Pul’Mars, the home on dust, was not always as it is now: a wasteland of ruins of deserted tunnels. Neither did Lottir, which once was Venus, always run deep with oceans full of life and wild with storms of rain. Nor could plain folk, such as you or I, once walk upon the surface of Jar’Frir, the Garden of Ice, as though we stroll through a park in winter time. These were once landscapes of hell, where none could breathe and where blood in your veins would freeze or boil in an instant.
And those that changed these rough wilds into homeland were called the planet builders, and they were three.
Pul’Mars, or simply Mars as it was known then (an ancient word denoting ‘Red Planet’ or ‘The Red Dust’) was a desert of rock and ice, much like it returned to after the Catastrophe that befell those unfortunates. But for a while, for a fleeting thousand years, it teemed with life. You and I could walk upon its rich highland pastures and walk in its beautiful ravines, heavy with the scent of oak. And this was all because of one man and what he accomplished; the genius of Oba Masso.
The first settlers of Mars – men and women of my own – were spoken of having arrived in the year 1100, or thereabouts. They were sages-research and engineers, pioneers who were staking the ground for others of their kind to follow. And they came in ancient craft, fragile and pale, without the aid of the Controls and shielding of our modern landers. As we all know, the first settlement was called Ancilia, named by those folk from Pacifica, itself a name from their forgotten past. But Ancilia perished shortly afterwards, within less than a year, all its folk taken by the harsh wind and cold everlasting winter of this roughest of planets. But their sacrifice left a beacon on the red dust of Mars, a promise that more would come.
Those that followed came from the Jicktan Aggregate, with immense plans composed in the four libraries built into the mountains of the Hima. And for here it was that Ida Masso was brought, as a child, from her homeland in Africk, the third child of a poor engineer. Here she grew up among the sages of the mountains, learning all she knew of the universe. She moved between the four peaks, those ancient centres of Jicktan learning – Makalu, Makaslu, Nanga and Namcha – learning from her father and learning from those around her. Her talent was recognised and she was picked by the sages for great education. And she committed her life and her family to be part of the next great quest to Mars.
So it came to be that she rode on the famous module, the PiercingOrchid, as it flew towards the red planet. On this flight she met Bee, a quiet man who thought only of leaves and sunlight, and they fell in love. When they landed, in the settlement they called Deyi, Ida and Bee were the first to be married in that new land. And their children helped to grow Deyi from small beginnings to the vast city that it became.
And Ida’s second child kept her family name, and this was Goda, and he became an engineer on the red planet, and built a vast empire and built vast wealth upon the rocks and ores that he mined from his home. But still he walked upon the surface of his planet in a protective suit, unable to breathe the air. And this saddened him. But he could not see any means of changing the will of Tolos. And he sent his children to Terra to learn all they could of how he might make Pul’Mars a home for the one million that had now arrived upon its highlands and ravines.
And the first of his children was Oda Masso.
In Oda Masso, all the genius of his forebears burst into fruition, in a young man who could see all of nature as one and could manipulate it to his will. So it came to be that Oda Masso returned to his grandmother’s centres of learning in the peaks of Hima, travelling from Makalu, to Makaslu, to Nanga and to Namcha. And they taught him all that they know, but still it wasn’t enough. Then he travelled through the new cities of Ol-Bonda, of Pacifica, through the libraries of the Ropan Confederacy, even making the journey across the seas to the people of WesterIsle to be taught the secrets of Controls. And he learned more during this time than any before him, for he had his father’s will spurring him on.
But still he had not learned how to make the air sweet to breathe on Pul’Mars and he returned to Nanga, full of sadness at his failure. So he left the confines of the steep towers of the library and took longer and longer walks. And as he walked higher and higher on the rocky slopes of the mountain, he looked out across the clouds passing beneath him, and he saw the vultures soar and he struggled to breathe in the thin air.
And then he saw how it might become right for his homeland.
And so he returned to his dying father, where he promised him that he would remove the domes that imprisoned their cities. And his father was glad. And Oda Masso inherited the company and he used the mining company’s vast wealth and he began to build. And Masso ceased to be a company that was known for what it mined to be one that was known for what it built. And Masso built upon the dust and built in the sky, vast barrel orbiters, composed of the grit of asteroids, decades to build and decades to sail, and parked them above the green plains of their new home, Pul’Mars.
But Masso’s best work was the Towers. And they built the North Bisect, the South Bisect and the Equatorial Ring of the towers, the vast conditioners that rose above the deserts. And when they were flooded with the power of Tolos, and they received the signal package from the sages of Terra. This was the Control called by many names but one we remember was simply Niord, the device which would control the towers, and which would make the clouds and the rains and which made the air so that you or it could breathe and could bask in the light of Tolos.
And the weeks and months passed, and even the years, but it came to pass upon one bright morning, when Tolos’ rays warmed the assembled masses that Oda Masso stood before them and removed his helm and took the first, sweet breath of his home, the home on dust, Pul’Mars.
And these huge towers stood firm for a thousand years, letting the second planet of the human species spread their work. Until they were lost in the Catastrophe. And the winds of Tolos blew away the air from their homeland, and they left their cities and their farms and their woodlands empty, for their people had retreated to the orbiters, and to the other planets and moons, and never again would they walk in their highland pastures or their oaken ravines.
But still they remembered Oda Masso, for he was the first of planet builders.