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Proxy High Minister Lord Alphax Duss
The world of Juno has stood as the capital of the Askellon Sector since time immemorial. It is commonly held as the first of the Founding Worlds to have been settled. The planet’s ruling classes regard themselves as the elite of the sector, claiming the colony vessel that seeded their civilisation was the one carrying the finest of the fleet. Whether this is truth or fantasy, the rulers of Juno have always comported themselves as aristocratic masters, and place enormous stock in preserving what they regard as the purity of their labyrinthine bloodlines. While the aristocracy live artificially-extended lives of unimaginable luxury, their world cracks apart and their claimed control over the sector becomes more precarious. Each year, more shards of the cyclopean edifice sheer away, eroding the aristocracy’s power, though they have yet to realise how badly. Their retainers dare not speak such truths to them, as the majority care little for such things and are concerned only that their existence should continue uninterrupted. An increasingly small number amongst them are still loyal to the greater Imperium and struggle to maintain Askellon, though most fear it is in vain.
As the Pandaemonium grows in this era, the aristocracy of Juno grows ever more distant and detached. Their balls and banquets become ever more decadent and outré, their costumes ever more flamboyant, and their behaviour ever more outrageous. Those who have witnessed these excesses whisper of the Emperor’s judgement being brought down upon their pampered heads, while rebellion simmers amongst the teeming masses. Indeed, some masked harbingers of doom preach sermons blaming all of the sector’s woes on the debauchery of the aristocracy, holding that only by casting the ruling classes down might the fall of the entire sector be averted. Life on Juno is fast approaching a tipping point, though its rulers appear entirely unaware of their own peril.
The surface of Juno reflects the planet’s long and war-torn history. Nothing of its original environment remains, the seas having been replaced by swamps of toxic sludge, and every shred of native biomass having been consumed in one manner or another. Numerous sprawling cities exist on the surface, but only a minority are occupied at any one time, officially at least. The world has been assaulted or invaded so many times throughout its long history that its cities have each been abandoned, re-occupied, levelled, or rebuilt many times over. The world’s ruling classes, as well as the headquarters of various branches of the Adeptus Terra and other Imperial institutions, occupy structures that resemble mighty bastions. The roads are lined with statues many metres high, and ragged banners sway in the breeze along processionals hundreds of miles long. The skeletal remains of cities lost to long-forgotten wars fill the war-torn wastes between those cities currently thriving. Within these wastes are said to exist all manner of outcasts: mutants struck low by the taint of genetic corruption from the toxins saturating the very ground, Warp-worshipping cults, recidivist enclaves, and even infiltrators of any number of xenos species. Periodically, the rulers order such areas purged, partly out of paranoia and disgust, but as much because it is inevitable that they will have to be rebuilt at some point as the tides of war sweep their existing cities away.
The cities are places of enormous contradiction. The weight of power and age rests heavily upon them, even as new structures are thrown up to replace those entirely torn down. The greatest edifices of Juno are riddled with craters and plasma fractures many thousands of years old. All is dilapidated grandeur, grand balls and banquets being thrown in towering halls where walls are pock-marked and the cracked roofs are open to the pollution-streaked heavens. Despite the damage wrought upon its fabric, the world still retains a palpable air of age and power that few can deny.
Juno is the pre-eminent world in the Askellon Sector and seat of the Adeptus Terra’s sectorwide bodies of government. While each world has a Planetary Governor to rule it in the Emperor’s name, there are matters that require the exercise of power at the subsector and in particular the sector level, and in Askellon these are vested in the person of the Sector Praefect. For as long as the records recount, this office has been allotted according to a complex tradition of inheritance within the Askellian nobility, but its fulfilment has always been subject to ratification by the Senatorum Imperialis, for it confers on the Sector Praefect a senior rank within the Adeptus Terra—one imbued with great responsibility. The Sector Praefect’s role is to oversee affairs between its worlds, as well as represent the sector in its dealings with external bodies, whether these are neighbouring sectors, Segmentum authorities, or even the High Lords of Terra themselves. The Praefect has no direct power to interfere with the planetary rulers, but in practise exercises enormous influence. Should he deem it necessary, trade routes could be redirected or closed, plunging systems into misery and condemning millions to death.
The incumbent is Praefectrix Charlotta Anastasia XX, whom the planetary governors of Askellon fear and adore in equal measure. She rules from the Pellucid Tower, one of the most ancient structures on the surface of Juno, where numerous representatives of the Adeptus Terra’s many divisions are gathered along with countless thousands of officials, scribes, and functionaries to support her rule. Her control is not limited to the wider sector, as she rules Juno itself through a sycophantic coterie led by a handpicked high minister. While she has been in power for several decades, the Praefectrix appears to be slowly withdrawing from public life, her appearances at her own court growing ever more infrequent so that they are now almost entirely limited to the grandest of state functions. Many fear she has become increasingly paranoid and secretive to such an extent that it is rare for any but her most senior counsellors to interact with her in any official capacity.
The Praefectrix now resides in a sprawling complex of armoured chambers and crypts deep within the foundations of the Pellucid Tower, chambers that are likely to have been constructed impossibly long ago in the forgotten Dark Age of Technology. From this subterranean sanctuary, the Praefectrix issues declarations and receives reports from her most trusted advisors and underlings, many of them bearing scant resemblance to any sort of reality beyond its armoured doors. What fantasies she now clings to remain a mystery to all but the inner circle, for she has been known to order the raising of entire legions against imaginary foes or order a system long since lost to host a grand visitation. Juno itself has lost her attention. Her advisors feed her a steady stream of lies and half-truths, and jealously guard access to their mistress. Despite this, the Praefectrix does occasionally hold court in closed session with mysterious emissaries her counsellors have failed to bar. Who these emissaries are and what powers they might represent remains a secret known to only a select few.
Adeptus Terra's Presence on JunoEdit
As the capital world of an entire sector, Juno is host to the missions and holdings of a wide range of the Imperium’s countless institutions. Many have been allowed to become reduced or degraded, with senior officials caring less for even the appearance of control. Some offices have been vacant for many years, awaiting replacements that may never arrive due to garbled or lost astropathic transmissions.
The Adeptus Arbites maintain several formidable Bastion-Precincts on Juno. The majority of these are located in and around Vesuna Regis, the headquarters located in the notorious Bastion-Precinct Omega. This is also the seat of power of Arbiter Lord Wilhelm, High Marshal of the Askellon Grand Precinct, the most senior officer in the region. His life extended by juvenat treatments, Wilhelm is well into his second century, but the mind and body of this once much-feared officer have degraded drastically in recent years. As the situation in Askellon has grown ever darker and Wilhelm’s mind has slipped further into the depths of decrepitude, he has become ever more strident and extreme in his pursuit of the sin, conspiracy, and damnation he sees in every shadow. He has unleashed countless purges upon the sector, often with no shred of evidence of any wrongdoing. Nonetheless, Wilhelm holds firmly to the notion that the execution of one recidivist is worth the incidental suffering of thousands of the supposedly innocent, a state he holds to be at best temporary in any case.
Vesuna Regis is also the home of the sector’s principle astropathic choir, housed in an ancient complex on the very edge of the city, overlooking a ragged coastline of noxious swamp. Its master Astropath died in the course of his duties a decade ago, his mind ravaged by Daemons during an unexpected surge in the Pandaemonium. No successor has yet been named, and so the task of directing the mind voices rotates amongst the senior members, resulting in erratic communication to and from the capital. Only those messages coded with the highest levels of priority and clearance gain the choir’s full attention and power, but even then there are difficulties. Some claim their messages have been twisted out of all recognition, and blame fell powers intent upon seeding anarchy and madness across the domains of Askellon.
The single largest division of the Adeptus Terra present on Juno is the Adeptus Administratum, its headquarters located at the mighty Regis Chancellery near the centre of Vesuna Regis. This and numerous subsidiary locations house many millions of scribes, factors, and overseers, many of whom live out their lifetimes within a few metres of their ink-stained desks. Lord High Comptroller-General Avak Numinor leads the mission, and is responsible for cataloguing the sector’s resources so that proper tithe levels can be maintained for each world. It is said that the staff of the Regis Chancellery never cease in their efforts to record every possible detail of the sector’s holdings, and given the massive data-vaults that litter the planet and other worlds in the Juno system, this is likely true. While it has been dutifully transmitting tithe-data to Terra, there have been few responses in recent years, and the Chancellery grows ever more worried the tithe-levels are now generations out of date. The atmosphere within its basalt walls is one of fear and desperation, as the countless sub-divisions and bureaus slip ever further from their targets of agglomerated tithe-data. All are terrified that emissaries from distant Terra might arrive at any moment and demand explanations, determined to execute any they deem to have failed in this sacred duty.
The numerous other pillars of the Imperium maintain holdings on Juno, but not always in plain sight. Such huge divisions as the Departmento Munitorum tend to be headquartered in other areas of the sector, though they maintain missions on Juno for ease of interacting with the sector’s highest authorities as well as the numerous other bodies. Some, like the Adeptus Mechanicus, distrust and are in turn are distrusted by the many planetary and sector authorities, and choose to remain aloof and apart, even if their presence is vital to the administration of the region. Such tensions only serve to hasten and multiply the effects of the growing Pandaemonium and bring the collapse of the entire sector one day closer.
The capital city for the last three generations, Vesuna Regis is believed to have been founded soon after the original wave of colonisation over ten millennia ago. It is a sprawling metropolis housing close to a billion souls, though no true census has been taken for many centuries. Vesuna Regis is an assemblage of impossibly ancient constructions, battle-scarred with statues weathered to vague outlines. New structures have been thrown up to replace those that have come crashing down due to the weight of age and the ravages of war, but with each generation the refined forms and masterful techniques of the past are lost to these pale imitations of the originals.
It is said that beneath the ancient foundations of Vesuna Regis lie even older chambers sunk deep into the crust by the first wave of colonists, crypts possibly containing all manner of archaeotech and other relics of the Dark Age of Technology. Needless to say, these rumours draw all manner of treasure hunters, as well as worshippers of forbidden powers and hooded agents of the Machine Cult. To reach these subterranean layers, an explorer would have to pass through horrid under-strata populated by countless outcasts and mutants, and there are no records of anyone discovering these supposed riches. Organised expeditions are discouraged, for they often trigger horrific uprisings amongst the feral denizens. The last time this undercity rose up, the city was set aflame, millions were slaughtered or dragged below, and it required a protracted campaign to finally end. The city has not been consumed by war in quite some time, which has only served to increase tensions above and below, and it seems that every hab corner is host to a maniac street-preacher prophesying imminent doom.
The Basilica of Valerius RisenEdit
The centre of the Imperial Creed on Juno, and indeed in the sector, is the Basilica of Valerius Risen, a colossal structure so tall its highest spires pierce the lower atmosphere and only remain intact because they are held aloft by archaeotech anti-gravitic generators. The Basilica’s main nave is spacious enough to accommodate tens of thousands of worshippers at any one time, and its inner walls are lined with tiered gallery-chapels set aside for the use of the ruling classes. The spires are host to the most senior of the Ecclesiarchy’s officers and at its very summit, so high up that its chambers are sealed against the near vacuum beyond, is the Sector Synod. From here, Askellon’s Arch Cardinal Harus rules over the synods, each of which corresponds to one of the region’s sub-sectors and several other, lesser holdings. He is a devout follower of the cult of the sector’s pre-eminent saint, Valerius, a legendary figure about which very little is actually known, but who appears to have been instrumental in converting the people of the sector to the worship of the Emperor early in its history.
Harus believes that the Emperor is on the verge of abandoning Askellon, so tainted are the souls of its people, and he believes that only by following the teachings of Saint Valerius can disaster be averted. Every day, services are held in which Harus and his subordinates preach the oncoming doom to the masses, many of which have been rounded up and herded into the basilica’s grand nave by an army of stave-wielding Ardentii Zealots. The wails of lamentation cast up by the gathered faithful in response to the sermons are broadcast across the city from mighty vox-hailers mounted upon the basilica’s spires. Further afield, countless vox-channels relay the sermons and the cries of those that hear them to the entire planet, sometimes deliberately overloading the vox-casters so the broadcasts bleed into every channel and none can avoid them.
Most worlds in the Imperium maintain a body responsible for punishing those who contravene its laws, broadly referred to as Enforcers. The Vigil, as Juno’s Enforcers are known, project a demeanour of propriety and civility, yet this is known to all but the most ignorant of off-worlders as a thin veneer. In reality, its officers are callous to the point of sadism, seeing crime and disrespect wherever they wish to find it. The majority of the populace of Juno know that to seek the help of the Vigil is to court punishment for wasting its time, and while on some worlds the native Enforcers blatantly favour the ruling classes over the multitudes, even the nobility appear to earn nothing more than the scorn of the Vigil. Indeed, it has existed for so long that it has become a separate class of its own, one whose members are born into its ranks and to whom almost all outsiders are rivals. To the surprise of many off-worlders, the Vigil is neither corrupt nor venal, for the surest way to earn a punishment in the Excoriation Cubes is to offer an officer any sort of bribe.
The Grand ArmyEdit
Juno also maintains a local defence force to protect the planet against both external invasion and internal uprising. The Grand Army of the Sovereign, also known simply as the Grand Army or colloquially as the Oldbloods, is imbued with many millennia of tradition, pomp, and grandeur. It has a standing force of several million troops, the majority infantry but including other types from shock cavalry to heavy artillery. Its members are possessed of a fearsome esprit de corps, and many companies are tithed en masse to the world’s Imperial Guard regiments such as the Juno Grand Fusiliers, where they find glory across the sector and beyond.
Members wear a distinctive gold-chased cuirass wrought with all manner of ornate texts and traceries, complemented by a spiked helm, tan britches, and sleeves of deepest royal purple. The officers’ uniforms are still more refined, with mantles of rare fur and pelisse jackets, resplendent with gleaming golden buttons and braided fasteners. Though the Oldbloods might be mistaken for mere ceremonial troops intended more for showy displays of power than actual combat, nothing could be further from the truth. The Grand Army is highly experienced, its units bearing the brunt of the near constant purges of the ruined wastes in order to cull the populations of mutants and recidivists that lurk within. Furthermore, because the world has been invaded so many times throughout its long history, the Grand Army has developed a deeply ingrained institutional memory. It has at some point in the past fought against almost every enemy of Mankind, and retains much of the knowledge on how to do so again.
Despite its splendour and status, the Grand Army is regarded with deep contempt by the average member of the citizenry of Juno. Oldbloods are often used to bolster the Vigil when large scale civil disorder threatens the status quo. With the world and the sector at large experiencing a slow, inexorable slide into damnation and anarchy, instances of such disorder grow ever more frequent, and the Grand Army has recently engaged in several pitched battles against large, armed groups of rebels in the depths of the ruin-strewn wastes.
While official census enumerations list the population of Juno at approximately fifteen billion, it is feared that the true figure is far higher. This is due to the fact that Juno has been consumed by war so many times over its impossibly long history that entire sub-populations have risen from those made refugees and outcasts. Over the centuries, these groups have multiplied and taken over wide stretches of the ruin-strewn wastes between the major cities, despite the regular purges unleashed against them. Some in the Grand Army claim that the constant strife that the planet is subject to keeps its bloodlines strong, but for most, constant war and uprising is simply how Juno exists, and they cannot imagine any other manner of life.
Myriad are those counted amongst the hordes of outcasts, from fallen priests to cannibal mutants. There are entire gangs of psychic wyrds, as well as adorii cults that venerate them. Untold numbers of mutants scour the ruins as they fight their rivals for the smallest scrap of food, while archaeotech hunters sift through the rubble of countless thousands of years of war and rebuilding in search of priceless relics from more puissant ages. In recent decades, an entire population of religious zealots has risen up, their founder cast out fifty years ago for his extreme views in denouncing the ruling classes for their decadence and arrogance. Now, that same message is gaining traction, but the descendants of his disciples roam the wastes, forcibly converting any and all they encounter and amassing an ever-increasing host of frenzied fanatics. Few of the nobility seem aware or caring of this growing threat, sure in the knowledge that eternal Juno has prevailed for ten millennia, and no wasteland rabble can disturb their rule.
Departmento Cartographicae Planetary DatabaseEdit
- Government Type: Proxy council of ministers subservient to Praefectrix Charlotta Anastasia XX
- Planetary Governor: Proxy High Minister Lord Alphax Duss
- Adept Presence: All major sub-divisions of the Adeptus Terra represented in missions in the Pellucid Tower, plus numerous headquarters and fortress-vaults across the planet.
- Geography: Temperate, barren, seas polluted beyond recognition
- Military: Grand Army of the Sovereign
- Economy: Major importer of luxury goods to the numerous nobles quartered on the world. Other elements of the world’s economy based on provision of administrative services, via bonded stipends dating back many thousands of years.
- Tithe Grade: Exactus Extremis
- Dark Heresy: Core Rulebook (2nd Edition) (RPG), pp. 324-328