Hell is the largest metroplex on the planet Loki, as well as its center of industry, commerce and a secondary locus for planetary governance.
When Loki was designated in the 72nd Solar Century as a meeting place for the newly rediscovered colonies of the Perseus arm, the planet as a whole was uninhabitable. Its surface was barren. There were a few scientific and mining outposts on the planet, but the entire population numbered less than 10,000. Despite several decades of cometary bombardment and some initial terraforming efforts, the planet's atmosphere was still too cold and too thin to support life. And the only restaurants were fast-food chains.
The decision to build diplomatic outposts for what would become the New Commonwealth of the galaxy dramatically changed that equation, bringing thousands and thousands of engineers, workers, and engineers to the planet, along with new geothermal terraforming techniques pioneered at Rainier III (a colony on a terraformed planet). Two domed cities were constructed on the planet's surface (Commonwealth City for the New Commonwealth, and Pandemonium for the worlds that would become the Free Alliance). Thousands more diplomats, trade specialists, bureaucrats, and a few ambitious businessmen arrived on the planet. Powerful new terraforming structures were built that harvested heat from the planet’s interior and oxygen from the frozen ice beneath the surface. A spaceport was constructed, Panrovian hookers arrived ... and eventually, some fairly decent fine dining establishments. All of which were left behind a century later when the New Commonwealth Government removed to the Chapultepec Starlock; except for the restaurants which had failed many years earlier due to poor management practices and a failure to adapt to changes in the market.
Originally, the site of Hell, on the shores of the still frozen equatorial Sea-Lake of Kazimir, was used to build utility plants to power Commonwealth City and Pandaemonium: Harvesting water from the frozen lake and processing it, supplying power through thorium power plants, and processing the city's waste. "Hell" was orginally a humorous nickname given to the place by the inhabitants of Commonwealth City; who, being the type of people who became diplomats, had a distaste for the type of people who built sanitation, power, water, and food supply systems.
Terraforming gradually raised the temperature of the equatorial zone of the planet, gradually melting the ice of the sea-lake. The zone between Hell and Commonwealth City became warm and oxygenated enough to support life, and the zone was slowly enlargening. New geothermal plans were built along the equatorial belt, more diplomats and Panrovian whores arrived, and the planet's inhabitable belt expanded gradually over the next century.
Many of those who had come to Loki during the Commonwealth period chose to stay behind when the New Commonwealth Government moved; although all of the diplomats and most of the whores decamped. Those left behind took a look around the developing planet and decided, "Let's keep going." The planet had already become a nexus for trade among the worlds of the Perseus sector; for one thing, it was far easier to conduct trade with Republic through tax-and-bureaucrat-free Loki than to deal directly with Republic. Also, the rest of the galaxy was developing a taste for Sapphirean technological and cultural exports. The rapid growth of the planetary economy also provided the opportunity for ambitious men and women to make their fortunes.
Hell was in a ripe location for the growth of trade and supplying services to the growing cities of Commonwealth City and Pandemonium. From a lonely outpost consisting of a spaceport and some largely automated utility plants, the settlement evolvedinto a true city with commerce, industry, families, homes, and a thriving nightlife. The city continued to grow rapidly, fueled by freshets of investment from Sapphire and an increasing population of off-worlders; soon surpassing both Commonwealth City and Pandemonium in population.
By an overwhelming voted of the citizenry, Hell was adopted as the official name of the city some 200 years after its founding.
Hell is located 4 degrees north of the planetary equator on the shore of the Sea-Lake of Kazimir, the planet's second-largest body of water. The metroplex occupies the shore of a crescent-shaped bay (Niffleheim Bay) and stretches into plains to the south and west and low hills to the north and east.
Hell lies in the equatorial belt of the planet Loki where terraforming in the 74th and 75th Sapphirean centuries stabilized the climate and atmosphere. The temperature range is fairly constant, typically ranging from 10C in the evening to 20C in the afternoon. On occasion, weather fronts push down from areas to the north where terraforming is incomplete; diminishing the oxygen content of the atmosphere and resulting in Air Quality Alerts where inhabitants are encouraged to remain in domed areas of the metroplex, and maybe take in a nice lunch somewhere.
1.1 million people live in Hell proper, and another two-and-half million in the extended region. Nearly a million of those people live in the K-Plex, a multi-domed city located adjacent to the City of Hell connected by multiple MagLev lines and the L-6 freeway. The K-Plex is dominated by the K2 Tower, a 90-storey inhabitation-retail-and commercial tower that is the Headquarters of the Keeler Trust Company on Loki. The Keeler Trust also owns the tallest structure in the metroplex, the 101-storey K1-Tower in the central city.
Most of the population are emigrants from other worlds, partly as a legacy of Loki's former role hosting the provisional capital of the New Commonwealth, and mostly because of its role as a galactic trade hub. Sapphireans and Republickers make up over half the metroplex's population, but the metroplex includes large numbers of people from Independence, Bountiful, Denali, Bella La Cava, and other major colony worlds; and a growing number of native-born Lokians.
Loki is a nexus for trade between the Sapphire system and the other inhabited worlds of the Perseus quadrant, including Republic, its primary trading partner. It is also a supply and trading point for Sapphire's Out-System colonies.
The metroplex's power needs are met by four Thorium Power Plants that support a network of power nodes distributed through the city. Water is supplied from the Treachery Reservoir to the northwest and the Tantalus Reservoir to the southwest.
Education within the metroplex is a privatized function in keeping with Sapphirean standard practices. There are hundreds of schools and academies throughout the city. Among the most prominent are USNC-Loki, Brainbug, and the Learning Asylum.
The Main thoroughfare in and out of Hell is the L-66 expressway (the Highway to Hell), a combi ground vehicle, hovercar, maglev route that stretches 480 km west to Commonwealth City and 160 km northeast east to the city of Pandemonium. The L-66-6 Ring describes a long loop around the outer burbs, and a series of nine concentric ring-roads (1st Circuit to 9th Circuit) work inward toward the city center, intercut by the spokes of major avenues. Charon and Heresy Avenues mark two of the major spokes on the network.
Hell is also serviced by the Gates of Hell Spaceport located on the south shore of the bay; which services a range of passenger and cargo operations.
There is a large multi-use facility, Hell’s Sport Complex, located near the central city, an arena for the metroplex’s roundball team (the Damned) that also hosts other sporting and cultural events. The metroplex also boasts groundball(the Demonhorns), rounders (the Fires), and air hockey (the Redeyed Penguins) teams.