Presidia is a colony that was established deep inside the canyon of Coprates Chasma almost 20 years ago as a small mining settlement. Exploratory mining operations had found deposits of a number of precious metals and gems. It has also served as a home to the maintenance crews that are responsible for Atmospheric Converter A-429, contributing to the terraforming of Mars.

Initially the town was located on the lip of the canyon, but tornados destroyed many of the original structures only three years after being established. Fearful that future storms could
be just as devastating, the crew opted to rebuild on the floor of the canyon, where the high steep walls afforded excellent protection from the storms that ravage the plains above.
Unfortunately for the burgeoning settlement, the deposits proved to be less plentiful than originally estimated.

The town’s corporate sponsors pulled out less than seven years after founding the small community. Even so, some of the colonists decided to stay. While the deposits were not plentiful enough for the large mining conglomerates, they were sufficient to support a small group of private miners. It also proved to be a convenient location for the Martian government to station maintenance teams for one of the massive atmospheric processors that have labored for decades to convert the Martian atmosphere into something breathable.

Nestled tight against the wall of Corprate Chasma, Presidia is almost perpetually cloaked in darkness. For most of the year, the natural light levels in the town resemble that of dusk on an overcast night. Lamp poles and flood lights run almost constantly to give the residents enough light with which to live comfortably. To help maintain the illusion of a more natural light cycle, most of these lights are cut to minimum levels as the town settles down at night. As a result, there is at least a poor mimicry of a day/night cycle.

Beyond the borders of the town, however, darkness reigns supreme. Only during a two week period, when the sun’s path through the sky happens to bring it directly over the canyon above the small town, does an almost normal natural light bathe the place.

The people of Presidia are a fiercely independent people. Each resident is expected to bring some benefit, be it as a skilled miner, a simple cook, or a trauma trained doctor. Anyone who is not pulling his weight in some notable manner will find that his continued presence is unwanted. Outsiders are also not made to feel particularly welcome, especially if they are seen as an extension of the governing body of Mars. People live in Presidia to get away from what they view as an oppressive government. They simply wish to be left alone to live their lives in a manner that suits them. They do not ask for anything and expect their privacy to be respected. Even so, visits by various bureaucrats are inevitable. So long as the visitor gets his business done quickly and efficiently, the residents try to keep their disdain and hostility beneath a surface of politeness.

The majority of those who live in Presidia are miners of one sort or another. Most own their own equipment and operate either alone or with a small group of friends. Small mining
operations are spread throughout the canyon, some as far as fifty miles from the town.

Presidia also operates a single smelter. It is used and maintained by all the miners to process raw ore into something that is both pure and more cost efficient to transport to one of the larger colonies, where it is sold for both hard currency and supplies the settlement needs.

Beyond the miners, one can also find a pair of doctors, a couple of barkeeps, the AC A-429 maintenance crews, mechanics, families, and all the other sort of people you would normally expect to find in a small town. The one thing that is apparently missing is the typical criminal element. While not everyone in town is a choir singer, most criminal acts take the form of brawls and the occasional minor act of theft or vandalism.

Anything more severe than this is severely looked down upon, as it is seen as an open invitation for outside scrutiny – something the town prefers to avoid. Anyone caught, or even seriously suspected, of anything more serious these minor crimes is hounded out of the town. In the case of something more violent, such as murder, the perpetrator often quietly disappears. This may seem harsh, but it serves to keep out the authorities.


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