Mars is the fourth planet from Sol and the second-smallest planet in the Sol System. It is the capital of the Sol Central Government and the first planet ever colonized by humanity.
- Mars is the current capital planet of the Sol Central Government and is the headquarters of the Expeditionary Corps.
- The planet's capital city (and the SCG's federal administrative capital) is Olympus. Olympus is built on and within its namesake – the dormant supervolcano Olympus Mons – with underlevels extending far below the surface.
- Today, Mars is one of the most prosperous and significant planets in human space.
- Mars' atmosphere is thin, cold, and unable to support life outside of its climate-controlled tunnels, tented canyons, and extensive dome networks.
- All of the plant and animal life on Mars were imported from Earth, and many gradually evolved over many generations to adapt to the new conditions.
- Mars is still very red from orbit, and while some algae and lichens thrive on the surface, the planet has a long way to go before it is livable without a contained ecosystem and atmosphere.
- Mars is a vast planet with many unique communities, but ‘Martian’ culture is all centered around Olympus, and the capital has a hand and a sway in life all over the planet.
- Hundreds of unique cultures and groups can be found on Mars, but the vast majority of Martians are Zurich Accord Common-speaking Solar citizens.
- There are three main types of habitation on Mars:
- Domes: Medium-density economic and industrial regions.
- Tents: Wide swathes of rural controlled atmosphere regions, pressurized to maximize agricultural output.
- Tunnels: A catch-all term for all subsurface settlements, which range from the wide, spacious complexes under Olympus to the slums and dregs that are found carved out beneath the outlying settlements
- As the capital planet of a human superpower, Mars is both a nerve-center and an economic powerhouse – it is vital to the smooth functioning of the SCG. The planet's large tented canyons have allowed it to sustain a moderate agricultural industry compared to other worlds, and it also exports quartz, gold, silicates and iron in sizable quantities to other SCG worlds.
- The SCG claims that Mars (specifically, Olympus) is the safest place to live in all of human space.
- It's quite likely that Mars is the most important planet in current human history. As the cradle of interstellar expansion, it proved that colonization was not only possible, but could also be fantastically successful.
Jimmy Gideon – famously, the first human on Mars – first set foot on the planet in 2052, marking the first human visit to another planet. Much of Mars' early history was shaped by economic needs, mass immigration from an ecologically-devastated Earth, and the Commonwealth Civil War. The Ares Confederation – a short-lived government based on the red planet – decimated the governing capacity of the Terran Commonwealth, leading to the latter's collapse. Prominent Martian corporations lobbied to place the post-war capital on Olympus as the Sol Central Government was formed. Ever since, Mars has seen a steady economic and infrastructural development, being the seat of federal legislature for most humans in the galaxy.
Government and Politics
The capital of the Sol Central Government Olympus, sits on Mars, causing much of local government to be impacted by SCG policy and making it difficult to differentiate between the two.
The Martian government is split into Administrative Districts which represent different areas of Mars, with large population centers serving as regional capitals. There are fifteen major districts, and each district houses numerous cities and communities.
Like many other places in the SCG, however, decision-making power on the planet is shared with corporations, and almost all of the planet's infrastructure is contracted out to major utility companies subsidized by the SCG at large.
Defense and Law Enforcement
As the headquarters of the Sol Central Government Army and a major base of operation for all non-PDF army assets, Mars' defense is handled by federal soldiers and its orbital defense falls under the purview of the First and Second Fleets.
Mars is also the headquarters of the Sol Federal Police, and their presence on the planet is a strong deterrent against crime. While the SFP keeps close tabs on law enforcement within the Olympus district, the planet is policed by a myriad of local law enforcement institutions supported by a heavy presence of corporate asset protection.
The Martian landscape is dominated by red, oxidized flats and hills. The largest feature is Chryse Planitia, a large, flat, dusty expanse that has been optimal for human construction, containing the vast majority of the megadomes constructed by humanity since the early years of colonization.
Olympus itself is a sprawling complex of buildings and tunnels, and a marvel of human engineering. Its tallest structure – located at Olympus Mons' peak – is the Solar Senate building, which towers over the rest of the planet and contains a self-controlled gravitational and atmospheric environment.
Valles Marineris, often called Mariner Canyon, is another impressive feat of Martian engineering. This continent-sized crater has been covered in a carbon synthweave tenting supported by rows of plasteel suspension bridges and pumped with oxygen and pressurized to support a biosphere. Real estate under the tenting is both extremely coveted and heavily-regulated in order to encourage the cultivation of what is often referred to as the ‘Martian ecosystem’.
Flora and fauna
Animals and plants thrive within Mars' habitable zones – Valles Marineris boasts the largest ecosystem, but plenty of flora and fauna make their homes within Mars' domes as well. All flora and fauna were imported from Earth. Wheat, corn, oak trees, bugs, and hundreds of other species were brought over to help feed the rapidly-growing population and to create an ecosystem for new creatures to thrive in. The animals roaming freely beneath the tenting of Mariner Canyon are often referred to as a 'Martian X', such as the Martian Moose or the Martian Beetle. Most have adapted to their new conditions and diverged from their Earthen equivalents – Martian Butterflies, for instance, have grown larger in size, and those that use camouflage in their wings have taken to the new colors and hues of Mars. Most flora has grown larger too, due to the drastically-reduced gravity. Stalks of corn on Mars can grow to almost fifteen feet in height.
The surface of Mars is covered with a myriad of settlements.
Crossing millions of kilometers and spider-webbing across and below the surface of the planet, the Martian tunnel network is the most extensive of its kind. Life in the Tunnels varies wildly, from extensive, carved out metroplexes with open space and green areas, to vast, expedient networks of magnetic trains, to the compact and labyrinthine underbelly of the urban centers. The Tunnels are the cheapest living option on mars, and so have a huge draw among immigrants, tourists, and the working class. Tunnels closer to the surface are well-integrated with their respective cities, and people from the surface regularly go underground for commerce, work in foundries and mines, or transportation.
While most of the Tunnels are well connected to the settlements they are a part of, some segments of tunneling have fallen into neglect and disrepair, making them a good hiding space for the shadier elements of the red planet.
The Olympus District is often cited as the largest human settlement, and for good reason. The capital of the Sol Central Government not only builds off the slopes of the supervolcano, but deep below its surface in a labyrinthine network of tunnels that effectively turn the entire mountain into a single building. As the administrative capital of the largest nation in human space, it is a city full of functionaries, executives, and bureaucrats. Government organizations like the SFP and EXO maintain their head offices here, and it is also the location of various embassies representing human and nonhuman polities alike. The Olympus District is a very politically-divided city, being home both to activists struggling to change the status-quo and the very politicians that brought that status-quo into reality. The Solar Senate building sits at the peak of Olympus Mons, and the Secretary-General's house – sometimes called ‘The Spire’ – is built slightly down the mountain to overlook it.
Greater Tharsis is a catchall name referring to a sprawling collection of domed settlements that spread across the Tharsis bulge. The Tharsis Bulge has become prime real estate since the foundation of the Sol Central Government due to its proximity to Olympus and its solid, flat bedrock ideal for building settlements. The domes of Greater Tharsis vary wildly in function, but are usually a mix of residential and commercial districts. Life in Greater Tharsis is often described as the typical Martian suburban existence, with its large domes mostly keeping to themselves aside from the rivalries between neighboring domes in primary and secondary school athletics.
A few domes within Greater Tharsis stand out from the others, however. Commerex-5 is known as the largest mall on Mars, with retailers from all over human space and beyond renting kiosks to offer their wares. Retail Dome 746, often called ‘Sugar-City’, is a sprawling theme park complex run by Getmore Corporation, complete with carnival games, thrill rides, gift shops, and mascots based on their beloved line of snacks. Utility Dome 19 is just called ‘The Park’, and used to be a space for dedicated greenery but now is used to simulate the old Earther custom of an outdoor concert venue, hosting the galaxy’s most well known performers to crowds that are almost always sold out. Mars University maintains its main campus here at Service Dome 75, and administers multiple satellite campuses from their offices there.
Hellshen is the name of the administrative district centered in the Hellas basin, which is known as the agricultural center of Mars. Rather than producing food in the traditional greenhouse method, as has often been done on Mars, Hellshen utilizes its own technology of massive, solar-heated algae tanks that allow for unprecedented production of both oxygen and neutral-tasting organic matter that can be processed into lower-quality foodstuffs via biogenerators. People from Hellshen are often seen as under-educated due to the tendency of people in the region to avoid going to university and instead take apprenticeships to become algae technicians. If someone lives in Hellshen, either they are an algae tech, or they know an algae tech. Despite their rural lifestyle, Hellshens maintain a cheery disposition, and largely consider the work they do to be as important to their planet as it is idyllic.
Almyrikh, also called the Red Temple, is a tall, spiral settlement built in the center of the Chryse Planitia. It is famous for its architecture, built mostly of naturally occurring materials on Mars and carved in intricate patterns inspired by numerous ancient human civilizations. Commissioned during the days of the Terran Commonwealth, it now serves as luxury housing to the red planet's wealthiest, as well as a centralized hub for the planet's underground train system.
Located on the remote top of Gideon Mountain, formerly Ascraeus Mons, is Outpost Echo: a small, historic settlement that dates back to the earliest decades of the planet's colonization. Outpost Echo has been largely preserved since its colonial days, making it an important site for Martian historians and tourists alike. Outpost Echo can only be reached via a regularly-scheduled rover or a walk on the surface in a voidsuit, and its lack of connection to the larger tunnel network lends further to its authentic colonial-Martian experience. The town surrounding the original outpost, which is now a museum, is a hub for reenactors and artisans who specialize in colonial-era crafts.
One of the only large settlements in Mariner Canyon, Margaretta is considered a luxurious city by Martian standards. Breathable air and integrated gardens make the city very unique compared to its contemporaries. Biologists, naturalists, and nature lovers of all stripes flock to the city to enjoy its access to hiking trails and running freshwater. Biking, rafting, fishing and camping are commonplace on the outskirts of Margaretta, and the city’s connection to the train network makes it the ideal stop for provisions if anyone seeks to explore Mariner Canyon at large.
Once the capital of the short-lived Ares Confederacy, Ares City is now a shell of its former self. Located near the south pole and originally called Gideonsburg, Ares City was initially founded as a means of extracting water-ice from the ground beneath the pole for export to the rest of the planet. Now, Ares City is a domed center of industrialization, with mines, factories, and storage yards sprawling away from the city center. Ares City and its residents often feel wronged by the Sol Central Government, and believe that the Commonwealth Civil War ended on unfair terms, which only manifests in the form of a slight economic and political rivalry with the much more successful and progressive Olympus District.
The Gideons are the descendants of Jimmy Gideon, the first man on Mars. A charismatic space explorer and politician, Jimmy Gideon set the stage for what current Martian society would be like. Frequently found within the Martian upper class, elected offices, and the boards of Martian corporations, if you’re a Gideon, you have an advantage on the red planet. Many Gideons stay on Mars their whole lives, believing the opportunity to shape the red planet is their birthright – but others will gladly follow in their ancestors’ footsteps with the hope of discovering or colonizing new worlds, either with government organizations like the Expeditionary Corps, or by chartering private generation ships with the hopes of carving out their own empires in the stars.
Martians are now what "Originals" once were (Originals referring to those that come from Earth). They're varied in many ways, from the hard-working algae technicians of Hellshen, to the well-to-do politicians of the Olympus District. The one thing they all have in common is Founding Day.
Founding Day is always on the 10th of December, marking the day Jimmy Gideon first set foot on Mars. Fireworks, parades, and celebrations occur on this day to celebrate Martian Pride. Founding Day is almost a kind of New Year’s Day for Mars, as it celebrates the passage of time since human arrival on the planet and amidst the stars.
Peace Day is a holiday to commemorate the end of the Commonwealth Civil War and the organization of the Sol Central Government. Peace Day takes place on January 2nd, the anniversary of the day the Selenian Treaty was signed, bringing an end to the last of the fighting between the Terran Commonwealth and Ares Confederation. Mars is in the unique position of having celebrants of Peace Day mourning losses on both sides, but all seem to agree that the best path forward is a more united humanity.
Martian food is vastly like that found throughout the rest of the SCG, with some exceptions for cultural tastes. Cuisine is primarily based on that of Earth, and many of the same ingredients from Earth are around today, with the only difference being how they've cultivated on Mars. The "Frouka" dish is a traditional cuisine from the early days of Mars that is still eaten today for Founding Day: Frouka is hard-boiled eggs that are fried and served with a spiced mustard paste and potatoes (the first food sources to be grown on Mars). Hellshen Beer is known across Sol Gov for its refined taste and algae-green coloration, and is often considered one of the best alcoholic drinks produced by humans.
Mars is largely economically independent due to decades of infrastructural development and federal aid, but it still relies on imports in some capacity. Food is the primary import of Mars, as even with its technological edge and agricultural capacity, planets like Earth and Gaia are needed to subsidize food for its massive and growing population. Mars also imports a variety of specialty goods, medical and chemical equipment from its Solar neighbors, as well as raw material from the frontier.
Gold, silica, and iron oxide are Mars' most common exports, and usually only go directly to other SCG planets, though Mars’ privatized resource infrastructure means they can go anywhere with high bidders. Mars is one of the strongest economies in the SCG, as well as the seat of its currency, meaning if Mars were to collapse, the SCG's federal economic strength would likely plummet.