Under the spreading boughs of an immense, bioengineered oak on the campus of Titan Autonomous University squats a blocky, gray-white dumb matter hab module. Now roped off and marked with a plaque, it was the ﬁrst human structure built on Saturn’s moons, and my home (along with twenty-two of my colleagues) for ﬁve years. Aarhus, city of universities and hydrocarbon powerhouse of the south polar region, now boasts three hab domes, each a kilometer and a half in diameter, housing ﬁve million citizens. Situated on the shores of the immense Ontario Lacus and closely proximate to dozens of other sizable hydrocarbon lakes, Aarhus is fantastically wealthy in energy and exotic chemicals. Yet the native preservationist movement is so strong that almost none of the city’s energy comes from hydrocarbons. Aarhus’s domes are arranged in a triangle, with the northeast and southeast domes directly on the lake shore, while the western dome faces a smaller lake, Holmgard Lacus. The southern run of the North Xanadu—Aarhus maglev rail runs through the western dome to its terminus in the southeast dome.
Aarhus’s readiness in case of renewed hostilities with the TITANs is a mixed bag. The militia is as good as any city’s, but thanks to extremely low crime, the Aarhus Police have more experience breaking up student parties that get out of hand than responding to serious emergencies. To Aarhus’s beneﬁt, though, an unusual number of Firewall agents, myself included, base themselves here.
University City, the northeast dome, is the physical hub of Titan Autonomous University (motto: “Onward. Upward. Outward.”) and our (usually friendly) rival Titan Technological Institute, a major engineering school. Aarhus has over a dozen institutions of higher learning, most located here, although several are in the other domes. Because delays in radio communication between the outer system’s widely scattered habs hinder long-distance learning, the practice of going away to university hasn’t died out as it has sunward. More than 20% of Aarhus’s population are students, many of them offworlders.
University City, and indeed most of Aarhus, is densely built up. Few streets accommodate vehicles larger than scooters, but almost every building has public roof access, a landing pad, and a place to fold and rack microlights or personal wings. Larger buildings have landing pads big enough to take small powered aircraft.
The universities are heavily involved in the Science Ministry’s many projects and with microcorp research. The ministry’s Science Police are in evidence at most key university research facilities, as are ofﬁcials from Nyhavn and ofﬁcers from Fleet (the latter not always without protest). Both students and faculty tend to be strongly political. Every Titanian social movement has its proponents, and the argonaut faction has strong representation, as well.
Aside from academia, University City is home to many artists and entertainers. Players immersed in augmented reality LARPs are such a common sight that few people pay them any mind despite their oft-outlandish costumes. Several large buildings in the district are devoted to this activity, although the Aarhus Police sometimes take notice when the play involves taking petals.
Weird tech-driven art happenings and student pranks are common distractions here. Even student tricks bear watching sometimes, as attested by the recent out-of-control reproduction of tiny, venomous marmosets released by Titan Tech students as a prank. The marmosets were not to have been venomous; hunting them all down took weeks.
The symmetry of the outer ice wall of Kulstofbyen, the southeast dome, is broken by the Reﬁneries, a cluster of huge, blue structures that process carbonaceous compounds for export to other parts of the planet. A wide web of roads and local rail systems connect to this dome, and nearby, the squat shield wall of Skyport Aarhus rings an area several kilometers in diameter. Half a kilometer distant, farther down the lake shore, is the immense, blocky mass of the Old Powerhouse, now abandoned save by urban explorers and the hardiest of squatters.
Under the dome, Kulstofbyen is a mixture of housing and industry. The population combines students, industrial workers, and energy microcorp employees. Kulstofbyen is also known for aquaculture. Little oceans have been excavated beneath its streets, some of them farming ﬁsh that were extinct on Earth even before the Fall. This biological treasure is more than a foodstuff; it’s also of great interest to aquatic habitats seeking new species to balance their ecosystems.
Oulu, the western dome, nicknamed the Blue City, is the seat of government, microcorps (who ﬂock here for the wellspring of student talent), and political organizations. Several prominent organizations within the preservationist movement, including Citizens for the Wilds and the Commonwealth Preservation Front, center their operations amid its famously azure towers and apartment blocks. Oulu boasts parks, a stadium, several of the city’s other universities, and the Morpharium—a museum of transhuman bodies, including restored synthmorphs and biomorphs kept in medical stasis.
There’s also a red light area, the Ecstasy District, although it’s not what an offworlder from sunward might expect. Drink and drugs ﬂow freely, but there’s very little of what one would call prostitution, with sex clubs the norm instead. Exotic dancing, and in particular pole dancing, is a popular competitive sport, with categories for all genders and species. Audience members are expected to publicly share data from their biomods, allowing the judges to measure the spectators’ collective arousal during each act. Of course, no money changes hands; dancers compete for reputation.
The Ecstasy District lost a bit of its sheen for some several months ago when a sexually transmitted wild nano-plague ran rampant in the district, infecting thousands over the course of a few nights. Fortunately it turned out not to be TITAN-related, but the district is a perfect cauldron for this particular type of machine life problem to brew.