Setting:StarlightHollow

From 1d4chan
System
Galactic Position Cloudburst Sector, Celeste Subsector
System Overlord None
Worlds in the system Seven, one habitable
World Type, Name Feral World: Dawn-Break
Tropospheric Composition Nitrogen 74.1%, Oxygen 24%, Argon 1%, Water .9%, Carbon gasses .01%
Religion Holy Emperor Star Cult
Government type Primitive
Planetary Governor No
Adept Presence Adeptus Administratum, Adeptus Ministorum, Adeptus Mechanicus, Adeptus Astra Telepathica
Climate Dawn-break has widely varying climates by continent, with each continent having distinct ecosystems and temperatures
Geography .88 times the size of Terra, seven continents, deep oceans with frequent earthquakes
Gravity .86 Terra gravity
Day Length 25 Terran Hours
Economy None
Principal Exports None
Principal Imports Soldiers, Weapons, Vehicles, Satellites, Fixed Defenses
Countries and Continents No national borders or divisions to speak of
Military Varied Imperial Guard barracks
Contact with other Systems Frequent
Tithe Grade Aptus Non
Population 19,000,000


Description[edit]

Of all of the human worlds in the Cloudburst Sector, Cloudburst Circuit, and Northern Oldlight Exo-zone, there are none with a past more mysterious than Dawn-break. Its oddly poetic name (for an Explorator, anyway) and impenetrable orbital security cordon bespeak the oddity of its origins, and the potential value of its hidden treasure.

The humans of the world know nothing of this, or don’t care. Dawn-break is a Feral World by only the barest definition. Its standards of living are increasing faster than the standards of any other world for a hundred fifty light years in every direction, and its defenses swell larger every day. The planet may not be large, but its people benefit from constant Missionary work from the Ministorum, and extensive technological relief and improvement from the Mechanicus.

Adding millions of people to the Imperium is its own reward, of course, but there are other advantages to be found in the world’s colonization and exploitation by the Imperium. Nearly the moment Justin MacDonald, legendary Explorator of Cognomen, settled into orbit over the planet, his sensors lit up with a massive return of heat and metal on the planet below. He set his scanners to detect the source, and to hear his second tell it, his steel jaw dropped at the sight.

Dawn-break was once a colony of Terran Federation humans, as most Imperial worlds outside Cloudburst are, but it had a potent treasure that few others had. At one point, Dawn-break was named Frilante, and was a potent agricultural breadbasket for the Federation, but that was the case only thanks to a massive satellite in orbit over the world. MacDonald was detecting its remains on the planet below, and to his shock and joy, it still worked (to an extent). The satellite was nothing less than a Martian artificial sun, a Heliopolis-class Pseudostar Harness. These mechanically complex and staggeringly expensive mirror and laser arrays collect the radiation and particles ejected by a stellar body and process them to specific power, wavelength, and range, then beam them towards a target – a solar power plant, a weapon capacitor, or in this world’s case: an ice cap, which rendered the otherwise uninhabitable northern polar continent habitable. MacDonald was detecting the Thermal Wave Containment Projector, still fitfully firing off random blasts of heat into the atmosphere.

As far as subsequent research can discern, the planet was once a barren ice ball, with hugely useful organic compounds trapped under miles of ice and snow on the surface. The Terran Federation and Martians had worked together to turn the world into a colony of their ancient alliance, and had lost control of the satellite during the chaos of the Psychic Awakening. When MacDonald found the world, it had been slowly sliding back into an ice age.

The Mechanicus’s first priority was finding out whether the natives, which numbered no more than a few million at the time, knew of the artificial sun. It was a fair guess that any that lived within a hundred miles knew, given that it loomed over the nearby mountains, but beyond that, it was anybody’s guess. After a few decades of invisible surveys, the Mechanicus concluded that they did not, and in fact kept away from the region where its occasional red blasts were visible out of superstitious fear. That meant that it likely had not been subject to tampering in the past. That, in turn, suggested that the Harness fell after the world’s civilization collapsed from the Psychic Awakening.

The Mechanicus sent parties down to the surface, accompanied by Administratum and Ministorum officials, to begin the process of examining the Harness up close and converting the locals. Unlike some other Feral and Feudal worlds of the Imperium, Dawn-break’s people were eager to become Imperial, but the very real problems of the world’s climate prevented much headway. Although the conversion of the primitives to the Holy Emperor Star Cult – the easy-to-swallow variant of the larger Imperial Cult – has gone smoothly, the cultural and climatological differences between the various continents has also slowed progress. Thousands of Missionaries have come down gravely ill or even died from virulent local pathogens that the Mechanicus missed when they were supposed to be looking for them in their initial scans. Earthquakes have levelled temples and apartment buildings, from fault lines the Mechanicus also missed.

Overall, the lack of attention paid to the world’s endemic conditions by the Mechanicus during their initial scramble to stake a claim on the Harness has reflected poorly on their image and slowed their ability to examine the ancient tech. The Administratum and Ecclesiarchy have rightly pointed out that the Mechanicus was derelict in their duties, and the Arbites are coming to the same conclusion. This has happened at the worst possible time, as far as the Mechanicus is concerned. After thousands of years of painstakingly pulling away the super-fine sand that has almost buried the artificial sun, of careful digging, cleaning, examining, analyzing, and protecting, the Harness is almost ready to be relaunched. The Imperial Navy has already set aside an orbital slot for its use, and the Imperial Adepts on the world have been claiming to the locals that the world will have two suns soon enough for years. Now, however, the Mechanicus mission is under scrutiny for their failures, sometimes hundreds of years after they were reported. The fact that the Cognomen Mechanicus is ill-regarded in the eyes of senior Forge Worlds at the best of times means that the Magos assigned to the Harness project is scrambling to keep up appearances and appear helpful, even while his resources dwindle as assets are called to ABX202020 and Foraldshold. The Harness sits now in a large steel cradle, cut off from the sun that powers it. A garrison of Skitarii from Cognomen guard it around the clock, protected by five Legio Cybernetica Robots from Cohort Robotica Solstice. None of the locals dare go near, of course, but the Mechanicus is terrified that something may go wrong now, so close to the end that Magos Ellison can nearly taste it.

The rest of the planet is embracing the Imperium at a pace that delights Lord Cloudburst Quintus. Temples, warehouses, marketplaces, and even schools rise from the dirt and sand of the planet every day. Soon, the planet will be formally reclassified as a Civilized World, probably either a Paradise World or an Agri-World, depending on how effective Heliopolis is at preventing the ice age. Part of the reason that progress was so slow for the first few hundred years was simple logistics: the world was getting cold and losing ocean as the ice caps expanded and expanded without slowing. As the ice levels have risen, the oceans lowered, and so a city that was an oceanic port one decade may not have been the next decade. The tribes of locals were used to it, but it was a major problem for the tropical paradise-dwelling Missionaries of Celeste.

Over time, the progress of the ice has slowed considerably, as Imperial efforts and local population growth have increased the volume of carbon and ozone in the air, but the desert continent that the artificial sun baked dry with its heat blasts has changed most of all. Since the Mechanicus held off blocking the solar panels of the fifty-kilometer-wide satellite for as long as possible, the continent on which it landed grew hotter and hotter even as the rest of the world froze. As soon as its blasts ceased, however, the resultant lack of constant and unnatural heat had a catastrophic effect of local weather, with month-long monsoons and floods becoming commonplace in under a decade.

Meanwhile, the local tribes of the world have taken to the Imperial Creed with commendable vigor and acceptance, though it has not been universal nor without hiccups. The lack of a significant Arbites presence on the world will not be tolerable in the eyes of the Arbites themselves much longer, though the perpetually understaffed Cloudburst Adeptus might simply have to swallow their objections until they can shake loose some Judges to move in. Likewise, the concept of an Imperial Tithe was very difficult for the locals to swallow, given the brutal poverty in which they dwelled for so many thousands of years.

However, the process of integration has pressed on, overcoming plagues, cataclysmic earthquakes, floods, cultural misunderstandings, and lawlessness in slow but relentless fashion. Shrines to the Emperor in his true guise as the Immortal Emperor of Man instead of the primitive Star God of the current cult will rise soon. The presence of a small Imperial Navy depot in orbit delighted locals who saw it and mistook it for a new star, given to them by the Holy Emperor as a gift for their patience. This was not the plan of the Missionaries, but they were happy to spread the rumor and take some credit for it.

The problem, as is always the case in Cloudburst, is the Glasians. The Tzeentchian scum may not even know of the world’s artificial sun, nor would Tzeentch especially care if he did. The fact is that they are attacking the world anyway. According to projections by Rogue Traders, Sanctionites, and Inquisitors assigned to the topic by Lord Quintus, the Glasians will hit Dawn-break like a tsunami as soon as the end of the year, and only a massive warship force holds even a slight chance of stopping them. Terrified of losing their ancient project and desperate to boost their reputation, Cognomen has ‘graciously’ dispatched nine Cruisers and twenty-eight Escorts of the Basilikon Astra Cognomen to aid in the local defense, which the Navy is too relieved to question. The orbitals are reinforcing as fast as they can, with pre-fab and self-assembling satellites and minefields popping up on radar maps like flowers in a field. The flagship of the Cloudburst Basilikon Astra is also on the way, commanded by Magos duPree himself.

After months of debate, the local Missionaries have decided to inform the populace of the coming war. They may have to fight it themselves if the Navy screws up, and it’s not like the situation in the general galaxy is much better. To their immense relief, over a hundred thousand Dawn-breakers elected to join a PDV, or Planetary Defense Volunteer group, and have pledged their swords and cudgels to the defense of their homes. This will not avail them against hovertanks and Ruin Guns, naturally, but it’s better than panicking or losing their faith.

Meanwhile, the Rogue Traders of the Cloudburst Sector are making a killing. Unlike Cygnmo, Triune, and Fathon, the people of this world desire to become proper Imperials; where the citizenry is expanding, there is money to be made. Rogue Traders who pass the world on their route in and out of the capital Subsector have made a habit of swinging slowly through the system on their way to the Circuit, sending shuttles ahead of their ship, laden with books and exotic foods. They sell them to the Adepts working to convert and prepare the locals, and sometimes to the locals themselves, then fly to the other side of the system to rendezvous with their Trader and offload their money.

Of course, some have more than a purely financial interest in the system. Rogue Trader Lord Gwiddon Thomas Walsh, the third most powerful person in Cloudburst and the Circuit, has taken a personal interest in the world’s defense. Something of an expert on pre-Imperial terraforming technology like the Harnesses and Maskos machines, he would very much like to see the world preserved for the Imperium. The idea of the technology of those two devices being used to make more Imperial colonies in the Circuit appeals to him at a very strong level, since he would be in perfect position to ensure that the pilot colonist groups would be of proper levels of piety and loyalty. That would make his job as an Ordo Hereticus Inquisitor much easier, and increase the Imperium’s wealth at once – what Inquisitor wouldn’t want that? His rival, Lady Trader Admiral Madeline Prinz, has also quite publicly and pompously announced her support of the venture, and sent five frigates in her house’s colors to the defense of the world for pennies. Why, none but she can say, but she rarely misses a chance to show up her rival, despite the inherent danger in provoking the Ordo Hereticus.

Not all of the world’s defenders are motivated purely by selfishness or politics, either. Half of Battlefleet Celeste and one fifth of Battlefleet Cloudburst are already present, as are two ECAFs. They are under strict orders to prevent any Glasian landings on the valuable world, and to contain them with orbital fire and heavy artillery if they manage to land anyway. Three Imperial Guard regiments are slated to arrive, but the sheer drain on the Cloudburst Sector’s resources that the other Migration sites, Oglith, and Foraldshold represent mean that they will be both late and unreinforced. They are, in no order, the Celestial Guard 901st Rifles, the Maskos Argent Sword 421st Guerillas, and the Delving Field Guard 43rd Armored Regiment. Supreme command of the world’s defenses falls now to Admiral Connor Liamsson, a decorated veteran of the Sixth Migration. Ground command falls to Major General Kramer of the Celestial Guard.

The notable absence of any Space Marine defenders is a sore point among some of the Astra Militarum forces present. Where are the Daggers, here to execute their remit to shield Cloudburst from its invaders? Where are the Deathwatch, here to target and kill alien leaders in their insane Migrations? En route, as fate would have it. The surge in turbulence from the Ork and Glasian invaders’ psychic spoor has slowed both the Deathwatch frigate and Blue Dagger Strike Cruiser on their way to Starlight Hollow. There is every chance that they will arrive only after the invasion has begun, but neither ship will stop or slow until their duty is done.