Because of Mars' uniquely hostile, dry landscape, each of the great powers struggled to retain colonies on Mars. With the Union’s focus on Venus and Europa, and the Coalition’s fixation with Titan in the outer Solar System, Mars was ultimately conquered by the Rising Pact.

The largest settlement on the world was Shinzokasei, a great hub of trade and industry with very little regulation. Thanks to a political past that involved giving asylum to ousted leaders, Shinzo enjoyed a strange, independent relationship with the Pact in which both needed the other to survive as a state. Its unique canal-siphon infrastructure made it the only location in the Red Sands that can support a substantial population without an incredible amount of external support, making it the most strategic terrestrial location in the Solar System.

The Red Sands is a great desert that covers the vast majority of the planetary surface. While it would be otherwise unremarkable, unusual creatures of incredible scale made the Sands incredibly dangerous but infinitely lucrative, for the hunted creatures also served as a source for exotic matter that permitted the creation of true anti-gravity devices known as yoku coils.

An unspoken agreement between the great powers of the System turned the Red Sands into an automated war zone, in which the Union, Pact, and Coalition would send their finest robotic war machines to test their capabilities while securing swaths of the desert for their own exploitation. This would be known as the Shadow Conflicts, as the operators were known to disconnect from their control terminals over the duration of battle.

For those brave enough to venture deep into the Red Sands, Mars is a treasure trove. Ancient ruins contain the promise of technology and wealth, while the remains of lost expeditions and sand serpents remind adventurers of the immense danger.

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