|Galactic Position||Cloudburst Sector, Maskos Subsector|
|System Overlord||Master of the Administratum Maskos Samantha Lowenthal|
|Worlds in the system||Twelve, two habitable|
A system of piety, secrets, and intrigue, all of it under the command of one of the most powerful and wealthy women in the Galactic North. Maskos is the hub of the Inquisition, the heart of a sprawling mercantile empire, and host of some of the most advanced and capable military forces in the Sector, but it also has a history of deception and heresy that very nearly laid waste to billions.
|World Type, Name||Civilized World Maskos|
|Tropospheric Composition||Maskos has Nitrogen 77%, Oxygen 21%, Water .4%, various Noble Gasses 1%, Carbon Dioxide .06%|
|Government type||Adeptus Terra|
|Adept Presence||Adeptus Mechanicus, Adeptus Arbites, Adeptus Astra Telepathica, Adeptus Administratum, Adeptus Ministorum|
|Climate||Maskos is a temperate world with arctic poles and supertropical equatorial zone|
|Geography||Maskos is .87 times the size of Terra, with lengthy flats and salt lands broken up by deep oceans|
|Gravity||.9 Terran Gravity|
|Day Length||25 Terran Hours|
|Economy||Gelt Thrones and Silver Thrones|
|Principal Exports||Ores, Oil, Promethium, Ammunition, Air filters, Water, Navy officers|
|Principal Imports||Fertilizers, Farm laborers, Aircars|
|Countries and Continents||Maskos has five continents, with no national borders|
|Military||Maskos Warriors (high quality PDF, medium quality Guard)|
|Contact with other Systems||Constant|
|Tithe Grade||Decuma Particular|
|Population||6,000,000,000 humans and servitors|
Maskos is not named after a Rogue Trader, nor after the things one might wear on a stage. Instead, Maskos is named after the Ecclesiarchy’s best and brightest Missionary. They would just as soon it be named something else, however, given that the world later became the site of one of the Sector’s greatest oversights.
One of the first worlds of human population encountered after the rush to colonize the Oldlight Proximate Circuit began, Maskos is now a typical Imperial Civilized World, with the various institutions one might expect from such a place. However, the world’s roots lie far back in the ancient history of Mankind. Colonized in the final years of relative stability before the collapse of the Terran Federation, Maskos benefited from two major advantages: no neighbors, and abundant natural gas. These two factors allowed Maskos, then called Drolorium, to survive many centuries deeper into the Age of Strife than the majority of the worlds of the later Cloudburst Sector. However, the Age of Strife and Old Night were relentless, and Drolorium collapsed as most others did. The world barely scraped by, as its exports-based economy was suddenly flush with goods, lacking raw materials, and had no market. Pollution and war erupted all across the planet. For thousands of years, Drolorium was dominated by Godless warlords and rival scavenger gangs.
All that changed when Rogue Trader and Missionary Lad’inbel Atongwë, accompanied by over two hundred thousand Ecclesiarchy preachers, Militia, Sisters, and Missionaries on a mission to convert the barbarians of the Oldlight Proximate Circuit arrived in orbit over the world. Drolorium was in poor shape. Pollution, sin, and ignorance ruled the day, and Atongwë immediately recognized that this was a world that needed the God-Emperor’s light. The problem was that the warlords had amassed enormous armies, and several were well fortified in abandoned Dark Age cities and factories that he very much wanted to take intact. He asked the huge Adeptus Ministorum delegation present to assist him in bringing the world to Terra’s Glory, and one Missionary stepped forth with a cunning plan.
The Missionary, a charismatic and insightful lad named Maskos, proposed that the world be brought to worship of the Emperor through subtle means. He proposed that the fleet drop pre-fabricated buildings of faith to the world below, in a place where the local warlords had no technological means to reach. Then, Missionaries and lay folk of the clergy could go to the main populations and begin subtle re-education. Maskos proposed that high-tech, productive, and beautiful vegetable farms, environmental cleaning sites, flower gardens, pastoral getaways, and other places of serene and idyllic beauty surround the pre-fab buildings. Then, when the people in the main populations started showing interest in the words the Ministorum had sown in secret, the Ministorum could ferry those faithful ones to the retreat, and let them stay there for a set term. Then, the Missionaries could promise them they could live there forever if they spent the next few years preaching the gospel to the miserable barbarians of the world, overseen by Atongwë’s Missionaries, of course. Eventually, as the population of the safe zone grew large enough, the descendants of the first wave of pilgrims could be trained to use the same technology. The Drolorians, Maskos said, would trip over each other to serve the Ecclesiarchy.
Atongwë thought the plan over, and found the obvious flaw. What, he asked, of the warlords? Surely, they would not tolerate the best and brightest of their population disappearing to some holy land beyond their control.
Maskos smiled. “Promote them,” he said. “Who wouldn’t want to rule paradise?”
Atongwë gave approval to the plan, and great pre-fab buildings were dropped to a remote island. Detoxifying and environmental repair operations began at once, and by the time Atongwë had left to continue his campaign of soul-saving, the farms were seeded, the Missionaries briefed and language-trained, and the discreet security militia ready to deploy.
Maskos led the first wave of Missionaries in person. For years, living as a barbarian in the hollow remains of a long-dead hive at the world’s equator, he preached in the dark and quiet, bringing a few thousand interested souls to the word of the Throne. When he gauged his stay in the Hive had gone on long enough to annoy the local barbarian warlord with his proselytizing, he signaled for pickup. To the shock and terror of the other barbarians, a great troopship of the Frateris Militia soared in from the heavens, deploying flares and firing lasers for maximum effect. Maskos led his eager pilgrims into the ship and took off.
Shepherding the new converts to the paradisiacal monastery he had created, Maskos told the flock that they would live there for two local years. There, they would have the very best of healthcare, the best food, clothes, education. They would live like the warlords themselves, and want for nothing. When two years were done, they would return to their homes, and they would preach the Emperor’s word far and wide. If they did so, they could return at the end of their careers, and retire to the monastery with their families.
Needless to say, the pilgrims took to the pledge work with gusto. While the first group relaxed and enjoyed the paradise Maskos had ordered built, he returned to another city, and repeated the process, while over two hundred Missionaries did the same, around the globe. Within five years, Maskos’s planned monastery had grown from a mere six hundred pilgrims and local workers to over twenty thousand.
Inevitably, the warlords took notice. Most regarded the charismatic young clergyman as a clear and present danger to their rule. They restrained their armies and assassins solely because they had heard of warrior women with great chainsaw swords attacking warlord troops who had waylaid other preachers, and levelling their holdings with fire. Finally, Maskos personally approached the most powerful warlord of the world, and told him the truth. The world was going to become part of the great congregation of the stars, he said, and a piece of the Emperor’s Imperium. The warlord, the Missionary said simply, could rule the whole planet from the monastery in the Emperor’s name, or he could wake up one morning with no ribcage, and a more pliant inferior in the world’s throne.
Understandably, the warlord took the offer, and only ten more years of hard work and preaching followed. When Adeptus Administratum and Adeptus Arbites vessels arrived with Atongwë, forty-five Terran years to the day after Maskos opened the door to the monastery in person, they found an orderly, rapidly cleaning, pious world, ready to become loyally Imperial.
Maskos was made the world’s Archbishop and Deacon Extraordinary, and refused juvenat treatments to allow him to repeat the trick on another world – the vast force of eager pilgrims and preachers he had trained were more than capable of undertaking their own efforts in the Circuit. He lived long enough to see the Mechanicus finish Terraforming the small world Grendel, at the outskirts of the system, then died peacefully.
By unanimous assent of the world’s thousands of Sub-Prelates, the world was renamed in his honor. Great factories, cathedrals, offices, and residence towers rose from the ashes of twelve thousand years of internecine wars, Grendel began churning out food by the teraton for Cognomen, and all seemed well.
One thousand years later, a preacher, wearing robes identical to those that Maskos himself had worn during his time as a Missionary, appeared in one of the many new cities of Maskos. The preacher, who named himself only Ritorum the Humble, spoke glowingly of Maskos’s legacy, and disparagingly of the now long-dead warlord to whom Maskos had offered the throne of the world. The warlord-cum-governor, Ritorum proclaimed, had deeply insulted the Ecclesiarchy with his materialism, his cowardice, and his pride. The actual events were so long ago, most of the people of Maskos didn’t know better. Ritorum went on to claim that the Ecclesiarchy was doing an insult of its own to the people of the world, by not building for them the same paradises that Maskos had built for their ancestors, a thousand years ago.
Initially, the preacher made little headway, but in time, his charisma, his persuasive speaking style, and the growing underclass of the planet had combined to build himself a sturdy congregation, one that exulted in hard work and enjoying the pleasures of life. The Ecclesiarchy of the planet, unsure of Ritorum’s intentions, discreetly demanded an explanation for his unorthodox preaching, but Ritorum simply pointed out the facts: the Ecclesiarchy was losing its touch with the underclasses, and they were a potent breeding ground for sedition if ever they strayed from the Throne. Though this did not calm the Ecclesiarchy much, they were forced to admit that it was not so terribly far from the general Cult Imperator in Cloudburst: that of happiness and holiness stemming from giving one’s all in the Emperor’s name, usually to the Ecclesiarchy itself.
Ritorum directed his flock to build a great monastery, one akin to the one that now served as the headquarters for the Ministorum and Administratum, only even grander. This, he proclaimed, would be for the people, and like the pilgrims of old, any who pleased him could retire here after a lifetime of hard work.
Soon enough, Ritorum had his monastery. Built into a mountainside known for its scenic views and isolation, Ritorum began using the same tactics that Maskos had; he took the downtrodden, promised them paradise, and then actually sent them there. After disappearing for only a few months, the pilgrims who came to Ritorum’s monastery would return to civilization, eager to spread the good word. Homes became galleries, workplaces became faith houses, and for a time, even the Ecclesiarchy had to admit that all seemed well. Ritorum’s love of beauty and hard work were hardly inimical to Imperial virtues.
Some decades passed, and the first of Ritorum’s flock reached retirement age. One by one, they collected their families and travelled to the monastery, whereupon they were never seen again. Initially, the local law enforcement agencies of the world could write that off as a simple retirement home, far from the cities, but as thousands of people vanished from the population centers of Maskos, the Arbites grew suspicious. They dispatched a plainclothes team to the monastery in the guise of pilgrims, seeking to infiltrate. The team returned two months later, eagerly reporting that Ritorum was exactly what he seemed to be, and claiming that there was a real chance he had been blessed by the Emperor himself. Sharp-eyed Arbitrators, however, immediately noticed two things. First, that had not been what the plainclothes team had been sent to establish. Second, one of the Arbites dispatched to the monastery had not returned with the others, but had come back later, with signs of a concussion, which no other team member remembered him getting.
Fed up with secrets and inconsistencies, the Arbites assembled a full Suppression Force and concealed them in the rocks around the monastery one night. A volunteer from the Judges was sent in, in the guise of an inspector, looking for a missing person. Under his armor, he wore a vox-wire and a heartbeat monitor. After a few minutes of talking, the rest of the Suppression Force heard the Judge enter the building and begin looking around, at which time the vox-wire abruptly shut off. The heartbeat monitor did not, perhaps because the Judge had concealed it elsewhere on his person. The alarmed Arbitrators saw the Judge’s heart rate climb from 60 BPM to 140 BPM in under a minute.
The Marshal on site ordered an immediate Omega Crash, Arbites terminology for armed raid. The entire Arbites force charged the monastery and attacked with suppressed guns and stunners, web guns and non-lethal needlers. Hundreds of startled pilgrims fell in seconds to the massive assault, through windows and doors that faced out onto the plains of Maskos from their cliffside retreat.
In minutes, it became obvious that something was badly wrong. Though the entry rooms were perfectly normal Ecclesiarchal material, with the usual devotions and icons of the Throne and Primarchs, the rooms deeper in, past the first group of residential halls, had far more disturbing iconography, of things that were not quite human doing things that were not quite legal, or anatomically possible, to various human heroes of ages past. Their hearts gripped by sudden knowledge of what was happening, the Arbites switched to lethal weapons and charged deeper.
Inside the central gallery of the monastery, the Arbites team encountered a scene from a fever dream. A monstrous, pulsating ball of flesh and Warp-stuff hung in the air above the floor, surrounded by thousands of chanting Slaaneshi cultists. The Arbites, seeing no sign of either their missing Judge or Ritorum, opened fire at once, cutting down the oblivious cultists by the hundreds. In the carnage, cultists rose from their chants and threw themselves at the Arbites as if possessed, and at least some were. Arbitrators began to fall, outnumbered as they were by over a hundred to one. An emergency reinforcement request went out to the nearby Inquisitorial Palace, but the team had to press on in the meantime.
At the heart of the chamber, something reacted to the presence of the Arbites team. The murders of its cultists called a mighty daemon forth, inhabiting the body of the daemonhost Ritorum, who swatted the first wave of Judges with Shock Mauls and Power Cudgels aside. As cultists died, the bond between the Immaterium and the daemon faded, and it began to shrink and falter as the Warp-conduit it had made of the pilgrim’s families’ flesh started to disappear. Sensing possible defeat, the daemon called for something in Ritorum’s voice.
If the daemon had spoken in a language other than Gothic, if the Tech-Arbitrator covering the door hadn’t heard it, if the cultist manning the hidden vox-controller wired to the concealed radio dish on the roof of the monastery had been a microsecond faster, or if the Arbites tech crew outside hadn’t had a radio jammer on hand, the entire world of Maskos would have fallen into the Warp. As it was, the Tech-Arbitrator recognized the coded order and signaled for a local radio blackout, the cultist had been too busy staring hungrily at his soul’s owner to respond at once, and the team outside was quick on their feet. The jammer engaged, and whatever signal the cultists had arranged did not broadcast.
The daemon was forced, screaming, back into the Warp, as the number of cultists in the room fell below critical mass for the summoning. The surviving Arbites fought their way back out of the room. The Arbitrator Senioris gave the order, and the team flooded the room with their guns, cutting down every single member of the pilgrimage.
Outside, the team regrouped. The body of the missing Judge was never found, though the heartrate monitor kept going at over 140 BPM for the following six years before cutting off. It transpired, according to the team outside, that the cultist signal had been an activation order, for over two thousand cultists in the cities of Maskos to begin indiscriminate murder of everybody near them, to offset the deaths of the cultists in the monastery itself. The planet had been literally seconds from becoming a daemon world, right under the Ecclesiarchy’s nose. Stopping the incursion had cost the Arbites 40% of their manpower in the first half an hour. An Inquisitorial taskforce of Ordos Malleus and Hereticus specialists arrived minutes later, to find a charnel house of a temple and an army of enraged Arbitrators, looking for somebody to blame.
As might be expected, the following two years were the bloodiest in Maskos’s history, with savage purges of the cities and local Ecclesiarchy every week. The Ordo Hereticus eventually declared the world clean of heresy, but the damage was done. No longer, the Arbites declared, would the Ecclesiarchy be able to wield such power over Maskos. Instead, the Subsector Administratum Master would control the world directly, and all domestic Ecclesiarchal Missionary activities would have to be cleared with the planetary Archbishop first.
One thousand four hundred years later, the careful vigilance of the Archbishop and Arbites have successfully prevented any resurgence of cult activity on the planet, though it has faced sporadic pirate and Dark Eldar raids in the interim. Now, Maskos is a local Imperial strongpoint, with a potent military, loyal citizens, and a bustling trade economy, and over it all, the Arbites must keep sharp watch, in case other foes of Mankind attempt to emulate their founder’s methods. Fortunately for them, the system now houses a small convent of Sisters of the Sanguine Soul Order, which hosts a permanent force of one thousand Battle Sisters. The majority of the Order is of the Famulous and Hospitaller disposition, but the Battle Sisters here (established in the wake of the Ritorum incident) often fly to other systems to aid in Missionary work or to fight off the Glasians. The Sisters keep a careful eye on the populace for any sign of further corruption.
Culture and History
The people of Maskos have the same diversity of most Imperial worlds. One thing that binds Maskos together is its love of the arts, which may well have been why the world was so receptive to Slaanesh. State-sanctioned artworks, however, are often on display around most of the cities. Theater is especially popular, and free performances of various stage plays are common in larger communities. The world is also the sector’s leading manufacturer of tunneling and mining technology, thanks to its last operational Standard Template Constructor, which creates sub-surface terraforming engines. Once Mars had copied the blueprints and determined that the machine was in too poor a shape to move, the local Mechanicus shrine was allowed to take it over. Every day, a hundred Techpriests swarm over the machine as it operates, keeping the machine spirits placated with ritual and maintenance, which are indistinguishable at a distance. The machines the STC produces are mass converter burrowers, which collect all metallic and oxidative-gas atoms encountered in the substance through which it is burrowing, and deposits them inside internal containers, which they periodically extrude for easy collection. The miner’s best friend and a Mechanicus dream come true; these marvelous machines have made their way as far as Bekke and Hydraphur. Mars itself may build them someday, which would delight the Maskos Mechanicus to no end. Were the machines only cheaper, or the blueprints simple enough to allow non-STC manufacture, surely, they would have already.
|World Type, Name||Agri-world Grendel|
|Tropospheric Composition||Nitrogen 75%, Oxygen 23%, Water 1%, Carbon Dioxide .1%, Argon .9%|
|Government type||Adeptus Terra|
|Adept Presence||Adeptus Administratum, Adeptus Ministorum, Adeptus Mechanicus, Adeptus Arbites, Adeptus Astra Telepathica|
|Climate||Grendel is a temperate world at the equator with ice storms at both poles|
|Geography||Grendel is .67 times the size of Terra, with massive polar ice caps and four relative flat zones for agriculture|
|Gravity||Grendel has .7 Terran Gravity|
|Day Length||46 Terran Hours|
|Economy||Gelt Thrones and Silver Thrones|
|Principal Exports||Ores, Oil, Promethium, Ammunition, Air filters, Water, Naval officers|
|Principal Imports||Fertilizers, Farm laborers, Aircars|
|Countries and Continents||Grendel has three continents, with no national divisions|
|Military||Grendel Cleavers (medium quality Guard)|
|Contact with other Systems||Monthly|
|Tithe Grade||Exactis Prima|
|Population||900,000,000 humans, unknown dedicated number of Servitors|
Grendel has a less Chaos-influenced history than its neighbor. Throughout its time post-terraforming, Grendel has been a great breadbasket for the Imperium. Protected by its own military forces, Maskos Warriors on rural and agrarian combat training missions, and the occasional Skitarii army picking up supplies or dropping off servitors, Grendel is a safe and secure world. Its primary products are barley, wheat, various corns and grains, grox, leather, and beef, along with assorted poultries, feathers, and what very little mining there is to do on the silicate rock. The Grendel Ecclesiarchy was vigorously examined for signs of heresy after the Slaaneshi infiltration of Maskos, and though several priests were found to be deficient in their understanding of the Imperial Cult, no sign of infiltration was found. The capital city of Grendel is a starport with a shantytown, or so it looks from a distance. It’s only after drawing closer that the sheer scale of the port becomes clear. The city, named after the planet (itself named after a Cloudburst war hero), is the size of any other Imperial capital city that isn’t a hive. The starport is simply so large, and moves so much cargo, that it dwarfs the city itself. The cloud of Mechanicus and Chartist Captain vessels that rises and falls from the port every day, laden with goods or emptied of fertilizers and organics for composting, looks like nothing more than a swarm of insects flying around a spotlight.
Outside the great starport, life on Grendel is routine and mundane. Its farms and ranches move megatons of plant and animal products to the kitchens, factories, and larders of the Sector, and also export several hundred cargo containers of high-quality food and leather to the nearby Naxos Sector’s weary defenders.
The agricultural zones cluster around villages with high-steepled churches to the God-Emperor, and usually contain some common fixtures: a large school where all the children are taught, a few warehouses with room-sized dehumidifiers and refrigerators for the vast amounts of food and skins that move through the area, and a small Adeptus Mechanicus datastation, where farmers and ranchers can send quota information and vermin outbreak sightings to the regional command offices. The Adeptus Arbites maintain a few small Precincts here and there, but most law enforcement comes from the local Constables, who patrol the endless fields on oversized motorcycles akin to the ones used by the Arbites on older Hive Worlds. Because of the prioritization of food production, careful ecological monitoring is carried out at some population centers by the Adeptus Mechanicus and the tithe-keepers of the Adeptus Administratum, to make sure the atmospheric content of Grendel stays within the optimal range for growing crops and animals.
Grendel benefits from its isolation in another way besides peace and quiet: a small observation post of the Logis Strategos analytical offices of the Adeptus Administratum, who use the relaxed environment to help keep their secret experiments into the psychology and objectives of alien invaders smooth and covert. It is based in a small PDF base at the equator, outwardly indistinguishable from any other.
Maskos Warriors make greater use of local-variant armaments than any other civilized population in the Cloudburst Sector. Though they have the means to make more Martian models of military hardware than they do, the Maskos population made a conscious choice long ago not to depend too much on Cognomen or any other Forge World for its defenses. The Maskos A12 Assault Tank, roughly comparable to an up-gunned Salamander, is one such example. The B1 Artillery, a 203mm monster, is another local variety. Although a Maskos war-artisan would admit under duress that Mechanicus equipment is generally superior, the Maskos armies are able to field these weapons in profusion. The most common local design is the D4 Kukol rocket SAM. Armed with a rack of anti-air, ultraviolet-seeking missiles, with a pair of heavy stubbers for defense, the Kukol finds common use protecting headquarters detachments of Maskos field deployments. Furthermore, Maskos regiments are able to field their own logistical assets for their initial deployments, thanks to the troopship-manufacturing berth in orbit, and Grendel’s massive farms. Maskos regiments specialize in urban, alpine, and amphibious assaults. Grendel Cleavers use the same equipment as Maskos Warriors, but their focus is on breachers, close assault, and plains warfare. Grendel officers are also unable to choose their issued weapons, though they may buy their own. They may carry the mandatory weapons alongside whatever they buy, and have similar restrictions on trophy taking and plunder to those of the Septiim regiments. This stems from past issues; Ork Kommandos successfully slaughtered a Grendel regiment’s officer corps when they were caught off-guard behind what was thought to be secure territory. Every officer is issued a .45 caliber revolver and a combat knife. They may augment their loadout with whatever they wish to buy.
Other unique Maskos Warrior equipment is worn on the body. Maskos manufactures its own local variants of the fingerless Precision Guidance gloves and gauntlets used by some Skitarii and Scions for their snipers, as well as crossed chest belts to carry explosives, and utility belts for combat sappers. Grendel leather is often used to make this. Grendel itself has little manufacturing capability for munitions, but they do make the knives and guns that officers receive themselves, and some small shops have popped up to supply wargear and attachments for officers who wish to customize their simple revolvers with something to make it distinct. Laser sights and suppressors are popular, since the revolvers have entire sealed chambers to prevent water damage.
The surface of Maskos lends itself well to military construction. The equatorial fortresses are especially large on Maskos, as many late Imperial colony defenses tend to be. Thanks to the abundance of sand, stone, and metal, the surface fortresses tend to have high, thick walls, and can afford either void shields or heavy guns to defend themselves. Thanks to the Cloudburst Sector’s preference for the defensive installations and mobile response forces that help protect the planets of the Sector from the Glasians, the fortresses in question tend to also have significant nearby airport facilities, or hybrid air and water ports for those near seas. These serve as the taxi strips and landing pads for rapid transports of the Valkyrie series gunships, which can ferry the Warriors to sites of unrest and conflict at great speed.
Maskos Warriors sometimes sortie at the order of the Imperial Navy, although the Navy must ask the Guard first. The Warriors are excellent at combating human armies from primitive worlds, and pirate groups with mismatched equipment. In the distant past, Maskos regiments sometimes flew to help defend or even repopulate Naxos Sector worlds damaged but not rendered uninhabitable by forces of Nurgle.
Maskos Inquisitorial Palace
Maskos has another honor, in that it is the host of the Cloudburst Inquisitorial Palace. Sticking up from the planet’s crust, nearly six hundred miles from the nearest city, near the northern polar ice cap, the Inquisitorial Palace lurks. Its defenses are stealth and the difficulty of approach, plus various concealed weapons. Under normal circumstances, the number of Inquisitors in the Palace is stable, or even growing, as more worlds become a part of Cloudburst. Recently, in anticipation of the Glasian Migration and the uptick in Ork and pirate activity, the halls of the Palace are emptying. Ordo Xenos Inquisitors especially have been busy lately, as their tireless consultations of the Tarot have revealed which systems shall next be hit by the Glasians, and are scrambling their assets to counter them. The Palace proper is a structure that its neighbors fear and respect, and its architecture drives home the point. The structure is the center of a small community, which consists exclusively of the menials and Adepts that work within its black walls. Tall slabs of stone and metal circle the top of the building like a crown, and hide the radomes, antennae, and telescopes on its rooftop. The building looms over the nearby town, by enforced law; no building in the nameless town may come within one hundred feet of its walls, or come within eighty feet of its principal height. A single spire of grey metal juts from the top of the building by another two hundred feet. The spire contains the apartments, equipment, and choir chamber of the Palace’s Astropaths. Currently, there are nine Astropaths in residence, led by Adept Choirmaster Emilie Rastimos.
Armies of Servitors and mind-wiped volunteer Maskos Warriors protect the facility, though in practice, it has never been attacked on such a scale as to require Guard defense. The nearby town appears on no official maps of the planet, and its presence on Imperially-produced holo-globe navigation devices is conspicuously blurry. The Palace draws its power from a geothermal plant in its basement, solar panels on its roof, and a huge plasma reactor in the nearby mountain, connected to the Palace by underground cables. In the event of a catastrophic loss of power in the Palace, the building can also siphon energy from the nearby town, or the wind turbines erected nearby to power the small farms that feed the area.
The nameless town also contains a local Psychic Relay station, where psychics are rounded up and sent to Terra for sanctioning. Given the long distance and slow travel between Maskos and Terra, as much as seven months’ time may pass between a psychic entering a Black Ship in orbit over Maskos and arriving at the Throneworld.
Over two hundred Inquisitors call Cloudburst home, far more than a Sector so lightly populated would traditionally demand. However, the Conclave Cloudburst is not solely concerned with Cloudburst. As the largest Inquisitorial Palace by far for over one hundred light years in most directions (and anywhere near the Cloudburst Circuit or the north half of the Oldlight Exo-zone), whole flotillas of Inquisitorial vessels may stage here before proceeding out into the darkness beyond the Emperor’s sight. It is not even rare for small Space Marine groups to congregate here if tasked with the assistance of an Inquisitor in pacifying an alien empire in the Circuit, the Halo, or the Oldlight Exo-zone.
The sprawling Palace contains nearly everything an Inquisitorial warband or Throne Agent crew could need, from comfortable lodgings to torture chambers. The sound- and radiation- damped rooms in the heart of the building allow for the interrogation of species that communicate by means humans cannot directly interpret. The Ordo Malleus even maintains a small psy-shielded vault in the basement of the power plant, conveniently in the place that will be vaporized first if something were to escape containment and necessitate local annihilation.
One thing the Palace does not permit, ever, is the disposal of corrupted Glasian relics, or storage, or use. Their disposal is instead carried out in Cognomen’s satellite structures of the Holy Ordos; in a true emergency, any black hole or star will do. The Lady Inquisitrix Cloudburst, venerable Ordo Xenos High Inquisitor Lerica, enforces this policy with an iron fist and Gamma-level psychic power, and so far, even the rogue Inquisitor Rothschilde has not dared defy her on this point.
The super-active Rogue Traders and Explorators of the region provide ample opportunities for an Inquisitor to pursue the foes of man. Although the rate of discovery of new goods, old technology, and worlds to annex has obviously decreased significantly since the initial Fabique gold rush, there are still whole wedges of nominally Imperial space, some many light-years in dimension, well outside the Imperium’s control. Of course, the Oldlight and Circuit regions also hang heavy with mystery. This creates innumerable headaches for the Inquisition; regardless of political ideology, no Inquisitor likes having no control. Lady Inquisitrix Lerica maintains careful neutrality in the squabbles and debates of protocol and procedure that fill the Palace, though she is not always present to do so. She also serves as the Inquisitor of the Chamber at the great Watch Fortress Dascomb, and only spends approximately half her time in the Palace. Her personal ship, the astonishingly heavily upgraded Fast Clipper Hornet’s Nest, can make the trip from Dascomb to Maskos in fewer than four days, and does so many times per year.
Maskos’s Inquisitorial Palace has been the site of disruptions in the past. Built as it was sometime after the world was colonized, the site on which it was built was home to a small community of natives, which was displaced by the construction. Politically, Cloudburst and Celeste have always resented that the Palace was built so far from the seat of sector power, and for reasons that the Inquisition doesn’t care to explain. Of course, that also makes them harder to spy on. As far as they know.
The proximity of four major Deathwatch Watch Fortresses ensures that the Ordo Xenos always has forces available for emergency missions or strategic target removal. The small but very well-trained forces of Adeptus Sororitas in the sector are the loyal servants of the Ordo Hereticus. Malleus has trouble with manpower. Though the Grey Knights Chapter is both far larger than a standard Chapter and possessing of high-tech, fast, precognitive-guided ships, they can’t be everywhere at once. The power of the Ordo Malleus is somewhat blunted by this. However, the Ordo does have a large all-volunteer force of Maskos Warriors ready to serve as its shock troops stationed in the nearby town; the many Scions of Cloudburst’s Schola Progenum can also serve as direct reinforcement for the Ordo Malleus if needed. Cognomen builds the Holy Ordos their ships locally. They are not, of course, up to the standards of the ancient Jovian War Yards, the Titan Shipbuilders of the Grey Knights, the Martian Ring of Iron, or the nearly thirty-thousand-year-old Saturnyne Shipyard, but they are of Forge World quality, and ancient compacts ensure their Navigators are discreet and skilled.