The Zócalo is the Helgram trading base in the Black Zone, under the oversight of Earl Jowan. It was established as a centre for trade and commerce in the region, with a focus on House Helgram interests. It is situated on the new Helgram Trading Road, which was established on the instructions of Grand Duke Bleys to improve the House’s trading links with the region.
It has open access to both the Courts and the rest of the Black Zone, so that traders and businessmen from all areas of the Chaos sphere can meet and trade there. It also has direct, but guarded, connections to the Helgram Marketplace and the High Redoubt, which is the closest location to a Helgram capital in the Black Zone.
As other Houses become more interested in the Zócalo’s potential, the marketplace is expanding, with small enclaves, including consulates, for the other Houses and interested Shadows. House Chanicut and House Jesby have already established a diplomatic and commercial presence, as has House Helgram. Moreover, as more people trade there, it seems to be growing physically and organically.
Pretty much anything you might care to buy is available somewhere in the Zócalo, from livestock and pets, to food and drink, arts and crafts, to hand made and manufactured goods, magical and ritual items, to personal services and a variety of recreational substances. About the only thing that is actually banned from sale, is people (Cornelians, Chaosians, demons and humans or equivalent), without their permission.
Earl Jowan is the Helgram Representative in the Black Zone, and Chief Administrator of the Zócalo, and is usually the senior Helgram on site. He oversees the big picture, developing contacts, discussing trade deals with potential new customers, and generally bringing in business. He also helps to troubleshoot serious problems that may occur, in conjunction with the Police and Military forces. He is in charge of the magical defenses of Tierra Colinas in general, and the Zócalo in specific, and acts as its Wayskeeper. He also chairs the Zócalo Council.
Reporting directly to the Chief Administrator is the Mayor of Ciudad Miajadas, who deals with the day-to-day running of both the Plaza Mayor, and the City as a whole. The Mayor has a staff of specialists who assist him in his task. In addition, outside the central area, the city is split into seven residential wards, each of which can appoint two members to the Mayor’s Advisory Committee, which deals with civil and infrastructure matters in Ciudad Miajadas. One of these (chosen between the two) also represents their ward on the Zócalo Council. The Mayor is appointed by the Chief Administrator.
The Zócalo Council
The Council is the oversight body for the Zócalo as a whole, particularly with regard to business of Business. It meets once a month and is important in both devising and undertaking policies to benefit the city as a whole. The composition of the Council is as follows:
- The Council is the oversight body for the Zócalo as a whole, particularly with regard to business of Business. It meets once a month and is important in both devising and undertaking policies to benefit the city as a whole. The composition of the Council is as follows:
- Duke Jowan, Chief Administrator
- Lennox MacDonald, Mayor of Ciudad Miajadas
- Cormac Stephenson-Helgram, Commander of the Zócalo Garrison
- Caro Harrison-Helgram, Commander of the La Puerta Unit
- Inspector Aileen Helgram, Chief of the Zócalo Police
- Felice Helgram, Zócalo Chief Counsel
- Klaus Wrede Helgram, Head of the Ciudad Miajadas Clinic
- Jubal FitzRichardson, Master of the Caravanserai
- Representatives from the seven wards of Ciudad Miajadas
- Egill Abraxis, Chairman of the Zócalo Chamber of Commerce
- The Chamber of Commerce also elects three other representatives to the Council from among its members
- Sháńdíín Khan, Permanent Secretary of the Temporary Traders Association
- There is usually also one representative of the temporary traders themselves
- Thorn Daveth-Helgram, advisor and non-voting member
The majority of financial institutions, retailers, bar owners, cafe owners and restaurateurs, operators of entertainment venues, and other businesses that have a permanent presence in the Zócalo are members of the Chamber of Commerce. Businesses pay an annual fee to be members of the Chamber, in return for which they gain access to legal and arbitration services, as well as general admin for permits, etc. They also have a say in the running of the Zócalo by virtue of being voting members with respect to electing Chamber members to the Zócalo Council.
The leasing of temporary retail and dining spaces is handled by the Temporary Traders Association. Stalls and cabins are are available to short-term letters and occasional traders (colloquially called Day Traders), who pay the TTA a small joining fee for the duration of their stay, plus a small percentage of their daily takings, for the space. The fees paid also cover the raising and striking down of the stalls each business day, as well as secure overnight storage of goods in the vaults below the plaza.
Tierra Colinas is guarded by Helgram troops under the command of Cormac Stephenson-Helgram, who in turn reports to Colonel Ronan Uilliam-Helgram, Representative Jowan’s military adviser at the High Redoubt. With the exception of the Caravanserai arrival point, all the gates to the Zócalo from Chaos and the Black Zone arrive in the south of the main plaza, ranged either side of The Fortress, where the Zócalo troops are based. There is also a small air defence force, made up of a squadron of each of Spitfires and Lancaster bombers, which will work under the tech limit, as well as half a dozen dragons and their riders.
The Fortress has has a direct connection to the Helgram Citadel in Helgramways, and keeps an eye on all arrivals and departures through the gates. After an attempt by hostile forces to smuggle in military men and equipment and seize control of the Zócalo, due to its strategic positioning in that region of the Black Zone, the Helgram garrison on-site was significantly reinforced.
There is another fortress in the west, which guards the La Puerta, the only overland route onto Tierra Colinas, and there is also a small detachment of Helgram troops assigned to the Caravanserai.
Law and Order
The Zócalo is definitely frontier territory, with all the potential legal issues and grey areas that somewhere like that would entail. Most of the time, people settle their own differences – or call a constable – as far as the kinds of everyday crimes which always occur when thousands of people get together in the same place: for example, pick pocketing, theft, brawling, fist-fights. There is a small Zócalo Police Force, numbering about twenty-five constables and three detectives, under Inspector Aileen Helgram, a daughter of Duchess Rosemary. The detectives and Inspector Helgram would be called in once simple high-jinks give way to serious violence and armed attacks.
The Zócalo Police are based in the colonnade of the Plaza Mayor. There is a “drunk tank” in the basement of the police station for petty criminals. Anyone suspected of more serious infractions is taken to The Fortress, which has some more substantial cells.
As Ciudad Miajadas has expanded, the need has grown for it to have its own medical facilities. There are half a dozen registered doctors providing free local medical services for the permanent residents of the city, as well as a small hospital with about fifty beds and excellent facilities.
In addition, Duke Jowan has established the Ciudad Miajadas Clinic. This offers general and emergency medical services to visitors to the Zócalo at a range of fees, depending on the circumstances of the individuals requiring medical attention. Run by Klaus Wrede FitzHelgram, a qualified surgeon and specialist physician in the maladies of shapeshifters, facilities at the clinic include: an emergency medical centre (for injuries, etc) run by a dedicated and experienced trauma specialist; a minor injuries clinic; two general practicioners for minor ailments; a dedicated nursing staff of about a dozen nurses; and eight in-patient rooms, each with two beds, where the more seriously injured and ill can stay until they transport home can be arranged.
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