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Calixis Sector
Calixis-logo
Sector Governor Marius Hax
Sector Captial Scintilla
Segmentum Segmentum Obscurus
"It is an ill-omened place, my lord. Cursed, they say, a fount of witches and other foulness. A chalice of corruption, haunted by a dead sun. They say it is but a matter of time before the stars align and the entire place is torn asunder by Daemons. Of course, they say that about a great many places. But in this case, master, the Tarot indicates it is actually true."
— Diviner Adept Harpious Mundis

The Calixis Sector is a sector of the Milky Way Galaxy that serves as the setting for the Warhammer 40,000: Dark Heresy role-playing game, which focuses on the actions of Imperial Inquisitors and their chosen Acolytes and Throne Agents. The Calixis Sector is an Imperial sector located in the Segmentum Obscurus on the northern edge of the known galaxy, near the Halo Stars and the Eye of Terror. To the trailing edge of the galaxy, the Calixis Sector is bordered by the hazardous territories of the Fydae Great Cloud and to spinward by the Scarus Sector. Bordering to coreward, its immediate neighbour is the Ixaniad Sector. To rimward lie the contested and unregulated Imperial frontiers of the Halo Stars where humans and xenos mix in the quest for power and profit in the infamous Koronus Expanse. Conquered by Lord Militant Golgenna Angevin for the Imperium of Man almost two thousand standard years ago in the 39th Millennium during what became known as the Angevin Crusade, the Calixis Sector contains many heavily populated and important worlds, though it lies a great distance from the Imperium's core sectors. The sector's first Imperial Sector Governor was Drusus, one of Angevin’s most capable generals, a man now revered as a Saint of the Imperial Cult.

This territory represents a vulnerable fraction of the Imperium, far from the millions-strong armies and mighty battlefleets that protect its most ancient and important worlds and defend its war-torn frontiers. The fate of the sector is tainted with disturbing prophecies and haunted by an inexplicable evil. Within its ill-portended bounds there are countless threats to keep the Adepts of the Imperium stretched beyond capacity. It is up to a few extraordinary individuals to save the sector from being consumed by a dark future of corruption and suffering.

Calixis-map

Departmento Cartographicae Map of the Calixis Sector of the Segmentum Obscurus

The Calixis Sector has many heavily populated and important worlds, but it lies a great distance from the Imperium’s heartland and, like so much of the Imperium of Man, it must ultimately fend for itself. Like all Imperial territories, the Calixis Sector is at risk from the chronic dangers facing humanity: war, mutation, xenos activity, the mark of Chaos, and so on. However, a singular threat lurks somewhere in the Calixis Sector, a mysterious, prophesied doom that has drawn the particular scrutiny of the Inquisition to this group of worlds. This enigmatic threat, the Hereticus Tenebrae, or the Tyrant Star as it is known, is something the forces of the Inquisition most fervently wish to uncover, to comprehend and to destroy, before it is too late for the people of the Calixis Sector--and perhaps all of Mankind.

The hive world of Scintilla, situated in the Golgenna Reach sub-sector, is the capital of the Calixis Sector. Along with the hellish mining world Sepheris Secundus and the war-torn planet Iocanthos, it forms a triumvirate of worlds essential for the sector’s survival. The most powerful man in the Calixis Sector is officially Sector Governor Marius Hax, who rules in the name of the Adeptus Terra from the Lucid Palace on Scintilla. However, the Calixian Conclave, led by Lord Inquisitor Caidin, is the true ultimate authority in the sector, a clandestine and all-powerful presence behind the visible emblems and figureheads of Imperial power. No one has the power to gainsay the word of the Inquisition. Other important Imperial servants are Lord Inquisitor Anton Zerbe of the Calixian Tyrantine Cabal, Cardinal Ignato of the Adeptus Ministorum, Lord Marshal Goreman of the Adeptus Arbites, Senior Astropath Xiao and Canoness Goneril of the Adepta Sororitas. The power of the Imperial Adepta, however, is rivalled by the Great Houses, the noble families and Calixian corporations, which maintain a presence across the sector. Even the minor noble houses, those whose influence is limited to a single world, hold a great deal of power over ordinary citizens.


History

The Calixis Sector is located in the Segmentum Obscurus, on the northern edge of the known galaxy near the Eye of Terror, and represents a portion of the considerable territories conquered by the Imperial Lord Militant Angevin almost two thousand Terran years ago in the 39th Millennium during the Angevin Crusade. Its first Sector Governor was Drusus, one of Angevin’s most capable generals, a man now revered as a Saint of the Imperial Cult.

The Imperium of Man is spread impossibly thin across an estimated two-thirds of the entire galaxy. The volume of space claimed in the name of the Emperor contains hundreds of millions of stars, many host to their own planetary systems, and yet there are only an estimated million or so Planetary Governors occupying the thrones of the Imperium’s worlds. While it is true that some governors rule not just a single planet but an entire system, and that other worlds have no governor at all, the fact is that the Imperium is stretched so thinly across the void that an interstellar traveller could make his way from one edge to the other, traversing a hundred thousand light years of space, and not once cross paths with a human being.

Instead of being scattered at random, the worlds of the Imperium are clustered around areas settled during the lost age of Mankind’s first great wave of expansion into the galaxy. Worlds once colonised because of their location or some desirable natural resource have developed into the cores of sectors, many of which have swollen to include two hundred or more star systems. These sectors are connected to one another by relatively stable, if still hazardous, inter-sector Warp routes and the vast, uncharted reaches between each are referred to as Wilderness Space. These unexplored depths harbour all manner of terrors, from ravening pirates to unknown alien empires, as well as untold riches, from long-lost human colonies to worlds strewn with the wealth of long-extinct xenos species.

The Calixis Sector exists on the verges of the Imperium’s spinward reaches. The sector is relatively young, having been hewn from the xenos-haunted Calyx Expanse around two thousand years ago by the blood and toil of the armies of Lord Militant Angevin. The Calixis Sector is at once blessed and cursed by its location. It is fortunate in that it exists far from the Imperium’s most bloody war zones, yet other characteristics of the region have brought their own woes. The Calixis Sector might not be cursed by total, all-consuming sector-wide conflict as so many other regions are, but it is nonetheless cursed. Countless heresies and conspiracies afflict the sector’s worlds, many of them in some way tied to a darkness that stains the region. Others relate to the mysterious “Tyrant Star”, an esoteric stellar phenomenon that appears at random and brings planet-wide insanity with each manifestation. Because of such heresies, the sector is host to a high number of Inquisitors, drawn by the conspiracies and mysteries that afflict it.

So many Inquisitors are active in the Calixis Sector that a degree of formalisation has developed over the centuries. The so-called Ordos Calixis are based in the threatening and awe-inspiring Tricorn Palace on the sector’s capital world of Scintilla, and they maintain numerous other facilities across the sector and even beyond. The Ordos Calixis come together in the Calixian Conclave, the figurehead of which is the Lord Inquisitor Caidin, an inveterate master of intrigue whose face is ever obscured behind a mask and who is said to walk amongst the populace at will. Despite the outwardly formal nature of the Calixian Conclave, the Inquisitors of the Calixis Sector are as riven with disagreement and schism as those of any other region. Individuals harbour factional and doctrinal beliefs that cause them to clash bitterly across the floor of the Tricorn Palace’s debating chamber, while outside it, they or their proxies engage in deadly wars.

Like all Imperial sectors, Calixis has its own central government in the form of the Adeptus Terra's Sector Lord Marius Hax. This patrician veteran of galactic intrigue and conspiracy is concerned only that each world in his realm meets its Imperial tithe, having little or no concern how this is achieved. As with most worlds on the Imperium, the details of planetary governance are left to the Imperial Commanders on the ground. Hax is the head of a mighty infrastructure responsible for raising and coordinating the tithes of hundreds of worlds, a gargantuan task only made possible by the legions of scribes, factors, and assayers that toil ceaselessly beneath him.

Possibly the most demanding challenge faced by the Calixian sector authorities is the massive, decades-long Imperial Crusade taking place in the distant region called the Jericho Reach. Though situated on the opposite side of the galaxy to Calixis, the two are linked by a Warp Gate, through which vessels travel in the blink of an eye a distance that would normally take months, if not years, of perilous Warp navigation. The so-called Jericho-Maw Warp Gate remains a jealously guarded secret and travel through it is very often one-way. The Jericho Reach is at once a region rich in resources and a potential curse upon the Imperium. With the vast Hive Fleets of the xenos Tyranids assaulting the galaxy from the region’s outer edges, the Warp Gate could, were the Tyranids to capture it, offer them a means of striking into parts of the Emperor’s domains rarely subject by such external threats. To capture the vast wealth of the Jericho Reach and to ensure the Warp Gate remains secure, the Imperium has committed vast resources of men and materiel into the Achilus Crusade.

Untold numbers of Imperial troops and limitless resources are being channelled through the Jericho-Maw Warp Gate, drawn from the Calixis Sector and beyond, and countless millions of Imperial Guard troops have already given their lives fighting on the other side of the galaxy to capture a region steeped in blood and darkness. Few, if any, of the sector’s masters other than Lord Hax and his inner circle know that the countless thousands of troops raised from the worlds of Calixis are bound not to defend their own worlds from alien invasion or rebel insurrection, but to conquer a benighted region of space tens of thousands of light years distant.

Calixis Sector Timeline

Please note that the record of the events in the Calixis Sector's history outlined here is by no means complete or exhaustive and offers only a snapshot of the unfolding chronicle of the Calixis Sector, as it might be made known to the Acolytes of the Inquisition. Much of the true nature of events, as well as vital occurrences of dire import, remain hidden. A few of the major events in the Imperium of Man’s history have also been included to establish a wider context for a consideration of Calixian events.

  • The Great Crusade (Late 30th - Early 31st Millennium) - The Emperor of Mankind's Great Crusade seeks to reunite all of the human-settled colony worlds in the galaxy under the rule of the newborn Imperium of Man.
  • The Horus Heresy (Early 31st Millennium) - The Warmaster Horus, Primarch of the Sons of Horus Space Marine Legion, is corrupted by Chaos and his own ambition and rebels against his father, the Emperor. He successfully recruits half of the Space Marine Legions, large parts of the Adeptus Mechanicus and the Imperial Army into the service of Chaos and unleashes a 7-year-long galactic civil war that kills billions. Horus is slain by the Emperor at the conclusion of the Battle of Terra. Mortally wounded himself in the confrontation, the Emperor is interred within the Golden Throne. The present Age of the Imperium begins.
  • The Age of Apostasy (100-600.M36) - The Imperium is consumed by civil war and apostasy from true faith in the Emperor after the High Lord Goge Vandire seizes control of both the Administratum and the Ecclesiarchy in an attempt to impose his own will upon the Imperium rather than serving the will of the Emperor. He is ultimately brought down by an invasion of Terra known as the Terran Crusade and the Ecclesiarchical Palace led by the Space Marines, the Imperial Guard and his own bodyguards, the Daughters of the Emperor, the predecessors of the Adepta Sororitas. The invasion is spurred on and guided by a militant religious reformer, the priest Sebastian Thor, and his Covenant of Light.
  • The War of Assassins (228.M36)
  • The Reign of Blood Ends (378.M36) - The Age of Apostasy's Reign of Blood finally ends in the death of Goge Vandire at the hands of the Daughters of the Emperor as Terra comes under invasion from Loyalist forces seeking to restore the rightful rule of the Emperor.
  • The Haarlock Charter (395.M36) - The Haarlock Great Charter is granted by the new reforming Ecclesiarch, Sebastian Thor, to the Free Captain Mordercai Haarlock for his service against the Apostate fleets of the Ecclesiarchy's private army and navy, the Frateris Templar.
  • The Great Voyage (723-736.M36) - Solomon Haarlock’s fleet undertakes a perilous 13-year-long voyage and charts a volume of space beyond the Imperium’s borders he dubbed the “Calyx Expanse.” Haarlock discovers several formerly unknown xenos realms, substantial mineral resources, several stable Warp paths and scattered human-settled worlds of unknown provenance. He also notes several worlds that he deems to mark out the territory of an ancient and long-dead alien civilisation, aeons old, and names their former realm a “Chalice of Great and Ancient Wickedness”. He notes the area in the Imperial Cartographia Universalis as rich in “souls, plunder, wealth and things best left undisturbed”, and a region that could be added to the Imperium only with a “great effusion of blood.”
  • The World of Sinophia Founded (133.M37) - The world of Sinophia is granted by the High Lords of Terra as the personal fiefdom of the Rogue Trader Teresa Sinos at the end of her voyages as a reward for her service to the Imperium. The planet is situated beyond the edge of the Scarus Sector and rapidly becomes a staging post for expeditions into the frontier of the Calyx Expanse and the Halo Stars beyond.
  • The Age of Plunder (Various Dates.M37-M39) - The stories brought back from the Calyx Expanse of wealth, xenos artefacts and resource-rich, life-sustaining worlds draw numerous Imperial Free Captains, Rogue Traders and Renegades to the region from across the already-settled Scarus and Ixaniad Sectors. Darker tales surface as well of inhuman empires, horrific xenos “Mind Eaters”, Chaos-worshiping savages who were once men, the dark perils of the limitless “Abyss of Ha’az’Roth” and of a baleful black star that presages disaster. But enough plunder flows into Imperial coffers to keep a steady stream of adventurers, rogues and Explorators entering the Expanse, many never to return.
  • The Altid Crusade (290-299.M38)
  • The Meratis Settlement (mid-M38) - Isolationist voider families fleeing persecution in the dynastic wars of the Ixaniad Sector settle the Meratis Cluster in the stellar dead zone between the abyss and their former home. In time their numbers are swollen by human Renegades, outlaws and worse, forming the Meratech Clans.
  • Ymgarl Moons Cleansed of Genestealers (038.M39) - The Salamanders Chapter of Space Marines cleanses the moons of Ymgarl of the strain of Genestealers long found in that region of the galaxy. The purge is not successful and Ymgarl Genestealers will continue to plague the Imperium in the centuries to come.
  • The Angevin Crusade Begins (322.M39) - Praetor Golgenna Angevin, a powerful noble from the Terran Court, is raised to the rank of Lord Militant in the Imperial Guard and granted a writ from the High Lords of Terra to persecute an Imperial Crusade to liberate and dominate the area of space designated as the Calyx Expanse. His Crusade's forces are drawn principally from the Segmentum Solar and number over 17 million levied troops who are divided into 4 battle groups and a strategic reserve, re-enforced by elements of the Titan Legios Venator and Magna, as well as the Black Templars, Tigers Argent, Sons of Medusa and Charnel Guard Chapters of the Adeptus Astartes and a significant naval deployment drawn from the Battlefleets Solar and Obscurus. A score of Rogue Trader and Explorator fleets range ahead of the main Imperial forces, identifying targets and providing active reconnaissance in this dangerous region of space. Swelling the force's already vast ranks are tens of thousands of “pauper warriors” of the Frateris Militia whipped up into a frenzy of holy zeal by the Ecclesiarchy and innumerable petty hangers-on, opportunists and logistical transports, with supply trains leading back whole sectors away from the front. Using the well-established Frontier World of Sinophia as its forward staging post and marker, the Crusade’s main thrust is launched like an armoured fist into the heart of the Calyx Expanse across the Periphery in a two-pronged assault directed towards two prominent star systems where Rogue Traders had long-established pro-Imperial human contact: Malfi and Solomon.
  • The Reaping of the Emperor’s Wrath (341-545.M39) - Having strongly established and fortified two salients of conquered Imperial territory into the Calyx Expanse, with their domains now anchored on the worlds of Solomon and Malfi, as well as defeated three minor xenos empires and innumerable other non-compliant forces in the prior twenty years of fighting, the Angevin Crusade pauses for fortification and entrenchment of its gains before the next stage of conquests begins. The Crusade is then granted a fresh influx of troops by the High Lords of Terra in recognition of its success (and the wealth already pouring into Imperial coffers from their conquests), in order to press on. Seizing the moment, the Crusade forces carry out the greatest single sweep of conquests in the conflict as the two-pronged assault from the salient's arms sweep together conquering as many worlds in the pace of four years as had been taken in the proceeding two decades. These conquests form the territory later known as the Golgenna Reach sub-sector in a campaign that is called by Imperial chroniclers the “Reaping of the Emperor’s Wrath.” Of the many famous victories of this campaign, one of the most lauded belongs to the young General Drusus, who took the War World of Iocanthos in a single week, overthrowing a great and baleful tyranny there, while perhaps the most infamous is the Exterminatus of the world of Amun’an Morrus, whose once-human population of intelligent machines is judged too tainted by tech-heresy to continue to exist. Such horrors are attested to on this world that after its destruction its former location is stricken from all Imperial records, only to live on as a dark Calixian legend.
  • The Golgenna Consolidation (353-558.M39) - With the first and second great phases of its vast operation complete, (and partly owing to battle fatigue after 30 standard years of Crusade), Lord Militant Angevin’s forces consolidated their hold of what was more than 200 captured worlds, and shepherded the arrival of the first wave of Imperial colonisation to the areas they controlled. During this period of relative peace, several notable regiments of the Imperial Guard who had earned great glory in the campaign (such as the Brontine Centurions) were given rights of settlement to their own worlds, while several attached forces (like the elements provided by the various Astartes Chapters) rotated out of the Crusade's service.
  • The Angevin Crusade Second Front is Opened (359.M39) - The Angevin Crusade’s third great push begins with a freshly raised army group gathered from the core worlds of the Segmentum Obscurus, under the command of the Imperial Navy's High Admiral Vaakkon who opens a second front. The new army group to enter the Crusade assaulted the Calyx Expanse from the Segmentum's coreward regions, with the goal of linking up with Angevin’s own forces who advanced from Golgenna to meet them. This phase of the campaign proves disastrous, as worsening conditions in the Warp and a series of calamities and reversals beset the Imperial forces, and when the fleets finally meet in 363.M39 at the world of Orendal the Imperial losses of the last four years nearly equal that of the first two decades of the Crusade. Angevin commands the world of Orendal be transformed into a shrine to honour the fallen dead and then he orders a retreat. Some say that after this time Angevin is a man broken in will and purpose. The Crusade's forces withdraw to the interior of the Golgenna Reach, and Angevin devolves command of his armies to his senior generals and admirals with mixed success, as with no clear line of authority factionalism and bitter rivalries start to appear in the ranks of the Crusade.
  • The Bleak Years (363-369.M39) - With the Angevin Crusade’s forward impetus stalled, its domains begin to come under repeated and sustained attack from without, weathering the storms of an Ork WAAAGH!, and the privations of xenos corsairs and raiders whose assaults claim the lives of millions. Signs and omens are everywhere; a burning black fire is seen in the skies of the world of Lossal Prime days before all contact with the thriving Imperial colony world is lost, the wreckage of an entire overdue re-enforcement battle group out of Akurion is discovered by piquet ships operating on the fringes of the Ha’az’Roth region and plagues decimate the worlds of the Malfian Holdfast. Rebellions and cult activity rise to threaten what were thought to be stable worlds and assassins claim the life of Arch-Confessor Melcher El, the Crusade’s spiritual leader and Ecclesiarchy adviser. Worsening political rivalries between the Crusade's generals and Imperial Commanders break out into petty conflicts. Betrayals and a wave of outright distrust between the Crusade's leaders allow matters to deteriorate further. For the first time the Crusade’s gains begin to be lost, and the Imperial forces are stretched increasingly thin in their defence of the new realm. Morale problems and discord grow in the ranks. Only the fleets of the Rogue Traders Sibylline Haarlock and Ludd Sabrehagen provide the rapid transport and redeployment needed to support the brilliant and daring counterattacks of General Drusus’ army group against the Warp-worshiping xenos race known as the Yu’vath and their debased human allies which prevent the entire Malfian region from collapsing and leaving the Crusade’s conquests wide open for assault. Drusus is widely acclaimed as a saviour but many powerful figures in the Crusade view him as a dangerous warmonger, rival and would-be usurper.
  • The Transfiguration of Drusus (367.M39) - According to some sources, betrayed by agents of his rivals among Lord Militant Angevin’s generals, Drusus is attacked by a deadly assassin whilst rallying his depleted forces on the world of Maccabeus Quintus and is seemingly slain, before rising again -- an event many see as a true miracle and a clear mark of the Emperor’s favour. The Drusine sect of the Imperial Cult begins to flourish in his shadow, already revering him as a living saint, while shadowy agencies, some say belonging to the Ordo Malleus of the Inquisition, also bring new aid to his forces in the persecution of the Yu’vath and their human allies (which include traitors within the Imperial’s own ranks). Almost by sheer force of personality and by independently rallying much of the Crusade’s forces to his own banner with tacit backing from the wider Imperial powers (including the involvement of a sizable force from the Iron Hands Astartes Chapter), Drusus orders the launch of the Angevin Crusade’s third and final phase of conquests. This campaign succeeded in destroying the powers that controlled much of what would later be known as the Drusus Marches sub-sector in General Drusus' honour, laying waste to as many worlds as he dominated.
  • The Great Founding (370-610.M39) - Mass colonial expeditions from the overpopulated worlds of the distant Segmentum Solar, and from nearer afield in the troubled Mandragora and Gehenna Sectors arrive within the fledgling Calixis Sector, creating a great influx of human population to the region.
  • The Death of Angevin (372.M39) - Lord Militant Golgenna Angevin dies at his palace on the world of Quaddis. Though the official cause of death is listed as natural causes, rumours lay his decline in health on advanced old age and a surfeit of fine living. Darker stories persist of the Officio Assassinorum’s hand in matters as punishment for his later failings in the prosecution of the Angevin Crusade. Drusus is named Lord Militant by wide acclaim in Angevin's stead (with the political support of both the Departmento Munitorum and the Inquisition) and as soon as a state period of mourning for the late Angevin is over, Drusus immediately sets to re-forging the region's military forces for a final counterattack into the regions of the Adrantis Nebula and the remaining strongholds of the Yu’vath Hell Worlds.
  • The Grant of The Lathes (380.M39) - In recognition of their invaluable assistance and heavy losses in the purging of the taint of the Adrantians, as well as their service to the Angevin Crusade in decades past, Drusus grants the Lathe System to be the sole domain of the Adeptus Mechanicus in perpetuity, and ratifies their claims to several other worlds and rights of free and unchecked passage through the stars the Crusade has conquered. By this act, the Lords of Mars were bound in strength both to the fledgling sector and to Drusus' own banner.
  • The Angevin Crusade Officially Ends; Birth of the Calixis Sector (384.M39) - With the final defeat of the xenos known as the Yu’vath and the Bale Childer, and the Exterminatus of their homeworlds, the final serious organised resistance to Imperial rule in the Calyx Expanse ends and Drusus declares the Angevin Crusade to be complete. Drusus is installed with full rights and title by the Equerry Primaris of the High Lords of Terra as the first Lord Sector Calixis to much acclaim. Amongst his first acts are the confirming of the world of Scintilla as his sector capital, the ratification of the great trade charters for the new sector's mercantile shipmasters and rising commercial powers that had maintained the Crusade. This binds the sector’s life blood of trade and creates what would become the great Chartist families and first great Calixian noble houses. His other achievements include the creation of the sector's great legal code, the Corpus Presidium Calixis and the instillation of a Calixian branch of the Holy Synod of the Adeptus Ministorum at Tarsus on Scintilla. The full effective pacification of the sector will continue to consume much blood and treasure of the Imperial war machine for a further three Terran centuries to come.
  • The Death of Drusus (417.M39) - The first and greatest Lord Sector Calixis dies and is succeeded by Marshal Corin Shultus, his former aide-de-camp and distant kinsmen to the late Golgenna Angevin. The final resting pace of Drusus’ mortal remains is kept a secret, although rumours circulate that he was taken back to Maccabeus Quintus to be interred at the site of his first “death”. Mass lamentation and political unrest accompany the news of his passing and the entire sector undergoes a seven-year cycle of mourning.
  • The Beatification of Saint Drusus (502.M39) - After nearly a century of deliberation the General Synod of Terra confers sainthood on Drusus, whose cult and dogma had already flourished within the Calixis Sector and become a dominating factor in the local Calixian sect of the Imperial Cult.
  • The War of Hubris (550-760.M39) - The independent world of Sinophia fights a covert trade war with the burgeoning commercial powers of the newborn Calixis Sector and is laid low. As a result, in the years that follow, much of its population is repatriated to the sector itself, its hive cities emptying and commerce fleeing. Sinophia now retains but a shadow of its former prominence and grandeur, nominally passing under the writ of the Lord Sector Calixis, and condemned to a long, slow economic starvation.
  • The Donionian Crusade (989.M39)
  • The Threefold Curse (123.M40) - Two heavily defended Battlefleet Calixis watch-stations and a sizable capital ship taskforce, lead by the Grand Cruiser Fire of Heaven, are destroyed by unknown assailants in the outer reaches of the Hazeroth Abyss, forcing an Imperial retrenchment, effectively shrinking the border of the sector and ending further military expansion in the region. The only clue to the cause is found carved on a bulkhead in the hulk of the watch-station Sentry-17, which reads, “The worms that walk have come for us all”.
  • The Macharian Crusade (387-401.M40) - The Lord Solar Macharius launches a massive Imperial Crusade into the unexplored regions of the galaxy that marks the largest expansion of Imperial territory since the Great Crusade 9 millennia before.
  • The White Sorrows (552-570.M40) - Dark Eldar corsairs of the Kabal of the White Sorrow plague the area of space known as the Periphery with a devastating series of raids. The corsairs are shattered and their threat ended at last when confronted and brought to battle by a force consisting of Battlefleet Calixis, Explorator and Rogue Trader forces (aided it is rumoured by unknown xenos forces) under the overall command of the Rogue Trader Kobras Aquairre. The battle turns when Aquairre’s flagship, The Son of Seth, successfully rams and boards the corsair flagship Altar of Torment, Kobras himself slaying the enemy’s Butcher Archon in single combat.
  • Tanis Incident (709.M40) - The thriving Hive World of Tanis and its surrounding star system, which had been an outer bulwark of the Calixis Sector’s power in the Hazeroth Sub-sector, is visited by an unexplained stellar phenomena in the shape of a baleful black “Tyrant Star” that presages destruction, madness and death. Within a period of weeks, the Tanis System is ravaged, resulting in over two billion dead or missing. Survivors are only found on the Agri-moon of St. Astrid’s Fall, which itself is badly ravaged. The “Tanis Incident” is covered up with full Inquisitorial authority and declared a forbidden subject on pain of death. Civil data is adjusted accordingly so that Tanis never existed in the public records of the sector. This event, taken with a long and erratic slew of other dark mysteries and a rising weight of deadly prophesy, leads to the formation of the current incarnation of the Inquisition's Tyrantine Cabal to investigate the matter and take whatever action is necessary to combat what is now classified as the phenomena of the Hereticus Tenebrae.
  • The 26th Space Marine Founding (738.M40)
  • The War of Brass (738-741.M40) - The Hive Worlds of the Gelmiro Cluster fall into sedition against the Imperium, following the charismatic leadership of a figure calling himself the “Emperor of Brass”, debasing themselves into the worship of the Ruinous Powers. Heavily militarised, the Renegades quickly sponsor and arm rebel groups on nearby worlds and when counter-attacked, reveal the hand of dark forces from the Eye of Terror in their ranks. The so-called “War of Brass” that followed was comparably brief but bloody, involving forces drawn from across the sector, and the involvement of the Adeptus Astartes and the Titans of Legio Venator, it rendered the once thriving worlds of Gelmiro blasted, rubble strewn rocks. Classified as War Worlds and the haunt of murderous scav-mutants, Renegades and wreakers ever since, the Gelmiro System is still a shunned no-man’s land to this day.
  • The Second Vortigern Crusade (740-745.M40)
  • Mara Colonised (098.M41) - The ancient, frozen world of Mara in the Hazeroth Abyss is colonised as Imperial miners explore the world's icy depths for rare and unique trace elements of great strategic and economic value.
  • The Birth of Ateanism (103.M41) - The Arch-Heretic Julius Ateanos “accidentally” creates the Eris Transform, a heresy that will claim thousands of souls and lives in the years that follow.
  • The Dark Heresy (126.M41) - The Propheticum Hereticus Tenebrae, a compilation of many sources, case studies and prognostications is compiled into a single archive of dark lore by the Inquisition's Tyrantine Cabal and housed in the depths of the Bastion Serpentis, (although rumours abound that this is merely a version of some much earlier work of unknown origin). This work's implications trouble the sleep of many great minds.
  • The Gothic War (143-160.M41) - The 12th Black Crusade, better known as the Gothic War, consumes the Gothic Sector.
  • Mara Isolated (191.M41) - All contact with the Imperial colony on Mara is lost amid Warp disturbances troubling the area. Later contact finds no trace of the former inhabitants of the Mining World.
  • The Meritech Wars (211-226.M41) - The clans of the Merates Cluster located between the Calixis and Ixaniad Sectors secede from the Imperium, rallying many Renegade factions to their cause, raiding deep into the sector and causing widespread disruption and anarchy. The Meritech Wars, at their height, pose the greatest threat to the sector’s stability in generations and even threatens to provoke internecine conflict with the bordering Ixaniad Sector. Thanks to the rise in power of Myram Harvala as Sector Governor, the Meritech Clans are crushed and the worlds of the cluster are scoured clean of life. In the aftermath, the Heretek conspiracy of the Logicians is proved to have been behind the outbreak of the war.
  • The Seventeen Holy Martyrs (385.M41) - A small force of Adeptus Sororitas Battle-Sisters die to a woman defending the agri-colony of Gallowglass in the Malfi System from a Chaos Cult of decay, slaying an incarnate daemon of great power in the process. A permanent shrine is raised to their honour in remembrance of this great deed.
  • The Tyrant Star Appears (389.M41) - The Asteroth Mining Colony in the Drusus Marches falls to heretical rebellion and waves of mass suicides following a visitation by the Tyrant Star. The colony is effectively destroyed, survivors flee to the nearby Locura System where they sow discord and unrest before a joint Inquisitorial and Adeptus Arbites purge of the refugees.
  • The First Siege of Vaxanide (410-412.M41) - The Vaxanide System is besieged by an Ork raider fleet, and the Ork forces also make planetfall to assault Vaxanide's hive cities but the Greenskins are swiftly repulsed. The Orks are eventually driven off by the Battlefleet Calixis, one sizable splinter force landing on the world of Ganf Magna.
  • The Fall of the Tellurian Combine (428-430.M41) - The dominating commercial power of the Tellurian Combine is uncovered as a front for the malefic Chaos Cult called the Brotherhood of the Horned Darkness. Such is the group's widespread power and infiltration, even of the Lucid Court, that rather than risk civil war and an open purge, the Inquisition's local Ordos Calixis declares a shadow war against the Brotherhood, which lasts for three standard years and involves what is believed to be the largest employment of both the Officio Assassinorum and the Grey Knights in the sector’s history before its conclusion. An unforeseen side affect of the widespread secret purges and fearful suspicion they create is a dramatic and long-term weakening of the sector’s central government which has detrimental effects for centuries to come.
  • The Reign of Terror on Malfi (428-479.M41) - The ascension of the House of Koba on Malfi results in the most tyrannical and brutal regime in the history of the Calixis Sector, and raises the spectre of succession and sector civil war, threatening the wresting, by covert and bloody means, of the seat of sector government from the then weak Lucid Court on Scintilla. The House of Koba falls at last by its own hand from betrayal within, leaving a power vacuum that leads to a twenty year period of strife, misrule and petty house wars on Malfi, ended only by a greater threat that rises from the tumult.
  • The First War for Armageddon (474.M41) - The First War for Armageddon unfolds on that crucial Hive World in the Segmentum Solar.
  • The Bloody Solstice on Malfi (499.M41) - The rise of the appallingly powerful Khornate Chaos Cult called the Pilgrims of Hayte forces an end to Malfi’s internal political divisions at the cost of the near fall of that mighty world to annihilation. The Pilgrims of Hayte, while defeated, are not destroyed and live on to become a thorn in the side of the Calixis Sector's Imperial authorities until the present day and the source of a great many woeful atrocities.
  • The Tyrant Star Appears (503.M41) - Snowden’s World suffers a visitation by the Tyrant Star leading to twenty days of riots and a mass famine that decimates the population.
  • The Second Siege of Vaxanide (507.M41) - A second Ork invasion force centred around the Space Hulk designated Pinnacle of Savagery attacks the Vaxanide System. Although this force is considerably larger than the first, it is swiftly met by Battlefleet Calixis and allied forces whose mass bombardment cause the Hulk to break up and disintegrate before it can approach the Hive World, although fierce fighting continues as some Greenskin forces make it through to the planet.
  • The Devayne Incorporation (560.M41) - The writ of holy orders is removed from the Devayne Fraternity by the Synod Calixis of the Ecclesiarchy, which cites the group’s worldly aspect and growing moral turpitude, forcing its slow rebirth into the entity known as the Devayne Incorporation, one of the most powerful and rigorously organised commercial powers in the sector.
  • The Recovery of the Lucid Court (609.M41) - Lord Sector Calixis Larhanus Sult, called by many “The Great Conciliator”, is inaugurated and restores much power and prestige to the Lucid Court on Scintilla. He successfully pulls back executive authority to the office of the Lord Sector that had been slowly devolving to the Great Houses over the years, and massively expands the directly controlled military forces of his office and institutes aggressive reforms to the governance of Hive Sibellus.
  • The Fall Narrow Incursion (623.M41) - The Fall Narrow mining outpost on 88 Tanstar is revealed to been secretly dominated by the Cryptos xenoform.
  • The Corinth Crusade (689.M41)
  • Haarlock Vanishes (703.M41) - Erasmus Haarlock, Rogue Trader, thought to be the last of his famed line, vanishes after completing the extermination of his bloody kin and leaving himself the sole-survivor of his clan.
  • The Sutters Rock Outbreak (724.M41) - The mining asteroid colony of Sutters Rock becomes the first confirmed location where what will come to be called the Fydae Strain Virus is encountered. The plague runs rampant and the dead walk, leading to the loss of all 120,000 colonists in a matter of hours. The virus is a Warp-contagion linked to the foul Nurgleite daemon-cult known as the Vile Savants.
  • The Ascension of Marius Hax (731.M41) - The iron-handed Marius Hax becomes Lord Sector Calixis, after effectively ruling as the power behind the throne for the prior decades for his ailing and aged kinsman, Larhanus Sult. Subtle, clever and above all ruthless, and able to build on the achievements of his predecessor, Hax is arguably the strongest ruler the sector has seen for several centuries.
  • The Manchenko Purge (740.M41) - A sizable portion of the Commercia Great House of the Manchenko Dynasty is found to be corrupt and sanctioned by Inquisitorial purge, leaving it a battered shadow of its former power, further assailed and tormented by its rival houses. The Manchenko endure however and spend the next decades slowly rebuilding their power.
  • The Damocles Gulf Crusade (742.M41) - The Damocles Gulf Crusade, also called the Damocles Crusade, was the first military conflict fought between the Imperium of Man and the rapidly expanding Tau Empire in the Lithesh Sector of the Ultima Segmentum in the galaxy's Eastern Fringes during the late 41st Millennium. The conflict essentially ended in a stalemate, as the Imperium was forced to conclude its military offensive early to deal with the encroaching Tyranid threat while the Tau sought to begin diplomatic negotiations with the Imperium to show humanity the benefits to be had by accepting the Greater Good. Members of the Tau Water Caste had established trade agreements with Imperial worlds on the frontier of the Tau Empire, near the Damocles Gulf region of the Ultima Segmentum in the galactic east, and exchanges of goods and technology were common. Alarmed by the threat of alien contamination, the Administratum readied a suitable response and almost a century later, the Damocles Crusade smashed into Tau space, destroying several outlying settlements and pushing deep into the Tau Empire. When the Imperial fleet reached the Tau Sept world of Dal'yth Prime, however, the Crusade ground to a bloody stalemate as the formidable numbers and high technology of the Tau and their Kroot allies thwarted every attempt to capture the world or its star system. Many months of terrible fighting ensued with nothing gained on either side. By late 742.M41 the Crusade's commanders eventually agreed to requests from the Tau Water Caste for peace talks. The negotiations were successful and the Imperial fleet withdrew from Tau space unmolested, primarily due to the impending approach of the Tyranid Hive Fleet Behemoth. Or, depending on the source, the Damocles Gulf Crusade was ended in 988.M41 due to the emergent threat of Hive Fleet Kraken.
  • A Pattern Revealed (742.M41) - The Tyrantine Cabal conclusively identifies the “Calixian Pattern Killings” going back at least eleven hundred Terran years.
  • The Tyrant Star Appears (742.M41) - The Tyrant Star is sighted by Explorator vessels in the area of the Death World of Vigil.
  • The Malygrisian Tech-Heresy (742-770.M41) - The militant Explorator Archmagos, Umbra Malygris, goes Renegade after clashing with the High Fabricator of the Lathes, taking with him hundreds of adepts and followers and threatening a full dogmatic schism within the Machine Cult’s ranks within the sector. Hunted on all sides, Malygris becomes increasingly insane but refuses to flee the sector, hiding instead in its shadows and cultivating a conspiracy of sympathisers and traitors to aid him. The renegade unleashes blasphemous horrors and forbidden weapons seemingly at random in order to further his research or avenge himself on his enemies. His forces also plunder and attack Mechanicus facilities, exploratory bases and even rival tech-heretic forces in order to obtain their secrets. Eventually destroyed at the hands of the Mechanicus Dragon Secutarii. However, Malygrisan lore still exists to plague the Omnissiah’s cult to the present.
  • Ice Station Mara (743.M41) - An Imperial mining penitentiary outpost is re-established on the deserted Ice World of Mara in the Hazeroth Abyss.
  • The First Tyrannic War Begins (745.M41) - The Tyranids' Hive Fleet Behemoth assaults the Eastern Fringes of the galaxy and is defeated during the Battle of Macragge only by the heroic sacrifices made by the Ultramarines.
  • The Tyrant Star Appears (748.M41) - Plagues and an epidemic of madness grips the feral World of Endrite.
  • The Sabbat Worlds Crusade Begins (756.M41) - The Sabbat Worlds Crusade was an Imperial Crusade fought over the course of more than 23 standard years between 755.M41 and 778.M41 to retake the Sabbat Worlds Sector located at the rimward edge of the Segmentum Pacificus from the heretical Forces of Chaos. This Crusade was one of the largest and most significant Imperial military operations undertaken in recent history and ultimately ended in the reconquest of the sector by the armed forces of the Imperium of Man.
  • Mara Abandoned (768.M41) - The Imperial mining colony on Mara is abandoned amid great loss of life and the entire region of space around it is quarantined by Inquisitorial edict.
  • The Treachery of Nephthys (777.M41) - Inquisitor Erya Nephthys, once the most promising of her generation, goes Renegade and massacres a number of her peers in the very heart of the Tricorn Palace on Scintilla. The vilest of Traitors, she attacks numerous other Imperial holdings and carves a bloody path cross the sector, prompting a blood hunt by the entire Ordos Calixis of the Inquisition. She dies a third and final time at the hands of Witch Hunter Rykehuss and her ashes are interred in a sealed vault to insure her disposal is a permanent one.
  • The Margin Crusade is Launched (784.M41) - Under the holy writ of the Synod Obscurus of the Ecclesiarchy and taking place far to the Calixis Sector’s Spinward border, an Imperial Crusade is launched into the Margin region beyond the light of the Astronomican to the galactic north. The Calixis Sector is called on to provide troops and materiel to the ongoing Imperial effort and grudgingly complies. Thirty standard years later the Margin Crusade is believed by most in the Imperium to still be grinding on with a great loss of blood and treasure. In truth, the Imperium lost contact with the Margin Crusade as early as 788.M41 and the Crusade is believed by the Inquisition to have failed, the forces dedicated to its completion lost in their entirety. However, the Imperium continues to maintain the fiction of the Margin Crusade's existence, using it as an excuse to raise ever larger tithes of troops and war machines which are then diverted to the Achilus Crusade in the Jericho Reach, which has also faced setbacks.
  • The Astral Knives Cult declared Heretical (792.M41) - Long tolerated, the centuries old void born death cult of the Astral Knife is found to have become tainted by association with dark forces and declared heretical by the Holy Ordos.
  • The Doom of the Ardent Seeker (799.M41) - The Ecclesiarchy Mission Ship, Ardent Seeker, is ravaged by a false prophet of the Pilgrims of Hayte on the way to the Shrine World of Maccabeus Quintus. Seven thousand worthy souls die in ways more hellish than the sane can imagine.
  • Tyrant Star Appears (807.M41) - Zillman’s Domain suffers a visitation from the Tyrant Star.
  • The Tranch Insurrection (807.M41) - A mutant uprising in the soot warrens of the minor industrialised Hive World of Tranch rapidly develops into a planet-wide insurrection which topples the ruling class, the brutal Oligarchs of Tranch. The mutants have formed together into a unified faction calling itself the Pale Throng, led by a cabal of terrifyingly powerful witches and mutant-psykers known as the Shroud Council. As rumours of the successful rebellion spread, so do brushfire revolts and uprisings on other worlds in the sector, and the flames of malcontent are fanned. Lord Sector Hax realises the wider threat to Imperial order and declares a mass counter-invasion of the war-torn world to bring the rebellion to heel, calling on the Inquisition to dispose of the Shroud Council, which they do, whilst the Ordo Hereticus launches Operation Bellerophon to decapitate the mutant forces. At huge cost in lives and at the price of laying waste to much of Tranch, the Pale Throng is crushed, but its many factions manage to scatter off-world, while sympathisers still raise revolt against the Imperium in the Pale Throng's name elsewhere. Although the war is officially over, the pacification of Tranch goes on, providing a bloody baptism of fire for many of the sector’s soldiers.
  • The “Dance of the Dead” on Kalf (808.M41) - Mysterious cult activity on the world of Kalf forces a notorious clash between rival Inquisitorial factions, leading to bloodshed and acrimony within the ranks of the Ordo Calixis in its wake.
  • The Vervilix Disaster (810.M41) - After suffering serious malfunction in transit, the Imperial Guard's mass-troop conveyer Vervilix, far off course, makes a forced landing on the forbidden Ice World of Mara. Heavy casualties ensue and the remaining survivors are taken into Inquisitorial custody.
  • The Reef Stars Crusade Begins (811.M41)
  • The Red Vaults of Luggnam (811.M41) - A small Adeptus Arbites taskforce, investigating evidence of political corruption, murder and tithe-theft on the mining world of Luggnam, instead encounters the horrors perpetrated by the wanted Arch-Heretic Myrchella Sinderfell. In the aftermath, the Inquisition steps in and instigates a two-year-long planet-wide witch-hunt to weed out recidivist elements.
  • The Disappearance of Inquisitor Layran (812.M41) - The Inquisitor Layran and his retinue of Acolytes vanish en masse while investigating rumour of a xenos conspiracy, peripherally connected to the so-called “Beast House” organisation on Fenksworld. Their loss prompts the Ordo Xenos to place the entire, widespread trans-sector group under scrutiny, leading to an ongoing covert investigation of the Beast House and its mysterious master, Solkarn Senk.
  • Opening of the Spinward Front (814.M41) - WAAAGH! Grimtoof, the Ork WAAAGH! under the control of the Ork Warlord Ghenghiz Grimtoof, slams into the Periphery Sub-sector of the Calixis Sector in 814.M41. The massive Ork assault forced the Sub-sector Governor Duke Severus XIII to request aid from the Sector Governor Marius Hax, who mobilised the Calixis Sector's military reserves to meet the Greenskin invasion. Even as the forces of the Imperial Guard poured into what the Departmento Munitorum soon designated as the Spinward Front under the command of Lord General Ghanzorik of the Maccabian Janissaries, Severus XIII used the chaos caused by the invasion to secede from the Imperium, creating the independent pocket empire in the Periphery known as the Severan Dominate. At present, a three-way war is underway in the Spinward Front between the forces of the Imperium, the Severan Dominate and the Ork WAAAGH!
  • The Time of Heroes (815.M41) - This year marked the start of a particularly momentous era in the Calixis Sector's history which would decide the ultimate fate of the sector at the hands of small bands of heroes in service to the Ordo Calixis of the Inquisition.

The Tyrant Star

The Calixis Sector is beset by many threats, but few of them are as obvious as rampaging aliens or widespread rebellion. Perhaps the most troubling is the prophecy of the Tyrant Star, the horrific harbinger of ruin and desolation, the spectral sun which consumes light, hope and sanity. This prophecy is known as the Hereticus Tenebrae (“the black doctrine” or “the shadow heresy” in High Gothic) by the Inquisitors of the Calixis Sector. Reports of the conflict, destruction and psychic cataclysm that accompany apparitions of the black sun are often suppressed, in case disorder and fear overtake entire worlds.

The Tyrant Star, also known as Komus, is an uncategorised stellar anomaly that appears as a black dwarf star whose arrival in the sky of a world is seen as an imminent herald of catastrophe, while the existence of the Tyrant Star is itself part of a wider prophecy called the Hereticus Tenebrae that is of great interest to the Imperial Inquisition. Unraveling this prophecy and the role of the Tyrant Star may be crucial to preventing a cataclysm that will consume not only the worlds of the Calixis Sector but perhaps the entire Imperium of Man.

The baleful Tyrant Star casts an ill light upon the Calixis Sector and nowhere seems immune from its influence. Cults and seditionist groups fester in its underhives and moral corruption gnaws away at the Calixian nobility, which holds much of the power on the sector’s scattered worlds. Conflicts brew between the Imperial Adepta and the great noble families who trace their lineage to the times before Lord Militant Angevin’s conquests. Mysteries abound, for the Calixis Sector was quite evidently occupied by more than one long-vanished civilisation in the past. The previous inhabitants of this province of the galaxy have left their indelible traces behind them. Certainly, many Inquisitors of the Calixian Conclave fervently hope that the spectral sun is a legacy of aliens long since gone to dust, for the alternatives have implications that are unspeakable.

Komus is described in a doom-laden vision which speaks in apocalyptic terms of a “darkness” that will engulf the worlds of man and ultimately devour human civilisation. The engulfing darkness will be preceded by signs and portents, so-called herald events, that will gradually transmute human minds and make them ready to embrace the darkness. Many believe this to be an obvious allusion to a rising of Chaos and the Warp, though this explanation is far from universally agreed. There are many considerable threats in the galaxy. The prophecy could as much apply to the Tyranids (scholars note a repeated use of the word “devour” in the prophecy text) or the Eldar as to the Warp. However, given the Warp’s manifest ability to uncreate and mutate reality, much weight is given to this idea by the Tyrantian Conclave of the Inquisition. The actual text of the prophecy is secured in the archives of the Bastion Serpentis, and Inquisitor Lord Zerbe, the leader of the Tyrantine Cabal of the Calixis Sector, only allows a very favoured few to examine the complete transcript.

In speaking of the herald events, the Propheticum Hereticus Tenebrae, as the manuscript is called, makes many references to “Komus” or the “Tyrant Star”. Komus is said to be the harbinger, a portent of the encroaching darkness. It is said to be a “black sun” or a “halo of black flame”. This preternatural harbinger is represented by an unholy rune, best described as a clawed bird’s foot. The rune has resisted specific translation and no previous occurrence of it has yet been found.

Zerbe believes it can be no coincidence that the Calixis Sector is fraught with a curious, recurring phenomena: that of the “Spectral Sun”. From time to time -- no specific interval period has been identified -- a monstrous “black sun” matching the prophetic descriptions has mysteriously appeared in various locations throughout the sector.

No two appearances have been quite the same but the pattern of visitation is usually this: with little warning, a ghostly star apparently emitting black flames and esoteric, unknown radiations, spontaneously materialises in a planetary system, shines malevolently for a few days, and then, just as mysteriously, vanishes without trace. The visitation is accompanied by psychic disturbance, geological upheaval and sociological problems, including mass rioting and unrest.

Most often, the Spectral Sun actually eclipses a system’s natural star, as if possessing it, causing consternation and panic on the orbiting worlds as their sun goes black. However, the Spectral Sun has also on occasion appeared less directly -- a strangely bright star at night, a phantom corona around a moon -- before disappearing.

No astronomer has successfully explained the eerie phenomenon. It belies human science and has thus far evaded close investigation. Its visitations cannot be predicted. The Tyrantine Cabal believes that the Spectral Sun phenomenon is the Tyrant Star, Komus, as it so closely matches various descriptions in the prophecy. Some suggest the Tyrant Star is the ghost image of some stellar body in the immaterium, shining through the worn fabric of space. Others say it is a mirror image, a Warpspace star that is partially translating into realspace, trying to find a way through. Yet others claim that the Tyrant Star is an artificial body, driven by xenos engines and mechanisms Mankind cannot comprehend.

Whatever the truth, the phenomenon is a fact. It has manifested eighteen times in the Calixis Sector during the last century. Every single visitation has caused public unrest and geological instability. Where the Tyrant Star appears, earthquakes and volcanic upsurges follow. A world will experience a violent period of upset and revolution prior to its appearance. Many more psykers than usual will be born or become active. Mutation will occur. These things will usually take place in the two or three months leading up to a manifestation.

Signs and portents will be widespread: these generally are a matter of birthmarks, odd runic sigils appearing upon walls without explanation and the rise of fanatical cults. Some sources also describe premonitory halfsightings, fleeting glimpses of the black-flamed sun in mirrors, pools, puddles or even on the surface of wine or water in drinking vessels.

Mass panic and insanity precede a visitation of the Tyrant Star. No one has been able to explain how it appears and covers a system’s natural star with its noxious black smoke. Sometimes, disorder and civil unrest lead to nothing and, for all the portents and cues, the Tyrant Star never actually appears, though this may be because it has manifested in a way that is hard to detect. On at least two recorded occasions, the Tyrant Star has appeared merely as a distant star above a world, no larger than a morning star, instead of eclipsing the local sun.

The Tyrantine Cabal believes it is a vital part of its work in the Calixis Sector to trace and investigate these visitations, and to actually be on site to witness a manifestation. Zerbe hopes that important data may be gathered during a genuine sighting. In the sector at large, the visitations are a matter of myth and rumour. The Inquisition has carefully suppressed any official confirmation of the phenomenon.

Scintilla

Scintilla is the capital world of the Calixis Sector of the Segmentum Obscurus, and is a thriving Imperial hub that supports the largest planetary population in the sector. It is dominated (some observers say “shared") by two vast hive cities, Hive Sibellus and Hive Tarsus, into which the vast majority of the planet’s groaning population are crammed. Despite the dominance of the two great hives, the “offspring” communities of Ambulon and Gunmetal City contribute significantly to the planet’s economic function. Scintilla is a world of splendours where the wealthy and powerful compete with ruthless appetite. Astonishing magnificence abounds, from the wondrous fashions of the hive nobility to the towering spectacle of the hives themselves. Landmarks like the Lucid Palace and the Cathedral of Illumination are famous throughout the sector.

Scintilla is also a world of corruption. Moral decay eats away at the noble houses, members of which are often deluded by their own wealth and status. In the rarefied culture of the high-born, the corruption of power and privilege runs deep. Noble houses consider themselves (sometimes correctly) as above or outside of Imperial law and can wield immense influence. Their attitude towards those lower-born is callous: it is not unknown for thrill-seeking degenerates from noble houses to prey upon lesser humans as sport, often feeding secret Chaos cults devoted to Slaanesh. At the other end of the social spectrum, the underhives are rife with mutants, outlaws and ultra-violent gangs, as well as the psychotic zealots of the Redemption. The middle hivers trapped between the aristo spires and the rancid underhives live out thankless lives of unending toil, where ignorance is a virtue, and death is a reward for a lifetime of loyal, drone servitude, fulfilling the exorbitant tithes levied on Scintilla by the Administratum. It has been this way since the days of Angevin, and Scintilla’s various corruptions are so deeply ingrained that they have become invisible even to those who perpetrate them.

Scintilla’s most important features are its two hive cities: immense, multi-levelled arcology cities that house billions of Imperial citizens. Both hives on Scintilla are largely independent, ruled by councils drawn from the nobles of the spire. The majority of the inhabitants are middle hivers, the labouring classes, without whom the planet’s manufactorums and trade houses would cease to function. Almost all middle hivers are owned by or indentured to nobles from the powerful, sector-wide Great Houses or from Scintilla’s own lesser houses. The poorest and most neglected areas are the underhives: polluted, crime-ridden places where life is cheap and brutal gangs struggle for supremacy before violent death inevitably claims them. As long as the violence does not spill over into the middle hives, the authorities are happy to let the gangs murder each other in the cesspits of the underhive.

Scintilla’s two great hives have always competed with one another for prestige and influence, but no rational observer could fail to acknowledge Hive Sibellus’ dominance. Geographically the larger of the two hives, it is often referred to as “the Capital” or the “ruling hive”, and is both the seat of political and administrative power on the world, and the centre of the planet’s manufacturing might. Hive Tarsus functions as a dark, shadowy twin, popularly referred to, by Sibellians, as the “Other Place”. Hive Tarsus is a mercantile hive and controls all off-world trade and commerce. Neither hive could function without the other, a fact celebrated in Scintillan proverbs and myths. However, neither great hive would openly admit to the importance of the “offspring” communities, Ambulon and Gunmetal City, both of which wield considerable influences of their own.

Civil Order

Law on Scintilla is the province of the Magistratum, the planet’s local Enforcers and police force. In the hive spires, the dark green greatcoats of Magistratum officers are a common sight as they patrol the streets and investigate anything from petty theft upwards. In the middle spires, they are concerned mainly with serious or violent crime, unable and unwilling to deal with other common crimes. In the underhives, they are almost completely absent. The quality of the Magistratum’s officers and procedures varies enormously through the layers of Scintilla’s hives, depending on the funding and support they are given by the ruling noble councils, and on the environments they have to work in. Inevitably, it is far easier for a noble victim to get the Magistratum to investigate a crime, and far easier for a middle hiver criminal to be arrested for one. The Adeptus Arbites have a strong presence on Scintilla but they leave everyday policing to the Magistratum, concentrating on sedition, interference with the Imperial tithes, certain cult and psyker activity, and in using their paramilitary strength to help put down major riots. Most Scintillan citizens never see an Arbites officer unless it is from the wrong side of a riot shield. The Arbites and the Magistratum despise each other and have little interest in working together except under dire circumstances.

ScintillaResidents

Residents of Scintilla

The laws across Scintilla vary from place to place, but two constants are trial by combat and duelling. Both are legal on Scintilla, and trials by combat are especially common when the hive city nobility are involved. Trials by combat, where the accuser and defendant fight to decide who is right, have conditions attached depending on the nature of the crime (murder and severe violent crime is to the death, while some crimes have restrictions on the weapons to be used and sometimes bizarre conditions for victory, from first blood to the removal of limbs). It is permitted for either party to have a champion fight in their place and a skilled combatant can find lucrative, if perilous, employment in the Bloodsquares run by the Magistratum. Needless to say, good champions do not come cheap, and the very best are retained by the noble houses of the spires. Similarly, duelling is permitted on Scintilla and forms a part of the culture in the hives and elsewhere. The Magistratum does not interfere with duels and killing an opponent in a duel is not considered murder. This means it is entirely possible to eliminate an enemy by manufacturing a matter of honour between him and an opponent who happens to excel at the form of combat used in the duel.

Hive Sibellus

Scintilla city

The Tyrant Star Komus appears above one of the hive cities of Scintilla

Hive Sibellus is the oldest city on Scintilla, almost certainly predating Lord Militant Angevin’s invasions of the Calyx Expanse. Its immense, eight thousand kilometre-wide bulk dominates the coastal plains and lowlands of the northern temperate landmass. Where its enormous, multi-layered skirts touch the coast itself -- in a five hundred kilometre belt -- they spill out over the black granite cliffs like shelves or glacial ridges. Sibellus has twice the population of its “twin” Hive Tarsus.

Like almost all Imperial hive cities, Hive Sibellus is composed of an extraordinary conglomeration of architectural forms. Countless generations have added their own embellishments and every available surface is crammed with gargoyles, frescoes, columns and mosaics. The hive spire is a jumble of glittering wonders, while the middle hive—and even the underhive—is composed of long-fallen statues and temples to wealth and power. The middle hivers live in rickety tenements built inside the shells of great mansions and basilicas, and trudge to work each day through avenues formed by fallen statues. The underhivers live in buried hovels built into the eyes of great stone heads or clustered around the broken columns of fallen temples.

The sprawl of the hive is at its most spectacular along the rugged coastline. The hive looms -- indeed, spills -- over towering black granite cliffs, which are lashed by ferocious seas during the stormy season. The Lucid Palace, a city in its own right, stands on a massive column of rock rising from the sea just off the coast, connected to the hive by a single, cyclopean, stone processional bridge, as well as by countless smaller rope bridges and a fleet of ferries which transport strong-stomached passengers across the debris-strewn waters. Hundreds of rickety elevators scale the cliffs and the rock column on which the palace stands, and the hovels of ferrymen and fishermen cling to the rock face like barnacles. The bulk of Hive Sibellus itself rises up many times the height of the cliffs, casting a permanent shadow over the headland and the waters.

Sibellan Society

Hive Sibellus is Scintilla’s power centre and every noble house on the planet seeks to have its own estate on the hive spire. These estates form an extraordinary riot of architectural styles, from stern fortresses to gilded pleasure palaces. The spire is constantly growing, the new estates built on the remains of the old, and so a Sibellan noble house must constantly strive to embellish its own estates to keep up.

Antiquity is everything in Hive Sibellus. A family draws prestige from the number of ancestral generations it can trace and even the newest estates look like age-weathered bastions of tradition. Hive Sibellus’s nobles are intensely competitive and demonstrate their superiority through the magnificence of their estates as well as the antiquities they collect, from artefacts excavated from the deserts and jungles of Scintilla to works of art from across the Imperium. Most estates conceal a high-security gallery or museum, which sometimes holds extremely valuable and illegal items, like xenos artefacts or even dangerous proscribed texts.

The streets of the hive spire are constantly busy. Hive Sibellus’ noble fashions are spectacular, impractical and perpetually changing, and the nobles travel the streets of the spire accompanied by large retinues of servants whose primary role is to look impressive. The streets in the spire are very safe thanks to the large private armies that guard every estate and the efforts of the Magistratum to man checkpoints, which regulate the people coming in and out of the hive spire. Violence in the spire, apart from trials by combat and sanctioned duels, is rare -- the crime that most nobles fret about is burglary, since their collections or artworks and relics are so important to them. Tales of impossibly skilled cat burglars are a staple of Hive Sibellus’ folklore and many of those tales are true, since there are a great many things worth stealing in the spire of Hive Sibellus.

Hive Sibellus’s middle hive is dominated by manufactoria devoted to heavy production and the enormous blocks of cheap, warren-like housing for the factoria workers. The traditions of the hive spire filter down to the middle hive, with many hivers collecting curious objects to beautify their meagre homes, aping the extraordinary fashions of the spire nobles or even keeping crudely stuffed dead relatives. The middle hive’s factories and tenement blocks are built among layers of compressed mansions and statuary, making it a confusing and dark place of collapsed finery.

Somewhere deep amongst the fragments of vast statues and toppled remains of great temple-mansions, the middle hive becomes the underhive. Composed of countless compressed layers of the city above, Hive Sibellus’ vast underhive is impossible to navigate and prone to frequent collapse. Underhive settlements huddle in the few stable areas, separated from one another by endless deadly warrens where hive-quakes and cave-ins are a constant threat. Many settlements are completely isolated, their inhabitants hunting underhive vermin to survive and having no idea that there is a hive city above them at all. It is not unknown for nobles of the spire to sponsor heavily-armed expeditions into the underhive to dig up coveted artefacts from Scintilla’s past or to explore the tombs of a family’s distant ancestors.

Notable Locations

Hive Sibellus’ most extraordinary single landmark is the Lucid Palace, which houses the magnificent court of Sector Governor Marius Hax. The Lucid Palace, and the vast column rising from the waves on which it sits, is thought to be much older than Hive Sibellus or indeed, anything on Scintilla. The palace resembles a vast flower of stone, its granite petals overlapping to form its huge dome and the many archways used as entrances. The palace is draped with hundreds of banners representing the institutions of Scintilla and its noble houses, and having a banner fluttering from the palace dome is an honour that some will murder for.

Another spectacular landmark is the Bastion Porphyr. This slender tower of purple-black stone is the tallest point in Hive Sibellus and the headquarters for Scintilla’s astropaths. Scintilla’s Astropathic Choir consists of about half a dozen astropaths, the largest concentration of these powerful psykers in the Calixis Sector, led by Senior Astropath Xiao. These astropaths are the only means for contacting other sectors and without them the Calixis Sector would be cut off from the rest of the Imperium. Anyone who wishes to use them to send a message must personally climb the apparently endless spiral staircase up the tower and make their request personally to Senior Astropath Xiao. Each astropath has a different method of visualising and sending messages, and they spend their lives amid the draughty belfries of the Bastion performing intensive mental exercises and studying the tomes of symbolic code. Aside from a few Servitors to assist them, no one lives in the Bastion other than the astropaths.

Inquisitional Holdings

The other most notable landmark in the hive is the Tricorn, the palace of the Inquisition on Scintilla. A dark and austere trio of linked towers at the northern end of the hive sprawl, the palace is the headquarters of the High Council of the Calixian Conclave, which is to say that it is the administrative seat of the Inquisition in the Calixis Sector. Since earliest times, the Inquisition has often convened and empowered a conclave of its members for each sector of the Imperium. Each sector conclave is ruled by a Lord Inquisitor of unimpeachable merit, selected and appointed by the High Lords of the Inquisition on Terra. For the past two hundred standard years, the Lord Inquisitor of the Calixian Conclave has been Aegult Caidin. Though respectful of the Lord Sector, Caidin answers to no one except the distant High Lords. From the Tricorn Palace, he supervises and directs the general policies and activities of the Inquisitors under his command, as well as individual specialist cabals of Inquisitors sent upon “special circumstance” missions. The Lord Inquisitor is seldom seen in public. It is said that he keeps his true likeness secret, even from close aides and allies, so as to be free to operate unmolested and unrecognised. His true age is not known.

Lord Inquisitor Caidin chairs the High Council of the Calixian Conclave, a ruling body of seventy senior Inquistors drawn from all three Ordos, which orchestrates and monitors the Inquisition’s work throughout the sector's territories. Estimates suggest that over eight thousand Inquisitorial personnel toil in the officio of the Tricorn Palace, from lowly scribes to archivists, from savants to specialist Tech-adepts. A small but potent army of Inquisitorial troops is garrisoned at the Tricorn Palace and dedicated starships of the Inquisition are permanently stationed at high anchor above Scintilla for rapid response deployment. It is also suggested, but unconfirmed, that the Tricorn possesses its own astrotelepathic choir. In times of great crisis, the Officio of the High Council Calixis can call upon the help of any Imperial Adepta it requires.

The general multitudes shun the Tricorn Palace, regarding it as a place of fear, peril and downright evil, though largely this is because the average citizen has no real grasp of the work and duties of the conclave. Nevertheless, to be seized by the Inquisition and carried to the Tricorn for questioning is a grim fate that few ever return from.

Hive Tarsus

Hive Tarsus is Scintilla’s second largest population centre and is the seat of the planet’s trade and commerce. It maintains an aggressive independence from Hive Sibellus, though it relies on the export produce of Sibellus’s manufactoria. Hive Tarsus is in the centre of Scintilla’s least hospitable desert, baking in the relentless sun and battered by sandstorms. The hive’s construction is based around a foundation of immense vertical bars, between which stretch the great conglomerations of buildings that make up the body of the hive. As a result, Hive Tarsus is more vertical than horizontal, with more middle hivers climbing to work than walking.

Tarsian Society

Hive Tarsus’ unusual structure and hostile location mean that darkness and cold are valued commodities and, as such, very unusually for a hive city, the richest areas are those on the bottom of the hive instead of at the top. Hive Tarsus’s nobility enjoy the shade afforded by having a whole city strung in a dizzying web above them, while they are far enough from the merciless sun to live in cool comfort. The very wealthiest live in pitch-black subterranean mansions where inhabitants and visitors carry dim lanterns to see by, while the air is cooled to sub-zero temperatures that require everyone to wear lavish furs. The nobility here demonstrate their superiority by controlling their environment at immense cost, even to the extent of making their handsome estates as dangerous to the ill-prepared as the worst summer droughts. Hive scum that stray too close to the base of the city are often found frozen to death, caught out by the dramatic drops in temperature the closer they get to the wealthiest districts.

The closer to the surface of Hive Tarsus, the poorer and more dangerous the hive becomes. Middle hivers labour in sweltering workshops bathed in the heat filtering down from the sun, plagued by sunbeams that sweep through the hive during the day and burn exposed skin. The outermost layers (known as the Hiveskin) are hellish; it is almost too hot to breathe and hivers are bathed in sunlight so potent it can make those caught in it blacken and shrivel up in a few minutes. Layers of hovels cling to the top and sides of the hive, too flimsy to completely block out the deadly sun or the frequent lethal sandstorms. Worst of all, the heat is relentless, easily hot enough to kill those not adapted to it. The hiveskinners scrabble like scarabs across the outermost layers to avoid the worst of the sun as it moves overhead during the day. They are a sunburned, sand-scarred lot who survive by hunting the hardy fauna that dwells here including dangerous Scaldbats and mildly poisonous Fingerburner Beetles. Many wear improvised, iridescent armour suits to reflect the sun, so that they themselves resemble human-sized beetles.

Trade within Hive Tarsus

Hive Tarsus manufactures very little. Instead, its middle hive is dominated by the Goldenhand, a vast complex of trading halls and auction houses held like a great golden nugget in the heart of Tarsus’ city-web. The Goldenhand houses a massive, infinitely complex financial market where commodities are bought and sold at a dizzying rate, and enormous amounts of money and goods change hands hourly. Traders representing both planetary and sector-wide houses buy, sell and try to swindle each other. The Goldenhand never shuts and is constantly thronged with people yelling out offers and curses in a complicated trader’s code called Goldentongue. Most traders are accompanied by armed bodyguards, since the application of violence or even assassination are recognised tactics for gaining the upper hand. Activity in the Goldenhand is extremely intense, with few who work there lasting very long before they are burned out. Many is the man who has lost a fortune for his noble patrons in the Goldenhand and chosen to walk to certain death into the desert to do penance for his failures.

Activity in the Goldenhand is regulated by two bodies. The first is the Goldenhand’s own staff of auction masters and functionaries; dressed in browns and brass, their faces painted deep gold, they look appropriately enough like a part of the Goldenhand itself. The second group is the Administratum. The Adepts of the Administratum’s Goldenhand Consular Taskforce (under the leadership of the energetic and surprisingly goodhumoured Consul Sevavin) forms the largest concentration of adepts on Scintilla and probably in the whole Calixis Sector. They are a familiar sight in their stark grey uniforms, contrasting with the outlandish fashions of the various noble traders, and are never jostled or threatened as they go about their business. The adepts are considered above the violence that flourishes between the other traders, partly because they represent the interests of the God-Emperor, but mainly because they have the very best protection in the form of veteran soldiers from the Death World of Mortressa. The Adepts’ purpose in the Goldenhand is to ensure that the tithes handed over to the Administratum from the hives of Scintilla do not consist of inferior goods with inflated values, and to maintain awareness of all the major deals going on among the planet’s noble houses. Another important player is House Krin, one of the great sector-wide noble houses, which revels in its reputation as “Drusus’ bankers” and can arrange banking and massive loans to anyone confident that they can pay up when the time comes. The Adepts of the Administratum are based in a building of gold and glass suspended over the Goldenhand’s largest trading hall, while House Krin’s household troops protect the family’s complex of vaults and safe rooms just beneath the Goldenhand.

Hive Tarsus’s trade dominance is due to the fact that the planet’s orbital docks are geostationary above the hive. It is said that Tarsus is the “lungs and stomach” of Scintilla. Vast wharfs and warehousing/handling vaults dominate the middle hive, pulsing with the import and export of goods. There are said to be chambers the size of cathedrals in the dense heart of Hive Tarsus, packed with crated goods never claimed or shifted.

Protectorate Barracks

Hive Tarsus’s proximity to the orbital docks means that it is also the home of the planet’s military units. Scintilla’s Planetary Defence Force, the Army of the Scintillan Protectorate, is based at Hive Tarsus. It draws its troops from across the planet and there is considerable rivalry between regiments. The regiments raised from Gunmetal City’s ruffians consider themselves to be superior and they are mostly justified in this, with the Gunmetal regiments being the equal of the Imperial Guard. The Gunmetallicus 41st Regiment, in particular, is a prestigious elite formation whose troops are used to escort VIPs and perform dangerous missions in the wastelands between the hives. When the Imperium needs new Imperial Guard regiments raised for conflicts close to the Calixis Sector, Scintilla’s tithe is often raised to include a draft of manpower for the Imperial Guard. This draft is mostly taken from the Army of the Scintillan Protectorate, with some Imperial Guard also being raised from the ultra-violent gangers of Gunmetal City’s notorious Infernis. Since the Scintillan troops often cut their teeth battling the Infernis gangs, care must be taken to keep the resulting Imperial Guard regiments apart. The Army of the Scintillan Protectorate, while answering to Marius Hax in his role as Planetary Governor, is effectively sponsored by the noble families who contribute their household troops to tours in the army, and most of its officer class is drawn from the younger sons and daughters of noble houses. Warrior brotherhoods, secret societies often born of loyalties to a particular noble house, are common in the army, with the most prestigious having fraternal meeting houses in the spire of Hive Tarsus.

Cathedral of Illumination

Hive Tarsus is also the site of one of Scintilla’s sector-famous landmarks. The Cathedral of Illumination is the most important place of worship of the God-Emperor in the whole Calixis Sector. It is the base of operations for Cardinal Ignato, the sector’s most senior Adeptus Ministorum clergyman, who leads the Synod Calixis from the cathedral’s lavish auditorium. The cathedral is an extraordinary collection of spires surrounding a cavernous central nave, topped with an enormous stained glass dome, through which the scorching light of Scintilla’s equatorial sun blazes. The decoration on the cathedral is paid for by nobles and prominent citizens from across the sector, all eager to purchase a piece of the Emperor’s grace. The outside of the cathedral is covered in statues, depicting scenes of Imperial history and images of the saints, all gleaming gold in the fierce sunlight. It is said that some of the cathedral’s least accessible places conceal bizarre statues, like grotesque monsters or scenes of bizarre occult rituals. The area around the cathedral is a forest of statues of saints and important citizens of Scintilla, the most impressive of these being an enormous statue of Saint Drusus that has pride of place outside the main doors to the nave.

Inside, the cathedral is just as magnificent. The cavernous nave’s glass dome is supported by columns carved into the likenesses of past cardinals and there are enough pews to sit tens of thousands of worshippers. The nave is dominated by an altar that sits in front of a triple portrait in gold and silver, depicting the Emperor (with His face turned from the congregation) flanked by Saint Drusus and Lord Militant Angevin, as well as effigies of several saints. Behind the altar is a choir of two thousand servitors filling the nave with soaring choruses. A pulpit overlooks the nave, and it is from here that Cardinal Ignato and the other Ministorum preachers speak the Word of the Emperor. On days of religious importance, such as the Feast of the Emperor’s Ascension (the celebrating the Emperor's "ascension" to the Golden Throne at the end of the Battle of Terra), many thousands of nobles and adepts from across Scintilla fill the nave, while lesser citizens crowd outside in the hope of glimpsing some of the splendour within.

The cathedral also contains the cardinal’s quarters, the Synod Auditorium, where the sector’s cardinals meet to discuss spiritual issues, and the Hall of Relics where holy items are kept for safekeeping and study. These include relics of Saint Drusus’ life, including bones purported to be from Drusus’ own body (enough to reconstruct several skeletons). The Archivum Spiritual, a library of theological works and religious records, also resides below the cathedral, as do the extensive catacombs where members of the Ecclesiarchy are buried. The cathedral has a huge staff made up of both lay volunteers (mostly ex-pilgrims) and members of the Ecclesiarchy. Armed laymen of the Frateris Militia protect the cathedral, assisted by a single squad of Sisters of Battle from the Order of the Ebon Chalice.

The presence of the cathedral means that the Ecclesiarchy has immense influence in Hive Tarsus, to the extent that Cardinal Ignato has more power here than the hive’s nobles and the Frateris Militia have a stronger presence on the streets than the Magistratum. All the trade and warehousing halls of the middle hive have lay clergy preaching to the workers about the sacred nature of obedience and the heinous sins of leisure and curiosity. A large proportion of Hive Tarsus’ population is made up of pilgrims who are journeying through the city to reach the Cathedral of Illumination. Queues of pilgrims snake from the cathedral throughout the middle hive, sometimes spending years waiting for a glimpse of the cathedral while surviving off the efforts of Ecclesiarchy handouts, lay volunteers and unscrupulous traders. The pilgrims are an essential part of Hive Tarsus’ economy and most never leave, finding themselves among the labourers of the middle hive or, for a lucky few, working as volunteers among the glittering majesty of the cathedral itself. Hive Sibellus may be the seat of power, but Hive Tarsus is the seat of faith, despite many attempts to shift the Ecclesiarchy’s base to the ruling hive city. Almost single-handedly, the cathedral accounts for Hive Tarsus’s continued importance and influence in the shadow of its giant rival.

Ambulon

Ambulon is a bizarre sight indeed, claimed by many to be a hive city in its own right. The entire city is mounted on the back of a machine that slowly walks across the unstable rocky regions in the centre of Scintilla’s main continent. The machine is extremely old, and was almost certainly already on Scintilla when the Imperium conquered the Calixis Sector. It is probably a pre-Imperial artefact, constructed by a civilisation that fell before the foundation of the Imperium, though some claim it is a relic of pre-Horus Heresy terraforming technologies. Certainly the skeletal ruins of moving constructs similar to Ambulon dot the central steppes. Ambulon’s unusual form affects every aspect of life in the city, from the industries that employ its middle-class citizens to the city’s customs and folklore.

Control of Ambulon

Ambulon is navigated via a huge and very complicated control centre, powered by arcane engines of incredibly occult design, in the area corresponding to its head. The Guild Peripatetica, highly superstitious engineers who keep the secrets of how to control the citadel-mechanicus, are constantly scrambling about the intricate controls making tiny adjustments to keep the edifice moving. Many tales of hive folklore dwell on the terrible consequences should Ambulon ever stop, varying from the city simply collapsing, to the machines becoming self-aware and devouring the humans clinging to its back. The noble houses quarrel constantly over what orders to give to the guild, but they are also well-aware that they should not bully or otherwise cross the Guild Peripatetica lest the engineers point them towards a crevasse or other dangerous obstacle and hold the citadel to ransom. The path that the machine takes is crucial to harvesting the deposits of oil, natural gas and precious stones that form Ambulon’s contribution to Scintilla’s Imperial tithe, and everyone has an opinion about where it should go next. Ambulon stalks the wastelands of Scintilla, mining and harvesting the planet’s natural resources, supplying the manufactoria of Hive Sibellus and the foundries of Gunmetal City. Neither could function without Ambulon’s natural resources. Ambulon tours the steppe wastes once every twenty-eight standard months, slowing to minute speeds in order to dock with Sibellus and Gunmetal City for a few days to offload ore and mineral resources. Between these celebrated ceremonial times of docking, Ambulon supplies Sibellus and Gunmetal City by way of regular land trains: ore-cargo crawler pods many kilometres long.

Life in Ambulon

Ambulon’s constant movement means that even the most solid buildings are in danger of being shaken off the city’s structure. This in turn means that the city’s wealthiest and most important districts are located in the places where they are least likely to be destroyed, especially along the citymachine’s Spine. The Spine’s buildings are rarely as big as on hive spires, since space is at such a premium on Ambulon’s carapace, nor are they as tall, as they have to endure the constant swaying of the city-machine’s slow, rolling gait. The style of the Spine sees elegance and even minimalism preferred to the grotesquely grandiose ornamentation common in the great hives. The nobles of Hive Sibellus, in particular, consider Ambulon to be a cultural backwater, whose nobles neglect the proper pursuits of beautifying their city and venerating their dead.

Ambulon’s equivalent of the middle hivers are the hundreds of thousands of workers who inhabit tenement blocks piled up on the vast, shield-shaped back of the city-machine. These tenements are plagued by cityquakes caused by the city’s movement, and are all shored up and extensively repaired after past collapses. Few streets run between Ambulon’s buildings since there is not enough space for them, so the middle classes tramp to work across the roofs of the tenements, or even through each others’ homes. Almost all the middle classers are engaged in harvesting or refining the raw materials that Ambulon gathers from the igneous wastes. The “head” of the city is equipped with immense drills that can be lowered into the rock, and when the city strikes oil, thousands of flexible pipelines are lowered from the edge of the city to pipe up as much of the oil as possible as the city-machine passes by. Working on these pipelines, which are controlled by webs of chains like the strings of vast puppets, is very dangerous and requires a hardy breed of men and women with no fear of heights. Ambulon’s many refineries process this oil into Promethium fuel, some of which is piped back into the citymachine, while most forms the majority of the city’s tithe contribution, to be delivered to Hive Sibellus and Gunmetal City. Other citizens sift through the rock thrown up by the drilling to pick out precious stones, which are then worked into industrial components, or cut for jewellery in workshops inhabited by generations of gemcutters (considered a hereditary occupation on Ambulon). Ambulon’s lack of space means that every citizen must justify his presence there and unemployment is illegal. Each household in the middle city is tied to a particular refinery, workshop or other industry, and its members may not work anywhere else. It is vitally important for every middle citizen to be properly recorded in the Rolls of Justification which each place of industry maintains, because if they cannot prove to the authorities of the Spine that they are permitted to fulfil the role in which they work, they are banished to the Underbelly.

Ambulon’s “underhive” clings precariously to the belly of the city-machine. It is known by a variety of colourful names such as the Underbelly, the Guts, the Vitals or the Hivegroin. Clusters of hovels blister down from the city-machine like warts, connected by makeshift catwalks and rope bridges. Many thousands of people live only a footstep away from plummeting to their deaths towards the rocky ground that constantly grinds by hundreds of metres below. Underbelly settlements are often scraped off the city-machine’s underside by ridges or peaks that the city-machine walks over, or are simply shaken off by the city’s movement. Life is short and very difficult here, and the Gutscum live off the detritus of the carapace above, constructing scoops to catch the effluent and waste thrown off the edge of the city, or they form bandit gangs to prey on the citizens who work near the edge of the city-machine’s back. One prominent feature of the Underbelly is the cages hung from the edge of the city above containing prisoners condemned to the much-feared punishment of “dangling”. The prisoners are locked in a cage attached to a long chain, which is then flung off the edge of the city-machine and left to dangle, swaying with the city’s movement, until the prisoner starves and the cage is hauled back up. Hundreds of dangled prisoners hang from the city at any one time, and the Gutscum sometimes use them as target practice or, on very rare occasions, “rescue” them to induct them into Underbelly gangs, enslave them or pit them against one another in bloody gladiatorial fights. Ambulon folklore maintains that some dangled prisoners have survived for months hanging below the city, thanks to divine intervention from the Emperor, and were released when the cage was brought back up again to live saintly lives. In practical terms, however, dangling is a cruel, drawn-out death sentence.

Gunmetal City

Gunmetal City is a huge industrial mass, built into the crater of an immense volcano, Mount Thollos, that rises from the smouldering lava fields of the northern coast. A mere megapolis compared to the planet’s two great hive cities, Gunmetal City’s spires tower high above the volcano’s peak, while its lowest districts delve right down into Scintilla’s crust.

Metallican Society

Gunmetal City is a place of soaring steel, with towers like great, tarnished silver needles piercing the sky. The volcano’s crater limits the size of the city’s foundation, so nobles have built upwards, the most prestigious locations being perched precariously on slender columns of steel hundreds of metres high. The city is frequently bathed in smoke from the foundries of the middle city below and the houses employ small armies of menials whose job is to scour the surfaces of the skybound mansions until they gleam. Clean air is a valued commodity, with every mansion having powerful air filtration systems to cut out the smoke, while the most ostentatious hosts pipe air imported from cleaner worlds into their magnificent homes.

The middle level of the city is dominated by immense foundries powered by the geothermal heat from the heart of Mount Thollos. Almost all of Gunmetal City’s middle classers work in these foundries over cauldrons of molten metal or blazing furnaces the size of tenement blocks. Gunmetal City’s main export is munitions, and endless crates of weapons emerge from its foundries, forming an important part of Scintilla’s tithe to the Imperium as well as arming many of the Calixis Sector’s own Planetary Defence Force troops. The foundries are sweltering, filthy places where accidents are common and even a fortunate worker’s life is shortened by decades thanks to the choking air and cruel environment. The middle classers’ homes are clustered around the foundries and often fashioned from cargo containers. People are an afterthought in Gunmetal City. The foundries and the weapons they produce form the real purpose behind the place.

The Infernis is a region formed by the lowest levels of factories that have collapsed or become uninhabitable. This far down, the city is unbearably hot and prone to floods of lava or toxic gas from Mount Thollos’s occasional lurches out of dormancy. The gangs of the Infernis are the toughest and best-armed on Scintilla and almost no one else lives there save hard-bitten killers toting weapons extorted from the middle hivers. There is nothing to live for in the Infernis save superiority over enemy gangs, and so gang warfare is literally a way of life.

The Lawless City

In truth, Gunmetal City is an upstart. Younger and far, far smaller than the dominant hive cities on Scintilla, Gunmetal is a feral community that thrives simply because of what it produces. Hives Sibellus and Tarsus tolerate it because of its export materials. It is a jumped-up, uncivilised boomtown in the Wilderness, a city that got too big for itself. One day, in a thousand years’ time, it might become powerful enough to challenge for the dominance of Scintilla. For now, it is a four-billion-strong foundry station where law is slack and noble houses fight, literally, for ownership of lucrative mercantile output. Of all the main population centres on Scintilla, Gunmetal City is the most dangerous and lawless.

The gun is everywhere in Gunmetal City, from the weapons churned out by its foundries, to the symbols of the city’s noble houses and the guns carried by almost every citizen. Gunfighting is a leisure activity, with designated areas throughout the city set aside for shoot-outs. Duels in Gunmetal are fought with pistols, and a great many people, especially from the middle hives where life is quite short anyway, seek out brief but glorious careers as gunfighters. Shots ring around the foundries of the middle city incessantly and the nobles often hire prestigious gunslingers to battle in elaborate arenas while the audience watches from behind bulletproof screens. Some of the best gunslingers come from Infernis, and it is little wonder that the gangers adore their guns so much when expertise in their use brings such wealth and status.

Guns of Gunmetal City

Gunslingers

A Gunslinger of Gunmetal City

A few of the guns produced by Gunmetal City are famous, either through their iconic nature or exceptional performance. These guns are status symbols, especially for the Infernis gangers, and are carried by officers of the Scintillan army as side arms. The Thollos Service Autopistol, or the “Tholl ”, is an Autopistol that sacrifices ammunition capacity for stopping power and is much coveted by Magistratum officers in particular. The Scalptaker on the other hand, is a very solidly built and extremely uncomplicated ballistic slug pistol designed for use by just about anyone. It is such a common weapon that any self-respecting ganger will try to upgrade his Scalptaker, even though it is a very easily maintained weapon designed to survive the rigours of the Infernis. The Fykos Forge Nomad Hunting Instrument is one of the most precise and well-calibrated weapons produced in Gunmetal City, and is the rifle of choice for hunters who stalk big game in Scintilla’s wastelands. Procuring a “Nomad” costs an enormous amount of money and involves a five-year waiting list. Finally, the Blackhammer Defence Shotgun is a brutal, massive-bore shotgun that can blast holes in doors and shred opponents. Its limited range and single-shot capacity do little to diminish its value as a weapon of intimidation in the hands of hardened criminals and enforcers.

The Wilderness

The hive inhabitants refer to the areas outside the great hives as “the Wilderness”. This is something of a misnomer, as there are a great many settlements outside the hives, but certainly none of them can compare to the importance of the great hive cities themselves. Scintilla’s natural resources have either been drained long ago or are monopolised by the great hives and Ambulon, so many people exist as nomads. Those permanent settlements that do exist are often founded by mercenaries, who lived by selling their services to the land trains that crisscross the planet. The mercenaries, easily recognisable by the white bands painted or tattooed across their faces, are essential to providing security against the more predatory nomad tribes. Land trains consist of dozens of huge tracked vehicles that crawl in from hive to hive transporting goods and passengers. Some land trains even cross Scintilla’s oceans, loading their vehicles onto great barges for risky journeys across polluted waters with their fair share of predators and pirates.

With resources in short supply away from the hives, settlements can grow up and die out rapidly. Few survive for more than a generation and the Wilderness is studded with ghost towns. In some places, on the very fringes of Scintilla’s habitable lands, small communities continue to exist as they have done for centuries far from the shadow of the great hives. These people have often been in the same place for centuries. Isolated and ignored by Scintilla’s authorities, they live in ignorance that the hives exist at all, much less that they live in a galactic empire ruled from distant Terra. Scholars of the Magnopticon sometimes send expeditions out to search for such benighted peoples, in the hope that studying them will reveal some secrets about the pre-Imperial history of Scintilla.

The most extraordinary feature of the Wilderness is the ruin of Hive Tenebra. This necropolis was once the heart of Scintilla’s high culture and arts, built around a circle of stepped pyramids rising like enormous altars from the steaming jungles of Scintilla’s equator. The hive city is now a titanic mass of wreckage gradually being reclaimed by the voracious jungle. The disaster that claimed Hive Tenebra along with millions of lives happened over eight standard centuries ago, and is thought by most to have been caused by a collapse of the geothermal heatsinks that provided it with power. There is no shortage of conspiracy theories about what “really” happened to the hive, however, ranging from ill-advised summonings of Warp creatures to a deliberate act of sabotage by agents of the Imperium. Tales about its destruction are outnumbered only by stories about what might lurk in the ruins now: ravenous monsters, renegade nobles and hordes of hideous mutants ruled by a mighty deformed overlord. No one ventures close to Hive Tenebra with any regularity, and when they do they rarely penetrate into the collapsed interior of the hive where the foulest horrors are said to lurk.

Iocanthos

Iocanthos is a lawless Imperial Agri-World in the Calixis Sector's Golgenna Reach Sub-sector in the Segmentum Obscurus. Iocanthos is dominated by warlords and their huge armies, which clash across its jungles, forests and plains. The planet’s importance in the Calixis Sector is defined by the fact that it is one of the few places in the Imperium where the Ghostfire flower can grow. Ghostfire pollen can be refined into the combat drugs used extensively in the Penal Legions of the Imperial Guard.

Iocanthos’ warlords (usually styling themselves “vai” or tribal prince) battle constantly for control of the Ghostfire harvest. The Ghostfire crop cannot be cultivated normally and so once a patch of it is harvested another one must be found. The warlords’ armies are therefore constantly on the move, travelling in enormous hordes across Iocanthos’ main continent and clashing violently wherever they meet. Iocanthos’ wide plains, dense, dark forests and forbidding mountain passes are studded with old battlefields where burned-out vehicles and age-bleached skeletons abound.

Every five years, a taskforce of Administratum officials descends onto Iocanthus to gather the planet’s Ghostfire tithe. The warlords exchange their harvests of Ghostfire pollen with the Administratum in exchange for weapons, vehicles, fuel, clean water and other essentials. The warlord who hands over the most Ghostfire pollen is considered the Planetary Governor and claims the lion’s share of support from the Imperium and the title Vervai (literally "prince of princes" or "king"). The title brings with it immense prestige and confirms the warlord’s position as the most dangerous and skilled on Iocanthos. The current Planetary Governor is "King" Skull, a terrifying warrior at the head of an enormous and supposedly invincible army of madmen and killers. The warlords of Iocanthus are also required to hand over their psykers as well as the Ghostfire harvest, but these are taken from them not by the Administratum but by nameless grey-uniformed men who herd the psykers onto their sleek Black Ship and take their leave.

The Administratum fully accepts the situation on Iocanthos. The Ghostfire pollen is harvested very efficiently because so many warlords’ armies battle to find every last blossom. Were the Administratum to take over Iocanthus themselves the planet would first have to be conquered by the Imperial Guard at enormous expense and the Administratum themselves would be hard-pressed to match the vigour with which Iocanthos’ warlords hunt down every Ghostfire flower. They therefore leave the warlords to do the hard work, safe in the knowledge that none of them can rebel against Imperial authority lest their supplies of guns and fuel be cut off.

Port Suffering

Port Suffering, the largest permanent settlement on Iocanthos, is a sturdy fortified town that serves as the base for Imperial operations on Iocanthos. The town’s largest and most important feature is its spaceport, an expanse of rockcrete broken by docking clamps and refuelling ports that can accommodate the landing craft that deliver supplies and pick up Ghostfire shipments. Equally important for the people living in Port Suffering are the huge freshwater tanks beneath the town. Freshwater is very valuable on Iocanthos, and Port Suffering not only has its own supply brought down on Imperial ships, but can trade its surplus water to the warlords (mainly for guarantees that the warlords will not attack the town). Port Suffering’s architecture is based around a standard hab-block pattern since most of its buildings, from the chapel to the accommodation blocks, were dropped from spaceships directly to the surface when the town was first founded as an Imperial trading post. Its dry, dusty streets and prefabricated rust-red buildings are home to a community mostly geared towards maintaining the spaceport and ensuring that the port remains self-sufficient.

The town’s population is broadly Emperor-fearing and law-abiding, and they attend the town’s chapel and send their children to the seminary school run by Preacher Goudt. The largest building in Port Suffering is the Administratum counting-house where the town’s small body of adepts calculates the projected Ghostfire crop and receives envoys from the various warlords. The under-consul in charge of the counting-house, Adept Sabetha Kosloff, serves as the de facto mayor of Port Suffering, sometimes against her will as she is not very good at dealing with townsfolk and would rather stick to ensuring that the Emperor’s forms are correctly filed. Other important citizens include the sharp-tongued but compassionate Sister Xanthe, the Sister Hospitaller who runs Port Suffering’s hospital along with a small staff of inexperienced laymen. Unkind rumours suggest that Sister Xanthe was given her thankless post as a punishment by her Canoness at the Abbey of the Dawn.

Port Suffering’s walls are always manned by the citizens who serve in the Port Militia. The town’s greatest protection, however, is the fact that it is considered neutral by most of Iocanthos’ warlords. If Port Suffering was to be attacked, the more powerful warlords would lose their supply of weapons, freshwater and fuel from the Imperium and what little structure that exists on Iocanthos would fall apart. Some lesser warlords eye the support received by the more powerful with jealousy, however, and endlessly plan to launch devastating raids on Port Suffering. Should this ever happen, the stoutness of the town’s defences and the dedication of its well-armed but inexperienced militia will be sorely tested.

Levies of King Skull the Magnificient

King Skull, as Vervai, is the most powerful man on Iocanthos and styles himself on the legendary warrior-kings from the planet’s history. In truth, the great ages of martial kingship are long past, with the old traditions have been bastardised into the modern, ruthless business of controlling the Ghostfire commerce.

Nevertheless, King Skull’s army is many millions strong and dominates huge swathes of Iocanthos’s main continent at any one time. Skull himself is a tall, saturnine man clad in elaborate black steel armour, wielding a huge spear with a head cut from the flint of Iocanthos’s highest peak. “Skull” is clearly a deliberately assumed name -- the Vervai’s tribal banner is a bleached human skull -- though there is little clue as to his real name, as his origins are very obscure and are the subject of considerable speculation. Some say he is a deposed Imperial noble who fled to Iocanthos to avoid some scandal or tragedy, others that he is a dangerous fugitive criminal who found his true calling among the warlords and madmen. Most rumours centre around his supposed capabilities in battle. Skull is undoubtedly a tenacious warrior, but tales whispered in Iocanthos’ frontier towns hint at far more, such as allegations that he drinks blood to gain strength from his enemies, or is a powerful witch who can summon mighty storms of black lightning down on his foes. Skull’s rule is based on the immense loyalty the core of his army feels towards him. Warriors must first prove themselves in battle before they are ever armed with the weapons and equipment that Skull acquires from the Imperium in return for the Ghostfire harvest. As they demonstrate prowess in battle, they are further armed and drawn towards the core of battle-hardened, well-equipped veterans of the Harrowguard who surround Skull himself. Skull leads these warriors into battle personally, and the sight of his black-armoured form is enough to demoralise those unfortunate enough to meet the Harrowguard in battle.

Life in the Horde

King Skull’s army welcomes all as long as they are willing to fight their first battles armed with little more than sticks and stones. Skull deploys huge numbers of new, expendable troops to swamp the enemy while the elite Harrowguard function as shock troops. Skull’s army in battle is a terrible thing to witness, with swarms of madmen hurling themselves upon the enemy while the better-armed sections of the army fire volleys of Lasgun shots into the shocked enemy or charge alongside the Vervai himself.

Skull’s army travels on a number of huge, smoke-belching vehicles. The Throne is Skull’s personal transport, which was once a huge-tracked mining vehicle, refitted to function as a mobile throne room and prison for captured enemies. This sootstained monstrosity is festooned with captured banners and other trophies, and Skull himself sits on a throne platform suspended over hundreds of cages where his prisoners languish. Skull sells these prisoners back to their families or comrades in exchange for Ghostfire pollen or offers them a place in the ill-armed hordes of his army. Those who are good for neither Ghostfire nor fighting are left to rot, their sobs and screams accompanying the Vervai everywhere he goes. Another mobile landmark is the Sanctum, a tower supported by a raft of lashed-together Chimera vehicles. It is home to Gurgerin, the Vervai’s advisor and, it is widely assumed, a sorcerer whose divinations are essential to Skull’s plans. The Sanctum is a stone tower pulled from some long-forgotten mountain ruin, said to be full of bewildering and grotesque experiments (or captive aliens, shambling Warp monstrosities or a cabal of the Calixis Sector’s rich and powerful, depending on which stories you believe). Gurgerin, a man of extremely advanced age with tiny glinting eyes like specks of flint, can sometimes be seen on the Sanctum’s uppermost battlements watching the vast throng of the army marching beneath him. Several other massive vehicles, used either to house the Harrowguard or to transport the precious Ghostfire crop, travel alongside the army, often hung with trophies or the weathered corpses of particularly hated enemies.

Seth the Voice

One of the largest and newest armies of Iocanthos is that led by Seth the Voice, self-styled Prophet of the Emperor and figurehead of an apocalyptic splinter cult of the Imperial Creed. Vai (“prince”) Seth is almost certainly an ex-Adept, probably from Port Suffering’s Administratum contingent, who became convinced that the God-Emperor was granting him visions that demanded he immediately take over Iocanthos. Since then, through force of personality and by tapping into Iocanthos’ need for religion and redemption, Seth has forged a ragtag but huge army with which he is challenging the most powerful rival warlords, especially that of the great Vervai.

Vai Seth himself is a slight, balding, bespectacled figure in white robes. He travels in a battered old scout vehicle converted into a mobile pulpit from which he can preach. And preach he does, almost constantly, his voice transmitted by bulky Vox-units carried by his devout followers. The passion with which Seth exhorts the people of Iocanthos to claim the planet for their Emperor is genuine and convincing.

Everywhere he goes he gathers more souls for his army, be they drifters looking for a purpose or hard-bitten mercenaries searching for a way to redeem themselves of their many sins. Seth is not a soldier, but he has a gift for getting others to fight for him that is so profound that it might as well have been granted by the Emperor Himself.

The Army of the Voice

Vai Seth’s army is ill-equipped, undertrained and frequently starving. It is, however, uniquely motivated, for all its members believe that fighting for Seth will grant them a far better afterlife than is awaiting all the galaxy’s other sinners. The Army of the Voice, uniquely, has no problem getting new members to replace its frequent losses, as even defeated enemies are sometimes swayed to join by Seth’s impassioned preaching. The army travels on many hundreds of vehicles, most of them looted from enemies or donated by recruits, and as a result it is constantly in the throes of a critical fuel shortage. Capturing more fuel is essential to the army’s continued existence.

The men and women of the army are as varied as the sins they are trying to cleanse, but they all wear white robes, or at least they did when they joined up, for the constant travel and fighting means that most of them are actually dressed in dirty greys. Some are armed with Lasguns and other reliable weapons, but most have the hunting rifles or Stub Pistols they were armed with when recruited. The most experienced fighters, normally ex-mercenaries or recruits from other warlords’ armies, are referred to as Seth’s “Saints” and are the focal points of the army, instructing the enthusiastic, but often clueless, faithful in the best ways to avoid dying too quickly. In spite of the army’s inexperience it is a formidable military force. As well as having the numbers and the determination, the effect of Seth’s own presence seems to demoralise enemy troops and even cause them to flee or mutiny. Mercenaries in particular are a superstitious lot, and even an experienced killer can baulk at the idea of killing a man who so convincingly claims to be a holy man ordained by the Emperor’s will.

Abbey of the Dawn

The Abbey of the Dawn is the Adepta Sororitas' main training facility in the Calixis Sector. A spectacular fortress of pale yellow ouslite built into the knife-like slopes of a dark flint mountain, the abbey is the most secure place on Iocanthos. Its location means that, while it is close to the astrocartographic heartland of the Calixis Sector, its immediate surroundings are bleak and rugged, and the abbey’s Sisters are cut off from the corruptive influences of the outside world.

The abbey’s purpose is to train initiates into fully-fledged Sisters, who then go on to perform devotional works across the Calixis Sector and beyond. The abbey is run by Canoness Goneril, who leads the Lesser Order Famulous of the Opening Eye. The Opening Eye’s purpose is to offer counsel to the Calixis Sector’s powerful noble families. Most novices at the abbey are trainees of the Opening Eye and are schooled in a variety of subjects from Imperial history to theology and sector economics. Most importantly they are trained in the strength of mind to resist the secular temptations that are a constant threat to the Sisters Famulous. A Sister Famulous must be disciplined and incorruptible as she is sent out to fend mostly for herself, and is surrounded by the sometimes morally questionable nobles to whose house she is attached. Canoness Goneril has her Novices undergo a strict regime of fasting, prayer, lectures and theological study. She stops short of outright cruelty, but life is far from easy for a Novice of the Opening Eye. Goneril’s Mistress of Novices, the formidable Sister Gert, is a physically intimidating reminder of a Sister’s duty to obey her order at all times.

The Abbey of the Dawn is also home to a Mission of Sisters of Battle from the Order of the Ebon Chalice, who are led by Palatine Rhiannon. The Ebon Chalice is based on Terra, and the Battle-Sisters at the abbey, even if they have only glimpsed the spires of the Imperium’s holiest world, are regarded with something like religious awe by the Novices. Their duties include maintaining the Sororitas honour guard at the Cathedral of Illumination on Scintilla and guarding important Ecclesiarchy Adepts who visit the Calixis Sector. Both Canoness Goneril and Palatine Rhiannon are adherents to the long-standing agreement between the Adepta Sororitas and the Ordo Hereticus, and would willingly lend the Battle Sisters’ martial prowess to an Inquisitorial operation should it be needed. Lord Inquisitor Anton Zerbe of the Calixian Conclave does not take this agreement lightly and will not permit the Sisters of the Ebon Chalice to be sent to battle by an Inquisitor unless it is absolutely necessary. Though they number only around fifty, Rhiannon’s Sisters of the Ebon Chalice are the most elite and dedicated mortal troops in the Calixis Sector.

Badlands

This is the rugged interior of Iocanthos, bounded to the south by dense forests and the sea, and to the north by the jagged flint mountains. The Badlands are an endless sweep of plains, scrub and steppe where most of the Ghostfire crops can be found and where the warlords clash. It is dotted with battlefields, some of them no more than a tangle of recently slain bodies and others titanic fields of bones and burned-out wrecks. A fortunate and hardy individual can make a good living scavenging these battlefields to find valuables and weapons to sell. Iocanthos’s folklore is full of the tales of the sticky ends experienced by such scavengers, from dread curses to old-fashioned walking dead, and most normal folk stay away from these battlefields.

Sepheris Secundus

Sepheris Secundus is a Mining World located in the Golgenna Reach Sub-sector of the Calixis Sector in the Segmentum Obscurus. Sepheris Secundus is a world of immense mineral wealth, city-sized mines, billions-strong hordes of serfs and the sharpest divide between the elites and the masses in the Calixis Sector. It is a grim place of snow and twilight, feral mutants and lives spent in back-breaking labour deep beneath the ground. The Imperium’s eagerness to exploit Sepheris Secundus’ vast resources is such that the planet is at the same time the richest and poorest world in the sector.

Sepheris Secundus' climate is cold and stormy, its surface obscured by a mantle of cloud. It has no oceans save for the small polar seas, so the moisture in its atmosphere comes from below the crust, spewed out from failed mine workings or natural geysers that pockmark the planet like pustules. Its surface is split between the vast open mines like deep scars in the crust and the dense, snow-laden forests broken only by the ruins of failed kingdoms that tried to claim Sepheris Secundus in the past. With its endless blizzards, widespread ignorance and antiquated methods for doing everything, Sepheris Secundus would be a meaningless backwater were it not for the enormous mineral wealth beneath its surface.

Suffering Kingdom

While the whole Imperium is a feudal empire, feudalism is taken to an extreme on Sepheris Secundus. Everyone born on the planet must have a master to whom they pay nine-tenths of their income. The second force beyond poverty that keeps the population of the world repressed is physical violence. One of the reasons that Sepheris Secundus’ culture is so primitive by many standards is that weaponry and other technology is monopolised by the Crown. The queen’s Royal Scourges are equipped with Lasguns, grenades and Chainswords, contrasting with their gaudy, stained-glass-like armour. Though few in number, the technological advantage that these troops possess has been enough to put down a great many uprisings in the mines of Sepheris Secundus, and the planet’s history is littered with massacres where thousands of serfs fell to volleys of Lasgun fire. The barons each have their own forces, some of which are permitted to use a few high-tech weapons, although most of them are armed with primitive but well-made weapons and armour with which to enforce the baronial will. Meanwhile, when the serfs rise up, they do so with improvised weapons and mining equipment. The serfs, even when roused to violence in significant numbers, have never held one of Sepheris Secundus’ mines for very long because of the massive superiority in equipment and training possessed by the forces of their masters. When the baronial armies fail, the Royal Scourges do not. The Royal Scourges, the world's Planetary Defence Force, answer directly to the queen, which also makes them ideal for keeping the barons themselves in line. Many an overambitious baron has refused to send the queen her rightful tribute, only to find his supposedly elite army cut to pieces by the Royal Scourges.

Order upon Sepheris Secundus is enforced by the troops of the various barons. While Sepheris Secundus has some generally observed laws -- a serf who strikes his master will usually be put to death, for example -- each baron enforces his own laws in his own way, and some do not bother at all as long as there is no open rebellion. Other barons, by contrast, have troops patrolling the upper mines ensuring that no one wears the wrong colour on the wrong day, spits in the street or fails to use the traditional forms of address. In Icenholm, the capital city, the Royal Scourges enforce order and are also sent to restore obedience where it has broken down.

The Queen of Sepheris Secundus and Planetary Governor, Lachryma III, is an elderly woman who has successfully led Sepheris Secundus through numerous revolts, baronial uprisings and increasingly spectacular tithe demands from the Administratum. Now, however, she is getting old. Though her mind is still sound, her body is infirm and, some of the more ambitious barons say, she is losing the ruthlessness and willpower that once served her so well. Queen Lachryma’s aged, underweight form is swamped by her royal regalia, with its voluminous gown made from thousands of panes of stained glass and its crown of white gold. Her voice is thin and shaky, and she no longer has the presence that once acted as an anchor for the repressive feudal system of Sepheris Secundus. In her later years, the queen has sunk into the throes of a personal crisis. She wonders why her serfs have to live such grim lives of toil and whether there is another way that Sepheris Secundus could be ruled. She has ordered her barons to investigate what actually goes on in the depths of the planet’s mines, but her barons have resisted this and a few of them have sensed weakness and doubt in their queen. Though she would never admit it to anyone, Queen Lachryma III is afraid of how she will be remembered, and knows that she is running out of time before she can get to the root causes of Sepheris Secundus’ misery.

Icenholm

Suffering Kingdom

The capital city of Sepheris Secundus, Icenholm

Sepheris Secundus' capital is Icenholm, a wondrous city built into the mountain crags that loom over the vast smoking pit of the Gorgonid Mine. Icenholm’s glass spires encrust the mountain peak like a crown, bathed in an otherworldly light. This light is actually concentrated on Icenholm by a series of enormous reflecting mirrors positioned around the peaks overlooking the Gorgonid Mine, an expensive and complicated process that makes it look as if the light of some distant heaven is shining directly onto the capital.

The main body of the city is suspended between three vast peaks on thousands of thick cables and chains, like a glittering jewel upon a complex necklace. The origins of this unusual structure are not recorded anywhere, but a common theory is that it was built around the core of an enormous warship that docked there during the Angevin Crusade and never left, the hive city growing up around it like a pearl around a speck of grit. Many buildings dangle from the city’s mass, reaching down hundreds of metres towards the floor of the valley below the city like strands of hanging moss.

Icenholm is constructed of stained glass that shines in a dazzling array of colours in the sunlight. Its spires house some of the most senior barons along with members of the Sepheran royal family. The majority of Icenholm’s population is made up of hereditary servants, pledged to either the queen or one of her barons. They form small armies of clerks who ensure that the planet’s barons are offering up the correct tithes to their queen, and attend to other matters of governance such as the regulation of heraldry. These servants have their own hierarchies, with the queen’s own servants very much in charge. They wear the liveries of their masters, which in the case of the queen’s servants is red (red is a colour reserved for royal use on Sepheris Secundus -- anyone else wearing it is likely to be arrested by baronial troops). Icenholm’s gates do not open to just anyone, so while Imperial Adepts and barons will be received into Icenholm, anyone else will have to sweet-talk the hereditary family of gate servants who are difficult to impress.

The peak of Icenholm is taken up by the palace, which consists of the various chambers of state along with Queen Lachryma’s own quarters. The throne room is spectacular indeed, set beneath a soaring spire of stained glass depicting the glories of Sepheris Secundus’ past monarchs. The throne itself is of ice kept permanently frozen, and the voluminous royal robes which the queen wears are partly to keep her from being frozen herself. The queen’s chambers are lavishly appointed, with three separate bedrooms alone: one for sleeping, one for promulgating the royal line (not used since the Prince Consort passed away twenty years ago) and one for receiving morning visitors.

Gorgonid Mine

SepherisSecundusMines

The forces of the Inquisition deal with heresy in the mines of the Gorgonid on Sepheris Secundus

The Gorgonid is one of Sepheris Secundus’s largest and most productive mines. Though it is within sight of Icenholm and the royal palace, the structure and society of the mine itself is typical of many across Sepheris Secundus’s surface. The exact population of the Gorgonid is impossible to calculate, but it is vast, consisting of enormous hordes of serfs, most of whom never see the world outside the mine. The Gorgonid is a vast open mine hundreds of metres deep. Rickety scaffolding reaches down into its lower depths, and countless pulleys and cranes lift containers of ore to the edge of the enormous mine pit, where it accumulates in mountainous heaps waiting for cargo ships to transport it off the surface. From the edge of the mine pit can be glimpsed the heaped-up wooden tenements known as the Commons, while cart tracks and well-worn paths lead below the edge of the pit towards the mining areas deep below the ground. Only the central part of the Gorgonid is open to the air. All the mining faces and many homes are below the surface, existing in eternal darkness.

Most inhabitants of the Gorgonid live in the Commons. This is the collective term for the areas of built-up wooden housing where the serfs live. In theory, all of this is owned by the Gorgonid’s barons, who allow the serfs to live there in return for nine-tenths of everything the serfs mine. In practice serfs simply live where they can, often cramming large families into a single candle-lit room. The Commons are teeming, but it is not a boisterous, lively place. The serfs go everywhere with their heads bowed, trudging to and from the mine faces, snatching a few moments of rest in the squalor of the Commons. Besides work, sleep and sermons by the lay clergy who represent the Imperial Creed in the Gorgonid, there is very little levity in a serf ’s life.

The barons of the Gorgonid live in the Commons, tradition demanding that they live in fastness keeps and small castles. The serfs are expected to show deference to all barons, particularly the one who owns their labour, at all times. A baron travelling through the streets can expect to have serfs present him with small handcrafted trinkets or other gifts. He will then burn these outside the gates of his tower to symbolise the relationship between serf and master. Most barons have large entourages of troops and other servants to ensure that the serfs do not get too close. These include the distinctive Stench Wardens, servants who carry censers of scented water to help fend off the “Commons stink” when a baron must endure walking the poverty-stricken streets.

The Face is the term for those areas where there is ore to be mined, and it is here that most of the Gorgonid’s work is done. The Face consists of thousands of kilometres of open rock face stretching deep beneath the ground, from massive cliff faces covered in precarious scaffolding to narrow, stifling tunnels too low for a man to stand upright. Every serf has the right to mine a particular section of open mine, and the Face is covered in markers driven into the rock to state which serf is permitted to work that spot. In times past, the serfs had to chain themselves, or one of their children, to the marker to ensure that the claim was respected. Nowadays, however, a smear of the serf ’s blood is enough to demonstrate that the serf is currently working the spot. Serfs must frequently draw blood to renew this mark, hence the process is known as “staking” a claim. The means by which the serfs mine is very primitive. Most use tools handed down by their forefathers, and fortunate is the serf who earns enough from his minuscule portion of the rock’s bounty to buy a brand new set of tools. Each morning countless thousands of serfs trudge to the Face from the Commons and every evening they trudge back again, pausing only to pay deference to the barons who tour the Face to ensure that the slothful are punished. When the explosives engineers of the Disassemblers’ Guild blast a new area of the Face, a stampede occurs as thousands of serfs rush to stake their new claims. These occasions can be dangerous, as many are trampled or killed in fights over the best claims, but this is accepted as the price for making sure the fittest, most determined serfs mine the most productive seams.

The Shatters is the term given to the deepest, darkest, most dangerous parts of the Gorgonid, which even the barons recognise are too dangerous for serfs to work. Caverns filled with deadly gas, flooded, partially collapsed or simply lethally hot or radioactive can be found in the Shatters. No claim may be staked in the Shatters and ore mined there is not owned by anyone. The Shatters are home to the very lowest of the Gorgonid’s low, comprising two main groups. The first consists of the dispossessed: those who have no master, either having been born outside a marriage sanctioned by the barons or condemned to lose even a serf’s meagre rights after being convicted of a crime. These hapless individuals invariably die very quickly in the Shatters. Those who survive to illicitly sell a few handfuls of ore fare well compared to most.

The second group consists of mutants. Mutants are common in the Gorgonid, as on the rest of Sepheris Secundus, perhaps due to the massive amounts of dangerous metals and chemicals that find their way into the dubious water supply. In any case, mutants gravitate towards the Shatters, which is the only place where they can survive in any numbers without being hunted down by baronial troops or burned by torch-wielding serfs. Some mutants are well adapted to the hostile conditions, and a few even thrive in the Shatters. Mutants have their own crude society where seniority is based on brute strength and the degree of mutation. The mutant barons and kings, it is said, are inhuman monsters from the depths of a nightmare, hellish abominations that range from enormous tentacled horrors to three-eyed seers who can read thoughts. The more criminally minded serfs buy the ore mined by the outcasts and mutants in exchange for food and other essentials, and a major part of Sepheris Secundus’ economy is made up by the labour of the mutant underclass. It is even possible that more ore comes out of the Shatters than out of the exhausted seams of the Face.

The Tumble is the only area outside the Gorgonid that most of its serfs ever see. It is a wasteland on the surface above the mine, dominated by titanic heaps of rock spoil and other trash. In this polluted twilight, thickly carpeted with toxins, shady deals are made that take place outside the mine’s proper feudal economy. These range from serfs selling off their surplus, to organised criminals selling their services as killers or smugglers. The mutants of the Shatters have a tunnel that links to somewhere in the Tumble, and on the darkest nights, shambling, hideous creatures emerge from the poison smog to take their cut. Barons and off-worlders are sometimes known to frequent the Tumble, every one of them eager to hide their identities.

Cults and Malcontents

The Gorgonid’s large, oppressed population has led to the formation of groups of criminals and other malcontents. The baronial troops eagerly hunt down criminals and execute them on the street corners of the Commons. Other groups are cults and secret societies lurking in the Gorgonid’s dark places. The Loathers, for example, is a group that has forsaken all happiness and hope, and sells its services as assassins and destroyers of lives to spread the misery that has afflicted them. Some whisper that cutting off a finger and nailing it to a signpost in the Commons will bring the Loathers to your doorstep when you least expect it, and that you can then bargain with them to destroy someone you despise.

The Orphans’ Crusade, on the other hand, searches discreetly for those with unusual abilities, reading minds or precognition for example, and spirits them away before they are handed over to the baronial troops by fearful relatives. No one knows what the Crusade needs these gifted individuals for, but the fate that awaits them can surely be no more sinister than being dragged away by the baronial troops, never to be seen again. The greyhooded agents of the Orphan’s Crusade can sometimes be glimpsed at the bloodsport pits popular in the Commons or at the witherhouses where victims of diseases and accidents languish, always looking for something. Perhaps most terrifying of all the Gorgonid’s hidden cults, though, is the Granite Crown. This group’s sinister symbol of a blinded eye is carved on many entrances to the Shatters and many an old serf miner tells tales of how the Granite Crown rules over even the mightiest of mutant shatterchiefs, who pay fealty to the Granite Crown’s lords. These “lords” are said to dwell in the most ancient of places beneath the ground. No one knows where these stories originated, let alone whether they hold any truth, but similar tales are told by firelight all across Sepheris Secundus.

Fathomsound Mine

The Fathomsound is the most unusual of Sepheris Secundus’ mines. Within its enormous basin is an underground lake upon which float thousands of rafts, barges and lashed-together wooden structures that form the home of Fathomsound’s serfs. The frequent blizzards that rip across Sepheris Secundus churn up the waters of the Fathomsound, and many serfs are lost to the freezing waters with every storm. The Flotsam, as this floating city is known, is one of the most poverty-stricken and desperate places on Sepheris Secundus, with its inhabitants literally clinging to life, permanently ill thanks to the fouled water, and condemned to lives spent in the deadly underwater mines.

The barons of the Fathomsound are obliged by planetary law to live within the mine whose serfs they own, but none would willingly dwell on the dangerous Flotsam. Instead, they live in mansions suspended from the edge of the mine pit, hanging from mighty chains and served by precarious elevators and cable cars. The barons typically enjoy taking caffeine on the balconies along the lower surface of these extraordinary homes, from where the Fathomsound is a spectacular sight and its poverty and dangers are not obvious. The mansions swing alarmingly when the wind is up and it is not unknown for them to break free and plunge into the lake. Inside, the furniture and ornamentation is bolted down and visitors to the Fathomsound’s barons have to find their sea legs quickly.

Sepheran Traditions of Serfdom

Sepheris Secundus’ centuries of harsh serfdom have created many cultural traditions that confirm the relationship between baron and serf, some of which seem very strange to outsiders. The details of these traditions differ across the planet but their spirit is preserved everywhere. They include:

  • Marriage - A marriage between serfs must be sanctioned by both serfs’ barons. The prospective husband and wife each cut off a little finger and send it to their baron, which symbolises the serfs handing over of their rights of any children born out of wedlock.
  • Death - To demonstrate the fact that no serf ever fully pays off his debt to his baron, his body becomes his baron’s property upon his death. Most barons dispose of these bounties by burying them under heaps of mine spoil, but some more ostentatious barons make a point of feeding dead serfs to their hounds.
  • Mandatory Celebrations - On an occasion important to the baron, such as the birth of a child, the baron’s serfs are required to celebrate by breaking into dance upon hearing the news and whenever the baron approaches. Many barons take this very seriously and will flog nearby serfs until they begin to dance, regardless of whether they have heard the baron’s good news or not.
  • Faceday- A serf celebrates the day when he becomes old enough to stake his own claim on the Face (normally in early adolescence). The first Faceday is marked with three days of ceaseless toil, to demonstrate that the young serf indeed deserves the bounty of the Face. Anniversaries of this Faceday are marked with ceremonies that vary wildly but are always painful or humiliating, varying from simple beatings to being painted with offensive slogans and forced to run naked through the Commons.
  • Day of Thanks - An annual holiday observed across Sepheris Secundus, the Day of Thanks is a chance for the serfs to remember and mourn their dead (a practice otherwise frowned upon or even prohibited). Since mourning is considered a selfish act, participants ritually disguise their identities by wearing masks, painting their faces or attending gatherings in pitch darkness.

Misericord

Misericord

The Chartist starship Misericord

The Misericord is an example of the many Chartist mercantile spacecraft that ply the trade routes between Scintilla, Iocanthus and Sepheris Secundus and the other inhabited worlds of the Calixis Sector, carrying vital cargo and passengers across the sector. It is an ugly and enormous starship, looking like a barnacle- encrusted, spacefaring whale, from which jut haphazard clusters of engines and towers, and it trails a long tail of debris like a comet.

The Misericord carries huge quantities of trade goods between the client worlds, along with many passengers. Buying passage on a ship like the Misericord is the most common method of travelling between planets. Its round trip -- Scintilla/Iocanthus/Sepheris Secundus -- a route laid down on the charter carried by its captains, takes well over a standard year. Ships like the Misericord are very common in the Calixis Sector and throughout the Imperium, plying a slow, thankless route across the stars. Without the Chartist voidships, large swathes of the Imperium would be completely cut off and sector economies would fail. In spite of this, few have much regard for the Chartist ships, and their crews are stereotyped as rough, untrustworthy Voidborn with few scruples and even fewer refinements. Each Chartist voidcraft needs an Imperial charter that sets out its permitted trade routes and activities, and the Misericord’s charter was signed by one of the earliest generation of Calixian Sector Governors.

The Misericord is considered an ill-omen at any place it docks. There are many Chartist craft in the Calixis Sector but for some reason the Misericord has an especially evil reputation. It is considered very bad luck to marry, give birth or embark on a major venture while the Misericord is docked in system, and during the ship’s many centuries of operation, tales have grown up about the dark things that occur while it is in port, such as plagues, tech-failures and the random disappearance of children. In addition, the crew are mostly Voidborn, people who were born in space and rarely set foot on a planet, and the Voidborn, as everyone knows, just aren’t right in the head.

Inside, the Misericord resembles a huge, complex and grotesquely ornate castle. Many different ships make up the Misericord and they each have their own style, which in turn has been embellished and replaced over the centuries. In places where the component ships connect, corridors can become precipitous shafts, rooms can be upside-down and moving from place to place can be very complex, although the Voidborn crew are adept at clambering up makeshift ladders or even leaping pits in the floor. The Misericord’s interior is archaic, with feasting halls, dungeons, cobwebbed processional galleries and many other places that seem to have little connection to the business of the ship or the needs of the crew.

Ship Society

Life on the Misericord is defined by the castes into which the crew are divided. There are dozens of castes, each one responsible for a particular function aboard ship. Crewmen are either born into these castes or assigned to them on the few occasions they join from outside. These castes range from the Scourhand Brotherhood (who scrub the filth from the floors of the engine decks) to the Company of Imbeciles (the ship’s entertainers, consisting of various clowns, actors and storytellers). The officers of the Misericord form their own caste and wear distinctive and rather sinister masks to mark them out from the rest of the crew. Each caste has its own leadership, which reports to the officer caste, and the officers in turn receive their orders from the twin captains Anapollo and Luneros. The captains believe that the caste system is the reason the Misericord has survived for so long and are quick to bring anyone opposing it to trial. Castes are insular and proud, and sometimes they can come into bitter conflict, such as the regular skirmishes between the Lamplighters’ Guild and the Followers of the Wire over who gets to change the glowbulbs. All have their own baffling traditions, from the large wood and paper animal masks of the Obeyers’ Guild (the ship’s lawyers and executioners) to the ritual removal of an ear from every member of the Enginists (who maintain the ship’s temperamental engines). This latter ritual is said to be born of respect for a mythological Enginist of ages past, the heroic Bessimer “One-lug” Jone, who supposedly saved the Misericord from “dire disassemblage and ventation”.

Most crew are true Voidborn and live their whole life on the starship. However, since the castes are not permitted to interbreed, the ship needs new crew members from outside to replenish the gene pool. Some older legends told on the ship remember the terrible “Age of Six Toes” when a mad previous captain refused to allow new blood onto the Misericord. Crew who join from outside -- referred to as “clayfeet” -- are both blessed and cursed. They are valuable to the crew and are given the least dangerous duties, but on the other hand they can never be regarded as true members of the Misericord’s crew, and are treated as outsiders no matter how long they serve on the ship. Only their children will be true Voidborn and thus full members of the crew.

The Misericord's Castes

The castes into which the Misericord’s crew are organised are insular, specialised and hereditary. It is impossible to change castes and most crew are born into them. Old castes can be dissolved and new ones founded by the order of the captain, but some of the Misericord’s castes are as old as the starship itself. The ship’s castes include the following:

  • The Lords, Siblings and Officers is the full name of the ship's officer caste. Members go everywhere masked, and assist the starship's two Captains in making and enforcing decisions.
  • The Merciful form the ship’s security wing, armoured in archaic plate and mail, and carrying ominous shotguns. They can change from impeccable politeness to extreme aggression instantly, even during the course of a mundane conversation.
  • The Suturers’ Parliament is the Misericord’s body of medical personnel. The Suturers practise their procedures on the starship’s small complement of live animals, so cats, pygmy Grox and other creatures wander around their sick bays and surgeries.
  • The Immortals recover the bodies of dead crewmen, conduct void burials and investigate suspicious deaths. They enjoy reminding other crewmen of the fact that one day, they too will require the ministrations of the Immortals.
  • The Communion of Ratters is dedicated to tackling the Misericord’s constant vermin problem. There are only a few crewmen among the Ratters, with the rest of the Communion being made up of old, patched-up ratting Servitors.
  • The Renders are the Misericord’s cooks and they are also responsible for the livestock raised on the ship for food. The caste’s members take great pride in their food and are extremely vocal and sometimes violent in proclaiming the superiority of their personal recipes. No one argues like a Render.
  • The Bringers of Silence are the only caste not to have a generally known purpose. They answer to the twin Captains of the vessel and are occasionally seen walking purposefully through the ship in midnight blue uniforms, their faces painted with stars.

Locations of Note

The bridge of the Misericord is located close to the centre of the massive voidship, in one of its very oldest parts, where the walls are covered in layers of faded frescoes depicting scenes from long-forgotten myths and tragedies in the vessel’s history. The captains and the bridge officers command the Misericord from a raised area, known as the captain’s floor, which is flanked by a series of ornate and ancient flags which are changed to match the work shifts. Gilded war banners attend the day shift whilst silvered mercantile pennants are displayed at night. No one can remember the origination of this curiously theatrical practice, though it may be down to the whim of the twin captains. Bridge uniforms and staff are changed from gold (day) to silver (night) as the bridge hands over from one “ban” (ship jargon for a work shift) to another. Subsidiary helms, manned by officers who monitor the ship’s systems, plot courses, man the ship’s Vox-casters and so on, stand to the side of the captain’s floor. By ancient tradition, these lesser officers may not take the floor, unless specifically invited. To do so is to rise above one’s station, an unforgivable and treasonous act against the strict hierarchy of command. Traitorous helmsmen have been thrown into the vastness of space for such a deed.

The twins require an audience on the bridge at all times and lots are drawn to determine which crew members must spend a day in an area known as the watch court. From here the watchmen are supposed to observe procedures on the bridge to ensure protocol. In reality, crew members treat their days on the court benches as if it were a theatrical performance. Most spend their time eating, commenting raffishly on various officers or staring in wonder at the captains. It is a point of strict protocol that officers on the bridge studiously ignore any comments, noisy chewing, thrown food or jeering from the court. In reality, crew who behave poorly often find that they suffer the consequences once they return to their normal work.

Key ceremonial decisions, like a course change, are considered especially interesting by members of the crew, and those lucky enough to have their number drawn on a day when such an event is to occur will often sell their ticket to the highest bidder. Attending court on a false ticket is technically an offence against regulation, but in practice most officers turn a blind eye to the custom. Visitors to, and passengers aboard, the Misericord are often delighted by the arcane pageantry of bridge activity, which they are free to observe from an outer circle of seating beyond the watch court. This captive, intrigued audience may, of course, be why the captains have allowed this curious behaviour to develop.

Passengers on the Misericord stay in the Beyonder’s Hostelry, a sprawl of small but well-appointed rooms kept by the Minions of Stewardship. The Minions have a number of quirks including being forbidden to speak, so they communicate through written notes (illiterate passengers tend to have difficulty on the Misericord) and with rapid sign language among themselves. The Minions decorate the Hostelry with the hundreds of shiny or brightly coloured things they find, many of which are left behind by previous passengers. The Hostelry is cramped and rather dusty, and while they are obliging, the Minions have a habit of getting things slightly wrong -- most notably the food they bring to passengers always tastes bizarre. It is possible that the Minions deliberately misinterpret requests to make sure that passengers understand they are not a proper part of the Misericord’s world.

The Gallery of Sin is one of the few places where the crewmen of the various castes mix. The Gallery is a wide, high-ceilinged deck with a small bustling town built inside it. Several of the castes, such as the Guardians Mercantile and the Coinwrackers, sell goods and services to crew and passengers. The Gallery of Sin (the name is of uncertain origin) is the closest thing to a “normal” community on the Misericord, but strange rituals and traditions still abound -- shopkeepers regularly hold mock battles in the streets, engage in elaborate and foul-mouthed haggling rituals with customers, and make sham sacrifices to vegetables. It is in the Gallery of Sin that the Company of Imbeciles performs in small street corner theatres. Some of these entertainers roam around singling out passers-by (preferably bemused passengers) to follow them performing mimes or poetry. The ethos of the Gallery seems to be that because it fulfils a fairly mundane purpose, its normality must be balanced by oddness and symbolism as much as possible.

Other Sector Worlds

There are many worlds within the Calixis Sector. From the stretches of the Golgenna Reach to the dim coldness of the Hazeroth Abyss Sub-sector, there are many types of planet inhabited by man. Some, such as the Hives of Fenksworld, are well known to the Imperium, whilst others are all but lost, faded from Administratum maps or isolated by Warp Storms. All have the potential to harbour miscreants, Heretics and other, darker forces. Unlike many folk in the late 41st Millennium, Acolytes may well find themselves ranging far and wide across the sector in the course of their duties.

41 Pry

Pry is a gas giant, with a dingy Imperial station in orbit, designated 41 Pry. The station is a famous supply point and a seat of illegal activity. Ghostfire pollen is available here, at a price, if you know who to talk to. If you don’t, such questions will get you killed rather swiftly.

88 Tanstar

An Imperial Navy depot on an outlying colony world (seventy eight million population).

Acreage

Acreage is a Feudal World with sub-Imperial technology-levels, marked out across its continents in feudal demesnes ruled by despot warlords.

Baraspine

Baraspine is a small Imperial Hive World (population two billion) in the Adrantis Nebula Sub-sector. Its primary exports are cogitation cells and pottery.

Cloister

This inhospitable world is the site of a mendicant order whose fraters occupy a vast bastion. The bastion is said to have been built by the Black Templars, during the Angevin Crusade. Woe betide any inhabitants if the Astartes return to claim their property.

Dreah

This Agri-world is noted the sector over for its grey skies, soil, plants and waters. Dreahans are notoriously dull, with pallid, greyish flesh and a sullen look to their faces. Traders are able to make large sums selling exotic dyes to the Dreahans. More unsavoury merchants have found a ripe market for hallucinogenic drugs, as Dreahans are particularly fond of the bright colours such substances make them see. The Planetary Governor is attempting to crack down on this trade, with little success.

Drusus Shrine World

Also known as Sentinel, this planet stands at the rimward limits of the Calixis Sector and is dedicated as a holy Shrine World to Saint Drusus. A barren world, dominated by bleak dust bowls and salt-deserts, it supports, thanks to the Chartist ships, a population of pilgrims who maintain the shrine: a five-thousand-metre tall structure of ouslite and rockcrete located in the southern hemisphere. The shrine is the only significant artificial structure on the planet. There, high up in the draughty reaches of weathered stone, burns the eternal flame of Drusus, ministered to by the flocks of pilgrims, most of whom come to Sentinel to die. The standard of living is low on this bleak world and there is no system of government or order apart from the rubrics of the Imperial Creed. Outside the shrine -- “beyond the shadow” as local slang has it -- life is a fringe existence, to say the least. Endless, waterless deserts of dust and calcification stretch out to the very edges of the planet. Jettison collectors and scavengers may be found in the vast salt-licks, but they are transient. A well-supplied man might last twenty days in the barrens of this harsh world.

However, Sentinel is a world that draws visitors and explorers. Foremost are the pilgrims, those wishing to abase themselves at the foot of Drusus’ shrine. For many, this is an act of suicide. Voyaging to the Shrine World is vastly expensive and passage is hard to procure. Even if you get there, there is no guarantee of a return ticket. The licks beneath the shrine are littered with desiccated bones and mummified remains, sometimes in a thick carpet.

It is said that in the outer bowls of Sentinel, a man may find visions and answers. This rumour has undoubtedly arisen from the mind-altering effect of the emptiness and the heat. Even so, pilgrims come to the shrine and then head off, on foot, into the bleakness, in search of illumination. Any short ride by land car or flier from the shrine will reveal tortured bones lying in heaps at the end of long footprint trails that the wind has never erased. “Walking into silence” is what the shrine's Ecclesiarchy priests call this behaviour. Rumours suggest that, at the point of death, the silence speaks back to the true of heart.

Other rumours make mention of a xenos race living on the Shrine World. Certainly there are several species of lustrous bug and beetle that thrive in the desert, drinking dew off their armoured carapaces every dawn. The rumours talk of an ancient, insectoid race called the Whisperers, which lives, shelters and breeds in deep tunnels under the dry earth. Far from being an animalistic species, the Whisperers -- if the insane rantings of a few, surviving silence walkers can be trusted -- are a complex and ancient culture, tunnelling under the crust of Sentinel and only occasionally crawling to the surface. The Whisperers -- so-named because of the brushing sounds their giant wing cases make -- are said to hold great truths and secrets about the cosmos, which may be learned by the aware and the capable. No relic or evidence of the Whisperers has ever been found.

Dusk

The Feral World of Dusk is noted for the extreme hostility of its native creatures. “A walk on Dusk” has become a byword for horrible and painful death amongst certain Rogue Traders and Chartist Captains.

Endrite

The degenerate medieval populace of this planet worship the ruined hulk of an Imperial Battlecruiser. It is not clear when this vessel crashed upon the planet, or what technological level its people were at before the disaster.

Fedrid

The thick forests of this Feral World are so dense and so teeming with dangerous carnivores that access is forbidden without a licence. Fedrid is a favourite of game hunters and those individuals procuring animals for the Imperial arenas.

Fenksworld

Fenksworld is a small, grimy Hive World to the coreward of the sector and the location of a substation depot of the Battlefleet Calixis. It is suggested that many cults and other “secret parties” test their influence on the Fenksworld population before moving on to dominant worlds like Scintilla and Malfi. Cults and cult activity certainly fester here. Fenksworld’s most notable feature is its Library of Knowing, one of the sector’s most comprehensive sources of data outside the Prol system. The Library of Knowing’s most significant attribute is that it is run under the ordination of the Planetary Governor and exists outside general Imperial jurisdiction. The Calixian Conclave has made several (subtle) attempts to close the Fenksworld library down, due to its esoteric contents. The library remains a “family-run” enterprise, overseen by the Planetary Governor’s family, the mercurial House Vaahkon.

Ganf Magna

Despite many purge efforts, this forested wilderness retains several pockets of Ork infestation, left over from the last invasion. They exist as small, tribal units of monsters in the dense forests. The Imperial settlers, mainly frontier farmers, wage a constant war with them.

Grangold

Grangold is a Dead World on which stands -- or, more appropriately, survives -- a single temple to Saint Drusus, despite the ferocious elemental squall. The temple is staffed by two ancient Dreadnoughts of the Iron Hands Chapter. The hazardous environment and volatile staff make this a dangerous shrine to approach, although it is said that “on Grangold, the saint answers all questions”.

Heed

Heed is a Dead World and a battle site of the Angevin Crusade. The world is renowned for the noxious firestorms that pepper its surface.

Klybo

Klybo is an extinct world, where the ruins of a lost colony poke from the shifting sands. Klybo’s harsh environment spurned all efforts to settle it. The sector fleet maintains a waystation on a moon in close orbit. Klybo has become proverbial over the years, indicating a worthless or doomed effort. “It all went like Klybo” or “I tried my best, but I had a day on Klybo” are common sector euphemisms. Klybo attracts prospectors and tech-archaeologists. It is rumoured that fabulous STC finds are hidden on Klybo, remnants of the colonial attempts to settle the world. Several myths report “walking monsters”, akin to Ambulon, still striding the wastelands. No form of conclusive data has yet been obtained.

Landunder

The limp, untrustworthy planetary crust of Landunder floats freely on a deep chemical ocean. The Imperial colonies there are built to cling underneath the planetary crust in suspension. There are eight “hanging” undercities, containing almost a billion inhabitants, with trade deriving from ocean-depth mining and chemical treatment (processing plants that exploit the curious mix of oceanic chemicals).

The Lathes

A trio of quasi-worlds at the hem of the Malfian Sub-sector, the Lathes are the foremost Forge Worlds of the sector, rivalling Scintilla’s Gunmetal City for weapons manufacture. The three planetoids, Het, Hesh and Hadd, enjoy an irregular orbit around their star, intersecting to produce events of hyper-gravity. At such times, industry goes into frantic production, as the commingled gravitational urges of the passing planetoids allow for the specialist smelting of rare metals and alloys. Lathe-world blades are famed throughout the Calixis Sector for their unbreakable character. Gravitational duress also accounts for the dense, armour-piercing quality of Lathe-world ammunition. These so-called “bodyblowers” are expensive and rare, and often purchased singly. The damage they can do to flesh is astonishing. Blades produced under gravitic circumstances on the Lathes are considered holy and special. Lord Marius Hax owns a rapier of Lathe origin, presented to him by Magus Luol Rho, emissary of the Lathes at the court of Scintilla. It is rumoured that King Skull’s sword is also an unbreakable tongue of Lathe manufacture. The workforce of the Lathes is surprisingly small but all those born and bred on those oddly tangling planetoids are meaty, squat and powerful in their demeanour, and built with heavy bones and mounds of flesh. The Lathes are held in the fealty of the Mechanicus of Mars, and are a secretive, closed environment. Visits require special permits and authority, and the Lathes are protected by a fraternity of warrior priests, who can call upon the power of Titans if the circumstances demand.

Lehyde Ten

Lehyde Ten is a pleasant, potentially arable world, which is generally unpopulated. Lord Militant Angevin’s early annexation surveys identified Lehyde Ten as an Imperial colonial target, but all attempts to land terraformer mechanisms on the world have resulted in failure. The landscape is littered with the dug-in, dormant hulks of Imperial land-makers. No one can explain the planet’s resistance to development. A small Imperial observatory station survives here, recording data from the Adrantis Nebula. The crew turnover is alarming: a year or two on the world will, inexplicably, drive a man insane.

Luggnum

Luggnum is a harsh and inhospitable Mining World with a small settlement called Lugg City which exports ores. Luggnum is the homeworld of the Imperial Guard regiments known as the Luggnum Sewer Rats.

Malfi

Malfi is a Hive World, eight hundred days standard travel from Scintilla, and is the main population and manufacturing focal of the rimward territories of the sector. Malfi is a semitropical, gloomy world of overbuilt hive cities and habitation ledges. Its population approaches that of Scintilla and it subsists on its engineering and metalwork industries. The population of Malfi has a grudge: they believe that Malfi should be the sector capital world and venomously protest the supremacy of Scintilla.

Certainly, with its super-continental hives and eradication of natural landscape, Malfi resembles a Segmentum Solar hiveworld far more than any of the other worlds in the sector, and its claim for capital eminence seems reasonable. However, politics and demographics are fickle mistresses. Scintilla is better placed to provide a centre of effective governance for the sector. Early Calixian regimes, following the Lord Militant Angevin’s campaign, made their headquarters on Malfi but the province has spread out since then. Despite its efforts, Malfi remains a border world, colossal in both its consumption and its production. It satisfies itself in commanding the Malfian Sub-sector, ruling the territories rimward and spinward of Scintilla. The Sub-sector Governor, Jendrous Kaffiq, answers only to Lord Sector Hax himself. Malfi is a seat of the Administratum and several chief banking houses. Its nominal ruler is the Eminence Glydus Matriarch.

Malfi is -- and this may be the very reason that the sector rulers passed over it -- a place of the most infernal intrigue. It is impossible to count the courtly factions vying for power and the ear of the Matriarch. The central palace is a labyrinth of chambers and anterooms, a warren that, so proverbs say, many have entered and subsequently died trying to find a way out again. Guides may be procured to steer a visiting party through the warren of Malfi’s central palace: they cannot be trusted. Every act and motion of Malfian life is about dissemblance and intrigue. Hire the wrong guide and you may be damned to years of squabbling diplomacy and sudden duels. It is said of the Malfian palace that “life has a thousand separate doors” and this is no exaggeration. Entering Malfian society, one enters a world of complexity and deceit. Few emerge alive.

The Calixian Conclave, which supports a district office on Malfi, regards the world as a particular hotbed of dissent and heresy. Apart from the many political factions and underground groups (many sponsored or run by Malfian noble houses) that support and promote Malfi’s usurpation of the capital world role (it is worth noting that three times in the last two centuries, Malfian dissenters have almost triggered open civil war with Scintilla), the excessively secretive and disingenuous society of the Malfian hive cities propagates many sects and cults. These groups find it ridiculously simple to conceal themselves within Malfi’s layered, elaborate culture of falsehood and deceit. They also find the hive citizenry to be a fertile source of amenable, pliable recruits. In recent years, the Calixian Conclave has become aware of a particularly active sect, whose reach is now spreading beyond Malfi.

Orbel Quill

An oddly serene, pastoral world of shepherds, flocks and herding where, curiously, no one lives beyond the age of forty years standard. Often thought to be a rumour or a joke, the “death threshold” of Orbel Quill is quite real. Visitors and travellers must beware, as often they are far above the age of forty in sidereal terms. Anyone forty or over is stricken with a terminal decline and dies within thirty-six hours, even visitors who have amassed their years during ship-time. Many speculate that the planet is governed by some deep-seated system that combs out what it perceives to be the elderly. Certain facts are evident: no one has managed to identify what it is that kills the over-forties on Orbel Quill. Whatever it is, it certainly does kill them without exception. Also, xenos ruins in the southern hemisphere of the planet have never been properly explored. It seems likely that it is no coincidence that Eldar have been regularly sighted in the empty quarters of this planet.

Prol IX

This crowded, reddish-brown world is the current seat of the scholastic order known as the Decatalogues of Prol. This ninth planet of the “Scrivener’s Star” is an ancient seat of the Administratum. Each of the nine planets is given over to record-keeping, collation, statistical analysis, archiving and the like. Space is running out on Prol IX leading to a vicious schism within the ranks of the Decatalogues. The Centurists wish to move to the forbidden tenth planet within the system, whilst the Pyratics wish to destroy the ancient files stored upon Prol I and raise new temples of information from the ashes of the old. Violent debate and long, impeccably researched discourses are being exchanged between the two factions. These written arguments -- some as many as one hundred and six volumes long -- are not helping the chronic shortage of space.

Seedworld AFG:218

Believed to be an Eldar holding, whatever the truth, Seedworld AFG:218 is evidently a place of geo-genic experimentation on the part of a xenos species. It is interdicted by a cordon of the Battlefleet Calixis.

Settlement 228

Settlement 228 is a new Imperial colony world (established four hundred standard years ago), seating eighteen thousand families on a dry, harsh settlement world. Though “cram beans” have proved a reasonably successful export crop, there is great unrest within Settlement 228’s plantation farms. The settlement families, all exported from Scintilla, believe they were sold their land rights fraudulently. They claim that the planet is nothing like as viable as they were led to believe from the surveys. There is a strong anti-Imperium groundswell here and a hard-bitten drive towards revolution.

Sleef

This outworld, close to the Scarus Sector border, is unninhabited. However, it is famous for its sulphurous volcanic vents, through which, it is said, the voice of the Warp whispers. It is said the skin of reality is thin there and one might hear the vibration of the Immaterium, just out of reach.

Spectoris

Spectoris is an Ocean World with a thriving Imperial habitat, constructed on top of a submarine peak. With two million population this is the sector’s largest exporter of fish and fish-meal product. The “Complete Ocean” of Spectoris is the subject of many legends, with some saying that there are sentient xeno forms of vast size inhabiting the unexplored depths of the world. Others claim that the world-ocean itself is sentient.

Threnos

Despised by Chartist vessels and Navigators, a satellite relay surrounds this star system, blasting Imperial liturgy into the void of space upon all manner of frequencies. No one has travelled to the interior of Threnos’ thirteen planets for some millennia, though it is rumoured to be lifeless.

Tranch

Tranch is a minor Hive World located in the Adrantis Nebula, home to a long-lasting and vicious civil war.

Vaxanide

Situated at the edge of sector territory, Vaxanide is a poorly supplied, desperate world, struggling to enter the “inner circle” of sector planets. It has decent mineral output and considerable exports of meat and fish, but it fights to survive. Its three billion population answers to Lord Vaxanide, scion of House Vaxanide, which has holdings on Scintilla, Malfi and Regulus. The economic degeneracy of Vaxanide results in it being a generally lawless, dangerous Frontier World, especially beyond the precincts of the central hive city, Vaxanhive. The planet is especially famed for its porcelain, glass and fish products. It is also the site of a shrine to Saint Drusus, where miracles are said to occur. Base rumours say that a hidden city exists in the canyons of the dense equatorial jungles. The city is said to be a mirror of the Lucid Palace, populated by phantoms of the actual Lucid Palace’s denizens. All expeditions into the jungle areas have ended in failure, with few members returning alive. Those who survive are usually insane, raving of “grey death” stalking them, or simply ending their lives in a variety of messy ways.

Woe

Woe is an extremely hazardous Death World.

Zillman's Domain

Zillman's Domian is a low technology level Feudal World with a heavy Imperial tithe burden. Existence on Zillman's Domain is agricultural and frugal. The king owns a Lasgun, which makes him the king. The Domain is famous for its brutality and medieval mindset and accidental visitors are often burned at the stake as witches for possessing such mundane items of Imperial technology as Vox-links. The Domain was “visited” by the Spectral Sun in 807.M41.

Sector Currency

The Imperial currency of the Calixis Sector and many of the surrounding regions is known as the Throne Gelt or simply the Throne. There are also precious shell tokens or coins of rare metals that are accepted as legal tender on all of the civilised Imperial worlds of the sector. Thrones can also be dispersed in electronic form as payment.

Power Groups

Several groups in the Calixis Sector hold power that is not restricted to one planet, but can be felt across the whole sector. These include the Adepta of the Imperium, as well as the five Great Houses, which are as old as the Calixis Sector itself. Members of these groups can turn up on any of the sector’s worlds, and they all possess enough resources to make themselves major players in the sector’s complex tapestry of power.

Adeptus Terra

The Adeptus Terra is nominally the most important group in the Calixis Sector. As the “government” of the Imperium of Man, the Adeptus Terra’s members are responsible for ensuring that the Calixis Sector fulfils its obligations to the Imperium: offering up the correct tithes of materials, manpower and psykers, obeying Imperial laws and never harbouring the Emperor’s foes. Lord Sector Marius Hax is the Sector Governor and he appoints the sub-sector commanders who oversee the various areas of the Calixis Sector in Terra’s name. Commander Hax himself answers to the commanders of the Segmentum Obscurus. Through this connection, Hax can request military aid from the Imperial Guard or Imperial Navy, or even the mighty Space Marines. However, unless he has strong evidence that the Calixis Sector is in immediate peril, his requests will not be answered. On a smaller scale, Commander Hax could have considerable sway over many of the sector’s Adepts, such as members of the Adeptus Arbites or the Ecclesiarchy. Though Hax rules in a “hands-off ” manner, this influence is not to be underestimated.

Adeptus Ministorum

The Adeptus Ministorum is a powerful force in the Calixis Sector. The area is sacred to Saint Drusus and is a destination for pilgrims from many sectors around, with many of its most notable places being religious in nature. Cardinal Ignato is energetic in keeping up the numbers of preachers and Confessors active in the sector and these promulgators of the Imperial Creed's word are the most common Adepts by far on most of the sector’s worlds. Many planets have their own cardinal and these form the Sector Synod, headed by Cardinal Ignato, which rules on all spiritual matters affecting the Calixis Sector. Pious, Emperor-fearing citizens abound and pronouncements by Ignato or the Synod can be disseminated by the clergy and reach the ears of the average citizen far more effectively than through any other means.

The majority of Calixian citizens perform some act of worship regularly, from trudging along to a dingy temple once a month to nightly prayers in a noble’s private chapel. Most permanent places of worship are home to a member of the Ecclesiarchy, which means that the Ecclesiarchy’s adepts are numerous and strongly connected to the population in a way that no other adepts are. On worlds where Adepts are lacking (such as Sepheris Secundus) much of the day-to-day preaching is done by lay clergy, pious individuals trained and deployed by Ecclesiarchy adepts to spread the word in places where even a devoted preacher baulks to tread. While there are few places in the Calixis Sector where the Emperor’s word is not preached, the scattered nature of the Adepts and the use of lay clergy mean that strict dogma is not always observed. Sometimes the teaching of the Imperial Creed can drift away from the Ecclesiarchical line. On Sepheris Secundus, for example, the barons and the queen are sometimes portrayed as sacred beings imbued with the Emperor’s power by lay preachers who grew up in the planet’s rigid feudal system. On Iocanthos, mercenaries pay fealty to the Emperor as paymaster, while in Scintilla’s underhives, countless versions of the Emperor are worshipped, from a fearsome god of destruction appeased with murder to the spirit of the hives themselves. While the Imperial Creed reaches everywhere in the Calixis Sector, in truth Cardinal Ignato and the other cardinals of the Sector Synod often have to strive hard to maintain orthodoxy there.

Adeptus Arbites

The role of the Arbitrators is to ensure that the Calixis Sector’s worlds obey Imperial law. Most worlds have an Adeptus Arbites presence and the arbitrators tend to be based in grim, precinct-fortresses to remind the population of the unyielding nature of Imperial law and to insure that there will always be a defendable location for the Arbites to hold in case of widespread rebellion. In the Calixis Sector few worlds aside from Scintilla have a major Arbitrator presence, and most worlds only have a single Precinct-Fortress along with a few regional stations. In spite of this, the Arbitrators are a feared force because they are loyal to nothing save Imperial law. Even a Planetary Governor can be arrested by the Adeptus Arbites should he harbour the Emperor’s enemies or seek to throw off the yoke of Imperial authority. While they are a formidable presence with great authority, the Arbitrators can only act to defend Imperial law and have little influence beyond this.

Lord Marshal Goreman is the most senior Arbitrator in the Calixis Sector. Goreman began his long career as a local planetary Enforcer, and his lack of sympathy for the desperate mass of Imperial citizens borders on disdain. He sees no greater crime than that of an Imperial citizen abandoning his duties to take up arms against a rightful authority, and he is known to personally lead riot suppression forces on Scintilla. The Lord Marshal demands regular reports from arbitrators on the sector’s other planets, and is pessimistic in character, constantly issuing dire warnings about the Calixis Sector careering down a slippery slope towards lawlessness and terror. Goreman sees doom and anarchy in everything, including the activities of Scintilla’s Magistratum. As far as he is concerned, the Magistratum are part of the problem and he actively despises them.

Goreman has recently permitted the development of the Divisio Immoralis, a small taskforce of arbitrators whose purpose is to collect intelligence on cult activities across the Calixis Sector and explain a recent rise in unrest and acts of terrorism by fringe cults. The Divisio Immoralis numbers only a few arbitrators led by the veteran, and rather burned-out, Senior Arbitrator Kae Drusil, but they have considerable leeway for their investigations and may turn up anywhere in the sector.

On Scintilla, the Adeptus Arbites is based at the Fortress of the Just, a massive rockcrete slab that sits in the relentless desert a short flight away from Hive Tarsus. It is here that Lord Marshal Goreman’s headquarters can be found, along with the training facilities for the Arbitrator cadets sent to the Calixis Sector, and the Sector Judicial archive. The Divisio Immoralis is based in a cramped set of offices in the Archive, while Scintilla’s large pool of Enforcers trains regularly in the bullet-scarred mock town just outside the fortress. On Sepheris Secundus, the Arbitrators are based at the Isolatorium and are mainly concerned with battling cults and mutant groups among the massive serf populations of the planet’s mines. On Iocanthos, the Adeptus Arbites’ presence is limited to a single squad of Enforcers and an arbitrators stationed at Port Suffering, although they are almost always to be found out in the Wasteland following up some new allegation of cultists or rogue psykers.

Cult of Redemption

The Adeptus Ministorum’s preachers are in short supply in the very deepest, darkest parts of the Calixis Sector’s cities. Instead, another religious force brings the fiery word of the Emperor to these forsaken places, one that operates well beyond the reach of the Adepta: the Cult of Redemption. Many consider the Redemptionists to be the true terror of the underhives, rather than the bandits, mutants or criminals. Violent zealots who see sin everywhere, the tactics of the Redemptionists are simple: they roam the underhive putting sinners to the flame, holding impromptu stake-burnings, exhorting the fearful underhivers to give up their friends and relatives to the purifying fire, and preaching impassioned sermons about the intolerance of the God-Emperor and the wickedness of anyone who does not agree with the Redemption’s point of view. The Redemption’s masked foot soldiers are clad in red robes and are armed with anything that burns, from lit torches to flamers. The most blessed among them carry the Eviscerator, a massive two-handed Chainsword, with which to mortify the flesh of sinners. Many Redemptionists are broken-minded souls who have lost everything to the violence of the underhive, and seek solace and vengeance in the religious hatred promised by the cult.

The Cult of the Redemption is strong in many areas of the Imperium and was probably brought to the Calixis Sector by zealots making a pilgrimage to the Cathedral of Illumination on Scintilla. It is active on several planets, but its spiritual home is Scintilla. The cult is organised into many Crusades, each led by a charismatic deacon. Though the Crusades operate independently, they all recognise the authority of one woman, the Archdeacon Ludmilla.

Great Houses

The term “Great House”, or “Sector House”, refers to those civilian organisations that have a presence across the Calixis Sector. This sets them apart from “planetary” or “lesser” houses, which might wield enormous power on a particular planet but do not have any particular influence elsewhere. In the earliest days of the Calixis Sector, all the Great Houses, and most of the planetary houses, were based around Imperial noble families. The old Great Houses were enormous extended familial lines, with strict rules of heredity to maintain their monopoly on power. In the current days, several of the Great Houses are actually corporations. They may act as if they were noble families but the truly hereditary Great Houses are quick to point out that their memberships are based on ambition and skill, rather than bloodline. The Great Houses play their own game of politics and wealth, and with their thousands of members and troops, they have the potential to exercise enormous power in the Calixis Sector. Some dominate whole worlds and some harbour ambitions that will one day pit them against the Adepta of the Imperium.

House Krin

House Krin are “Drusus’s Bankers”, a very old and close-knit family whose immense fortune stems from offering banking and loans to the other noble houses. They are possibly the oldest of the Great Houses still to have a sector-wide presence and are sharp in their criticism of the “new money” that has so much power in the modern sector. There are houses on almost every planet that rely on House Krin to help maintain their own finances. The conspicuous expenditure of Hive Sibellus, for example, would be impossible without House Krin loans, and the DeVayne Incorporation could not purchase the rights to generations of Sepheris Secundus’s serfs without House Krin advancing them the funds to do so. House Krin keeps itself to itself but its estates can be found on a great many worlds. They are not as lavish as those of other houses, as their position is secure enough for them not to rely on such vulgarity to ensure their position. House Krin has a sizeable body of agents in the Goldenhand in Hive Tarsus on Scintilla and keeps smaller taskforces anywhere they can use their large amounts of accessible wealth to make more money. Many nobles are certain that House Krin must have a vault somewhere filled with unimaginable wealth, and even suggest that the house’s senior members view this accumulation of gold with religious awe, but if any of this is true, the location of the House Krin vaults is a closely guarded secret. Similarly House Krin’s most important members rarely deal with anyone outside the house, preferring to have lesser members deal with “outsiders” (a fact that does little to endear them to nobles from other houses).

Cestelle Alliance

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Icon of the Cestelle Alliance

The origins of the Cestelle Alliance lie on the world of Regulus in the Hazeroth Abyss Sub-sector. Regulus was an Agri-world run by the Administratum but when their Adepts were all killed by a meteor impact, the small feudal kingdoms took over the management of their world. By the time contact with the Imperium was re-established, it was clear that the alliance of indigenous peoples was running the Agri-world more efficiently than the Administratum, and the natives of Regulus were left to their own devices as long as their tithe of food was met. From this string of events was born the Cestelle Alliance, the unified people of Regulus, who sent members to other, less promising worlds and transformed them over the following decades into fertile Agri-worlds in their own rights, passing on enormous tithes to Sector Governor Hax’s government. Slowly, almost without the other Great Houses knowing, the Cestelle Alliance amassed the wealth and power to make them the equal of the other sector houses.

The Cestelle Alliance now controls many Agri-worlds in the Calixis Sector. It has not escaped the notice of Lord Sector Hax that the Alliance, if it wished, could cut off food supplies to the sector’s most populated worlds and create a crisis of famine to hold the sector to ransom. To keep the Alliance firmly on the Imperial side, Hax has appointed Egoyan Cestelle as the Governor of the Adrantis Nebula Sub-sector and continues to permit the Alliance rights to its Agri-worlds. The members of the Alliance must walk a curious tightrope between maintaining the traditions of their homeworlds and kingdoms, and acting like fully recognised nobles of the Calixis Sector. The traditions of Regulus include facial tattooing (with the higherranking nobles sporting extraordinarily intricate scrollwork), incinerating the house’s dead on funeral pyres and praying to the Emperor in the raucous manner first taught to the people of Regulus by Imperial missionaries.

The Alliance participates in the sector’s games of politics and etiquette, even though it is considered little more than a gang of primitive yokels by most other Calixian nobles, but they are very reluctant to allow any interference on the planets they control, even resisting visits by Imperial Adepts to their Agri-worlds. Those few who have gone to a Cestelle Alliance world have sometimes reported wide-eyed tales of abased rituals around giant burning effigies. The Alliance goes to great lengths to show a sophisticated, aristocratic face to the Calixis Sector but some say they are unable to completely hide their primitive side. The colours of the Cestelle Alliance are red and golden yellow, and their emblem is a sea of crops, gently bending in the wind.

Devayne Incorporation

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Icon of the Devayne Incorporation

The DeVayne Incorporation is an unusual sector house that was originally a large and powerful religious order. The Sepulchral Brotherhood was a movement of the Imperial Creed that trained laymen in religious matters. Specifically, it sent out emissaries to the most downtrodden masses, to preach to them how they were blessed to have the opportunity to give their lives in service to their Emperor and how they should be grateful for the decades of backbreaking labour that made up their future. The Brotherhood grew in popularity and was originally a valued part of the Adeptus Ministorum, but a distance grew between the Ministorum and the Brotherhood’s army of lay preachers who had become the only religious authority in many areas. Several centuries ago, following a declaration by the Synod Calixis, the Ministorum withdrew its Adepts and demanded that the Brotherhood cease preaching. The Brotherhood abandoned its religious functions in the wake of the “Sepulchral Schism” but it did not disappear. Instead, it took advantage of the hold it had over the labourers of many worlds and its lay preachers became instead members of the newly founded DeVayne Incorporation.

The DeVayne Incorporation bases its wealth and influence on the labour of those same hordes of menial workers (referred to by the Incorporation as “thralls”). It owns the rights to millions of lives in places such as the lower forges of Gunmetal City on Scintilla. The Incorporation is the single biggest purchaser of serf rights from the crown of Sepheris Secundus outside the local barons and on dozens of other worlds, the labour of DeVayne’s thralls allows the Incorporation to amass wealth and influence. If another Great House needs raw materials, they often come from mines, fields or refineries managed by DeVayne thralls. The Incorporation is famous for the small army of clerks it employs to keep the records of its thralls. It is said that every single thrall is named in DeVayne’s records and that the Incorporation has contracts with mercenaries and bounty hunters whose job is to bring back runaway thralls. DeVayne’s household troops, veterans of serf uprisings on Sepheris Secundus, are famously brutal when they lend their strength to putting down rebellions and protests in which thralls are involved.

Though the Sepulchral Brotherhood has been officially dead for centuries, the DeVayne Incorporation’s members have a strong air of religiosity about them. It recruits new members from among the children of its thralls, a practice unique among the Great Houses and one which elicits great suspicion amongst noble families who do not understand how base peasants can rise to become members of a Great House. The Incorporation’s members consider the thralls to have no value except in financial terms, which mystifies observers considering most of them were once thralls themselves. Cynics insist that the Incorporation must still have some religious purpose at its heart to command such devotion from the same people whose lives it made a misery.

Certainly DeVayne’s organisation, with its members divided into “orders” each responsible for an area of house business, resembles that of a religious body, and its members can be evangelical about the Incorporation’s mission to help the people of the Imperium fulfil their duties to the Emperor and their fellow man. These impassioned outbursts are excellent for convincing thralls that they are working for the good of the Imperium but are less welcome among sector nobility. The low-born nature of the Incorporation’s members means that they are treated like pariahs by most noble houses, but none can deny that the DeVayne Incorporation is one of the driving forces behind the economy of the Calixis Sector. The Adeptus Ministorum harbours a deep mistrust of the DeVayne Incorporation and many of its Adepts believe that the Sepulchral Brotherhood is alive and thriving among the Incorporation’s leadership, intent on spreading some form of religious corruption. The Incorporation’s colours are dove grey and its symbol is an open hand.

Machenko Dynasty

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Icon of the Machenko Dynasty

The Machenko Dynasty, an extended family organised along strictly hereditary lines in the manner of the old houses, is the most mysterious of the Great Houses. Seventy-five standard years ago the dynasty’s patriarch, Lord Scelestes Machenko, was accused of witchcraft, heresy and impiety, and burned at the stake. The dynasty fell with him, its estates invaded by rival families and its wealth confiscated by the Administratum. The dynasty spent the following decades rebuilding itself, and its members have kept its record scrupulously clean since the Machenkan Purge. Although a dark shadow hangs over the dynasty because of its past, no one has ever been able to find evidence of impiety during the dynasty’s return to power. The source of the dynasty’s wealth, with which it funded its return to Great House status and currently plays the great games of noble politics, is a complete mystery and the source of the darkest of rumours. Certainly the dynasty owns a great deal, from hive spire estates to tracts of land, but it does not seem to control any Agri-worlds or manufactoria with which to make the money it so clearly has. When questioned about the source of the dynasty’s capital, Machenkan nobles reply (with impeccable politeness) that they keep their own counsel about such matters.

The members of the Machenko Dynasty have turned etiquette into an art form and house scholars compile great volumes of etiquette, which Machenkan nobles carry around with them by means of a Lectern-Servitor. So complex are the dynasty’s ritualised greetings and forms of address that nobles from rival houses often claim they are some kind of secret code. In any case, the Machenkan nobles dismiss the great mysteries of their house with charm and politeness, and without exception make for gracious guests and accommodating hosts. As dark as the rumours about them may be, few nobles turn down an invitation from the dynasty. The Machenko Dynasty’s symbol is a ringed planet and its house colours are a deep blue.

Masqued

This “cult”, which has strong connections to an alarming number of noble houses, is believed to have grown directly out of the Hive World of Malfi’s culture of intrigue. Its original architects took the concepts of falsehood and subterfuge to their limits and arrived at the cult’s guiding tenet: that nothing is what it seems. By extension, human life and the Imperium is a deceit, and Chaos itself is the truth. The Masqued believe that the “civilised Imperium” wears a mask of refinement and devoted duty, beneath which lies man’s natural affinity with the lurid machinations of the Warp. They believe that it is simply a matter of time before the mask falls away and Mankind’s true nature as a Chaotic species is revealed.

The Masqued revel in licentious, debauched behaviour and delight in extremes of falsehood and mendacity. All cult members are anonymous and wear, at their gatherings, grotesque and colourful masks derived from the styles worn at courtly masques and entertainments. The Masqued boasts, in its membership, a shockingly large number of nobles and highborn, for whom the cult is a mere extension of their courtly world; intrigue taken to its natural conclusion. It is likely that many of them have no real concept of the dark truth lurking at the centre of their compact. More a deviant secret society than an actual cult, the Masqued have avoided censure for a number of reasons: they have connections and influence, they are almost impossible to identify and target; and they offer no palpable threat as yet. The Masqued do not seem to be striving to achieve anything: their activities are more a broad excuse for licentious, orgiastic behaviour. Attempts made by the Calixian Conclave, in the most part abortive or unsuccessful, to infiltrate the order have revealed that the cult seems content to meet and worship, waiting for “the inevitable” to happen. They seem to show no desire or intent to bring about a Chaotic revolution, as they regard it as a preordained fact. It is known that Caidin himself regards the Masqued as a “dilettante order”, a grouping of deviants rather than an active threat, and therefore not a priority target. However, given the potential membership of the cult, and the wealth, resource and influence that implies, if the order ever did decide to become more proactive, it would be the richest and most insidious cult in the Segmentum Obscurus. For this reason, several key figures in the Conclave believe that it should be dug out and sanctioned without delay.

The range of the cult’s activity is alarming: suborders and satellite lodges have been noted on Scintilla, Sepheris Secundus, Iocanthos and many other high population worlds in the sector. Traces of it have been found as far away as Cypra Mundi and Eustis Majoris in the Scarus Sector. It goes wherever the noble houses of the Imperium have influence. Some say it has links all the way back to Terra. It is also chilling to reflect that, in the last three decades alone, four high-level operatives, each of unimpeachable character, sent by the Inquisition to infiltrate the cult, have later turned up as bonded members. It is an alluring, seductive order.

Skaelen-Har Hegemony

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Icon of the Skaelen-Har Hegemony

Skaelen-Har is a massive corporation founded on a set of comprehensive philosophical principles known as the Concordium. The Skaelen-Har Hegemony is a very powerful and efficient heavy manufacturing corporation with concerns across the Calixis Sector, including hundreds of manufactoria in Hive Sibellus and Gunmetal City on Scintilla. One of its major products is voidship parts and the Imperial Navy's Battlefleet Calixis in particular relies on Skaelen-Har to keep its warships in space. The connection between the Imperial Navy and the Hegemony is strong, since without the Hegemony the Battlefleet Calixis would be completely grounded.

Every member of the Hegemony follows the Concordium, a set of strictures that emphasise the realisation of an individual’s potential through the destruction of his personality. The Concordium describes an “ideal” personality as obedient but ambitious, amoral and unmoved by emotive arguments, decisive and unforgiving. People who display these traits, claim Skaelen-Har, are those most likely to succeed in the late 41st Millennium. A member of Skaelen-Har is required to gradually put aside his own personality in favour of the Concordium. His original personality is only permitted to emerge in controlled environments at Skaelen-Har gatherings. Members of Skaelen-Har are recruited from all strata of society, as long as they have the potential to accept the Concordium. They then advance up the strict Hegemony hierarchy, with the higher circles being composed of those who have abandoned their personality completely. These higher circles form the leadership of Skaelen-Har and with their Concordium so in control there is little dissent or indecisiveness displayed in the Hegemony’s activities. Skaelen-Har members make for excellent naval officers and there are many in the Battlefleet Calixis, but many in the officer class are suspicious of the Hegemony’s motives in placing so many of its members on the sector’s warships.

Members of Skaelen-Har are all required to give up a part of themselves to the Concordium. To symbolise this, they all have a body part replaced, usually a hand or facial feature. The replacements range from simple prosthetics for lower-circle members to state-of-the art bionic augmentations for the most devoted followers of the Concordium. Skaelen-Har’s members wear the Hegemony’s colours of black and silver and bear the symbol of a silver starburst.

Forces of Chaos

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The Star of Chaos

The Calixis Sector appears to those with the perspective to perceive such things to be seething with cult activity, each of its worlds tainted with countless heretical and blasphemous bodies. Some point to the spectral haunting of the Tyrant Star as the cause of this endemic corruption, while others have come to believe that the star might represent some form of stellar executioner drawn to the concentration of sin and ready to enact the final judgement upon the guilty. Some suspect that the entire region has always been tainted, even before it was settled by Mankind. They hold that Lord Militant Golgenna Angevin fought long and bitter wars against an empire of debased, Chaos-worshipping aliens whose name has been struck from all records (now confirmed to be the Yu'vath) and that some taint of them remains to poison the soul of man.

Of late, those who tread the path to glory have begun to flock to the spinward marches of the sector, drawn there by the new war in the so-called Spinward Front of the Periphery that, if allowed to do so, might one day engulf the entire sub-sector. Warp-worshipping cults and Heretic warbands are mustering on the verges, and some even claim to have sighted the Tyrant Star, its ghostly black halo shimmering in the void.

Most of those who tread the path to glory are to be found operating within the existing structure of the Calixis Sector’s institutions. They exist at every level, from the Inquisitor who has strayed too far into heretical doctrine to the data-loom operator who harbours a murderous hatred for the overseer who denies him an hour away from his workstation to attend a loved one’s funeral. A lay-tech denied access to the inner workings of the machine he operates may turn to the Logicians, an outcast splinter of the Cult Mechanicus, for knowledge otherwise forbidden to him. Idle nobles the sector over collect illicit xenos curios, any one of which might harbour some taint that poisons the soul and leads to damnation. Those born bearing the mark of the mutant might not have been created inherently evil, but many experience such brutal Imperial oppression that the Ruinous Powers offer the only means of survival in a galaxy of bloodshed and hardship.

Nowhere within the Calixis Sector is beyond the reach of the Ruinous Powers, from the sanctums of the Abbey of the Dawn on Iocanthos to the secret cloisters of the daemonhunting Inquisitors of the Ordo Malleus. No Planetary Governor is immune to the whispers of daemons that haunt him by night, promising undreamed-of power in return for just a few “favours.” No Adeptus Arbites Judge enforcing the Emperor’s laws on the cruel streets of the hive bottom is so zealous as to be able to ignore the desire to simply burn the entire city down, purging the guilty and the innocent at once. Chaos is everywhere, but a thought and a promise away, ever ready to consume the souls of the weak and empower those of the strong beyond mortal imagining.

Calixian Conclave

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The members of the Calixian Conclave

The branch of the Inquisition that watches the Calixis Sector is known as the Calixian Conclave. Overseen by Lord Inquisitor Caidin, its High Council and Officio are based in the Tricorn Palace on Scintilla. It has many sub-officios and a grim fortified outpost can be found on or near most major or highly populated planets. Sub-officio administrators are known by the rank Planetia Inquisitor and control local conclavium councils that resemble the High Council in miniature. The Calixian Conclave has troops, spacecraft and Acolytes at its disposal, but its most valuable commodity is its Inquisitors themselves, who possess skills and authority beyond the imaginings of most Imperial citizens. The Calixian Conclave watches over the whole sector and there is no limit to its jurisdiction.

It should be noted that, despite the governing hand of Caidin and the High Council, the Inquisitors of the Calixian Conclave are not all of the same mind. They are independent souls, set on individual missions and enterprises. Each one has very strong ideas about the way the Inquisition should conduct itself and the length to which they must go to preserve the Imperium. Some become outright enemies and no two have exactly the same agenda. Should they ever pull together they would form by far the greatest power block in the area, eclipsing even the great noble families in the resources they can muster. Until that happens, the Inquisitors of the Calixian Conclave are their own worst enemies, scheming against one another or pursuing their goals in secret, using their acolytes as playing pieces in games of superiority. Some of the Calixian Inquisitors are noble and pious, exemplars of Imperial values, others are more free-thinking or, as a Puritan would put it, corrupt. Anyone of them could be the Calixis Sector’s greatest saviour or its most notorious villain. Caidin and the High Council do their best to keep the scattered Inquisitors moving with a unified purpose, but sometimes they have to arbitrate disputes.

Tyrantine Cabal

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Inquisitors of the Tyrantine Cabal

The Tyrantine Cabal was commissioned many years ago in response to the dread prophesy of the Tyrant Star. Its members are known as Tyrantites or Spectarians (or more dismissively as star gazers), for they are charged with investigating apparitions of the spectral sun and the influence of the baleful Tyrant Star. The Tyrantine Cabal is based at the Bastion Serpentis, a bleak fortress of age-polished black stone jutting from the surface of Scintilla’s moon Lachesis. The Bastion is typical of the Inquisition waystations and local fortresses peppered across the Calixis Sector. The Spectarians were granted sole discretionary use of the Bastion Serpentis at the inception of their cabal. Lord Sector Hax, Chief Astropath Xiao and a few others know of its existence, and those who do not are kept away from the moon by dire warnings about geological instability. Lord Inquisitor Anton Zerbe can normally be found at the Bastion and it is there in its grand audience chamber that he holds the semi-regular meetings with all the Cabal’s Inquisitors, at which they report on their activities and share information. These gatherings are as much a venue for making allies and enemies as they are a forum for exchanging intelligence on the sector’s various threats and power groups.

As the threat of the Tyrant Star is felt across the Calixis Sector, the membership of the Cabal is not formally fixed. Some Inquisitors, those listed here, have stayed in the Calixis Sector for some time and accept Zerbe’s authority (although they do not all obey him by any means). Other Inquisitors might join on a temporary basis, especially if an investigation elsewhere brings them to the Calixis Sector in matters intersecting the Hereticus Tenebrae, while some simply come to lend their support while they tap the expertise of the Cabal’s most experienced Inquisitors. The individuals listed here are confirmed Spectarians, but Inquisitors join and leave all the time, with Zerbe’s blessing.

Notable Inquisitors of the Tyrantine Cabal

  • Anton Zerbe, Lord Inquisitor of the Ordo Hereticus - Anton Zerbe is the commissioned leader of the Tyrantine Cabal, a position he was granted by Lord Inquisitor Caidin himself. He does not take his duties lightly, as he believes the black doctrine of the Tyrant Star to be very real indeed. He rarely leaves the Bastion Serpentis, and chairs the frequent meetings of the cabal’s Inquisitors. Zerbe once roamed the Imperium seeking out corruption and incompetence amongst the Adepta but he is now dedicated to his role. Zerbe is never seen without his impassive golden mask and magnificent gilded armour, and he seems perfectly at home on the throne of the Bastion’s audience chamber. He is not an easily approachable man and always remains distant from those around him. Zerbe is even-handed to a fault, refusing in all cases to support one Inquisitor over another, no matter how grave an accusation might have been brought. His principal motivation is preventing strife within the Tyrantine Cabal, so that the group can do its holy work. He believes that if any one Inquisitorial faction within the Tyrantine Cabal was to prevail, the sector -- the Imperium itself even -- would be doomed. If the Recongregators got what they wanted, the cabal would devolve into anarchy. If the Xanthites prevailed, Chaos would corrupt the work. Even the Amalathians, if they succeeded in their aims, would drag the cabal into a miserable malaise. Zerbe’s objective is to prevent any one of these factions overcoming the others in the Calixis Sector, so that the Hereticus Tenebrae might be averted. Nothing else matters. He will even go as far as to recruit Acolytes of his own to foil one of his Inquisitors’ plans. In addition to his political skills, Zerbe is a powerful psyker, although this fact is not generally known within the cabal. Zerbe keeps his psychic talents in reserve should he be forced to vanquish a particularly dangerous foe personally.
  • Rykehuss, Witch Finder of the Ordo Hereticus - Rykehuss is the terror of witches, a man for whom everyone is guilty of something and the only punishment is death. To him the Calixis Sector is a cesspit where witches breed like flies and the honest, pious Imperial citizens are besieged by sin on all sides. Rykehuss’ bouts of volcanic anger and impassioned sermonising are well known at the Bastion Serpentis, and he constantly exhorts his fellow Inquisitors to descend on all the sinners to purify them with righteous flame or condemn them to damnation. Rykehuss wears ornate, heavily customised armour gifted to him by the Adeptus Mechanicus after he sought out a witch cult on a forge world in a nearby sector, and he is an expert with a veritable armoury of weapons. The Witch Finder’s methods are simple. He descends on a particular city, sees depravity everywhere and immediately sets up a Court of Ordeals where pious citizens bring accused neighbours and family members to be tried. When Rykehuss hears of a particularly foul heresy being perpetrated somewhere nearby, he gathers all the torch-wielding backup he can and marches there, trusting in his martial skill to help him put the sinners to death personally. Some who witness Rykehuss’ terrors consider him a hero, others a butcher, and both are right. Many innocents have died at Rykehuss’ hands but so have many rogue psykers and cultists. Rykehuss, however, is not as crude a man as his methods would suggest. He knows that he cannot kill all the sinners, but his bombastic and terrifying style ensures that Imperial citizens are constantly reminded that there are threats in their midst and bigger threats waiting to punish them for their weaknesses. Innocent deaths, while regrettable, are a small price to pay for Rykehuss to spread the fear that helps suppress the activities of witches—and in any case, the Emperor sorts them all out in the end. Rykehuss is obsessed with the notion that it is the widespread activity of witches in the sector that is bringing on the doom of the Hereticus Tenebrae.
  • Ahmazzi, Daemonhunter of the Ordo Malleus - Ahmazzi is the Spectarians’ sole Ordo Malleus Inquisitor. He is a grizzled and ancient veteran, close on three hundred standard years old, whose career has taken him from Titan to the very edges of the Imperium, hunting down daemons and the corrupt humans who summon them. Now all but decrepit, he has come to the Calixis Sector to, as he puts it, “bask in the radiance of the Tyrant Star and learn its secrets”. A long career has left Ahmazzi intensely cynical and pessimistic. He has come to believe that the Emperor is dead, Chaos cannot be stopped and the human race is doomed. The Imperium, Ahmazzi believes, is a grotesque symptom of the fact that the human race is currently living through its inevitable and drawn-out extinction. He has dabbled with Radicalism in his career, even being declared Excommunicate by Puritan colleagues for seeking out daemonic knowledge but no one in the Tyrantine Cabal other than Zerbe knows this. Ahmazzi has no friends and does not particularly care what people think of him, angrily refusing to tell any stories of his astonishing daemonhunting career, although an Acolyte who displays great courage in the face of a daemonic foe might win Ahmazzi’s grudging respect. Ahmazzi was a martially-minded Inquisitor in his prime and secretly would love nothing better than to mount up on his mobile war pulpit, don his armour and take up his Daemonhammer to ride into battle once more against a horde of daemonic foes. He believes that the Tyrant Star maybe the harbinger of Man’s inevitable doom and he wants to be at ground zero to witness the great day when it happens.
  • Astrid Skane, Inquisitor of the Ordo Hereticus - A formidable woman, Inquisitor Astrid Skane exudes the rough authority of a seasoned Arbitrator officer. Tough and resourceful, she is one of the most active of the Tyrantine Cabal’s Inquisitors, happy to get her hands dirty rooting out corruption. Skane is a striking woman with a stern, strong face who wears her hair regulation short. She habitually dresses much as she did when she served as an Arbitrator on Scintilla, in a black uniform and body armour, and is rarely seen without her Shock Maul and Shotgun. Skane respects those who respect her, treats her more skilled Acolytes as equals and has little time for pomp and appearances. Skane follows the Recongregators’ creed, which states that the Imperium must be reformed radically to reduce the suffering of its people and that the Inquisition is the only body with the authority and skill to reform it. Skane believes that the Imperium’s woes are caused by corruption among its ruling classes. She developed a particular hatred for corrupt nobles whilst serving as an Arbitrator and has carried that through to her work as an Inquisitor. Her operations, therefore, target corruption among the Imperial nobility and the Adepta, including the Adeptus Arbites she once served. She dreams of a future where the Imperium is turned upside-down and justice is the rule rather than the exception, but she realises that she will not live to see it. She fights for what justice she can and hopes that others will follow her to carry on the battle. Skane is convinced that the Tyrant Star can only be appearing due to some form of summons. She believes there is a powerful Chaos Cult at work in the sector, employing sorcery to call the Tyrant Star down on Mankind. That is a cult she would very much like to personally root out.
  • Van Vuygens, Inquisitor of the Ordo Xenos - Rarely seen at the Bastion Serpentis, Van Vuygens represents the Ordo Xenos in the Calixian Conclave. He is a quietly spoken man who is more of a scholar than a warrior and, though he can certainly look after himself if required, he sees more value in dissecting and studying xenos than exterminating them. Slender, bespectacled and dressed in an archivist’s robes, Van Vuygens does not cut as imposing a figure as some of the Tyrantine Cabal’s more dramatic characters, but he has the intellect and strength of will to delve into the mindset of the xenos and still retain his humanity. He leaves the human and daemonic threats to the other Inquisitors, focusing instead on helping provide the Imperium with its chief weapon against the alien: an understanding of what the aliens want and what they will do to get it. Though Van Vuygens seeks knowledge about aliens, he does not trust them and would never fraternise with them. He has not studied a single alien species that does not pose some threat towards the human race. A disciple of the legendary Inquisitor Kryptmann himself, Van Vuygens is in the Calixis Sector to watch for the signs of a Tyranid Hive Fleet invasion from beyond the edge of charted space. Kryptmann has theorised that the earlier Tyranid invasions of Imperial space have been testing the Imperium’s defences and that the next invasion will come from an unexpected quarter. Van Vuygens has seen nothing that proves that a Tyranid invasion is impending but there are certainly plenty of other signs of alien influence among the worlds of the Calixis Sector, from ancient cyclopean ruins to disturbing similarities between the mythological cycles of primitive worlds. Van Vuygens is currently piecing together a picture of the alien civilisation that once inhabited the very edge of the Calixis Sector’s space and he does not like what he sees. He, naturally, subscribes to the view that the Tyrant Star is a matter of xenos origin and has grave fears that it is linked with the dreaded Tyranids.
  • Globus Vaarak, Inquisitor of the Ordo Hereticus - Severely wounded as an Interrogator while boarding a pirate ship, Globus Vaarak’s body is broken, scarred and bloated. Both his legs were amputated and he moves by means of a robust mechanical vehicle with mechanical legs and an in-built life-support system. His face is horribly burned and pockmarked, with tubes running from his nostrils and mouth to help him breathe. One arm was also lost and has been replaced with an obvious bionic limb. Vaarak’s clothing is a ribbed black bodyglove that barely holds in his enormous girth and which incorporates cooling and regulating devices to keep him alive. Vaarak is an Amalathian who believes that the Imperium, as grim a place as it is, must survive in its current state if the human race is to continue existing. He therefore seeks out sedition and rebellion in the Calixis Sector, trying to maintain the careful balance of its power groups. Given that he cannot operate in the guise of a normal citizen or Adept, Vaarak must conduct most investigations through his Acolytes, of whom he has several teams. His methods are subtle and moderate compared to some of the Tyrantine Cabal’s other Inquisitors, for he would prefer that the Inquisition’s hand was not obvious, and encourages his acolytes to avoid open conflict and violence as much as possible. Vaarak has a bleak and self-deprecating sense of humour and is an excellent judge of character. Many of the conclave’s next generation of Inquisitors will come from among Vaarak’s Interrogators if he remains in favour. He has joined the Spectarians because the Tyrant Star represents a truly destabilising threat to Imperial society.
  • Lady Olianthe Rathbone - Lady Olianthe Rathbone claims membership of none of the three great Ordos of the Inquisition. She originated among the Calixis Sector’s nobility and still favours magnificent ballgowns and elaborate wigs, which would not look out of place in the ballroom of some governor’s palace. Beneath the finery, her piercing, ice-cold grey eyes betray a keen and ruthless intelligence. Some say she was originally an Interrogator in the employ of Lord Inquisitor Zerbe but there is never any obvious familiarity shown between them. Lady Olianthe is very difficult to know and impossible to befriend, and manages to suggest that everyone around her is her inferior without actually stating it out loud. Secretly a deep-seated Radical, Lady Olianthe is an Istvaanian and believes that for the Imperium to become stronger, it must be exposed to war and catastrophe. The Calixis Sector, to her way of thinking, is bloated and irredeemable, and desperately needs a major cataclysm to weed out its weak and corrupt citizens. While she is not averse to combating particularly horrible threats like Chaos Cultists or the mutants she personally despises, Lady Olianthe is also constantly on the lookout for ways to manipulate the power structures of the Calixis Sector towards strife. She intends to do this by subtly coaxing the sector’s leading noble houses towards conflict or rebellion. She is willing to pursue this agenda personally, treating her Acolytes as little more than intelligence gatherers who have no idea of her destructive ambitions. The Tyrant Star would be a wonderful tool for her purposes.
  • Soldevan, Inquisitor of the Ordo Hereticus - A handsome man with skin the colour of ebony and a taste in imposing military dress uniforms that only enhance his air of strength and authority. Soldevan was originally an Interrogator in the employ of Witch Finder Rykehuss but never believed in his master’s extreme methods, and quickly broke with Rykehuss after attaining the Inquisitorial Seal. Soldevan believes that knowledge, not wanton destruction, is the key to protecting humanity from the threats it faces. Soldevan’s beliefs run deeper than he would ever admit. He believes that the Warp is an immense source of power and that an Inquisitor is a man of sufficient intelligence and willpower to harness it. Soldevan wants to open up a pathway to the Warp and seek out the consciousnesses that dwell there hoping to bargain with them for the power he needs to combat the enemies of Mankind. Soldevan has got quite close to his goal and has several forbidden tomes in his possession that, with the right sacrifices and rituals, will summon forth powerful daemons for him to negotiate with. He is always seeking more knowledge or artefacts of the Warp, either captured during the Tyrantine Cabal’s operations or purchased at extortionate prices from unscrupulous dealers in forbidden relics. Somewhere during this process Soldevan has lost his sanity and replaced it with absolute conviction that the Warp holds the secrets of humanity’s survival. He believes that the Tyrant Star represents a vital conduit to secrets of the Warp.
  • Vownus Kaede, Inquisitor of the Ordo Hereticus (Xenos) - Inquisitor Vownus Kaede is a noted scholar, philosopher and an optimist. He is also a skilled swordsman, irreverent scoundrel and a self-righteous reprobate. Named after the rogue hero of Catuldynus’s epic verse allegory The Once-Pure Hive, Kaede has spent most of his life living up to his namesake’s legacy. Originating somewhere, “East of Sol and West of Macragge”, Kaede signed on with a Free Captain at a young age and has never looked back. The details of his elevation to Inquisitor status are hazy and change every time he tells the story. The only point that remains consistent is that he was once a member of the Ordo Xenos, before finding his true calling as a Witch Hunter. Regardless of his chequered past, Inquisitor Kaede has been a respected member of the Tyrantine Cabal for over a decade. Though he is nominally of Puritan leanings, Kaede is a skilled psyker who fanatically believes in the psychic future of the human race and is willing to casually commit almost any atrocity in order to safeguard it. He and the martially inclined Acolyte bands he employs spend a great deal of time travelling between Calixis’ sub-sectors chasing down rumours of hidden witches. Kaede absolutely detests Rykehuss’ methods and takes a great deal of pleasure in spiriting promising young psykers out from under the Witch Finder’s pogroms. Inquisitor Kaede appears exactly the way Imperium citizens picture a Witch Hunter. From his wide-brimmed hat, to his Inferno Pistol, to the ancient short-bladed Force Sword named Slight Jest that he bears at his side, there is no mistaking his appearance and what it implies, which is exactly what Kaede wishes. To Kaede, the Tyrant Star prophecy is a delicious mystery to be unlocked.
  • Al-Subaai, Inquisitor of the Ordo Xenos - Al-Subaai was recently elevated to Inquisitor status after serving as an Interrogator in the service of Inquisitor Van Vuygens. While Van Vuygens combs the very edge of Imperial space for alien civilisations, Al-Subaai’s role is to search for alien influence in the populated worlds of the sector. Probably the youngest Inquisitor in the Tyrantine Cabal, Al-Subaai is deeply pious, and he looks it, usually attending gatherings in a monastic habit worn over sturdy, practical Carapace Armour. Al-Subaai believes that everything in the galaxy is connected and that the various intelligent alien species and their depredations are part of a larger web of hostility generated by the galaxy. The galaxy, Al-Subaai believes, is reacting to human occupation like a body reacting to a disease. To him, aliens (as well as all creatures of the Warp) are symptoms of the galaxy’s enmity towards Mankind. Al-Subaai therefore advocates the destruction of all aliens, especially those who influence humans. He considers his remit to cover not only alien-influenced cults and corruption, but also the trafficking in alien creatures and their technology. Anyone dealing with aliens or their artefacts is an enemy of humanity and nothing gives Al-Subaai greater satisfaction than to hunt them down and subject them to whatever punishment the Tyrantine Cabal decrees. To Al-Subaai, the Propheticum Hereticus Tenebrae is the handiwork of alien manipulation.

Other Notable Calixians

  • Marius Hax - Sector Lord Marius Hax (whose formally correct title is “Lord Sector” or “Lord Calixis”) is descended from an ancient family of Terran stock, a bloodline bred for leadership in the Imperial heartland of the Segmentum Solar. He was appointed governor of the sector by the High Lords of the Adeptus Terra more than one hundred and fifty standard years ago, and maintains a firm, unflinching grip on the planets under his control. The Lord Sector is a man of immense gravitas and solemnity, a glowering, intimidating presence at the heart of the Lucid Palace on Scintilla. Hax makes few public appearances, and personal audiences are rare. His devotion to the minutiae of leadership is legendary—it is said that he sleeps just four hours a night, and personally reviews the daily fiscal and economic reports in great detail. His reputation in the sector at large is therefore chilly and austere: he is popularly mocked as an unsmiling hardliner and administrative stickler, and also feared as a figure of unsympathetic authority. This widely accepted image, however, misses the essential truth. He is a painfully fair, even-handed man, devoted to the principles of ordered rule. In person, he is tall and granite-featured, and dresses in starkly simple dark robes, eschewing all aristocratic finery. He is over two hundred Scintillan years old, though modest juvenat treatments make him appear to be a robust fifty year old. Hax is not a man to be trifled with, nor underestimated.
  • Xiao - Chief Astropath Xiao is an improbably tall and broad-shouldered man with a shaven head and large grey-streaked beard. His blindness -- he wears an embroidered band around his head to cover his empty eye sockets -- is the only note of physical weakness about him, for even in his robes he is obviously a large and muscular man. Xiao does not permit anyone to send a message through his Astropaths unless he deems it necessary. Lord Hax is rarely refused by Xiao, but anyone else must justify the use of his Astropaths’ rare talents. Though Xiao is unfailingly polite he is still a very intimidating man and calmly refuses to compromise once he has made his decision. Xiao is one of the most powerful psykers in the Calixis Sector but he never sends astropathic messages personally, even for Hax, always having one of his astropaths do so instead, although it is rumoured that he has an arrangement with someone very powerful for whom he sends messages exclusively.
  • Queen Lachryma III - The Planetary Governor and Queen of Sepheris Secundus is an elderly woman who has successfully led Sepheris Secundus through numerous revolts, baronial uprisings and increasingly spectacular tithe demands from the Administratum. Now, however, she is getting old. Though her mind is still sound, her body is infirm and, some of the more ambitious barons say, she is losing the ruthlessness and willpower that once served her so well. Queen Lachryma’s aged, underweight form is swamped by her royal regalia, with its voluminous gown made from thousands of panes of stained glass and its crown of white gold. Her voice is thin and shaky, and she no longer has the presence that once acted as an anchor for the feudal system of Sepheris Secundus. In her later years, the queen has sunk into the throes of a personal crisis and has begun to wonder why her serfs have to live such grim lives of toil and whether there is another way that Sepheris Secundus could be ruled. She has ordered her barons to investigate what actually goes on in the depths of the planet’s mines, but her barons have resisted this and a few of them have sensed weakness and doubt in their queen. Though she would never admit it to anyone, Queen Lachryma is afraid of how she will be remembered, and knows that she is running out of time before she can get to the root causes of Sepheris Secundus’s misery.
  • Archdeacon Ludmilla - Ludmilla is a sturdily built, middle-aged woman who is the self-styled leader of the Cult of Redemption in the Calixis Sector. She believes that the Emperor is vengeful in the extreme and that it is her duty as a human being to punish every sin, from impure thoughts to excessive cursing, with excessive amounts of fire. Ludmilla believes in purifying fire as strongly as she believes in the Emperor, and loves to see sinners, places of ill repute and whole sections of the underhive consumed in flame. Ludmilla is devoted and not a little crazed. She is an impassioned hellfire preacher and a competent fighter, although she wields her sacred weapon, a pair of massive industrial shears, with more enthusiasm than skill. Ludmilla’s true skill is in encouraging her faithful to let the God-Emperor’s fury consume them, until there is nothing left of themselves: no compassion, not even any memory, just the burning hatred of the Emperor for all sinners. Her grandest project is to have the Redemption accepted as a part of the Imperial Creed, and she sends tributes to Cardinal Ignato in the hope that he will declare the Redemptionists to be valued members of the Adeptus Ministorum. These tributes mostly consist of cartloads of charred sinners left outside the Cathedral of Illumination on Scintilla. So far, Cardinal Ignato has not responded.
  • Lord Marshal Luthir Veremonn Goreman - Luthir Veremonn Goreman is the Lord Marshal of the Adeptus Arbites within the Calixis Sector. It was his idea to create the Divisio Immoralis, a new Arbitrator taskforce intended to deal with the myriad threats now confronting the sector. Goreman is known to have little respect for the vast majority of citizens who comprise the Calixis Sector's populace. Every time Goreman looks out upon the mass of Imperial citizenry he sees exactly the same thing he remembered from his homeworld of Sinophia: dissipated, lazy, disobedient wastrels slouching through aimless and worthless lives. To him, the Imperial Adeptus Terra is the only worthy creation of human society, to serve in it the one worthy ambition. The Adeptus, under the guidance of the Immortal Emperor, shows the rest of humanity what they could be had they the discipline, the faith, and the strength. Those outside the Adeptus are contemptible, and should think themselves lucky they are allowed to toil to support it; those who disobey or disrespect the Adeptus, or even court ambitions outside it, are beneath contempt. Luthir Goreman is of average height and lean of build, which surprises people who have seen the portraits and statues portraying him as a muscular giant. His complexion is pale, his eyes and hair grey, and his features broad, stern and handsome. He wears a black and gold Arbitrator dress uniform for most of his duties, with his rank pins and medals arranged on a separate banner that is carried to formal occasions by an adjutant. He always has a small purity seal pinned to his left lapel, copying a verse of Imperial scripture onto a new parchment each morning and having a garrison preacher bless and attach the seal at his private morning prayers.
  • Cardinal Ignato - Ignato is the Cardinal-Astra of the Calixis Sector, the senior prelate of the Adeptus Ministorum in the region. He leads the Calixian Synod of the Ecclesiarchy from Scintilla's Cathedral of Illumination, which is his sector seat.
  • Lord Inquisitor Caidin - Caidin is the Lord Inquisitor who leads the Calixian Conclave of Inquisitors from all three major Ordos. His headquarters is the Tricorn Palace on Scintilla, and every Inquisitor within the sector ultimately answers to his authority.
  • Canoness Goneril - Canoness Goneril is the leader of all Adepta Sororitas personnel in the Calixis Sector. Goneril leads the Lesser Order Famulous of the Opening Eye. The Opening Eye’s purpose is to offer counsel to the Calixis Sector’s powerful noble families. Most novices at the abbey are trainees of the Opening Eye and are schooled in a variety of subjects from Imperial history to theology and sector economics. Most importantly they are trained in the strength of mind to resist the secular temptations that are a constant threat to the Sisters Famulous. A Sister Famulous must be disciplined and incorruptible as she is sent out to fend mostly for herself, and is surrounded by the sometimes morally questionable nobles to whose house she is attached. Canoness Goneril has her Novices undergo a strict regime of fasting, prayer, lectures and theological study. She stops short of outright cruelty, but life is far from easy for a Novice of the Opening Eye.
  • Senior Arbitrator Kae Drusil, Marshal-in-Chief of the Divisio Immoralis - Kae Drusil is a Senior Arbitrator of the Adeptus Arbites and the Marshal-in-Chief of the Divisio Immoralis within the Calixis Sector. She was recruited into the Arbites following the assassination of her great-aunt and the rest of her noble household at the Universitariate she was attending at the age of fifteen. She remembered the Universitariate Enforcers and the interrogation by an unknown Arbites Judge. The Judge, whose name she never learned (and never sought), saw Kae's faith in the law, and her anger. He believed that these two traits would make her a fine recruit for the Arbites, and he was correct. As far as Kae Drusil could tell, the interrogation was her recruitment examination. Her belief in the incorruptibility of the Arbites and the inevitability of a future rule of perfect law had been demolished beyond repair by the things she was forced to do during a mission that was conducted under the auspices of the Inquisition. Approached by Lord Marshal Luthir Veremonn Goreman, Drusil agreed to command the Divisio Immoralis, the Lord Marshal's new experiment in Imperial law enforcement in the Calixis Sector.

Calixian Sub-sectors

Adrantis

Drusus Marches

Josian Reach

Malfian

  • Alactra - Hive World
  • Aryus One - Feudal World - Close to the Halo Stars, often serves as a jumping-off point for Rogue Traders seeking to explore them and the Koronus Expanse
  • Cindar - Mining World
  • Dusk - Feral World
  • Faldon Kise - Frontier World
  • Farcast - War World
  • Festus - Feudal World
  • Fydae Minos - Agri-world - Piracy is a constant problem in the Fydae System
  • Gallowglass - Agri-world - Gallowglass is that rare Agri-world that is a temperate, habitable moon of a gas giant rather than a planet in its own right
  • Junos - Mining World - Piracy is a constant problem in the Fydae System
  • JXM A18Z - Forge World - A Civilised World placed under the Adeptus Mechanicus' control
  • Port Goston - Space Station - Main Headquarters for the Imperial Navy's Battlefleet Calixis
  • Kenov III - Death World - Home of the Ripper Whips
  • Kessae - Frontier World - Piracy is a constant problem in the Fydae System
  • Kinog - Pleasure World
  • Kuluth - War World
  • Landunder - Hive World - Inverted hive cities dangle from the planet's crust
  • Lind - Hive World - The Lindwyrm Armoury produces superior grenades for the Imperium
  • Loss - Feral World
  • Malfi - Hive World - The rulers of Malfi believe it should be the Calixis Sector capital world and protest the supremacy of Scintilla in the sector's Imperial politics
  • MMX 215 - Forbidden World
  • Mundus - White Dwarf star - Orbited by Port Goston (see above)
  • Nahme - Mining World
  • Orbel Quill - Agri-world - No one on the world of Orbel Quill lives past the age of 40 standard years
  • Penolpass - Feudal World
  • Protasia - War World - This star system has declared independence from the Calixis Sector and the Imperium, Imperial Guard units are currently in-system to put down the rebellion
  • Seedworld AFG:218 - Forbidden/Xenos World - Possible Eldar holding, cordoned off by elements of Battlefleet Calixis until the xenos' presence can be removed
  • Synford II - Forge World
  • Vaxanide - Frontier World - Developing into a hive world as the rapidly growing population has begun to concentrate into proto-arcologies
  • Xeiros Prime - Forbidden World - Former Imperial Agri-world, under virus quarantine
  • Zweihan's World - Hive World - Famous as the homeworld of Saint Castor the Obviate

Golgenna Reach

The Periphery

The Periphery is also known as the Periphery Sub-sector and is the location of the Imperial war zone called the Spinward Front, where a three-way war currently rages between the forces of the Imperium of Man, the Severan Dominate and the the Ork WAAAGH! Grimtoof.

  • Avitohol - Forbidden World/Xenos World - Ongoing war between the Orks who control this planet and the Imperium's forces who are trying to drive them from it
  • Cyclopea - Adeptus Mechanicus Forge World/Civilised World
  • Drystan Construction Yards - Space Station - located near the Scarus Sector, centre of trade for commercial traffic heading from the Calixis Sector into the Scarus Sector
  • Ganf Magna - Frontier World - Feral Orks roam at large on this planet, presenting a major threat to the Imperial colonists, whose primary export is Polygum
  • Kalf - Frontier World - Home of the vicious organism known as the Sand Devil by the local Imperial colonists
  • Kulth - War World - Kulth suffered from an Ork invasion and the conflict is now currently in its 83rd year
  • Sabriel - Space Station - Abandoned and forgotten Adeptus Mechanicus research outpost
  • Sinophia - Frontier World
  • Sisk - Feudal World
  • Sleef - Dead World - Uninhabited, unusual Warp vibrations detected

Hazeroth

Markayn Marches

Uncategorised Locations

  • Hereticus Tenebrae - Special Astronomical Body - Composition unknown; moves about the Calixis Sector at will, also known as the Tyrant Star, is believed to be the prophetic herald of some unknown doom for the Calixis Sector and possibly for the Imperium of Man itself
  • Stilicho - Space Station - Mostly deserted former Imperial space station, now a center for pirate activity in the Calixis Sector

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