The Pulper city of Helium, perched majestically on the northern rim of Hellas Planitia, eloquently unfurls the banners of High-Barsoom elegance across the southern mouth of the Hellas-to-Isidis Grand Canal.
Befitting the melancholy grandeur of Barsoom, the burnished, bejeweled spires that rise into the pale sun-lit firmament and the courtly causeways that weave lyrical gleaming metal strips amidst architectural marvels are largely unpeopled. However, this Helium isn’t teetering upon the catastrophic cusp of atmospheric-annihilation : there just aren’t enough mad-fen that made this Helium, the Pulpers, to even begin to populate the byzantine and baroque splendors of their fantastic urban invention. Many visitors and tourists to the gem of Barsoom have made the astute observation that there is more than a little Bradbury in the Pulpers' creation. Indeed, would the latter Chronicle be possible without the former’s existence?
Like any truly cosmopolitan, if underpopulated, city, there is a colorful melange of residents. The gauze & bangle regalia of red princesses - it's truly amazing just how many egg-daughters Tardos Mors fertilized! - sweep regally past everything from sixties velour, booted black trousers & miniskirts to eighties (1880s, that is) bronzed-cogged-togs, smoked goggles & Faraday cage corsets. Fandom connected in some way to fantastical cities feel the Mecca Pilgrimage Draw of Helium's soaring splendor. The extreme proof of this urban siren effect is the verified sighting of a gingham-dressed girl and her cockeyed cohort of tin, straw & mane. Everyone pays tribute to Helium.
Helium was founded in late 2010 by sword-and-sandal Pulpers who saw their chance to live out their dreams in a big way. They took their city's name from the works of Edgar Rice Burroughs, but don't limit their lifestyle to just those works - while the city is inhabited by Fen who live the crystals-and-togas lifestyle, it's also inhabited by Fen who dress and act more "normally".
The city was built on the edge of Hellas Planitia because the Pulpers knew the Mars Terraforming Project would flood the Hellas Basin, and the Hellas-to-Isidis Grand Canal was the first major artificial waterway planned for the planet.
Helium is a city composed of soaring towers, the tallest (currently at 500 m base-to-top, but built to support a "topless" mile-high structure) and oldest being the Jeddak's Tower at the mouth of the canal. Originally a marker for the Grand Canal's orbital lasers to aim beside, and still home to a mix of residential, commercial, and "handicraft" industrial sectors, the Jeddak's Tower has grown to become the administrative and commercial hub of the city. Offices of note in the Jeddak's Tower include the Helium City Hall (currently at the top of the spire), the Helium Police Department, the Helium Hilton (the local branch of the hotel chain), Okar Guide Services and Orange Planet (two tour-guide businesses). The base of the Jeddak's Tower houses the local installations of the Mars Terraforming Project, including offices, "atmosphere plants" that help regulate the composition of the surrounding air, and pumps designed to draw water from Hellas into the canal system.
|Law Enforcement in Helium|
|The Helium Police Department works well with the Space Patrol. Its Chief Inspector is Natsuko Aki, who is definitely not a Pulper; the (small) local organized-criminal element go out of their way to avoid drawing her attention.|
West of the Jeddak's Tower is the main residential and commercial zone, where the majority of the city's inhabitants live, work, and play. The "Topless Towers of Helium" are not yet truly topless, but have been designed to have their transparent roofs removed once there is sufficient atmosphere to support the ubiquitous rooftop gardens.
Eventually, the area south of the Jeddak's Tower will be home to the city's docks, jutting out into the Hellas Sea, but that development must wait until the Hellas Basin has filled with water. For the nonce, this land is mostly undeveloped, with a small Great Justice training base the largest facility. The Mars Terraforming Project also has a temporary base here, which monitors cometary nuclei as they're dropped into Hellas.
East of the Jeddak's Tower, across the Grand Canal from the rest of the city, one can find the city's hydroponics farms. A multitude of spans are planned to cross the Canal to allow food to be brought into the city, but only a mere handful exist currently. The farms are on the far side of the canal from the Scarlet Tower so that they have room to expand along the canal as the city grows. The city's Juvies tend to live in this part of town, happy to remain "farmers in the sky" and stay out of city politics as much as possible. Also on the eastern side of the Grand Canal, farther north than the farms, one can find the local Church of All Worlds enclave.
The city's light industry is located north of the Jeddak's Tower, the farthest it can be placed from Hellas Planitia and still be in the city. Many of the industries cater to the shipbuilding trade - while the companies aren't as big as their counterparts in Utopia Planitia or Mos Eisley, they do a good business serving the ships registered out of Helium's aerospace port. The businesses of Helium also turn a profit customizing survival and colonization gear for those who wish to explore or settle in the southeastern hemisphere of Mars.
Further north is Helium's Burroughs Aerospace Port, which is relatively large for a Martian facility and overdeveloped for the city's current needs. As a result, hangar fees are among the lowest on Mars; this attracts Fen with small bank accounts and large ships. It has also attracted Great Justice, which maintains a sizable naval depot at Burroughs.
A light-rail passenger line runs along the canal from the Jeddak's Tower, past the spaceport, to the Jedwar's Tower exactly 75 miles from the Jeddak's Tower. This tower, currently under construction, is intended to become a twin to the Jeddak's Tower and the hub of "Lesser Helium", with the current city of Helium being renamed "Greater Helium" and the light-industry sector moved from Greater Helium to Lesser Helium. There are some concerns whether there is any current need for a twin city to Helium, but the city founders have always taken the long view.
Helium is one of the cities mentioned in Captain's Blog.
- or Scarlet Tower
- Tie-down service is also offered, but it is not recommended due to the severity of the Martian sandstorms.
- Such as Ramona Jackson and Avril Arrow
- Complete with atmosphere plants, canal-maintenance water pumps in the basements, and a planned "topless" observation deck a mile above the ground.
- Possibly by turning it briefly into Unreal Estate