Heliopolis is one of the larger non-arcology settlements outside Mars City. It has about 10,000 residents, and is solely composed of exiles from the resurgent Egyptian dynasty on Earth. During the magic awakening, the ancient gods and traditions reappeared throughout the world. In Egypt, this resulted in the rise to power of a Pharaoh who proclaimed himself and his sister-wife as earthly manifestations of the gods Osiris and Isis. They re-established a priestly caste and began expanding their temples, as well as reclaiming ancient Egyptian artifacts from museums and collectors around the world in a series of violent commando raids. The rebuilt dynasty is centered on the fertile Nile Delta and the pyramid sites, which they took back from the resurgent Islamic Caliphate based out of the Arabian peninsula.
Ancient legends were rediscovered (or invented, take your pick). Supposedly the gods of ancient Egypt were originally travelers from out in the stars. They settled on the most verdant and beautiful planet in the system-Mars. They ruled the locals there with their advanced magics and elevated select amongst them to the priestly class. Eventually, everything fell apart. The exact details have been lost, according to the Pharaoh. It ended in brutal internecine warfare, which depopulated the planet, painting it red with blood, as well as destroying it’s atmosphere and rendering it nearly unsuitable for life. The gods managed to flee in some of their temple ships, while the priestly class held the rebels at bay with deadly magics that claimed their lives. The gods made for the nearest inhabited planet-Earth.
Their solar barques limped to their new home, having been damaged in the escape, but the gods were still in possession of powerful magics, and their tech was still far more advanced than any Earth based peoples. They overawed the denizens of the Nile Delta, and had these people build them new temples, in return for aid and protection in expanding their dynasties. The ships which touched down in the jungles of south and central America were less fortunate. The locals followed them for a while, built them temples, and gave them sacrifices, but they never considered themselves ruled by these outsider gods. Eventually, they overthrew them, leaving only scattered remains from the period of their rule.
Eventually, the gods faded from Egypt, as well. As it’s wealth grew, the dynasties grew more corrupt and hedonistic, losing track of their connection to the magics that had originally given them power. The Romans and others conquered the Egyptians in time, and the gods went into hiding to avoid total destruction. Their cults survived, barely, until the arrival of the 6th world, when they began to call to the modern descendants of the priestly class, reawakening their connection to the ancient magics.
After the reconquest of the Delta in the Middle Eastern Merc Wars, the power of the Pharaoh grew, and a schism appeared. There were those, led by the Pharaoh’s brother, who believed that the dynasty should focus on returning to Mars, to seek out ancient artifacts and temples that may have survived the war. Others, led by the Pharaoh and his sister-wife, believed that the dynasty needed to focus on reconquering more of the ancient empire, and even expanding it’s boundaries farther into Africa, the Middle East and elsewhere. Civil war rose amongst the Egyptians again. Through some act of treachery, the Pharaoh’s younger brother, taking on the aspect of Set and with the help of his wife Nehpthys, managed to entrap and dismember the Pharaoh, Osiris. However, Osiris’ sister-wife Isis secretly followed them as they disposed of the pieces of his body, and managed to reconstruct him, using advanced healing magics and cyber-reconstructive technology.
Even with the temporary chaos which ensued, the schismatics were unable to take control of the dynasty, and were forced to flee, at great cost of lives, to Mars when Osiris reappeared to reconquer the temples and cities of neo-Egypt. Most of the exiled community settled in Heliopolis, and there they remain, searching on both planes for any ancient secrets they can find, in order to someday forcibly reunite the dynasty. Set, the Black Pharaoh, and his wife Nehpthys, rule the exile community, and focus on retaining the purity of their quest.
Heliopolis functions as a surprisingly unified community, due to this dedicated leadership. Governance, religion, and business, is all run through the powerful Colossus Corp, which also governs interactions with the outside world. The priestly class acts as middle and upper management in the multi-faceted corp structure. One of Colussus’ main exports is legal and illegal harvests of magical plants and ingredients, for processing into drugs, foci, fetishes, charms, etc. Many of their illegal harvesters work and live in camoflaged and warded caverns and hideaways near the Mars Crater, which is legendarily a source of many of the most powerful and potent magic ingredients.
Due to superstitions (some encouraged by the schismatics, no doubt) most outsiders don’t visit Heliopolis, as it it rumored to be a place of ancient and terrible magics, as well as a den of thieves and poisoners. This is only somewhat true. Many of the temples do use poisons and a variety of awakened and mundane drugs for their ceremonies, as well as for certain assassinations when they wish to leave a message. Similarly, magic is an active part of the community, more so than elsewhere on Mars, or most of the major Earth cities. But life for most denizens of the schismatic community is similar to life for most people in the 6th world: nasty, brutish, and short.