ENTRY 089: The High Pools
The slope of Olympus Mons is so shallow and the volcano so high, that a biomorph with a bit of vacuum gear can practically walk from the Amazonis Planita to the edge of space. Even with more than half a century of terraforming efforts, the Martian atmosphere remains exceedingly thin compared to Earth, but by the same mechanics they pressure doesn’t drop quite so much as you ascend. The Olympus habitat has taken advantage of the physics to set a series of exposed water pools starting a couple kilometers up, where the water can boil at 70 degrees Celsius and drops even lower as you ascend the mountain.
Most of the boiling cold, mist-shrouded pools are the play places for anyone that can withstand the temperatures and pressure, and range from small “natural” saunas and springs to carefully constructed infinity pools with imported tilework from Luna. In these pools, people conduct business, socialize, exercise, and relax or engage in small games involving floating chunks of ice that subliminate in the exposed conditions, all while enjoying the tremendous vista as they hang back and look at the Martian panorama before them, sitting on the side of the largest volcano in the solar system.
About a third of the pools are given over for scientific pursuits, mainly in testing Martian-adapted extremophiles.
Users enjoy the privileges of the High Pools because of a hard-working, mostly informal groups of volunteers that maintain them, who do not solicit donations of service or resources, but readily accept them if offered. The closest thing to an authority in the High Pools are the plumbers who keep the piping operations and handle issues related to water quality and keeping “in stock” with sufficient liquid water for the pools to remain running.
- An interruption in water-ice donations has led the plumbers to begin rationing water, leaving many of the social pools dry while giving priority to the science pools. This in turn lowers the popularity of the High Pool system, and could lead to the death of the system unless the water stocks are refilled. If the PCs can steal, beg, or bargain a couple tons of ice, their efforts will be well-appreciated by the locals (with a corresponding Rep increase).
- A murder has occurred in one of the most isolated High Pools, known as the Namaskar Pools. These are a set of three elliptical, shallow natural craters on the eastern face, filled and linked by short waterfalls. The headless body—a Barsoomian dirt miner named Ryu—was discovered in the lowest pool, and had evidently been moved from the first pool. Since the High Pools exist outside of agreed-upon authority, the bathers in the Namaskar Pools have agreed as a compromise to enlist an independent party (the PCs) to investigate, with the guilty party being taken back to their home habitat to face judgment and barred from using the High Pools ever again. It’s up to the PCs to sift out the murderer…if the Barsoomian didn’t die of other causes…or at least find the cortical stack in his missing head so they can resleeve Ryu and ask him what happened.