fee: $50 upfront for a pass with a single month and $20 renewal fees thereafter every month, any gap in payment is sufficient to fully revoke a pass and require yet another $50. This is so laughably beyond the means of most people as to be ludicrous, and the Populist Party is presently campaigning on lowering the costs to $5 and $2 by arguing it would actually raise revenues from the pass system to make them affordable. However the point is that they are not affordable.
Ruined areas whose “Development Rights” have been purchased from the government may operate aerial craft out of the area for purposes of construction. Of course, in remote enough areas of Washington, nobody will be there to check to see there were not a few extra fellows riding in on that last helo or zeppelin. The same can be said of many fishing vessels and other watercraft, although they are more regularly stopped and the papers of those aboard inspected. When push comes to shove the extensive sewer system has some far spurs out towards various other states, and those in the know have found the non-collapsed tunnels which they now charge entry to for those desperate enough to take the long walk/crouch into the state.
Washington politics are undermined constantly by the federal government which enjoys veto power over any law potentially affecting the area within the Beltway. Beyond, however, the state government sells ruined areas presently inhabited by squatters and scavs blocks at a time to wealthy industrialists to transform them into a “proper” city.
Baltimore Harbour is the seat of State politics, ever resentful of the capital’s sway over their lives they scheme endlessly to break free from the shackles of the federal government.
The Populists are the most conciliatory to local concerns, the Unionists seek to inspire Washingtonian pride to gain support, and the Capital Party believes profits are sometimes undermined by federal dictates and impositions on the state. However a coalition to change the situation never arises for once one has entered the Beltway, they tend to see things the capitol’s way.
Smaller political parties are common in Washington and occasionally hold local seats. The Universalist Party, a theologically driven group, largely does as the Cardinal dictates much to the horror of those outside the religion. The Liberty Party advocates for loosened federal controls in general and usually win protest votes when the bigwigs have done something particularly offensive to common Washingtonians, and win plenty of support for their opposition to the pass system. The Gaia Party advocates for fringe beliefs about the “dangers” of Akroydiesel and attempts to champion bizarre regulatory laws they claim are backed by science. Intellectuals and blowhards occasionally reveal themselves to be supporters of the party, for which they are roundly mocked and ridiculed by all within earshot, but their ten-term Washington State Senator Miriam Kolkhoz commands respect to downright obsequiousness whenever she enters a room in Washington.
Anarch communes are common in southern Washington, where they move into blocks that have just had their development rights purchased in order to pick a fight with the developers. While this temporarily halts development in the area, where the State Guard is not deployed to physically remove them enterprising hired guns will do the job. Of course, some do not win the battle: the Anarchs may hate laws, but they love a good fight and come prepared.
Once claimed by Virgio, it has long been an incorporated area of Washington, and one of the more highly developed at that. They alternately scheme to break away and rejoin Virgio, seize control of Washington state from Baltimore Harbour for themselves, and consider independence. Generally they are just considered a wealthy stretch of brick architecture that’s more trouble than it’s worth.
For those in “Washington Proper,” within the Beltway, life is good. Good order is maintained by the police, the ration on food and diesel is coupled with governmental price controls, and there are plenty of green spaces to be found.
For those beyond the Beltway, things are not quite so good. Wide swaths of the state are more or less urban wilds with pockets of civilization surrounded by deadly spans of concrete as surely as survivalists in Philly are by woods. The green spaces are overgrown and jealously guarded for agriculture, often of the illegal variety.
The Hellenistic Societies host after-dark park revelries and mysterious plays staged in the various ancient theatres around Washington. They are largely derided and dismissed as mostly just seem to be creepy Wine-Os, although in truth their following amongst the privileged youth is immense.
Zerzenite cultists have been cropping up of late. The Zerzenite’s anti-AI fever is a strange distinction in a culture that has largely forgotten about the boogeymen of yesteryear, but as for what they get up to in their closed door meetings nobody knows and most do not care.
The economy of Washington mostly runs off construction and service, both in ready supply from government contracts. Lots of E.F.S. corporations choose to incorporate in Washington for the purposes of making their buck here, bringing in lots of outside dosh. Military bases and training schools also litter the rim of the Beltway. More broadly folks make money anyway they can, gathering or scaving or farming like anywhere else. There have been some alarming successes with hydroponics for farming without land but so far there’s not an extensive farm-to-market infrastructure for these minor operations so they mostly supply settlements in the expanse of “undeveloped” land.
The Beltway is stalked by opportunistic highwaymen seeking money by any means. Besides the corporate HQs however, there are more decent thieves that seek to stop and rob those passing through. They have developed a variety of means of doing so, from spike traps to portable barricades. Sometimes they simply ram cars with their own vehicles to force them to stop, usually appropriating anything of value from the stopped car and persons before carrying on.
Conflict between anti-war protesters, cultists, and other forms of political dissident has law enforcement pressed hard for manpower. An organization known as the Sforza Connection draws in illicit gun runners. The outskirts under development are ill policed by design for corporations to carry out the dirty work of clearing out squatters unmolested by the long arm of the law. While murder is uncommon on the streets outside the Capitol, murder is widespread across the Capital. Those seeking to keep life and limb are advised to stick to the fanciest parts of town.
While some brave souls risk the tunnels and compounds beneath the surface to reach Washington and even attempt to eek out an existence down there, humans are far from the main subterranean threat to the city. A dedicated corps of hunters is regularly deployed to hunt it for the creatures that lurk there, ranging from overgrown alligators to venomous spike-tailed vermin. Good money is to be had by contractors willing to risk the below for a cleaning run on behalf of private entities, especially those hoping to develop the area above.