Setting:CloudburstFreehold

From 1d4chan
System
Galactic Position Cloudburst Sector, Uncategorized Region
System Overlord N/A
Worlds in the system Ten, one habitable
World Type, Name Pirate World: Zlodzeiei
Tropospheric Composition Nitrogen 76.4%, Oxygen 22%, Argon .9%, Water .68%, Carbon dioxide .02%
Religion Mixed
Government type Junta
Planetary Governor N/A
Adept Presence None
Climate Zlodziei has extensive, slow-moving bands of light rain that periodically soak the ground beneath them and replenish local wildlife
Geography 1.02 times the size of Terra, with extensive fault lines and tectonic upthrusts
Gravity Terran Gravity
Day Length 26 Terran Hours
Economy Local Scrip, Thrones
Principal Exports N/A
Principal Imports N/A
Countries and Continents Twelve continents, no national divisions
Military Free Corsair Coalition
Contact with other Systems Rare
Tithe Grade Aptus Non
Population 2,000,000 (local humans), 2,090,000 (human pirates), 491 (known alien pirates)


Description[edit]

Zlodziei is a textbook example of what happens when humans try to make their way in life unaccompanied by the Emperor’s love. The humans of Zlodziei made the error of attempting to escape the wholly reasonable edicts and costs of the Adeptus Terra, and now they’re paying for it every day.

Two hundred fifty years before the Seventh Glasian Migration, the people of the Mercad Hive of Thimble decided that they had had enough of the Imperium’s taxes and closeted mindsets. Pooling their money to buy second-hand ships and basic survival gear, the hivers took flight into the darkness. Two years later, out of food and desperate, the Thimblans stumbled across the planet Zlodziei.

The Thimblans settled down on the rocky planet, and quickly set about beginning basic agriculture and construction. The Thimblans, now Zlodziein, refused all offers to become a new Imperial world, and the Imperium, deeply annoyed but unable to do much about it, cut off their supply lines.

The new colony struggled to find its footing. Deaths from starvation and riots (and covert Imperial action) cost the planet three quarters of its population within the first fifteen years. However, after a few more years of hard work, the capital city and some simple manufacturing infrastructure completed, and the colony began to reverse its fortunes. Constant and focused terraforming of the planet’s soil and purification of its water ended the starvation, while a small force of public enforcers elected by their constituents ended lawlessness. To the Imperium’s irritation, the colony began to prosper.

The manufacturing consortium that controlled most industry on the world rationed their materials carefully. The Zlodziein did not manufacture one shirt or dataslate they didn’t need. To the Imperium’s slight surprise, the people of Zlodziei were wholly uninterested in trade, either with the Imperium or with other factions. Occasionally, a Rogue Trader would pop into the system to purchase or sell something, but beyond that, the people of the new colony refused any formal contact with the Imperium.

However, the Zlodziein were not foolish enough to think that they could spit on the Throne forever. Knowing full well that the Ordo Hereticus was watching them remotely, and sometimes from closer, the Zlodziein manufactured great temples to the Emperor, to show their faith had not wavered, and that an Ecclesiarchal retribution for their separation was not needed. They also began building a small defense militia, enough to fend off attackers from pirates or the occasional gutsy Ork.

So they imagined, at least. Elsewhere in the Cloudburst Sector and Circuit, other factors were in play of which the Zlodziein were unaware. The Cloudburst Sector has been, since the first day of its existence, more fluid than most. The patchy and disjointed nature of local Warp routes and habitable star clusters is the natural byproduct of the metal-rich supernova that birthed the region millions of years ago, and colonization efforts in the Cloudburst Circuit are often limited by the distances a ship needs to travel in the Warp without stopping to get anywhere. However, some expansion into the region does occur. The border of the Cloudburst Sector has crept spinward and trailing, and so has the reach of its Navy. Over time, Battlefleet Cloudburst has successfully shoved pirates and other undesirables out of its territory and into the darkness, only to run into them again later when they push into that very darkness.

One such group is the Free Corsair Coalition. The FCC is more than a mere band of thugs and desperados, however. The FCC is a self-contained, mobile, heavily armed civilization, one of millions of people and dozens of warships. The Coalition has raided targets as far apart as Nauphry and the Naxos border forts, and even stolen one of the few remaining Styx-class heavy cruisers.

The FCC moved in and took Zlodziei, as if it had always been theirs. To the interest of spying Ordo Hereticus operatives in the Coalition and Zlodziein population, the FCC simply arrived in-system with two dozen warships and nine transports, and began landing assets on the surface of the planet.

The Ordo Hereticus had previously focused its efforts on the recruitment and combat portions of the FCC, those dedicated to raiding Imperial shipping and pressing its crewers into service. The idea that the raiders would annex a planet is bizarre, given the FCC’s previous focus on maintaining mobility at all costs. Nothing is less mobile than a planet.

However, the FCC did not massacre the populace or even rob the planet. Instead, the FCC senior leadership arrived on the surface of the world and installed themselves as the new government. After rounding up the previous government and moving them into the mines, the leader of the FCC, its founder Admiral Reith, named himself Governor for Life, and proclaimed business as usual.

Military assets from the FCC and its tributaries have poured in since then, adding to its defense. However, both Zlodziein- and FCC-based operatives of the Ordos have concluded that Reith has moved fewer than twenty percent of his fleet into the system. While the entire non-combatant population of the FCC has since moved into Zlodziei, usually displacing the natives into the wilderness to occupy their homes, the martial assets are still staging somewhere else.

Reith has proven a canny and dangerous leader since then. He knew in advance, thanks to his own spies, that the planet’s economy had no room in it for a sudden upswing in new residents, and neither did its agriculture. He has kept up raids on Imperial shipping concerns, stealing food and manufactured goods, to bring to the planet to keep the populace from starving while they slave away, expanding the farms and mines.

Meanwhile, the native Zlodziein have taken various approaches to the new reality of their servitude. Most of the populace have now either bent the knee to the pirates or stifled their dreams of freedom. The Imperium comes up in more hopeful terms than it used to, as well, although some cynical Zlodziein think the Imperium would treat them even worse than the pirates do.

Some welcome the FCC. They think that the martial culture of the FCC is better than the Imperium’s, since the FCC, at least, do not cloak their brutality in the mantle of righteousness. The fact that the FCC has not disallowed the practice of Emperor-worship is especially appealing to them.

The Ordo Hereticus is aware of this decision of the FCC, but they see it more as a cunning ploy to prevent an Ecclesiarchal War of Faith against the FCC than any actual expression of faith on their part. Still, so long as the FCC permits the worship of the Emperor, the Ordo is less concerned with their conduct than they might have been. The problem that truly concerns the Ordo Hereticus is twofold, and ironically has nothing to do with religion.

The twofold problem concerns another facet of the FCC’s unique culture: aliens. The Ordo has observed that alien FCC members have stepped up raids on Imperial goods and ships since the Zlodziein invasion, and that the Eldar members of the Coalition specifically have been coaching Zlodziein psykers in their alien ways.

The former is a concern because of the potential of Ork spores or Eldar cultural insidiousness infecting human thoughts or flesh, of course, but the latter is a potentially devastating heresy. The idea that humans could learn genuine psychic control from the degenerate Eldar and still remain truly loyal and faithful to the will of Him on Terra is laughable. What could it possibly benefit the Eldar race, or even specific corsairs, if they teach human psykers to think like they do? What, indeed, besides having a cadre of brainwashed witches, ready to slay their fellow man at the whims of evil aliens?

The Ordo Hereticus only learned of this psychic trickery weeks before the coming of the Seventh Glasian Migration, but the discovery by a small infiltration unit of the Ordo in the ranks of the FCC has set off alarm bells across the Conclave Cloudburst. Ordo Xenos Inquisitors demand to know what the Eldar are teaching, while Ordo Hereticus Inquisitors are screaming for blood from the race-traitors responsible. The Ordo Malleus representatives are disgusted, but have resolved only to step in if the human psykers show signs of losing control of their power and summoning something worse than tricky aliens.

Given the massive resource drains of the imminent Glasian Migration and already-present Ork invasions, there is no real chance that the Conclave will be able to muster troops in sufficient volume for a decisive conventional invasion of FCC territory to put a stop to this. However, the Inquisition has means beyond mere ranks of men. Four Ordo Hereticus Inquisitors, led by the murderous Jerome Paltmitier himself, have pooled their resources and amassed a respectable force of Scions, Stormtroopers, Guard, warships, and Throne Agents. Not enough to win a war outright, but enough to heavily destabilize the Zlodziein defenses and allow a smaller conventional force to do damage out of proportion to their numbers.

All eyes now rest on Admiral Reith. He has not yet made a statement, even on Zlodziei itself, about his intention regarding this education of human psykers by aliens. Until the Ordos know precisely what he’s up to, and why he is allowing this, it will be difficult to create a means of stopping him without reliance on brute force or luck. The Emperor’s Tarot has provided no guidance on the issue. All portents point towards the Glasian Migration being a far greater threat, which even the most obsessive Ordo Hereticus Inquisitors must admit to probably being the case. Still, until the resources needed to crush the FCC in open war become available, to take no action would simply be irresponsible, and the problem can only worsen with time. The FCC’s pockets are growing deeper, their ranks swelling, and the Astronomican’s reach shrinking.

Outside the scope of the FCC, life on Zlodziei is not so different from life on some other Imperial worlds, namely the Prison Planet Craspian 5. Zlodziei’s founding population of rich dissidents has long since passed away, and their descendants have attracted all manner of refugee or escapee Imperials to bolster their numbers. Thus, the population of Zlodziei before their annexation was a mixed one, with no real pattern to ages, races, or even homeworlds outside the founding Thimblans. Notably, Renegades and Traitors were generally received no more warmly than they would have been on an Imperial world. The Zlodziein didn’t want a war, nor did they want the usual collection of Chaos-tainted scum and desperate criminals that Renegade and Traitor colonies usually attract. Outside the towering cities of prefabricated concrete slabs and stone, life on Zlodziei was quiet and fairly calm. Mines and farms, small factories and the occasional resort were all one would find more than a few miles from the two major spaceports. A few small defense structures, mostly bunker networks with land cleared for VTOLs, dotted the countryside here and there. Zlodziei had no orbitals and only a few satellites.

The world’s religious authority was decentralized and nearly powerless. Worship consisted of a few small shrines and a single tiny chapel, with most people expected to practice their worship of the Emperor in their hearts and not with their wallets. Ironically, this is closer in spirit to current Terran interpretations of the Holy Emperor Cult than that of Cardinals Drake and Lamarr.

Beyond such authority, paltry as it is, sits the government of the colony. The current leadership consists of knifepoint compliance by puppets of the FCC, but prior to this, each of the fifteen major cities of the planet were expected to select a representative to attend a planetary Congress every six months, with the representative of the city with the largest population chairing meetings to establish legislation and execute governmental edicts.

Money on Zlodziei was not backed by the great trade cabals of the Imperium or the Mint of Terra, and so its valuation defaulted to a mixture of electronic bonds and gold-backed scrip. When the pirates came, that system stayed in place, though the pirates prefer the use of Imperial currency instead, thanks to the fact that they can spend it off-world.

Today, however, life on Zlodziei is brutal and oppressive, worse than life on Thimble had been at the time by far. The populace yearns for heroes, and whether those heroes come from the ranks of the FCC to lead them to a future free of the Imperium, from their own folk to cast off both of their enemies, or the Imperium, to shepherd the people back to the light, none yet know.