Video Game Atlas: The Citadel
Once a week Art Attack will offer you a handy little travel guide to the fictional worlds of video games.
Name: The Citadel, Mass Effect series
Population: 13.2 million
Government: Galactic cooperative
Last week I splurged my dough in the massive entertainment complex of the Gold Saucer, the massive man-made amusement park on Gaia. My next stop took me to a structure that utterly dwarfed even that impressive building, not to mention being far from the planet itself.
The Citadel is a massive space station that houses both the galactic government and the hub of the mass relay system that enables faster-than-light travel. The station measures near 45 km in length, more than the diameter of both of Mars's moons combined, and boasts a population three times the size of Houston, not counting visitors. Truly a wonder of technology.
The Citadel is shaped like a pentagram, with five long areas connected to a central ring. These can be closed into a tight cylinder for protection, but generally remain open. Most anthropoid lifeforms will feel right at home in the station. Centrifugal gravity is maintained at just above Earth normal in the arms, with lighter gravity in the ring in order to make docking ships easier. The Citadel is also on a 20-hour day cycle, with six hour nights in the central ring.
The history of the Citadel is as fascinating as it is mysterious. The asari first discovered the structure in 520 BCE, around the year that King Leonidas of Sparta was born. At the time, it was believed that the Citadel was a relic of the Protheans, who mysteriously went extinct in the galaxy roughly 50,000 years prior and were held as responsible for the mass relay system.
Even though the asari, salarians and later the volus races founded the Citadel Council almost immediately, eventually reaching out to loosely govern most of the known galaxy through various races' embassies in the Citadel Tower, little else is actually known about the structure. It is composed of an unknown alloy, the location of its main controls have never been discovered and the maintenance of the systems is handled by the enigmatic keepers.
The insect-like keepers are docile, dedicated caretakers, and visitors should have no fear of them should they be spotted. Approaching them is discouraged, though. They are mute to all other races, and if they feel they are in danger of capture for study, immediately self-destruct through acid secretion.
Unlike the central ring, the arms, or wards, as they're called, run on a constant cycle, so it's just like Vegas except in space. Businesses are usually open constantly, and each ward has its own metropolis for you to explore.