History and Architecture
The settlement eventually known as Mechanicsburg grew up around the castle that the Ht'rok-din's son, Knife, first built in 1042. The site was chosen because it was the location of a spring producing energy-charged water, which later thanks to Egregious Heterodyne (the surname seems to have been westernized) became the river Dyne. This Castle, centerpiece of the town, was razed and rebuilt three times before the current structure, dating from 1298, was erected. At yet another point, Faustus Heterodyne created an artificial intelligence for the castle which allowed it to help with its self-defense and that of the town; he also set up the mechanisms that still extract the Dyne's extra energies for the Castle's use, turning it into, theoretically, an ordinary water source. The town is constructed on a fossil deposit, inspiring the Trilobite that appears on the Heterodyne sigil and the town's coat of arms.
Other prominent landmarks and attractions in town featured or at least mentioned in the strip and/or the print novels include:
- The Town Square with its statue of the Heterodyne Boys
- The Great Hospital
- The Red Cathedral
- Mamma Gkikka's place
- The Doom Bell Tower
- The Heterodyne's Observation Tower.
- Tiny Monster Island
- The Petting Zoo (never visit this one.)
- A vast network of tunnels and caverns under the city, marked with varying degrees of public openness and danger.
As the narrative progresses, some of these become, ah, less attractive. A certain coffee shop is maybe not as big a tourist destination, but is of equal importance.
The town currently has a strongly built curtain wall set with strategic gun placements. The gates have been built with visual intimidation in mind. One gate lets out onto the sharp drop down to the River Dyne bounding one side of Mechanicsburg, and appears to be the entrance for most casual and commercial traffic, as the bridge across the river allows two wagons to pass with plenty of margin. A well-paved road runs along the cliff margin on the opposite bank.
The Heterodynes deliberately left a large open plain free for potential invaders on the Black Gate (eastern) side of the town. The "screamer gun" crews, trained to have a perfect knowledge of every centimeter of the plain could precisely target any opponent (for example, the late X de Destroyer, prominent in stories told by Da Boyz) on command. Watchtowers stand around the outside edge of the plain. The Torchmen are an army of clanks that can be launched against airborne assailants, while the entire city can be drenched with a chemical spray that nullifies gas attacks.
At some point, possibly as a result of the attack on the castle, the screamer guns were disabled, leaving the castle and town in a precariously defenseless position. However, The Baron's Peace has kept Mechanicsburg from needing a full-scale defensive suite.
At least, until the plot gets rolling. After events in Sturmhalten send the Wulfenbach empire into disarray, Mechanicsburg an attempted takeover by the Knights of Jove in order to further the restoration of the Storm King dynasty as rulers of Europa. Gilgamesh Wulfenbach installs his own experimental weapons system and foils the attack spectacularly.
This, however proves to be only the opening salvo of the Siege of Mechanicsburg, a mutli-sided melee which is suspended when 1. The Castle is finally repaired and recharged with power and 2. Baron Klaus Wulfenbach activates the Take-Five Bomb and freezes the city in time.
During his turn in the spotlight, Ivo Sharktooth does a listing the various neighborhoods of the city:
- The Hospital District, home of, again, the famous Great Hospital constructed by The Heterodyne Boys. According to the print novels, this area was previously known as The Flesh Yards.
- The Greens, a large open park-like area populated with biological experiments.
- The Field of Weights, home to the city's commercial markets.
- The Tumbles, where most of the natives actually live.
- The Court of Gears, location of the city's factories and manufacturing.
Other locations listed during the Siege of Mechanicsburg include
- The Bone Quarter
- The North Windings
Streets in Mechanicsburg
In the Mechanicsburg Solstice Story, it is stated that there are streets in Mechanicsburg named Lightning Street and The Path of Least Resistance, which intersect. This is the corner which Oggie's descendants normally stake out once a year so they can watch the Jägerstomp.
- Vox Street, location of the Heterodyne Museum
Krosp: "I get it. A whole town of minions, and no master."
According to the third Girl Genius print novel, the aforementioned Faustus also roamed The Known World deliberately collecting skilled artisans, workers and technicians of all stripes to populate his expanding city.
And so, after long centuries being used as the home base for House Heterodyne's savaging of the countryside, and of being "in on the take," the cosmopolitan descendants of those collected by Faustus have become accustomed to venting their collective energies in serving their liege lords. In return for their loyalty to their masters, the people of Mechanicsburg served as minions, guards, troops and fencers of stolen goods; as opposed to everyone else, who served as experimental subjects, victims, sources of wealth and decoration SB.
The people of Mechanicsburg were the minions of the most vicious, insane and powerful sparks in the world. One would think that people hated living in a town ruled by dangerous crackpots, but they didn't. Their loyalty didn't originate from fear only. As Carson von Mekkhan: "People who aren't local won't understand it, but there is a lot of pride here." The people of Mechanicsburg were proud to serve the Heterodynes. While most of the Mechanicsburgers aren't sparks, they nevertheless easily got caught up in their masters' enthusiasm. Working with sparks is fun for them. also participated in the , alongside the Jägers.
The missing Heterodynes left a big gap in Mechanicsburg. Most people desperately wish for a new Heterodyne. They don't like being disappointed, though. Just like their masters, they have a certain tendency for violence, and if the latest "long-lost Heterodyne heir" who comes to town turns out to be a fake,.
Some townspeople seem to have Jägers, so one could hypothesize that Jägerspeak equals the local dialect. After all the Jägers were originally part of the human Mechanicsburg population. The use the same way of speaking.as the
It appears that for many centuries Mechanicsburg was mostly known for producing a steady stream of Heterodynes, who would spill out at regular intervals and extract hefty tribute from the surrounding countryside. (Some members of the family being more aggressive and wide-ranging than others..) Following the Other War and the disappearance of the Boys, the town is now mainly a magnificently-crafted Heterodyne-branded machine designed to separate tourists and the gullible from their money. It is, however, also the center of several thriving black markets and smuggling operations, and has become famous throughout Europa for the work done at the Great Hospital, and for its export of numerous varieties of large eatable snails. Still, many of the older people fondly remember the Glory Days, when "Made in Mechanicsburg" brought terror to the world at large SB.
Mechanicsburg Tourism Song
Welcome to Mechanicsburg!
There's no finer city from
St. Petersburg to Rome.
The loveliest we've ever heard of,
Jewel of Europa and
The place where we call home.
How mighty are her mighty walls,
How shiny are her clanks,
How beautiful her dairy farms,
And for her cheese we all give thanks.
How glorious her Hospital
Which helps folk far and near,
Bill and Barry Heterodyne
Built it for us here.
Welcome to Mechanicsburg,
We thank you so for visiting,
With every erg and ohm.
The greatest burg we've ever heard of,
Jewel of Europa and
The place where we call home.
The recording may be found in Professor Smith's archives.
Outside World and Speculation
Mechanicsburg appears to be tucked into a particularly advantageous spot in what appears to be the equivalent of the Eastern Carpathian Mountains, just north of the river Olt, possibly in the location of modern-day Sibiu.
Considering the open plain on the east side of town, the mountainous area around Mechanicsburg, the salt-deposits (in reference to a footnote in the second novel, which speaks of fossil finds) and the central castle hill, modern-day Sighișoara might be a better match.
The Ht'rok-din himself may the chief of a particularly brutal tribe which is speculated may have come from the east, perhaps Huns, or some other predecessors of the Mongol armies (likely Pechenegs, considering the time period and location), speculation inspired by a sketch labeled Ghengis Heterodyne, which can be found in the Secret Blueprints.
On the other hand, the Dniester (see The Dyne#The Dniester) also rises from the Eastern Carpathians, but on the northeast side (so the plains are to the east). Hence the city of Drohobych, in the Ukrainian Carpathians near the source of the Dniester, which city also boasts ancient saltworks and fossil (fuel) extraction, may be alluded to as well. Invasion from the east suggest the eastern side of the mountains as a stopping point, and indeed the map of Mongol invasion of Europe shows Halych, further down the Dniester, as a hub of that invasion.
See also: Characters from Mechanicsburg