(c) 2010 TAB
Hoover is built underground in the area around Hoover Dam and Lake Mead. it is not visible from the surface at all except for carefully concealed and fortified tunnel entrances, often in rocky hills but concealing a road connection to flatter areas. these roads are as short as possible and sometimes seem to lead to nowhere, stopping well before they clear the hills and rocks and sometimes built flat in the middle of nothing but miles of hills that cannot be considered roaded at all. the only area above ground are the Dam and Lake themselves. it is peculiar in that there are often many tracks near the roads. they come not in pairs but as single wheelmarks with strange carvings made into the outsides of the wheels- the only explanation for the way the tracks look, but not something which makes sense. rarely there is a pair with a third track down the center, and these sets of tracks always disappear a short way outside the entrance. the entrances are always closed and when closed resemble natural rock enough to be not easily visible.
the Dam has been expanded from its ancient form (which is featured on the city’s Great Seal) into a series of terraces each with their own lake and is huge. it is a very heavy structure and seems built to last a thousand years or more. the original Hoover Dam was much smaller and has been entirely replaced. the Dam is inhabited solely by the High Guild of Mechanics and others are not permitted to visit. there are nearby lookout points built inside hills in the area and these are the only views. the views are of course, spectacular, and Hoover charges people to see them (nearly any currency or barter is accepted).
the Lake has likewise expanded, and has been built over extensively. it is not at all a natural-looking lake, but is instead a large waterfarm. many plants and sealife are farmed here, mostly for food purposes. Hoover has preserved more types of fish than anywhere else among the merkan tribes. only Ensenada knows more about the sea and its creatures. unfortunately, seafood is the most costly of all foods here, but there are many types of water plants which are easy to obtain. they will not live except in large bodies of water anyway, so Hoover does not worry about their monopoly on these creatures, and for the most part, foods are to be bought in one of the many small vendors in the cave-city.
all of Hoover’s underground areas are artificial, not natural caves. they are lit up with an unknown method; the entire ceiling of any cave or tunnel will be lit at the same intensity, even near corners. the lighting changes from bright sunlight levels (but never as hot-seeming as the desert outside) to dimly lit areas. the entire city is composed of an elaborate maze in three dimensions with crowded open walkways and small sitting areas at intersections. vendors are everywhere, with nearly any sort of small shop crowded in amongst others. it is impossible to determine where you are without a map, which are handily sold at numerous locations by the Hoover Info Service (they have booths, usually freestanding and small, but lit up well). many vendors use signs which are boxlike or wrapped around a surface but lit like the ceilings, so that the names glow. small glowing tubing is seen like in Fiftyone, wrapped around walls or posts, often spelling out names of shops or items to buy. two signs are everywhere, clearly spelling out ‘open’- which means if the sign is lit the store is open), and ‘exit’ (always red, and always lit), with an arrow pointing towards a door or hall. visitors to Hoover are told that if there is a ‘fire alarm’ to follow the signs to safety. fire alarms are objects painted or glowing red, which create a horrible sound that cannot be ignored. they also each feature a switch to be pulled if anyone sees a fire. if there is a fire and a switch is pulled, water pours out of holes near the ceiling and the alarm rings. visitors are encouraged to report danger to any storekeepers or others wearing a Hoover uniform.
all true residents of Hoover wear a uniform. instead of having one uniform for all, they each wear one of any number of uniforms based on what shop, guild, or other group they are a part of. guards wear a unform like in many places, and many shop uniforms resemble the sorts of clothes worn by the same kind of shopkeeper in other places (they are doing the same things), while guild uniforms are drab overalls with patches of all kinds all over them, and many shop uniforms for larger shops are strange overalls made to resemble formalwear. visitors are easily distinguished because they are dressed like people from other places and are usually looking around at all the brightly lit things- and there are a very many of them to look at. it takes most people at least a few days to actually get used to the scenery.
Hoover preserves extensive technology in three primary areas. these are Chemistry (called kemik), Mechanics (internally called mekanik), and Electronics (which they call lektrik, not lektronics). unknown to the many people, Hoover has preserved many technologies from the ancient times, but they seek only to trade with others with the advantage of their technologies, because of their ideas about what they call ‘the merkan dream’. this is a strange idea which few people will discuss their own ideas about, but there is a standard ‘broshur’ (small papers folded up with info on them, often useless or selling some service) about it available for free at Info booths.
one thing about Hoover that is interesting to note is that it seems a very open society but is also rather secretive. nearly anywhere in the caves there is writing, but the only times it is mentioned are when people who live in Hoover are talking among themselves. the visible writing is mostly ignored by them, at most times, but they tend to take note of who looks at it and reads it. people who are from places near the control of the Church of the Eternal Voice are often only attracted to the many signs and store logos instead. logos are unique to stores but there are in fact many of the same store scattered through the caves, usually at a considerable distance. the shopkeepers will not tell you these things, however, unless you are obviously able to read. in this case, they will freely discuss many things which those who cannot will never be told. in fact, it is considered rude to discuss whether or not a person can read among them. at least, this is what they tell people who ask. there are times when it seems that it is just an excuse to take advantage of those who cannot, especially in business transactions. fortunately, this ban on talking of reading and writing is not extended to math; people are eager to do business (they only use this older word for trade) and will discuss costs readily. Hoover’s people will always quote the city motto ‘the business of Hoover is business’, in fact it can get rather annoying. there is a reason they repeat it so much, though.
nearly everything shown to visitors in Hoover is a shop or store of some kind. healers, places to rest, eat, and relax, parks and gardens, areas where people can actually go outside (it can cause people to become fearful if they stay underground too long and are unused to it), and just about anything else are all run for profit. as far as can be determined, even the temples in Hoover are for profit, since they are also run as banks. the god of Hoover is apparently one of the old icons of the ancients, Uncle Sam (who can be found in many merkan tribes, whether the name has changed or not), remade to fit the image of a benign and caring god rather than a symbol of the ancients’ unity. donations to the Church of Uncle Sam are encouraged and considered to bring good fortune and prosperity. Uncle Sam is seen as a god of shopkeepers, and is often found in shops as well, where many portraits, statues, and other icons exist. he is nearly always found in one of two poses. in the first he is smiling and waving two flags- Hoover’s people will claim they are the original ancient merkan flag but of course, this cannot be determined except that the flags are red, white, and blue or red, white, and green- the known colors of the ancient empires. in the other pose he is found staring intently, as if into the viewer’s eyes, pointing at them. this version is not found nearly as often, and is rarely discussed with visitors. Hoover encourages visitors to sell their goods at approved purchasers (many shops will purchase wares similar to their own or things they need and use) for Hoover Dollars. Hoover Dollars can also be traded for at fixed rates for other types of money at the temple-banks. Hoover Dollars are not coins but are made of paper (the same hard, glossy type as the broshurs) and are so worthless anywhere else. they are at least very durable and can stand getting wet a few times. Hoover Dollars are accepted as payment anywhere in the city.
the many caves (the people of Hoover call these areas ‘the Mall’), are open to visitors freely, but in order to truly see the city, a person has to agree to a contract to live there for a short time. a contract includes one of two main things. a person can either agree to do some work for a group in Hoover, or a person can agree to live in a hotel for an extended time (usually at least a month). there is a catch to signing up to stay somewhere- you have to pay in Hoover Dollars. while rooms for visitors are usually cheap commons with bunks and places to put things (registered with the house), homes of contracted people in Hoover are larger, with a sleeping room, kitchen, bathroom, and one other at the least. all these rooms are large and filled with basic furnature. it is expected that the person will buy everything else. people in Hoover are used to many conveniences (the city loves to charge more for it) and so staying longer and in such a place means paying a larger amount more often- always due weekly (for shorter stays) or monthly (for a year or more). this means that one contract can turn into another, as the person will need to sign a work contract to pay for the other. i instead haggled and signed a custom work contract, which allowed me to stay in a shop barracks rather than one of these luxuriant private homes.
part of the work contract is almost always to never reveal anything about the methods used to do the work or the events that took place during them. also, the person is not allowed to talk to people outside of what is needed for their work while they are working. this means that if you work in a shop in the Mall, you cannot chat with visitors except to sell them things (though better salespeople are left alone) and you cannot of course reveal much of anything outside of prices, items available, and so on. each job includes its own specific secrets and things not covered. a good understanding of loopholes is needed to explain away conversations and writings.
while at Hoover my job was to help catalog items recieved by the library. Hoover’s library is large and always looking to acquire more items, and stores nearly any sort of artifact or writing they consider valuable. the large volume of ancient items of no practical use, as well as the many books they had which were obviously designed for people without a good common knowledge- often seeming to be intended to deceive people- make it seem as if the library is run by insane people. on the other hand, there is a purpose to this preference. Hoover practices a long-lost art which they will refuse to teach to others called marketing. using marketing, they determine what things they can sell to people which are useless or contain hidden flaws causing them to buy more things. the Society of Marketers is responsible for overseeing this art and its use, and operates the library in order to learn more of their art. how the objects are used by them is not something i can tell anyone- even if i were allowed by the secrecy of the contract, it is not something that makes very much sense anyway. i spent three weeks at the library, and then moved on to the other part of my contract.
after helping the library, i was given a package of books and told to take it to Fiftyone with me along my travels. since i was not going to Fiftyone anyway, Hoover allowed me to use their trade route maps and travel with others in their employ. i had to return the maps after i returned safely. the distance in between is taken up by part of the glasslands, not the more natural desert near Hoover, but i was provided with the tools to travel quickly. Hoover uses a form of machine that i am not permitted to describe at all, except to say that in order to use it, a person would need to be taught by the Guild of Mechanics. using this machine, i went to Fiftyone across hills and glasslands at a very fast pace. it was actually so fast that learning to use the machine and riding it were frightening at times. the trip took only a week each way, which sounds impossible, but is not.
when i returned to Hoover from Fiftyone my contract ended and i left the place as soon as possible with a caravan going to Ensenada. i do not wish to visit the place again. the reasons for this have to do with the nature of Fiftyone and the fact that the guilds in both places have declared me exiled, and i cannot write or talk of them because of my contract. it is enough to say that the price of breaking the contract in Hoover is death.