Mars

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A view of new biodome complexes in Olympia.

Mars (Sol IV) is the fourth planet out from Sol. Often called the Red Planet, it has surface area the size of Earth's entire landmass. It has a stable population of 4.5 billion people. Less than 7% of the population is non-human. There is a significant minority of synthetics on the planet; a hold-over from Mars' early years of harsh criminal justice allowing corporations to borgify criminals responsible for major crimes.

Despite its proximity to Earth, during the early years of interstellar colonization Mars was only home to small scientific expeditions and outposts that etched out a meager existence until the 2200's, when terraforming technology was finally able to slowly reintroduce water and atmosphere to the planet. Currently the atmosphere is breathable but incredibly thin, which makes strenuous efforts outside the domed cities very dangerous.

Mars is divided between hundreds of competing city-states, corporate interests, and nomadic groups. Nearly all of these groups have disputes with one another over water rights.

Until recently an Alliance fleet remained in orbit of Mars at all times, ensuring that the planet remains disarmed and free of armed disputes. With a political shift in 2459, that fleet was removed and Mars is now granted greater autonomy as a member of the Sol Alliance itself - possibly at the expense of SolGov.

Demographics

Mars remains divided between supporters of the Red Coalition who want independence (in red), the Blues who want to remain in the Alliance (in blue), and non-aligned powers who have refused to take a side one way or another.

The Urban Martians

The average Martian citizen doesn't leave their respective city or arcology than a few times in their lives, but still, low pressure survival and suit usage is a mandatory part of education. Most of the population lives in cramped spaces and tiny apartments. The cities themselves are usually a maze of interconnected buildings, roadways and tunnels. While natives can navigate these with ease, those unfamiliar with their surroundings find it difficult to travel even a few blocks without a GPS. With low police coverage and lax laws on gambling and crime, many criminal organizations have sprung up and remained for centuries. Because of this, Mars boasts one of the largest and most enigmatic criminal underworlds in Sol space, often having strong ties with the city-states they occupy. Corruption is a fact of life for most urban Martians.

Despite this, they enjoy many modern amenities. The major cities all enjoy equipped gravity generators, allowing the healthy development of the population in a gravity equal to Earth.

The urban population accounts for 90% of the Martian population.

The Arcologies

Of the urban Martians, the vast majority reside in arcologies: sprawling overbuilt megalopolises with multiple layers of buildings up to one and a half kilometer tall. They are are sometimes referred to as ‘Hives’ or ‘Fēngcháo’, a term coined up in 20th century science fiction. The largest among them contain up to half a billion people. Largest buildings in them are usually massive arcologies, that can provide jobs, shops, services and living space by themselves for numbers up to several million people. Most of the inhabitants in them reside in tiny room-sized apartments that often do not even contain all the needed installations such as toilets and showers, or cooking appliances just to conserve space and lower maintenance costs. As a rule, higher you go in martian buildings, the larger and more expensive apartments become.

Rural Martians

Despite the inhospitable terrain, the deserts around the cities are not uninhabited. Boomtowns and villages wax and wane across the surface. Most rural Martians have rejected the daily grind of urban life, preferring to life off the land.

Most rural Martians live in small, sealed biomes. Many of these small towns, usually numbering no more than 20 - 2,000 people, are sponsored by a major corporation and get by on hydroponic farming or mining. Martian tubers, such as potatoes, remain a popular dish in the core worlds as the Martian soil - when removed of toxic elements - gives them a unique flavor.

Rural Martians tend to have a deep connection to the planet and its soil. The appreciation for the harsh environment has bred a population of rugged survivalists. This is compounded by their lack of access to gravity generators; many rural Martians try to raise money to send pregnant, young, or growing family members to the cities. Those that stay behind adopt a vigorous culture of physical fitness as they try to stave off the developmental issues associated with low gravity.

Nomads

One of the notable groups that live outside the megacities are Djor Abdussalam, a group of nomadic islamic descendants mostly of european origin, that subscribe to their own sect of islam. They claimed large areas of land deserts and poles as their own, declaring it the Djor Province. Although Martian City-states have outright denied those claims, the nomad people have established their own settlements on it and traverse it freely. Ascetic values and intelligent thinking have allowed them prosper, through trade, research and salvaging. They boast their own bio-domed settlements that are usually done in highly impractical, antique, yet beautiful settlements of neo-african and middle eastern style. Despite building such beautiful settlements, Djor rarely stay in them as a result of their restless nature. As a result, homes tend to swap families over a dozen times in a single year. This expansive lifestyle that the cream of their society enjoys is supported by research foundations and several notable banks they own. The entire society, from poorest to richest, respects and adheres to traditional behavior, as much as survival would allow.

Despite the harsh and arid environment, many urban areas have developed.

Terraformed Environment

Cold, arid and extremely inhospitable, with average temperature of -10°C (14°F), moving between a minimum of -80°C (-112°F) and a maximum of 60°C (140°F). A Martian day is only slightly longer than a standard day at 25 standard hours, but the Martian year is 687 standard days long. It has a 37% gravity of Earth’s, which is too low for appropriate development of humans outside locations with installed gravity generators.

Green Mars

Early on during the terraforming projects of 2200 onward, Alliance scientists bio-engineered specialized plants to survive the thin atmosphere and toxic soil. Species of grass found on Earth above elevations of 8,000 feet were altered to be even more drought resistant and manage Mars' thinner atmosphere. Similar projects were done on variety of trees and shrubs before being introduced to Mars. The result is that the 'wet' areas of Mars host stubborn plant life that struggles to etch out its existence. Despite being incredibly invasive and fast spreading, the inherent nature of how hostile the Martian terrain and weather is means the explosive growth of these martian plants are kept in check.

No native animal life exists on Mars, and efforts to breed domesticated animals to survive the thin Martian atmosphere have consistently failed or proved infeasible.

Blue Mars

Almost all of the major cities on Mars are concentrated around liquid water. Because of the unique mineral content of Martian soil, unfiltered Martian water is incredibly acidic and unsafe to drink. Very few fish can survive in the Martian lakes and seas, and none of them safe to eat or fish. Rain on the Red Planet is also, more often than not, undrinkable. Huge desalination and treatment plants work around the clock to provide fresh water to the cities, and control of these facilities - and the water they pump - remains an incredibly divisive issue for most Martian city-states.

Due to terraforming, Mars has its own natural rain cycle, composed of both water and carbon dioxide, with the former usually falling as snow during summer, and the latter forming snow in the winter. Rain followed by formation of lakes is not unseen, but these often don’t last more than a day and form flat beds of quicksand behind.

A popular example of blue Mars is a tourist spot amongst Martians, the Argyre crater, which is used mainly for farming. At its center, Lake Agyre, which is aggressively treated to be relatively safe (compared to most Martian bodies of water) to swim in. As a result, Lake Argyre and the small neighboring little town (also called Argyre) serves as an immensely popular location for Martians and is the closest thing Mars has to a beach town. Very few people make this their permanent residence, as costs are prohibitive, but a vast majority of homes in the town are booked out as vacation homes and timeshares.

History

Early Colonization

Despite Mars being a barren planet, a mixture of desperate living conditions on Earth and a bold commitment to exploration and colonization caused it to experience small scale colonization in the 2100's. After the terraforming efforts of 2200 began and with the discovery of massive fossil fuel deposits (therefore confirming Mars once held life), optimistic nations and corporations attempted to set up a foothold on it, causing tens of thousands of colonists to arrive during the first waves. After it became clear that Mars would remain hostile for quite some time, was passed over for more suitable, distant worlds for a long period, leaving the original settlers to etch out a meager life. The byproduct of this is that many issues, national and cultural that plagued humanity at those times were brought over to the Red Planet, causing tensions between its inhabitants and new settlers. Despite the one world government of the Alliance, individual nations on Earth would finance and support colonies on Mars, pitting them against one another. Wars between the colonies, although rare, were not unheard of. The ones that survived have long since grown into large, independent city-states, which are for the most part friendly competitors under the watchful eye of Sol Alliance.

However, the tensions combined with the planet’s wildly different features and cultural mindsets have, over centuries, produced cultures and traditions unique to Mars. Even today, some of many culture groups on Mars still keep to old traditions that have all but disappeared on Earth. Many Martians take pride in this, believing that Mars holds a unique connection to humanity in its pure state.

The Catastrophe of 2298

The first of two major catastrophes in Martian history was the abrupt failure of its terraforming infrastructure in the winter of 2298. The entire infrastructure was linked to a single network, which suffered a serious melt-down as a result of human error. The network either shut down areas of terraforming or spit out wild algorithms that put the entire project into a tailspin. The network was restored after several days, but the result was catastrophic swings in the climate. For the next 10 years Mars experienced climactic storms that severely damaged or even destroyed domed cities and utterly wiped out smaller settlements. The atmosphere was flooded with excessive C02 that smothered people in the open without internals. Billions of credits of property damage was recorded, and millions were killed as a direct result of the disaster. It was estimated to have put back terraforming efforts by a century.

Despite the damages, an investigation by SolGov saw only three technicians arrested, and all three were later acquitted despite anger and protest from the Martian population.

In modern times, the ruins of cities lost to the catastrophe remain popular spots for scavengers, explorers, and tourists.

The Martian World War

Considering Mars' strong ties with Earth governments and its dependence on Sol Fleets, Mars never had unified interests or tools to openly fight against the Sol Government during the First Interstellar War. Despite this, many Martians felt sympathetic to the Coalition of Colonies, as they felt they shared the resentment towards a growing, imperialist oppression within the Alliance.

In the early stages of the war in 2278, the Alliance quickly pressed the small Martian self-defense force into service, merging the tiny Martian fleet into the Alliance navy. Factions on Mars, which began calling themselves the Red Coalition, began rallying popular and political support. They had many reasons to desire independence from the Alliance, which had shown casual disregard for Mars. Financially backed by the The Coalition of Colonies (CoC), on 18th of January, 2279, many Martian nations seceded from Sol Alliance and launched a coordinated, surprise attack on the rest of Mars.

The loyalist city-states became known as the Sol Coalition, or more popularly, the Blues.

With the mighty fleets of the Alliance out fighting in the frontier, the Blue Coalition saw very little material aid from the Alliance. Red Rangers, special forces under the Red Coalition, seized lightly defended orbital Alliance military stations, including nuclear-equipped missile platforms. The Red Coalition threatened to use these weapons on any planet or fleet that attempted to intervene, effectively isolating Mars and throwing it into a Cold War with Earth.

As military conventions prohibited direct bombing of population centers, the Red conquest consisted of prolonged sieges while unrest, terrorist attacks and counter-offensives began to sap their ability to wage war. In the face of growing losses, the leadership of the Red Coalition gained the dubious honor of being the second nation in human history to use nuclear weapons in warfare. In 2284, the Red Coalition city-state of Terra Nova, facing capitulation in the face of advancing Blue forces, successfully appealed to an orbital missile platform to launch a nuclear missile on a nearby Blue city of New Dresden in an attempt to turn the tide of war.

This action immediately fractured the entire Red Coalition, with most of its members reeling from the action. Within days the majority of city-states in the Red Coalition abandoned the alliance, and within weeks the remainder had surrendered.

The Treaty of Olympus was signed on 5th of April, 2284 featuring unconditional surrender of remaining Red Coalition states. The Alliance, negotiating on behalf of the loyalist Blues, used the treaty to place harsh restrictions on Mars. The entire planet was disarmed and all factions on it surface were banned from fielding a standing army, navy, or engaging in armed conflicts with one another. In addition, the planet was put under "indefinite" martial law, with an Alliance Admiral permanently stationed in orbit of the planet to enforce indirect martial law, overriding any local laws or ordinances.

History of Terraforming

Terraforming process started during the late part of the 22nd century, as massive terraformers designed to turn Mars’ natural minerals into gasses and legions of cyborgs were put into action. The idea was to replicate the Global Warming process humans have inadvertently done on Earth, but in a more controlled environment with goals of increasing both air pressure and temperature. The process was incredibly slow and expensive, and dogged by a major catastrophe in 2298 that nearly ended the entire process and caused untold amounts of human suffering and economic damage.

Although controversial for both its cost and dangers, the terraforming project of Mars is considered a success. The air is still toxic, but it effectively raised Mars' near zero pressure to slightly tolerable, along with the average temperature. Furthermore, the vast amounts of polarized iron dust now flowing around the planet’s lower orbit has created for a makeshift electromagnetic shield, reducing harmful radiation by a large degree. Efforts are being made to maintain it by crushing and polarizing asteroids in orbit, despite the ever increasing volume of orbital traffic. These difference meant that by 2400 a space suit was no longer needed to traverse its surface. Instead, pressure suits or thick clothing, along with eye, mouth and ear protection are enough to stop the worst effects of low pressure environment. Single-cellular life has prospered as well, due to a atmosphere now rich with organic particles. Due to this, Mars is slowly losing its famous red color.

Ruins and small colonies

Mars has a relatively long history of colonization, as well as destructive events. This has resulted in many colonies, facilities and cities covering the wastes of the planet. One such city is Divitiae. Once an prospective independant mining colony, it failed to establish itself during the earily Mars gold rush. A rapid growth period was followed by a slow death of the settlement. Raging storms and lack of funds for redevelopment turned it into a Mars equivilent of Detroit. While people still live there (mostly in poverty), it's often targeted by scavengers, taking and destroying whatever of value the storms uncover.

Some other, smaller colonies suffered a similar fate, becoming the poorest settlements on Mars.

Ethnic makeup

While the planet has a diverse population, the cities themselves often do not, sometimes corresponding with the population makeup of their parent nations on Earth. For example, former chinese colony of Tiānkōng tǎ (Sky Tower), now a megacity and city-state, has disproportionately large amount of ethnic-chinese inhabitants, population density and poverty. This is a consequence of various earth events. As the Pacific Ocean started to eat at China’s mainland, almost billion people ended up displaced over time. As such, many went to join their kinsman in space. American and European colonies have greater ethnic diversity, while other nation specific colonies have far less.

Synthetics

During the peroid of terraforming, Mars received an immense number of Cyborgs to serve as its workforce. In the late part of the 22nd century, Humanity has achived the ability to produce heavy cyborgs. Being able to function and work freely in the harsh environment, Martian terraforming firms pressed for more and more cyborg workers, but volunteers for this process were few and far between. It was untested, dangerous, and the success rate for brain transplantation into cyborg cylinders was far from one hundred percent. The demand pressed Sol Government to produce more and more cyborgs. Eventually, to meet demand, cyborgification was implemented as capital punishment for crimes, less and less severe as time passed. In total, between 2204, when the implementation of cyborgs started, and 2060, when it stopped, over 35 million cyborgs have been sent to Mars as serve as workforce. Ironically, the Terraforming project started to backfire soon after.

The extent of the crimes Martians caused, as well other problems the synthetics caused,resulted in an overall negative view of AIs and cyborgification among the populace. Sometime after, Mars Senate constructed a large monumental graveyard for victims of forced cyborgification sometimes refered to CyTomb. Cyborgs and cyborgification are banned in several larger City-States such as Crest Olympia, Greater London, Elysium and Red Gaia.

Economy

Mars' economy is developed and mixed, with it's largest industries being orbital construction, mining and a small but rapidly growing hydroponics industry. Mars also enjoys being the center of Sol trade, being a major contributor to Sol's fossil fuel industry not to mention over 40% of Sol's trade at some point passing through the planet or one of its stations, due in no small part to the Bluespace Gate near the planet.

Low gravity and favorable air drag allow for cheap and efficient landings by shuttles, allowing shuttle traffic to far surpass what just the planet's space elevators would allow. Low gravity allows constructions of space elevators at larger longitudes Mars as compared to Earth, this, combined with amount of space trade the planet receives, has shifted center of planets economy into planetary orbit. The port megacities are as such, by far the wealthiest. The richest and most developed is Olympia, which is often thought of as the center of Mars.

The Martian Senates

Mars has almost as complex, antiquated and corrupt political system as Earth does. Many different types of governments either based on practicality or tradition are in practice, even some tiny monarchies and theocracies. Some megacities have ruling bodies consisting of representatives from various city sectors or arcologies. However, Mars has its own planetary representing body composed of representatives scaled according to population of the territorial bodies, with each having their own method of election: The Martian Senate

The Mars Senate has large power concerning decisions that affect the planet as a whole, but little to no power over internal politics of the various self-proclaimed countries. It is located in city of Olympia, within the Galle Crater Terraformed Zone, but a majority of senior administration facilities and personnel reside in orbit on New Concordia station in orbit.

The 464 member senate is meant to meet four times a year but rarely meets quorum (232) more than once. The Martian senate is split between the Red Front (192 seats) and GAIA (200) with the remainder 70 seats representing over a dozen different parties.

Gangs of Mars

While organized, strictly hierarched crime with strong ties to the local government is the most commonplace on Mars, other, much less disciplined criminal groups exist as well. Such groups were historically composed out of young, radical political elements.

Average age of a martian gang member is from 14 to 25 years old. While gangsters younger than this threshold are not uncommon, especially in the major gangs, anyone older than 27 is a very rare sight, as older members usually acquire enough connections to join actual and more lucrative organized crime.

Nowadays, the martian gang landscape is not in its prime. Although bickering over territory is, as always, very common, the last really major attack on civillians happened about ten years ago. In general, the major gangs currently are more occupied with fighting each other, and are largely introverted.

While flying hijacked shuttles from Mars elsewhere is not unheard of, no gang currently posesses territories on other planets. Which means oh yeah baby Martian gangster raider gimmick is pretty possible.

To more organized crime factions on Mars, the gangs are nothing more than an annoyance, mere child play. However, the young, Robin Hood-esque thugs fighting back against the enigmatic mafia kingpins seeking to undermine their ways is a somewhat popular theme in Martian pop culture.

The War Heads

Dating all the way back to 2284, this group initially consisted of young people in the far outskirts of New Dresden, who were made jobless by the sudden nuclear attack on the center of the city. In ensuing political chaos, it was easy for even an ill-equipped gang with few members to quickly seize power in the criminal underworld, staggering as well after the, arguably, most prominent crime lord at the time, Hugo Stein, died in the explosion. Their significant doings include kidnapping the mayor of Olympia, Terry Woodworkers, in 2301.

They were previously signified by wearing yellow-black clothing. Their hand sign is extending the index finger of the right hand upwards and pinching the end of it with the index finger and the thumb of the left hand, making a simplistic gesture roughly resembling a mushroom cloud.

Since almost two centuries have passed, the gang is currently mostly stagnant. It's in heated rivalry with the Boys. It engages in small-scale drug production and dealing and extortion of small businesses, and occupies territories as far as from Bova to Stapledon, even though the density of gang members in these areas varies significantly.

The Shuttleyard Boys aka "The Boys"

In 2449, a couple of Warheads known as Sludge and Tulip suddenly turned on their allies at an abandoned shuttle factory, graffiting over the Warheads logo with a one unheard of before. Shortly afterwards, a fight ensued, in which Sludge and Tulip singlehandedly killed around fourteen of their former gang mates with assault rifles. Tulip died in the skirmish. The word spread, and shortly afterwards, a new gang was born as many flocked to a new side. Sludge was proven to be a very capable leader with strong connections in the underworld, and the gang's territory expanded quickly.

However, the gang would only truly make itself known in 2450. After Aoina's police force intervened in a yet another huge fight between the two major gangs over an abandoned laser weapon factory, the Boys were forced to lose. However, Sludge was not going to let this slide. Just two weeks afterwards, the gang made a surprise attack on Aoina's police force headquarters itself. Their weaponry was extremely nonconventional, but terrifyingly effective against the woefully underequipped policemen, with the mobsters riding road rollers with huge gun arrays mounted on and flying shuttles into the sky only to crash them down. Casualties were reaching hundreds, and the Martian military itself had to intervene. Although many were arrested, they were all discovered to be new to the gang and low in rank, with the leaders and the organizers mysteriously vanishing from the scene. After this embarassment, the remaining police force in Aoina received significant reinforcements, including military-grade weaponry. The sole act of stating that you belong to a gang became a severe crime.

Their clothing is traditionally gray and blue, like a shuttle's typical insides. However, it is not usually worn due to the police specifically targeting young people wearing clothes of gang colors.

The rivalry with the Warheads is still heated. The Boys' specialization is gun trafficking. From Aoina, they have mostly expanded to the north, up to and including Capon and Nycatlope.

Minor Gangs

Aside from the two major gangs, a lot of minor ones exist as well, comprised of various ethnicities. Meaning, you can think up your own non-major gang and it absolutely can be canon. Some of them are worth of note.

Operation Tau aka "The Operation"

Integrity originally was a community of scientists way back in 2204, who started hacking into and stealing new cyborgs as a sign of political protest against cyborgification. Outcast from society, they very quickly resorted to other crime of increasing severity, and in several generations they were known as just a somewhat famous group of hackers. Nowadays, their membership is dwindling, however, their presence is exaggerated in popular culture after the cult film "The Chaser" describing the gang's history in much detail, heavily romanticizing most of its elements, such as birthing a common misconceptional image of the Operation going out and scavenging ruins for pieces of lost technology, equipped in makeshift, yet effective RIGs.

The Providence

A small, closely-knit group hailing from Divitae, it was originally founded when several young boys working in the mines experienced the same kind of religious vision. Some kind of a very nonconventional cult was born, as the "dark deity" spoke to the members to... commit various street crimes. Some of these crimes are of religious nature, such as vandalising several Martian churches, while others are not. They traditionally wear all black clothing with some kind of a mask to conceal the face.

Integrity

The migration of Tajara to Mars was not met with universal acclaim. A xenophobic element was born, named Integrity, committing various hate crimes, mostly murder. Although they are very low in number, society is very certainly aware of their existence, condemning their actions and publishing somewhat overblown news reports.

Rik'manq

In the wave of Tajaran migrants, both the PRA and the ALA have sent in their spies to infiltrate Mars's mighty criminal underworld. However, both of these factions were not successful in this, as the rigid structure of criminal organizations was not ready for integration of a whole new alien race. In fact, their attempts had severe consequences, with most of the agents ending up in prison. The remaining ones decided to join forces and switch over to the gang landscape instead, in which they succeeded, the new gang, named "Representatives" in Siik'tajr, being an ally of the Boys.