A prime example of Homebrew, the TriSector project might just be the single biggest actually fleshed out homebrew setting designed to fit in 40k. Enjoy.
- 1 The Tri-Sector
- 1.1 The Cloudburst Sector, the Enemies of Man, and the Blue Daggers
- 1.2 Departmento Astrocartigraphicae Planetary Database: Cloudburst Sector
- 1.2.1 Sector and Subsector Capital System: Celeste
- 1.2.2 Septiim
- 1.2.3 Subsector Capital System: Cognomen
- 1.2.4 Elumanie
- 1.2.5 Xerxes Mark IV Naval Platform: Thunderhead
- 1.2.6 Drimmerzole
- 1.2.7 Clegran
- 1.2.8 Fathon
- 1.2.9 Remananos
- 1.2.10 Hell's Vortex
- 1.2.11 Disaster Asteroid Cluster
- 1.2.12 Subsector Capital System: Maskos
- 1.2.13 Ghald
- 1.2.14 Chlorit
- 1.2.15 Goldlight
- 1.2.16 Soak
- 1.2.17 Subsector Capital System: Spindle
- 1.2.18 Scalding
- 1.2.19 Cygnmo
- 1.2.20 Subsector Capital System: Nauphry
- 1.2.21 OIG
- 1.2.22 AZH2109
- 1.2.23 Aule Windows
- 1.2.24 Coriolis
- 1.2.25 Lockehold
- 1.2.26 Subsector Capital System: Delving
- 1.2.27 Maleard
- 1.2.28 Dranok
- 1.2.29 ABS00273
- 1.2.30 GHE656
- 1.2.31 Clog
- 1.2.32 Grand Anchor Scrapyard
- 1.2.33 Johdclan
- 1.2.34 Azure
- 1.2.35 AHG2452
- 1.2.36 Forald's Legacy
- 1.2.37 ABX202020
- 1.2.38 Triplicate
- 1.2.39 Vasari's Cruelty
- 1.2.40 Starlight Hollow
- 1.2.41 Gorum's Folly
- 1.2.42 Subsector Capital System: Hapster
- 1.2.43 Subsector Capital System: Rampart
- 1.2.44 Forender
- 1.2.45 Freehold
- 1.2.46 Oromet
- 1.2.47 Liprel Shoal
- 1.2.48 Limmerdine
- 1.2.49 Avius
- 1.2.50 Port Maxient
- 1.3 Timeline
- 1.4 People, Places, and Words
- 1.4.1 Noble and Merchant Houses
- 220.127.116.11 Mercantile Noble Houses
- 18.104.22.168.1 Mercantile Noble House Herrera, Septiim
- 22.214.171.124.2 Mercantile Noble House O’Neill, Thimble
- 126.96.36.199.3 Mercantile Noble House Zhong, Thimble
- 188.8.131.52.4 Mercantile Noble House Carvan, Celeste
- 184.108.40.206.5 Mercantile Noble House Albert, Celeste
- 220.127.116.11.6 Mercantile Noble House Joun-Lee, Celeste
- 18.104.22.168.7 Mercantile Noble House Senai, Coriolis
- 22.214.171.124.8 Mercantile Noble House Lunther, Hapster
- 126.96.36.199.9 Mercantile Noble House Ritria, Oglith
- 188.8.131.52 Territorial Houses and Turf Gangs
- 184.108.40.206 Mercantile Noble Houses
- 1.4.2 Rogue Trader Houses
- 1.4.3 Questor Mechanicus Matraxia
- 1.4.4 Dead Houses
- 1.4.1 Noble and Merchant Houses
- 1.5 Notable Persons
- 1.6 Regional Terminology and Astrocartographic Nomenclature
- 1.7 Glasians
- 1.8 The Free Corsair Coalition
- 2 Neighboring Space
Tucked away in the northernmost stretches of the Galaxy, at the edge of the territories of Mankind, and in the shadowy perimeter of the Astronomican, lie three Sectors. These Sectors, the Drumnos to coreward, the Cloudburst to rimward, and the Naxos to spinward, are the frontier of the Galactic North in the Segmentum Ultima, and the home of many hundreds of billions of humans in the service of the Emperor. Each has its own unique history, challenges, defenders, and occupants. Each has its own terminology, its own infrastructure, and its own enemies. The most noteworthy of their features are mentioned here, and all information contained within is fully compatible with the Warhammer 40000 roleplaying games, including the array of Dark Heresy, Rogue Trader, Deathwatch, Only War, Black Crusade, Inquisitor, and Wrath and Glory rulebooks. Although the Cloudburst Sector is the core and focus of this material, the other two sectors of the Tri-Sector area are covered in broad theme and some specific content.
The Cloudburst Sector, the Enemies of Man, and the Blue Daggers
The Cloudburst Sector and Institutions
This young, expanding region of Imperial space takes its name from its capital moon now, but that is a recent development. Although individual Imperial colonies existed in the area once known as the Oldlight Proximate Circuit for thousands of years prior to its formal establishment as a Sector in M39, its overall barrenness stems from several factors that initially prevented it from reaching Sector status. Originally, the band of inhabited worlds that comprised the Hapster Subsector along the extreme eastern edge of the Circuit was the extent of the coordinated human holdings in the region. The Subsector was, at best, an outlier of the nearby Naxos Sector, and even then, only on paper. The remains of an ancient supernova had littered the region with thick gas, all of it radioactive. Though quiet Cognomen sat alone in the voids of the Circuit, there was little else to offer the Imperium out there in the hot gasses.
All of that changed with the discovery of the Dawn-break, Triune, and Septiim systems, by the renowned Mechanicus Magos Explorator Justin MacDonald, in M39.012. The sudden awareness of five shirtsleeves-habitable worlds, that close to Naxos and unclaimed by aliens, shook the local Rogue Trader and Explorator fleets to their cores. How had they missed such wealth? How had five worlds for the Imperium gone wholly unnoticed?
A veritable gold rush of exploration trips began at once from the Naxos Sector Forge World of Fabique, and a hundred ships sailed off into the gas storms and dark stars of the Oldlight Proximate Circuit.
Discoveries and wealth poured into the Forge World’s hands. Archaeotech caches, contact with dangerous aliens, maps of worlds and stars, and more disturbingly, the wreckage of well over ten thousand Imperial and alien ships were found within mere years of the exploration craze beginning. The Inquisition’s name came up in frightened whispers more and more, between Rogue Traders and Free Chartists that spent their gold in the orbiting coaching house Star Gilt over Fabique’s shipyards. What had driven humanity from the Oldlight Proximate Circuit in the past? Captains and Traders saw the sheer number of dead worlds and dead ships in dark zones on the map with increasing unease. Clearly, humanity had lived in the Circuit once. Some of the dead ships that Rogue Traders found floating idly through the void were post-Unification Imperial, some even with Legionary markings.
The Inquisition’s Ordo Hereticus stepped in. Sending a Longstrike cruiser and fifteen smaller vessels off on the heels of Magos MacDonald’s fleet, the Inquisition established a temporary Seal of Verboten Passage on the Circuit, while it went to investigate the anomalous findings.
Months stretched into years. Finally, twelve of the sixteen ships abruptly returned unheralded with MacDonald, and set in at the Inquisitorial Palace of Naxos. Weeks of sharing and deliberation followed. When the silence was at last broken, the message that the Spire of Astral Choirs at the Palace Naxos sent out was not what the Captains of the Circuit had expected. MacDonald, the Inquisition declared, was a hero of Mankind. His fleets had pushed past the radioactive remnants of an ancient and unthinkably colossal supernova and supernebula, and found a rich bounty of lost treasures, lost worlds, and lost opportunities. Further, on his travels, he had found an additional ten shirtsleeves-habitable worlds to be earmarked for immediate scientific inspection by the Mechanicus, and for Rogue Traders and Administratum Colonization Department colony ships to prepare for Imperial habitation. The shipwrecks, the Inquisition publicly claimed, were from a potent Warp current that had carried the remains of vast battles from the Great Crusade to the edge of current Imperial space. The finding of these wrecks was not an ill omen, the Inquisition soothingly insisted to the superstitious Captains and Lords Trader. They were, instead, a sign that the mercy and love of the Emperor was upon them, and it was time, in His Divine estimation, for Mankind to expand to the realms that the galaxy had previously barred to human entry. Further, they declared, a new Sector would form in the Circuit, and loyal Humans of the Segmentae Ultima and Solar would settle it. Great ventures of manpower raising and construction would begin in the hives of the Segmentae, and ships would travel in the wake of the Administratum and Traders to begin the process of building the new sector. The Hapster Subsector would become a part of this new Sector, and a Sector Overlord chosen from the office of the Master of the Administratum Ultima.
Reassured by the Inquisition’s uncharacteristic full disclosure and prodding to do what they did best, Rogue Traders and Explorators took off by the hundreds, following the markers left by MacDonald’s trailblazers. New worlds were charted, and in the span of a mere five hundred years, the new Sector was declared established, In Nominae Imperator.
What the Inquisition, perhaps sensibly, did not disclose was what MacDonald had found beyond the Oldlight Proximate Circuit. Pushing past the radioactive clouds at the trailing edge of the Circuit and into the Oldlight Exo-zone proper, MacDonald had found an unspeakable charnel house of dead ships and planets. He had spent several years mapping this non-illuminatur region (so titled because it was outside the direct light of the Astronomican at its extreme northern edge). In that time, he had found psychic scars on planets, so intense that they left physical marks on their crusts. He had found totems and messages in alien languages, composed entirely of the power backpacks of Mark 2 Crusader armor, and at least three hundred planets subject to psychic or physical Exterminatus-level disasters. On one world, he had found over four hundred thousand skeletons of alien creatures, all fully made of metal. Weeks of study had yielded the horrifying truth behind them: they were the remains of cybernetic skeletons from vat-grown and cyber-augmented alien soldiers, locked in place and left to desiccate by an incomprehensibly powerful electronic warfare device. Such a device would have eclipsed even the Warp-tainted Electron Freezer of Moravec in power, especially since lingering radiation on their skeletal bodies suggested it had been triggered from eighty-two light years away.
Weeks of dangerous, slow, and violent travel by his Inquisitorial pursuers followed. When the Ordos of the Inquisition finally caught up with MacDonald at the edge of the Oldlight Exo-zone’s western border, at the very outskirts of the Astronomican’s light, he was researching a world-sized labyrinth of tunnels and metal tubes, apparently constructed by an Old Ones machine long ago and repurposed by the Eldar as a Webway technology test bed. The Inquisition was loathe to simply kill MacDonald for his knowledge, especially since the Inquisition actually knew less about what filled the Oldlight Exo-zone than he did, at that point. A deal was struck and sealed between the Mechanicus and Holy Ordos in the shadow of that ancient xenotech. MacDonald would return to the Proximate Circuit and lend his aid to the Rogue Traders that explored his findings, and the Inquisition would forget that MacDonald had ever come to that haunted place, in exchange for his findings and an oath not to return without the explicit permission of the Ordo Xenos.
On their return journey, however, a new discovery was made. The combined convoy of MacDonald’s Astra Explorators and the Inquisitorial ships halted over a world in the very center of the Oldlight Exo-Zone, where the light of the Astronomican was largely blocked by the many Warp Storms between their location and Terra. While taking a routine Navigation check, MacDonald’s ship sensors detected a colossal concentration of gaseous carbon and oxidized metal on the world below – a sure sign of a battlefield. After pestering the Inquisition to allow him to scan the world more closely, the Explorator began sweeping the planet with his mighty Grand Cruiser’s systems.
What he found horrified him. Below, on the surface of the planet that he immediately named Cladh in his ancestral language, he detected well over fifteen million human and alien bodies, decomposed to gas and powder. Millions of suits of alien and human Power Armor, thousands of wrecked tanks, a complex of psi-reactive crystals, an enormous dragon statue made from human teeth, and the remains of alien bio-horrors so complex that his systems couldn’t even tell what they were; they all lay in ruins on a vast plateau. The plateau, his cogitators helpfully informed him, had been created by the Lances on an Imperial Gloriana super battle barge, firing in Continual Discharge Mode, which would have reduced them to slag after only a few minutes. The Lances had boiled a canyon around the plateau, and judging from the heat damage on the Power Armor nearest the impact sites, at least some Crusade troops – including Astartes – had been alive and running towards the beams at the time of impact.
At this point, the Inquisition determined, a decision had to be made about MacDonald. A quick vote from the five Inquisitors present determined that disclosure would be more helpful than execution, and the Longstrike class cruiser hailed MacDonald’s ship.
The Emperor Himself after the culmination of the Rangdan Xenocides had quarantined the region, the Inquisitors explained. This particular world was unknown to even them, they hastened to assure him, but the evidence was clear enough. MacDonald looked at the surface below and immediately agreed to silence on the issue; he recognized the armor below as belonging to the Iron Warriors. Suits of armor belonging to at least five other Legions lay draped over a toppled building, originally shaped like a planarian worm or something akin to it. MacDonald agreed to keep the secret of what had happened here, and the convoy departed for the Circuit once more. The Inquisition, aware of the history of the Rangdan Xenocides and now the Exo-zone, were content to know that MacDonald, at least, would probably not realize that they had flown over the site of the opening of the Labyrinth of Night. MacDonald, his curiosity sated, compacted himself to the terms of the Inquisition’s bargain, and flew back to Naxos with the Inquisition. When the conclave was over, he ‘humbly’ accepted the Inquisition’s accolades, and set out once more, to catalogue the worlds of the eminently less classified Proximate Circuit. He achieved phenomenal success, ultimately categorizing twenty more systems in a mere decade. Eventually, his stellar rise to glory landed him a position as the Archmagos Explorator of the Sector, and a permanent posting on Cognomen proper.
Eight Subsectors, each named for an inhabited world around which their Control Fortress orbits, were created once the size of the Sector became clear. They are, in rough order from galactic east to galactic west (spinward to trailing): Hapster (by far the oldest), Cognomen, Celeste (which also contains the capital), Delving, Maskos, Spindle, Nauphry, and Rampart. The world now known as Brotherhood was once considered for a Subsector capital, but the decision ultimately favored Nauphry; this may have been a factor in the tragedy that befell Brotherhood. To compensate for the lengthy travel times between clusters of systems and the fact that several systems of the young Sector had multiple habitable bodies, System Overlords are generally installed instead of or in addition to individual Planetary Governors, and the Order Famulous is given the chance to render commentary on all high-profile Overlordship appointments. Overlordship is revocable only by unanimous consent of the Subsector and Sector Masters Administratum (the Overlord’s own peers), and is therefore a rare event, if the Ordo Hereticus doesn’t take matters into its own hands. Notably, the Sector Overlord’s entire family was deposed under a century ago.
The specific policy of the Sector Administratum is to integrate worlds of the nearby Cloudburst Circuit directly into the Sector proper, and is by no means adverse to creating a new Subsector if need be. The problem is that Cloudburst is on the very edge of the projection range of the Astronomican as of M41, and further colonization in the renamed Circuit will be dangerous at best. The radioactive gas left over in the region from the ancient supernova that blinded the Imperium to the Circuit’s potential in the first place is just thick enough to make non-psychic travel or communication difficult, and pirates roam by the hundreds of thousands. While plans exist to colonize some worlds Rogue Traders have secured for the Imperium in the Circuit, and a few worlds of cave dwellers and regressive primitives exist for potential acquisition, the majority of the Circuit will have to be far better mapped before the Administratum commits any more resources to the area than it already has. However, the Cloudburst Sector has lost two Agri-worlds in recent centuries, which has forced it to start importing food from neighboring sectors. With the loss of Chlorit to the Glasians and Scalding to Chaos, the sector’s food now either comes from the worlds where it is needed, or from Cassie’s World, Forender, Grendel, and Combine. Naturally, these worlds require constant defense from invasions. It is not helpful that the more powerful nearby Sectors sometimes drive retreating foes into Cloudburst to become their problem.
Today, Cloudburst is a triumphal example of the latter-day Imperial ability to keep expanding, despite having every reason to stop. Though its defenses were not particularly important prior to the arrival of the Glasians, it is now fortifying at a dizzying pace. Missionaries and Techpriests rush to worlds on the slightest hint of archaeotech or un-converted primitive humans. The stronger the Imperium’s arms and more thorough its faith, they preach, the better the odds that the Emperor will smile on them, and the Sector will survive another Glasian Migration. Rogue Traders and Explorators, rivals at the best of times elsewhere in the galaxy, work together to find more worlds and treasure for the sector. A full Space Marine Chapter digs in, deep in the sector’s heart, preparing for the worst, while ruthless armies of Astra Militarum and Skitarii ferret out enemies of the sector, within its borders and beyond them. The vast Forge World of Cognomen is now remorselessly disregarding stricture against Knight manufacture, while the Ecclesiarchy Cloudburst arms its Sisters on their beachfront palace. PDFs across the sector kiss their Aquila pendants and pray for mercy, while furious Nurglite Cultists strive mightily to break Tzeentch’s stranglehold on cult activity nearby. The Inquisition and Arbites burn all sign of corruption or heresy from the overtaxed populace of Cloudburst, even while fresh worlds are brought into compliance by the high-tech armies of Solstice and Septiim. All the while, vile alien beasts stare unblinkingly at the stars of Cloudburst from their time-stasis prisons; their very cells realigning to the dark curiosity of foul Tzeentch. Cloudburst is a place of dynamism, violence, and perfidious hope. None know its fate, none but Tzeentch know when Tzeentch’s evil experiment shall end, and even he does not know what he will do with the Sector after he is finally done.
The Imperial Navy are often the first force under arms to confront the Glasian menace when it recurs in the Cloudburst Sector. Cloudburst has an enormous navy, by necessity.
The first few thousand years of existence of the Cloudburst Guard did not strain the military capacities of the Sector overmuch, but with the advent of the Glasians, the Sector's Astra Militarum have radically improved... barring a few noteworthy exceptions.
Within the greater Cloudburst Sector, the Imperial Adepta are hard at work. As a zone of expansion for the Imperium, the Cloudburst Administratum oversees colonization efforts and tithe efforts in a large and ever-changing area. As a result, the tithe and psyker collection ships they administrate need additions at all times. This, combined with the recent increase in needs among the military forces of the Sector, puts intense strain on the shipbuilding capabilities of the Sector.
The leadership of the Sector’s Administratum and Estate bases itself from the moon Cloudburst, while the local Officio Munitorum and Astra Telepathica are technically based there, but are more practically based from the orbitals of the nearby Subsector Capital of Celeste. The supreme command of all non-Astartes military assets in the Sector that do not answer to the Adeptus Mechanicus bases from a subterranean tunnel network on Cloudburst proper, but the local Officio Munitorum does own a Leviathan transport, which can carry field command to anywhere it can drive.
It is in the Cloudburst Circuit that the Imperial Adeptus Terra loses its grip, and the more militarized forces of the Imperium pick up the slack. Rogue Traders, Explorators, Navy patrols, the occasional Blue Daggers ship on its way to a surgical strike mission, and Merchant Privateers all cross the red-hot gasses of the Circuit on various missions. There are technically no ‘colonies’ in the Circuit, thanks to the fact that the Cloudburst Sector expands to include all colonies that are established in the Circuit. Since this means that the infrastructure of the Sector would have to expand to worlds far from the centers of industry and travel in Cloudburst, most of the Imperial-controlled worlds in the Circuit are instead referred to as ‘outposts,’ with all the lack of formal support that indicates. Some of the systems of the Circuit have been added to the Sector over the years. Many actual outposts, such as research stations and mining nodes, benefit from little protection, and crew of Navy ships stationed there consider it hazard posting at best.
There are many efforts in place among the civilian leaders of the Sector to prepare for the worst. Should worlds fall to the Glasians, evacuation protocols to resettle the refugees will be needed. So far, the plan is to move any surviving escapees from lost worlds to the many colony ventures in the Sector. Fathon Prime and Foraldshold are the most likely candidates to benefit from a surge in new refugees, although the Inquisition has grumbled about the possibility of Fathon Prime’s population interacting extensively with the rest of the Sector. If multiple worlds are lost but their populations saved, the capacity problem will be serious, however, and the Administratum is scrambling to find alternate destinations for displaced persons in the Cloudburst Circuit.
Inquisitorial efforts in the Sector are quite diverse, especially for a backwater Sector at the literal frontier of Imperial space. The Conclave here is represented by the Ordo Xenos in the majority with forty percent of the member Inquisitors, followed by the Ordo Hereticus, Ordo Malleus, the Ordo Militarum, the Ordo Machina, the Ordo Thanatos, the Ordo Chronos, and the Ordo Barbarus, with one member each of the Ordo Astra, Ordo Astartes, and Ordo Sicarius. The representative of the Ordo Astartes is present to monitor the Blue Daggers, since Lady Lerica is perfectly able to oversee the Deathwatch herself.
Some of the cultural trends that have taken root in other Imperial Sectors have been slow to arrive in Cloudburst. The use of subcutaneous Electoos, for instance, which are all but mandatory on Prison Worlds and Forge Worlds in the Segmentum Solar, is unheard of except among the spectacularly rich in Cloudburst, though it is making slow headway. Conversely, the Ecclesiarchy in most Imperial sectors is tightening its belt in these times of shortage and warfare, while the Cloudburst Ministorum has never been more profligate.
Because of the somewhat contentious circumstances of the founding of the Cognomen Priesthood, there are odd cultural motifs that wormed their way into the common practice of the Cloudburst Tech-adepts and Priests. None of it strays far enough from Martian dogma to be considered Heretek, Cognomen makes sure of that, but there is an oddness to it that any Solar visitor can pick out.
The Cloudburst Ecclesiarchy is obsessed with wealth and control, and lies in the domain of two extremely old men.
Standing astride the gaps in the defenses of the Cloudburst Sector are the Space Marines. The Adeptus Astartes of the region have served on many occasions to repulse the Chaotic and alien incursors who have challenged the sanctity of Mankind’s rule. The Sector is blessed by two significant presences of Space Marines: the Blue Daggers Chapter and the Deathwatch. The presence of Space Marines in the Sector, however, began long before either of those two Chapters established permanent bases in Cloudburst.
His Divine Majesty's Space Marine Chapter 0983: The Blue Daggers
The silent, precise, diverse, and murderously effective Vigilant of the mighty Watch Fortress Dascomb.
Departmento Astrocartigraphicae Planetary Database: Cloudburst Sector
The Adeptus Administratum keeps a roster of all inhabited worlds in the Cloudburst Sector. The most significant are listed here.
A twin world, and the regional capital of the Imperium's power.
One of the rare Pasture Gate systems, and the home of the Blue Daggers Chapter of His Divine Majesty's Loyalist Space Marines.
Loyal but burdened sons of Mars, the sole Forge World (currently) in service in Cloudburst, and home of the mighty Legio Congelatio, of the Adeptus Titanicus.
A worthless ball of gas, Elumanie 5 has in its orbit a moon of dark threat to Mankind.
A large Naval anchorage. This station has a population problem it simply can't seem to shake.
The Agri-worlds of the Cloudburst Sector are generally quiet and peaceful places, but Drimmerzole is also the exclusive source of one of the galaxy's most useful antibiotics.
This is a world of winds, cities, plains, and the most lethal Imperial Guard formation in Sector history.
Once a place of heresy and secrets, now just secrets and primitives.
The Mining World of Underbar, and its toxic oceans of liquid metal.
A strange, time-shifting Warp Storm in the middle of the Cloudburst Sector.
An aptly-named cluster of space rocks and debris that predates humankind.
Two inhabited worlds that form the capital of their own Subsector, and which birthed a dread and humiliating heresy in the Imperium's history.
A horrifying hell of monstrous aliens, utterly inimical to human life.
The first world lost to the monstrous Glasians; dead and gone.
A system of mining wealth, farms, and plundering Guardsmen famous beyond the borders of the Sector.
The crime-riddled water ball that is Obelisk II and its legendary pirate Guardsmen.
The sole Hive World of the Cloudburst Sector, its largest recruiting ground, and the cabal of interrelated criminals who command it.
A site of horrific violence against the human race; a world lost to Chaos because of a single psyker who went unclaimed by the Adeptus Astra Telepathica.
A world of proud, violent Feudalists, and the Celestial Guard barracks that protects them.
Bipolar, polluted, and teeming with industry; a Capital for a Subsector bursting with potential for wealth and violence.
The largest Orkhold in the Cloudburst Sector.
A mystery on a starmap from an alien race with more ambition than common sense.
The subject of the Adeptus Mechanicus's ire, and host to the best refueling options in Cloudburst.
A Fortress World of immense strength; the hub of the Cloudburst Astra Militarum.
Hundreds of isolated cultures, all developing independently of each other in a feudal contest.
A combination of slow terraforming and ceaseless mining defines Delving. Home of the largest abhuman population in Cloudburst, and an indispensable hub of regional industry.
A planet of storms and a mad scientist who rules it.
A verdant, productive Agri-world; one of the best in the galaxy.
Hive-minded primitives and a huge, mysterious energy shield.
A bizarre world that changes its appearance.
A derelict space station undergoing haphazard reconstruction by a coalition of greedy Rogue Treaders.
Rings of co-owned space stations, hosting the largest privately-owned starship yard in the Galactic North.
Two planets that serve as the headquarters and food supply of the local Ecclesiarchs.
The blackened, scorched remains of a long-dead Imperial colony, which forces of Chaos now battle over for unknown reasons.
A world of incalculable mineral wealth, dominated by rapidly-developing aliens of great hostility.
A massive terraformed world, with a single, unfinished Mechanicus megacity barely holding out against a swarm of flying Orks.
A planet that is technically illegal; the Cloudburst Sector's sole Knight World.
A tripartite realm of three related primitive tribes, none of which are yet suitable for large-scale Imperial residence.
A Warp storm with the nasty habit of flinging metal asteroids out of itself at relativistic speeds.
A world of lost, ancient treasure, to which the Adeptus Mechanicus will deploy whole Titan maniples for protection.
Crippling storms and feuding nobles tear at the surface of Gorum's Folly, interfering with the tithe and making it harder to defend from Glasians.
An ancient world of humankind, with an inflexible caste system and precarious environmental damage.
The farthest point of light in the Imperial North, currently under colossal attack from Orks.
A new and under-developed star system of the Adeptus Mechanicus agricultural network. Despite the youth of the colonies, they've already been subject to a burst of that most insidious heresy, liberalism.
Pirates have entirely overrun this system. It has been annexed by the Free Corsair Coalition.
The setting of the two worst acts of premeditated heresy in the history of the Cloudburst Sector.
Once a peaceful, isolated frontier, this world benefitted from a miracle that allowed it to defend itself from the Glasians, several centuries ago.
The Dark God Nurgle invaded and despoiled this world, which has necessitated colossal rebuilding efforts that may never pay off.
A rugged and self-reliant Frontier World, with a lingering resentment of the greater Imperium.
The largest space station in Cloudburst, and a phenomenal waste of money by the Imperial Navy and Adeptus Mechanicus.
M22: The Cracks Show
The gradual rise of the human federation halts as a combination of complacency, alien incursions, Eldar decadence, and untrustworthy machine intelligences frays the structure and unity of human culture. The otherwise isolated regions of space that would eventually become Cloudburst enjoy initial stability, as close ties to each other’s economies and secure technological bases thanks to Martian ingenuity prevent some of the political damage from spreading that far from Terra.
M23: The Rise of Iron
The uprising of the Iron Men in the future Cloudburst Sector was as thorough and destructive as it was elsewhere in human space. During the Cybernetic Revolution, entire planets simply vanished as nanite weapons swallowed them up. Corers, employed to teleport or collapse the hearts of planets, destroyed several worlds, while unbreaking legions of robots marched through human cities, rendering them lifeless. Eight hundred years of non-stop war followed, with no hope in sight.
M24: The Foundations Crumbled First
Though the work of a coalition of alien and human factions prevailed over the Iron Men, new problems followed quickly. Hedonism and Godlessness among the Eldar saw to the beginning of their race’s decline, and the psychic distortions of their conduct ensured the increase in the expression of latent psyker genes in humankind and Orks. The birthrate of human Psykers and Ork Weirdboys rose sharply, and whole worlds that survived the tides of Iron Men fell into the Warp, while others were stripped of life by Enslaver and Psychneuein incursions. Some human worlds, including the most dogmatic Forge Worlds, survived the anarchy, but not enough.
M25: The Federation Dies
Though fixing an exact date on the event is impossible, at some point in this millennium, the human federation died, as millions of human worlds sloughed into the darkness. Ignorance, fear, anguish, superstition, tribalism, hate, and bitterness claimed a quadrillion souls, and Mankind as a whole and righteous force in the Galaxy ended. Shortly thereafter, Old Night descended in earnest, as the continuing decay of the Eldar accelerated the fall of their less psychically stable human allies. Abandoned by their former friends, humanity turned on itself. A thousand thousand pocket kingdoms and empires formed and burned as the human race cut its own throat.
The worlds of the future Cloudburst were crippled by the collapse of the Federation. Lacking stable Warp or Webway access, dependent on imports, and stripped of both their psychic and robotic support, the humans of the later Sector were teetering on the brink. The final blow came from the heavens, as the radioactive remains of a long-gone supernova began to wash over several older nebulae and black holes in the region, scattering lethal waves of radiation and atoms over several human Agri-systems, rendering them unsuitable for agriculture. Eighty percent of human worlds in the future Sector had driven themselves to extinction within six thousand years, and most of the surviving worlds fell prey to alien enslavement forces.
M26-M29: Old Night
The terror of this age is thankfully lacking in detail in much of Cloudburst records. Unfortunately, records of human worlds beyond Cloudburst are not so lacking. They tell of a vast, vile, and terrifying force of strange aliens, described by witnesses as ‘floating ropes’ and ‘tendrils of hate and hunger’ that drifted down from artificial moons and took the souls of those who couldn’t flee fast enough. Other threats are more quantifiable, such as records of ‘great green brutes,’ clearly Orks, and ‘lithe, psychic un-men with guns that fired agony and confusion,’ probably Eldar pirates, killing humans out of boredom. More obscure references exist to beings that Inquisitorial scholars have tentatively identified as either Slaugth or Rangdan, neither of which still exist in huge numbers in Imperial space. Most perplexing are the references to great floating eyes made of black and purple gas, which would extend teeth from holes that opened in their white surfaces, impale people, and pull out something blue and noisome, before disappearing and leaving paralyzed husks of men behind.
Oddly, the more bizarre alien forms seem to disappear from the records of the dead worlds and primitive cultures of the Cloudburst Circuit before the end of Old Night. The lack of any obviously Chaotic demons outside of a few specific cases is also puzzling to the Holy Ordos, since a world that close to the Eldar Empire and that far from Terra would have been hugely vulnerable to daemonic incursion.
Regardless of the individual causes, the human civilizations of the future Sector were all dead and gone, reverted to barbarism, or enslaved by M29, and would remain that way for varying lengths of time.
M30: New Light
When the birth of the Dark God Slaanesh broke the Warp Storms that had wracked the galaxy for so long, no organized human forces remained in Cloudburst to exploit it. Although over a hundred worlds still had either a few inbred remains of former colonies or cave-dwelling primitives left alive, most were dead or still enslaved when the Warp became navigable once more. On Terra, the rise of the Emperor to prominence over the forces of the Techno-barbarians is well documented, as he forged an Empire from the scraps of humanity’s cradle. When the Great Crusade surged past the Eye of Terror and into the region known now as the Oldlight Exo-zone, they found horrors that nearly consumed them all.
From the dark, whispers came. Rogue Traders Militant – hardly friends of the Emperor – reported that some of their number were gone, destroyed by odd alien pirates. The Expeditionary Fleets eventually moved into the region and began settling it, despite the navigation problems lent by the dimness of the Astronomican. In M30.859, however, whole worlds began to disappear in the wake of these Fleets. Recalls were sounded, and the Fleets returned, only to be slaughtered by Rangdan vessels. These terrifying cerbavores set upon the Imperium like wild animals, and ripped billions of brains from their human cattle.
The Emperor led elements of seven Legions of Space Marines, ten Titan Legions, massive forces of the Taghmata and Skitarii, the Ordo Reductor, two million elite Solar Auxilia and another three million Imperial Army conscripts, four hundred Custodes, and two thousand Sisters of Silence into battle against the monsters. Just before the turn of the century, the last of the Rangdan were killed, their Slaugth slaves (or owners) were killed off to the last known subject, and the Oldlight Exo-zone all but abandoned. The weapons employed in the conflict rendered hundreds of star systems barren of all life, and several unrelated alien worlds also died off as the Emperor unshackled the Labyrinth of Night.
When the Horus Heresy began, it began quickly. Little of the Oldlight Proximate Circuit was colonized prior to the outbreak of the Heresy, and what little was colonized declared for the Warmaster. The intense fighting that characterized the fratricide of the era passed the Circuit by, perhaps for the long-term betterment of the sector. When the one world in the sector decisively to take a side, Fathon Prime, elected to hide from the Imperium after the fighting was over, the last significant signs of human activity in the region died down.
M31-M33: The Dark Quiet
The Oldlight Proximate Circuit maintained the quiet and the peace of the grave, for over two thousand years. What few human worlds remained in the Circuit had either thrown off their alien enslavers and promptly fallen apart, or died off completely, after being overlooked by the Crusade’s many thousands of fleets. Extensive evidence recovered far later from underground caverns reveals that Oglith, Gorkypark, and possibly Nauphry were visited by a Waaagh! at some point during this period, but that mass of greenskins is long gone.
Techpriests of Mars, exiling themselves for the desire to make flesh-indistinguishable augmetics instead of naked steel ones, settled on Cognomen in this time.
M34: We Happy Schismatic
Cognomen stands alone. Despite some limited colonization efforts in what would later become the Hapster Subsector, most human residents of the Circuit either have died off or live on Cognomen. Unbeknownst to Cognomen, however, some few dozen worlds in the enormous Circuit, including Fathon Prime, actually do still exist under human control, or at least human population and alien control. The only Imperial world outside Hapster Subsector and Cognomen itself, the Frontier World of Hangonne, on the border between Drumnos and the Circuit, is effectively a Drumnos world despite being inside what would later be Cloudburst. Slowly, the number of worlds in the Hapster Subsector grows to ten, but the physical barriers of Warp energy, radioactive clouds, and thick asteroid clusters that appeared on no map prevented Hapster from expanding to trailing.
M35: Nova Terra
The Nova Terra Interregnum and the spike in power of the Adeptus Ministorum does not scar the future Cloudburst Sector as it does much of the rest of space. The Hapster Subsector has some scrapes, mostly varying bands of Frateris Militia and Templars doing battle against each other over doctrinal disputes. The Mechanicus of Cognomen and the settlers of Hangonne find themselves siding with Terra and Mars; they are thus spared reprisal violence.
The rising tide of the Ecclesiarchy, and their return to prominence following the Ophelia relocation, brings faith to the fore in the Hapster Subsector. Wars erupt between the faithful, as they often do, but the sector itself is reintegrated into the Imperium after the battles between the faithful ended.
M36: An Era of Blood
The rise of the Era of Blood and the crippling effects of the cruel career of Goge Vandire are well documented, and need not be chronicled here. The aftermath of the Nova Terra Interregnum, the Reign of Blood, and the Plague of Unbelief in succession, with two Black Crusades in the same period, kept the Imperium from exploiting its true power, and from reaching the heights of prosperity that they should have attained. The reforms of Sebastian Thor at least ensured at the Imperium survived the madness of his predecessor. When the wave of reformation reaches Hapster, the fervor and degree of selfless devotion that Thor preached rings true in the hearts of the weary faithful. Eventually, the violence between the worlds of Hapster subsides.
M37: Whispers of Change
M37.039: Uprisings Thwarted – A circle of human psykers living on Oglith drive off the daemon cult that ruled it, then turn on each other ensuring that all human life on Oglith dies off within four years.
M37.040: The Pirates’ Life – The Voidlife pirate flotilla successfully robs Hapster’s orbitals of billions of Thrones of tithe goods. The Inquisition promptly executes the Planetary Governor for failing to prevent this, while the full force of the Battlefleet Subsector Hapster chases the pirates to the edge of the Naxos Sector, destroying four ships and losing the rest of the Voidlives in the Raoclos Nebular Cluster. Only a few million Thrones’ worth of cargo and salvage are recovered.
M37.077: The Taint of Nurgle – The Rot Soul Brigade, a Traitor Guardsman brigade of light armor, appears from the Pox Ring Warp Storm in the heart of the Corumbino Nebula in the Naxos Sector. Setting off on a hijacked Imperial Tithe barge, the Rot Souls make their way trailing, infecting over a dozen planets with the poison of sedition and the poison of Nurgle alike. In the end, over eighty Space Marines and two thousand Guardsmen are needed to kill the Rot Souls on the scarred battlefields of Barda’s Shield, only five light years from Fabique. This is not the final appearance of the Rot Souls in the history of Naxos and the Circuit, as they return twice over to plague the Imperium.
M37.243: The Dark Lights – A ripple of Warp Energy from the shrinking Warp Rifts in the heart of the Corumbino Nebula disrupts a long-dormant Webway Gate floating in the cold space of the Nebula. Dozens of silent Dark Eldar ships slip into the region, seeking flesh and souls for the Dark City.
M37.247: Sudden Horror – A flight of Dark Eldar Kabal ships appear in the night over the Imperial military capital of Arnopax in the Lucern system of the Naxos Sector, abducting tens of thousands of Imperial military family members from their beds, never to be seen again.
M37.787: Expanding Sights – The world of Limmerdine is formally colonized by the Administratum in the Hapster Subsector, only for the colonists to all immediately be uprooted again as the first wave’s Techpriests locate massive metal structures mere feet below the surface of the spot selected for the world’s first power plant. After being castigated for having missed it completely, the priests hasten to assure the Administratum that there could be no more. Two years later, the colony erupts into a vicious civil war as a Mechanicus force investigating these metal structures goes completely mad, and turns their war-servitors on the farmers.
M37.971: The Scouring of Pholemnos – At the same time that the world of Pholemnos in the Gothic Sector is scoured of mutant life at the hands of an anti-Tzeentch Inquisition task force, four other Tzeentch cults in the undercities of Hapster are purged, hoping to distract the Change God with the simultaneous losses. Tzeentch watches in amusement at the petty Imperial efforts, and promptly dispatches a Thousand Sons cruiser to assault the Inquisitorial staging area, killing thousands.
M38: A Tense Time
M38.090: Blood Sun – An army of Khornate daemons abruptly assaults the Imperial Shrine World of Larodar 4 on the border between the Naxos Sector and the Hapster Subsector, killing over a billion humans in an orgy of blood and terror. A Grey Knights task force arrives two months later, to find the daemon army gone, and the surviving population teetering on the brink of outright heresy in their despair at the Emperor not having sent his Angels to aid them fast enough.
M38.402: Strength of Arms – Lord Fabricator Richardson of Cognomen formally petitions to have the edict against raising a Titan Legion raised by Mars redacted. No response is forthcoming from the Red Planet, so Lord Fabricator Richardson quietly begins organizing the planetary militia in the form of his very own Taghmata. Declared Heretek Inculpa Belisarius by the Ordo Machina of the Inquisition, he barely escapes from Cognomen with his life, and spends the next two years fleeing from the Inquisition, before being caught and killed by a strike team of Stormtroopers on Fabique.
M38.560: Looking Outward – The Forge World of Fabique completes a four hundred year long manufacturing project and establishes the Grand Docks distretta. This massive, interconnected network of orbital platforms, dry-docks, berthing yards, temples, low-G tube-trans trains, satellites, and metallurgical factories allows for Fabique to construct any Imperial hull class smaller than 14 kilometers, and can dock vessels up to twice that size for refits or repairs. Higher in the world’s orbit, Fabique orders a large space station built into a convenient asteroid, named the Star Gilt. Home to a huge coaching house and auction hall, the station becomes the hub of nearly all major Rogue Trader activity in the Naxos Sector, just as the Fabique Explorators had hoped. Fabique is able to buy vast sums of archaeotech and other materiel from returning Rogue Traders at the auction houses, without any risk to themselves.
M38.612: An Unheralded Arrival – Future Archmagos Explorator Justin MacDonald finishes his training on Cognomen, and joins the crew of a senior Explorator on their search for a safer Warp route between Cognomen and the Drumnos Sector.
M38.799: Frothing Disease – Thousands of Nurglite cultists disembark from camouflaged barges and troopships onto the surface of Limmerdine, and the world turns from a pastoral wilderness paradise to a festering hell of plague and death. Cities run green with the melting flesh and pus-rivulets of millions of dying Imperials. Thinking quickly, the local Ecclesiarchy and Munitorum press the entire planetary population into a single vast militia, and march seventeen million citizen-soldiers into the force of Nurglites. By sheer weight of numbers, the Chaotic warriors are overrun and defeated, but the world’s recovery will take over five thousand years by the most conservative estimates.
M38.999: Claws of Hate – Cognomen, for the first time in its long history, is assaulted directly by its enemies. The vast Ark Mechanicus Archetype is attacked in its usual patrol by a force of mixed Renegade Space Marines. The Age of Strife-era auspexes and sensoria aboard the ancient ship are enough to see the enemy coming, and the Archetype signals for help from the planet proper as it attempts to return to the planet’s orbit. Before help can arrive, the Archetype is boarded by the force of Traitors, including Gorlabe the Unyielding, a Black Legion Terminator. The crew of the Archetype number over one hundred thousand people, however, and put up a vicious fight against the boarders, even as the vessel crawls towards Cognomen’s defense net. Two dozen smaller vessels, mostly Defense Monitors, rush to the aid of their flagship. Meanwhile, the actual objective of the raid, Cognomen itself, is left all but defenseless. Two dozen Black Legion and Word Bearer Terminators teleport to the surface of the planet, directly into the great data-library of the main Fabrication Temple Plant. Desperate counterattacks from the local militia are unable to stop the Terminators from looting over four thousand blueprints, then setting electrical fires in the rest of the building and teleporting free. Though the Archetype was quickly secured and Gorlabe’s forces driven off, the damage is done. Hundreds of thousands of blueprints, some older than the Imperium, are lost forever. Cognomen is forced to beg for fresh copies from Mars, and those copies are provided only begrudgingly, with a force of eighty thousand Skitarii along with them. These Skitarii will form the core of the world’s bolstered defenses.
M39: A New Beginning
M39.002: A Fate-Heavy Voyage – Explorator Justin MacDonald is promoted to Magos, and given command of his own ship, the Grand Cruiser Long Vision of Knowledge. He takes off into the nebulae that surround his homeworld in search of stable Warp Routes, despite being repeatedly assured that none exists save the one the fleet originally used to colonize Cognomen, thousands of years before.
M39.004: A Fatal Error in Judgment – A collection of corrupt members of the Adeptus Arbites succeed in murdering the second in command of the Hapster Administratum and covering it up, blaming it on a visiting Deathwatch Kill-Marine. The Marine barely escapes retribution by uncorrupted Arbites, unaware of their comrades’ corruption.
M39.009: Foreboding – The Space Hulk Mortifracture appears from out of the great clouds of radioactive gas that girdle the Cognomen system. Initial exploration of the Hulk by the Iron Hands Chapter reveals that the entire structure of the Hulk is completely overrun with Orks, but many seem starved or malnourished, and they do not put up a good enough fight to resist the Iron Hands’s Terminator boarding forces, which capture the Hulk for the Mechanicus. Cognomen, however, has no records of any Orkholds close enough to contain that many Orks.
M39.010: Recidivism – A vast army of human Renegades and Traitors descends on the planet Northrop in the neighboring Drumnos Sector. Over eighteen million of these assailants, out of twenty-one million total, are eventually identified as being descendants of the Imperial prison planet St. Hobson’s Patience, which had vanished into the Warp a thousand years before. Disturbingly, many of the original criminals are also identified as having been present for the invasion, begging the question: what could have kept them alive for so long, while leaving them time to reproduce? The Renegade force assaults Northrop’s defenses with manic rage, and only a combined force of Salamander, Red Scorpion, Angels Vermillion, Emperor’s Nightmare, Death Lights, Celestial Knights, and Angels of Redemption Astartes, alongside over a million star-sailors of the Imperial Navy, manage to stop the incursion before the whole world is destroyed.
M39.012: The Great Discovery – To the shock of the Rogue Traders, Explorators, Astrocartographers, and Navigators of Drumnos, Naxos, and the rest of the Ultima Segmentum, Explorator Magos Justin MacDonald announces that he has discovered three shirtsleeves-habitable star systems, one with three Garden Worlds in it, within a few weeks’ flight from Cognomen. Named Triplicate, for the three completely unrelated primitive cultures living on it and apparently unaware of each other; Starlight Hollow, named for the artificial star MacDonald found crashed into the planet’s surface; and Septiim, for the ancient Terran poet and inventor of renown, the three systems had all tested as safe for immediate human habitation, and none were more than fifteen light-years from Cognomen.
M39.014: Gold Rush One – Propelled by discoveries of immense value by MacDonald’s fleet, over one hundred Rogue Trader and Explorator ships leave Fabique for the Oldlight Proximate Circuit.
M39.015: Unease – Several dozen Rogue Trader and Explorator ships return to the Star Gilt, with words of caution on their tongues. They spoke of dead worlds, dead ships, and whole systems of utter devastation, out in the void. Pict-captures and solid remains of wrecked Great Crusade ships, some with Legionary markings, surface in Fabique. After months of speculation, the Inquisition steps in.
M39.016: Gold Rush Two – The Inquisitorial expedition, minus four ships, and MacDonald return. A conclave is held at Palace Naxos. Official declaration of Discovery is made. Over one hundred more Rogue Trader and Explorator ships depart.
M39.093: Ambush – A routine co-operation exercise between the Basilikon Astra Cognomen and Basilikon Astra Fabique ends in total catastrophe when the fleet of Ork Freebooter Commodore Grotwhip assaults the asteroid base around which the joint exercise was conducted. The Archetype is lost with all hands when its Magos Dominus self-destructs the hybrid core after boarding by Orks. The fleet of Cognomen would never fully recover from the loss of their ancient flagship and home, and reserve a special hatred for Orks.
M39.098: Putting Down Roots – The initial colonization effort of the Oldlight Proximate Circuit begins, with population drawn from the many overpopulated hives of the leMarkos system in the Drumnos Sector.
M39.100 ~ 700: Expanding the Imperium – The Mechanicus and Administratum undertake a massive colony-building effort in the Circuit and its border regions. Fabique contracts to build several hundred colony ships and logistical barges, mostly for the colonization of Thimble and Nauphry IV, the only two worlds in the new Sector with populations of over twenty million within the first year.
M39.387: Empty Houses – The abandoned Rogue Navigator fortress of Coriolis is discovered by now Archmagos Explorator MacDonald. The world is promptly claimed by the Astra Militarum, and turned into the regional staging area.
M39.398: Wildfires – The Hapster system is raided by over three full flights of Infidel Raiders. Though the Defense Monitors of the SDF managed to sink one and slam it into one of Hapster’s two moons, the other nine successfully steal the Rogue Trader cruiser Lucre William, killing its crew, with Rogue Trader Roger Calavna only escaping by hiding in a messenger pod and launching himself to the world below. Calavna swears undying revenge on the unknown pirates and fails.
M39.519: The Birth of the Cloudburst Sector – With the discovery of the twin worlds of Cloudburst and Celeste, the Administratum declares that enough worlds have been found to justify the establishment of a new sector. The twin worlds are declared the new capital, though colonization is delayed by jurisdictional squabbling between the Ordo Hereticus, Ecclesiarchy, and Administratum. The new Sector Overlord, Lord Ramius Kruzedyvech Lubgrov, previously served as a Lord Administrator for the Hapster Subsector, though not a Subsector Overlord.
M39.628: Haunted soil – Explorator vessel Omnisssiah’s Great Bounty discovers the Oglith system. Detecting the taint of Chaos on the planet from orbit, the ship requests the Ordo Malleus investigate. Two years later, the world is found to have been the site of a horrific human sacrifice to or by an unknown daemon, but there is no multicellular life on Oglith’s surface at the present time. Cautious plans are drawn up for colonization. During preliminary efforts, however, a fully subterranean colony of Feral Orks is discovered, apparently unaware of either the current or previous human colony efforts, or the Chaotic interlude. The decision is reached to colonize the world, and then assault the Orks all at once after a colony is well established.
M39.631: Tearing Up an Oath – Mars formally rescinds the Titan Restriction order placed on Cognomen. Cognomen begins building new Titans and accepts six as a starter group from Mars. The new Legion is entitled Legio Congelatio, or Frostbite Army. Mars dispatches copies of the three basic Titan blueprints and leaves Cognomen to do the work themselves.
M39.648: Under the Rocks – A former Terran Federation system is discovered in Cloudburst, including its world Drolorium. After an extensive, decades-long conversion effort by the young Missionary Maskos and his Ecclesiarchal allies, the world is made a part of the Imperium, and the Mechanicus examines its treasure trove of STC mining equipment.
M39.839: The Stars Come to Kill – A panicked call for help from the nearby Naxos Sector reaches Cognomen. A war to drive off Dark Eldar from the Corumbino Nebula has taken a turn for the worst, as a Webway Gate explodes and sends a squadron of Daemonships into the nebula through the resultant Rift. Though Imperial War-Savants believe the Rift may eventually close on its own, the Daemonships deposit over eight thousand Chaos Space Marines and Chaos Mutants on Dynarix 3, the Imperial Navy staging world for the brutal war. Cognomen agrees to dispatch its fledgling Titan Legion and a small fleet of its limited Basilikon Astra to aid the Imperials.
M39.916: Betrayal of Confidence – The Rogue Trader house Jiax is annihilated in the span of five days by the Inquisition’s Ordo Hereticus and the Officio Assassinorum. No explanation is ever given to the other Traders of the region.
M39.955: The First Rebellion – The Subsector Capital of Delving rocks from an internal rebellion. Hundreds of thousands of disaffected Imperial citizens turn on the Administratum in the span of two weeks. Pacification eventually requires chemical weapon usage, or so claims the Imperial Guard general staff sent to implement reconquest by the Sector Commanders. The Inquisition’s Ordo Militarum establishes a permanent presence in the Cloudburst Sector at this time, to watch for other potentially unneeded uses of non-conventional weapons.
M40: Building Strength
M40.003: Bureaucracy Sets In – The Adeptus Terra has, by this point, taken over the administration of the new Sector directly. Over a hundred new star systems have been added to the Imperium, with several more mapped, several beyond that earmarked for exploration, and two identified as having been so heavily infested by aliens that colonization is not feasible.
M40.102: Codification – The total number of star systems in the growing Cloudburst Sector demands fresh Subsectors. Oglith and Maskos, two grand success stories of Imperial expansion, are made Subsector Capitals, as is Cognomen, to nobody’s surprise greater than their own. Septiim is considered for the honor, but is passed over for Delving since the problem of determining which Septiim world to honor is too fractious to be worth the trouble.
M40.145: The Phlebotomist Rises – A cult of sadistic killers on the planet Hapster rises to the attention of Khorne, who needs do very little to shift their conduct to something more pleasing to him. The cult goes on a rampage against the local Arbites, killing over a dozen Arbitrators and Judges and sixty local police before being halted by a sniper team with Enforcer support. Their leader, a former surgeon named The Phlebotomist, escapes the massacre, and continues a solo killing spree for eighteen years before dying of infection.
M40.189: A Theft – A horde of Orks descends on the Imperial Fortress World of Coriolis in the hope of looting it of its vast stockpiles of cruise missiles. Valiant Imperial Guard and local PDF armies drive the aliens off, losing an insignificant eight hundred missiles.
M40.201: A Metal Marble – The bizarre and unique world of Underbar is discovered. Competitions between Mechanicus and merchant assets to best extract the valuable resources of the liquid metal seas are fierce, and nearly escalates to violence before Cognomen steps in and forces a compromise.
M40.234: A Rising Name – A plague rips through the mid-levels of several Thimblan hives, leaving multiple criminal gangs leaderless. The future House Nailspitter steps in and assumes command of them, rising to become a force of nature in the criminal underworld of Thimble overnight.
M40.247: Winds of Darkness – The formerly isolationist band of pirates known as the Black Wind violently annex two small neighboring pirate groups, and capture several Imperial ships. Three Chartered freight-carriers of the Drumnos Sector disappear within days afterward, so quickly that no messages are sent.
M40.289: An Unexpected Honor – Fifteen regiments of Septiim Guard are demanded of Septiim by the Officio Munitorum for a crusade in the adjacent Drumnos Sector, against the expanding Green Empire of Morkstar Redfangs. All fifteen regiments are told in advance that they will not be coming back, but will instead gain colonization rights and titles of conquest upon successful resolution of the campaign. All forty-six thousand volunteers are given formal funerals by their families before departing, never to return. Four months later, the Septiim Regiments return, the Green Empire homeworld having been destroyed by a gamma ray burst. Some regiments are eventually reassigned to Rogue Trader fleets in the Cloudburst Circuit.
M40.400: The Map Shrinks – Unstable projections in the Astronomican, hard enough to see this far from Terra and blocked by so many Warp Storms, make life challenging for Rogue Traders in the Cloudburst Circuit and Oldlight Exo-zone. Fifteen Rogue Trader ships vanish in under a year. Four later turn up as part of the Space Hulk Speeding Death in the Gothic Sector.
M40.470: The Winds Grow – The fleet of the renamed Dark Winds capture a Cobra Destroyer from the Lawrencium patrol squad. The pirates then vanish into the border darkness between Drumnos and Cloudburst.
M40.569: Entropy – The Tovash system, on the border between Drumnos and the Hapster Subsector, drops out of all contact with the greater Imperium. A Navy patrol squadron arrives to investigate, and detects the planet’s continents flying out into space, the result of an unprecedentedly large Hrud migration loosening the tectonic bonds. The Ordo Xenos is baffled by this behavior; Hrud often do not care about the state of a planet when they’re done with it, but to destroy it pre-emptively at the cost of their own lives is outside their usual mode of conduct.
M40.610: The Gyronax Crusade Begins – One hundred regiments of Imperial Guard are raised across Drumnos and Cloudburst to participate in the Gyronax Crusade to liberate the Aelthus Cluster, far to the galactic north of Port Maw. The lack of able defenders in the sectors makes repelling pirates and slavers temporarily more difficult.
M40.666: A Dark Parallel – A Slaaneshi daemon infiltrates the planet Maskos, nigh-perfectly recreating the Missionary Maskos’s techniques, this time to turn the world that bears his name into a Daemon World. A mission to stop it costs the Arbites a precinct’s worth of men, and ends with the deaths of over two thousand cultists.
M40.798: The Paradox Stars – A flicker in the web of Warp energy in the Hell’s Vortex Warp Storm reveals that the binary stars at its heart are not the same size they were when observation began.
M40.745: Lightning Strikes – Piracy is an annoying but frequent concern in the border regions of the Imperium. Ships and forces belonging to criminal groups sometimes successfully assault Imperial holdings, and the most common response from nearby civilians is to batten down the hatches and wait for the Navy to drive them off. On the planet Lemankonstruert in Drumnos, a massive force of armored pirates, driving Mars quality tanks, roll into an Imperial warehousing district. The pirates make off with over one million Gold Gelt Thrones’ worth of trade goods and food, over four hundred prisoners, and eight cargo ships, then vanish without a trace. Enraged Ordo Hereticus, Ordo Militarum, and Mechanicus investigators demand to know which local Imperial military force could have been so careless as to allow Mars-quality tanks to fall into the hands of pirates. No Imperial military force is found to be at fault. Horrified Mechanicus officials realize the truth: the Dark Winds have an STC.
M40.834: Crime and Punishment – Two Task Group-strength forces of Adeptus Arbites storm the pirate asteroid base of Rum-slog, killing the motley band of raiders that commanded the Ork and human fleet of pirates. Although hundreds of pirates are killed and a thousand more captured, six thousand escape on their vessels to plague the Imperium again.
M40.844: Crippling Loss – Thousands of Dark Eldar, Imperial, and Chaotic ships assault each other and the ground in the savage war for the vast wealth of the Corumbino Nebula in Naxos and its super-fast Warp routes. The Dark Eldar find themselves unable to consistently outmaneuver both enemies at once, while the Chaotic forces are conscious of the need to open a foothold on the worlds of the Nebula before the Warp Rift that allows their Daemonships to maintain a realspace connection closes. The Imperials need merely outlast the Chaotic fleet before the closure of the Rift drives them away, and then they can focus all their brute firepower on the Dark Eldar. Cognomen again dispatches their original Martian Titans to aid the local forces. The Mechanicus and Naval force from Cognomen is a drop in the bucket compared to the size of their opposition. The prospects of Imperial victory grow dimmer as the entirety of the newly gifted Legio Congelatio are destroyed in a savage three-way battle between the Mechanicus, Traitor Guard, and a Dark Eldar Archon’s forces. Though the loss of the Legion enables the Imperial defenders to destroy the Chaotic staging area and blow up their entire ammunition cache, ultimately tipping the ground war in the Imperium’s favor, it is no consolation to Cognomen. Cognomen relates this defeat to Mars, who reply that Cognomen is on its own if they want more Titans. With nothing but wreckage with which to rebuild, Cognomen starts the work with heavy hearts – they had insulted Sacred Mars with their losses.
M40.899: Ludovic’s Toxins – The Tzeentchian mage Ludovic the Sorcerer assaults Oglith with his warband of over eighty thousand Chaos-aligned raiders and cultists. Though the Oglith PDF is eventually able to contain and kill the cultists, Ludovic achieves his goal: destroying the Chaos artifact buried in the planet’s crust, over which an Imperial bank had been built. Ludovic dies laughing, as do over a third of the planet’s Astropaths. Over the next fifteen years, a virulent mutagen disease sweeps the world’s water supply, killing hundreds and mutating tens of thousands. The Ecclesiarchy and Arbites are pressed to the limit killing the mutants, though this also has a constraining effect on the subterranean Ork problem. Orks are not immune to mutation, not when it permeates their entire food and water supply.
M40.914: The Second Rebellion – Another, larger uprising on Delving nearly costs the Imperium the planet. Thorough covert action by the Ordo Hereticus succeeds in stopping the rebellion from spreading off world, but the Imperial Guard General sent from Thimble to stop the uprising deploys plutonium bombs to put a stop to it. This makes the second time the Officio Munitorum has resorted to using contaminating weapons to stop a domestic war, and the Officio Munitorum forces said General’s retirement. Mutant birthrates on Delving rise dramatically.
M40.967: A Conclave of Killers – Fifteen Inquisitors and six Assassins converge on the Maskos Inquisitorial Palace, all from Terra, with an assignment they did not want to entrust to the Astropathic Choir. Lord Inquisitor Cloudburst Aronbel hears them in private, and re-routes them to the venerable Deathwatch Watch Fortress named Fort Pykman, deep in the Oldlight Exo-zone, where the team passes beyond the Cloudburst Inquisition’s sight.
M40.989: A Glorious Occasion – The Ecclesiarchal Mission ship Sacred Voices stumbles across the planet Oromet in the Cloudburst Circuit and hastens to begin proselytizing to the few thousand humans left alive on the storm- and plague-wracked world. Mechanicus atmosphere control machines begin converting the world to a more tolerable place.
M40.998: Rolling Thunder – The Dark Winds launch brutal raids on multiple Drumnos Sector border forts and listening posts, especially on the galactic north spinward of the Sector. Alarming reports of entire merchant flotillas disappearing into Dark Winds territory chill local travel; Chartist Captains spend fortunes finding alternate routes for freighters. As local Ecclesiarchal officials note depressed tithe income thanks to the diverted ships, their complaints reach the ears of the Ordo Hereticus. However, it is only when two Drumnos Sector vessels independently report sighting newly-built Raiders on the border that a decision is made to put an end to the Dark Winds forever, because now they have a means of building their own warships. A force of Drumnos Mechanicus and Navy assets begin a grinding war of assault on their own border, slowly pushing back the pirates, who have now existed long enough to have developed their own communities and home worlds with self-sustaining populations. Two worlds in the Drumnos Sector are found to have whole cities of Dark Winds populations, and are promptly flattened by the vengeful Navy. The Dark Winds respond by airlifting whole factories into space and resuming production of weapons, while slowly retreating towards the less heavily defended Cloudburst Sector.
M41: End of Two Eras
M41.029: Gas Storms – A vast force of Orks, more than twice the largest ever before recorded in Cloudburst, appears at the edge of the Sector, as foretold by the Tarot. A covert Ordo Xenos task force assembles to intercept them, when the Orks suddenly veer off course. The Ordo follows them, and discovers that a binary rocky-gas planet has drawn their attention. Vast coils of gas spin off the giant and descend as a liquid to the surface of the rocky world, where a tribe of Orks has set up nothing less than a refueling station for other Orks. The Ordo identifies the phenomenon as being caused by a Beast-era Graviton Compressor Array, and covertly erects a listening post at the edge of the system, hoping for a chance to steal it. The Ork fleet gradually scatters over the three nearby Sectors, causing headaches for the Navy.
M41.100: For Terra and Mars – The partially rebuilt Legio Congelatio, alongside one hundred thousand Skitarii, four hundred Ordo Reductor Specialists, and two hundred thousand Imperial Navy and Basilikon Astra sailors, engage the massive Dark Winds gang of pirate Renegades at the border of the Drumnos and Cloudburst Sectors. The group captures over one hundred thousand prisoners and secures two warships for the Drumnos Sector Fleet. They also seek to regain the favor of Mars. In the wreckage of the pirate deep space repair foundry, an intact Standard Template Constructor for the baseline variant of Leman Russ Tank is found. Though it is a copy of one Mars already has in abundance, it is sent to Mars in a great Mechanicus Forge Ship, after the plans are meticulously copied. Though the Fabricator General recognizes that as a transparent attempt to buy favor, he grudgingly gives his thanks.
M41.103: Dark Needles – The Kabal of the Fiend Ascendant conducts a massive raid on Hapster, Oglith, Cognomen, Septiim Tertius, Grendel, Coriolis, Locke’s World, and Gorkypark. The Inquisition is able to determine that this is not a raid of conquest, but mass abduction; Commorragh needs slaves. Millions vanish screaming into the Webway. Two Deathwatch Kill-teams and two brigades of Celestial Guard fly out to engage the raiders. The Dark Eldar retreat after minimal direct combat and the Webway Gate the slavers use is hunted down by meticulous Mechanicus and Inquisitorial ships. The first two ships to approach are skewered by Dark Eldar guns, but the next nine successfully destroy the gate, closing off the preferred route of Dark Eldar in the region.
M41.189: Requisitions – Twenty thousand troops from Cassie’s World and four hundred thousand more from Thimble fly off to support the Rogue Trader fleet of Tomás Reledar the Second, on his ongoing campaign to capture the worlds of the southern Cloudburst Circuit.
M41.299: Disappearance – Hundreds of thousands of Chaotic pirates, Renegades, Traitors, Daemons, and other foes of the Imperium simply vanish from across the Cloudburst Sector. Oglith, which had been fighting against Chaos pirates for some years; Thimble, beset by mutants; even Grand Anchor, long assailed by Warp-tainted pirates and alien ships, suddenly had no enemies to fight. Stranger yet, a band of Tzeentch cult ships appear on the border between Naxos and Cloudburst, hulled and burned by what had clearly been the Terminus Est. The Ordo Malleus launches extensive investigations, and locates hints to the disappearance in an underhive of Thimble’s desolated northern continent. Extensive forensic work on an abandoned building with Chaotic graffiti reveals that the building had, until weeks before, contained a potent navigation and 3D rendering cogitator, apparently being used to plan a complex stellar route to the Drumnos Sector without crossing through any Imperial-controlled Navy Checkpoints.
M41.304: Deathly Quiet – All contact is lost with Naval strongpoint Iron Beach, on the edge of the Cloudburst Circuit. A Navy investigator team unearths massive plasma burns on the interior bulkheads of the drifting void platform, indicating a boarding action, or perhaps a malfunction. The station is repaired and put back to service the following year.
M41.340: Abhor the Thinking Machine – A specialist team of two hundred Skitarii and Arbites quarantine a bunker on one of the few islands of Obelisk II, suspecting it to be a concealed cache of Iron Men from before the Age of Strife. The bunker opens to the air hours later thanks to an internal security mechanism, and two thirds of the team dies before the breach is sealed by a stasis trap and a sustained shelling of the strange metal beings that emerge. The Techpriests leading the force claim that whatever the creatures were, they were not Iron Men. True Iron Men in that number would have overrun them in seconds. The identity of the metal beings remains a point of scholarly concern on Cognomen and security concern to the Deathwatch.
M41.351: A Scream of Absolution – The fullest might of all three extant Convents of Sororitas in the Sector falls upon the heretical uprising on the planet Cassie’s World. Seven hours later, the planet is as pious as a preacher in the pews, and the smoke from the burning city at the heart of the heresy is visible from space.
M41.378: The Emperor’s Finest – Fifty Space Marines from three different Dark Angel Successors pass through the sector on their way to the Oldlight Exo-zone, collecting ammunition and other supplies from Cognomen on the way. They refuse to speak of their mission, and Cognomen chooses not to press the matter.
M41.382: Expansion Plans – The world of Foraldshold is formally added to the Imperium by a Mechanicus survey team. A single colossal city is planned, and the first surveys begin. The intent is to make the world a satrap of Cognomen, in the hopes that a subsidiary world would able to handle much of the mundane manufacturing of the larger Forge World, so that it can focus on its planned military expansions.
M41.399: Confusion and Intruders – Ripples of odd Aetheric energies from the Cloudburst Circuit presage troubled dreams among the Cloudburst Sector’s scarce psychics. Readings of the Tarot bespeak disasters, destruction, and war. The Inquisition begins hardening its defenses, and engages in discussion about the possible forms the problems the Tarot foretells may take.
M41.399: Greatness – Lord Commander Solar Macharius conquers over one thousand worlds for the Imperium in a mere seven years. The Cloudburst Sector played no direct role in the Crusade, though the depleting effect it had on the Imperium’s short-term resources would later prove telling in the Inquisition’s decisions.
M41.400: A Bolt from the Blue – With no broadcasted warning, no precedent, and no hesitation, a vast force of aliens, numbering well over two million heads, assaults the Septiim, Maskos, and Drimmerzole orbitals. Enormous spacecraft, looking somewhat like the archetypal Imperial Grand Cruiser, materialize at the edges of star systems and burn their way inward. The ships carve through the defenses of these three systems and ravage the people below, then deposit strange hovering tanks on the crusts of the planets. Only after the intervention of five Astartes Chapters, eight Deathwatch Kill-Teams, five Inquisitorial retinues, four hundred thousand Imperial Guardsmen, and multiple Sector and Subsector Battlefleets are the aliens finally killed. Sifting through the rubble, the Ordo Xenos tentatively identifies their attackers by a word that sees frequent use in their primitive cogitators: Glasian. Representatives of the Celestial Knights, the Novamarines, the Angels of Fury, and the Red Templars assemble to discuss their findings after the battles end, while the Carcharadons vanish without a word. The Ordo Malleus makes a concurrent discovery: the Glasians were corrupted to a being by Tzeentch.
M41.400: Drowning – The entire city of Nelabaster on Obelisk II sinks into the waves after catastrophic damage caused by an asteroid impact.
M41.402: Assembly – Inquisitors, Magi, Psykers, Marines, Admirals, and Generals of every sort convene for an emergency meeting in the Cloudburst Administratum Palace. Fierce debates begin on the topic of the Glasian migration and the effects it had on the Sector.
M41.405: Garrisoning the Front – A force of 120 Space Marines assemble in Septiim to watch for future Glasian incursions. The Inquisition formally establishes Exigent Task Unit Cloudburst.
M41.406: The Long Wait – The Exigent Task Unit Cloudburst settles in on former Mechanicus mining base Gleamlock and awaits further Glasian incursions. Brisk harvesting of gene-seeds ensures that the separation of so many Marines from their home Chapters is not permanently crippling.
M41.437: A Dire Heresy – The planet Oromet in the Thimble Subsector is wracked by a premeditated act of heresy and conspiracy by its reigning Archbishop, who plunges the whole system into a crippling war for power. Caught completely off-guard by the speed of the uprising, the Inquisition mobilizes an emergency task force, but it is too late: by the time a joint Arbites, Astra Militarum Scion, and Inquisitorial Ordo Hereticus retributive unit cuts their way to Archbishop Haggar and beats him unconscious for his secret trial, over a billion souls are lost. Haggar’s crime, it transpired, was claiming that he and he alone could accurately interpret the Emperor’s Tarot; to the commoners this may have appeared true, since Haggar was a hedge psyker. How this had been allowed to happen is unknown, and is also a source of lingering embarrassment to the Adeptus Astra Telepathica Scholastica Psykana.
M41.467: Forlorn – An Imperial mapping ship taking on supplies on a Mechanicus station at the edge of the Oromet system detects a Space Hulk in the darkness outside the system thanks to light from the star reflecting off its hull. The Inquisition later dubs it the Forlorn Sight. It drops back into the Warp four months later.
M41.480: Vast Frontiers – Lord Captain Lavarr Redneick finally finishes mapping the Spiraling Fastness Nebula in the Cloudburst Circuit. Five new worlds are discovered in the remains of the supernova that birthed the region. One is already inhabited by humankind, and the other four are either formerly inhabited or never have been.
M41.499: Lesquire’s Dismay – Inquisitor Ronald Lesquire’s investigation into a possible heresy of the flesh comes to a crashing halt as a mutant cult on the planet Cassie’s World rises up against him, killing four Throne Agents and two Interrogators. A full Arbites mobilization is needed to put the cult down, costing millions in property damage.
M41.500: Return of the Darkness – A second wave of Glasians, ten percent larger than the first, returns to assault the Cloudburst Sector. The entire population of Agri-world Chlorit IV dies in days as a wave of hovertanks and fighters kills every person on the planet. Ordo Xenos Inquisitors watch in astonishment as the Glasian ship then retrieves its warriors and splits the planet down the middle with its FTL engines. The ship is later intercepted off Coriolis and destroyed. The Exigent Task Unit suffers forty percent casualties and the total loss of its headquarters when a bizarre Glasian ship assaults Septiim.
M41.502: Reconclave – The remaining Exigent Task Unit Marines and the Inquisitors of the Ordos Cloudburst assemble in the Inquisitorial Palace of Maskos. The group deliberates for almost a year on the outcome of the second invasion, and eventually resolves to create a permanent garrison.
M41.519: Brotherhood – The planet Azure, once a logistical and governmental hub of the Nauphry Subsector, changes its name in Imperial records. No other changes are noted by outside observers, and life appears to proceed as normal. However, when an Inquisitorial vessel makes dock above the world to take on supplies some weeks later, it is captured by an unidentified force of raving cultists, who throw themselves on the Inquisitor with savage ferocity. The Inquisitor barely has time to call for aid by Astropath before the ship is taken, and he is drawn and quartered by the lunatic mob. Ordo Hereticus reinforcements arrive four months later to find that the world’s government has fallen to a collective of fanatical cultists named the True Brotherhood, who have listened to the whispers of a recidivist Astropath. The Astropath, the Inquisition learns, has gone utterly mad, and has declared that he can bestow psychic powers on his most devout worshippers. He has turned the whole planet against the Imperium, and even changed the name of the world to better reflect its new station. The Inquisition summons every Battle Sister in the Sector and Circuit to a Mechanicus refueling station at the edge of the system, and upon their assembly, descends on the world with four thousand Templar Militia and twelve thousand Guardsmen in tow. Brotherhood burns as Inquisitorial and cultist forces fight in the streets, propelled by their clashing faiths to a battle of no quarter. Finally, after suffering extensive losses, the Inquisition declares the world Perdita, and reluctantly calls in Exterminatus on the planet. Psychic scars on the population by the mad Astropath and his rogue psyker legions were great enough that the world could not be salvaged. The Sisters of Cloudburst bear the incident as a mark of shame to this day.
M41.525: The Blue Daggers are Born – After decades of work and preparation, the Blue Daggers Chapter of the Adeptus Astartes is formally Founded in the Septiim system. Taking the hollow asteroid dubbed Gargantuan as its Fortress Monastery, the Daggers collect gene-seeds and equipment from the Novamarines and Angels of Fury to establish their starter population of one hundred twenty Marines. The Mechanicus of Cognomen are given the honor of building the additional equipment of the Daggers until they can get their own forges up and running. The Daggers select Brother Lieutenant Augustus Alderoster as their new Chapter Master. The Chapter begins busily expanding their assets and numbers.
M41.538: A Gang of Thugs – The absurdly overzealous collective of pirates named The Endless Party attack Watch Station Discus in the Nauphry system, hoping to steal the Inquisitorial armor and weapons within. The Deathwatch slaughter them all in minutes by teleporting into their ships and sabotaging their life support systems. The Nauphry SDF arrives to help, just in time to be handed the captured ships by the disinterested Deathwatch, who view the entire exercise as a distraction.
M41.589: The Peaceful Faith – The Abbey of the Martyred Emperor opens in the Septiim system, housing over a thousand priests and nuns of the Ecclesiarchy. The tiny Battle Sister contingent of the abbey flies in from the Segmentum Solar to serve as its defenders, and quickly establish the tone of their relationship with the Daggers by refusing to allow a Dagger representative to attend the abbey’s consecration.
M41.600: The Third Glasian Migration – As predicted by the Ordos Xenos and Malleus, a third wave of Glasians, this one even larger, assaults the Cloudburst Sector. This time, the Daggers stand ready. Although the Glasians attack four disparate systems, the six hundred Battle Brothers of the Daggers work alongside over two million Guard and forty million PDF and sailors to drive the aliens back into space, where teleporting Dagger Terminators destroy them with sabotage.
M41.624: Mysterious Murder – The Lord Sector Cloudburst Roger Holdlt Coliard dies to an assassin’s bullet on the porch of his sprawling underground mansion in the caves of Cloudburst. The assassin is captured alive by an Arbites bodyguard squad, and find him to be under the control of an unknown alien machine, embedded in his thyroid.
M41.669: Pox – Without warning, a massive fleet of Nurglite pirates, tainted aliens, and even a few Death Guard Marines surges from the tainted heart of the Naxos Sector. The Daggers begin their first extra-Cloudburst mission, as they work alongside the Celestial Knights and their own parent Chapters: the Novamarines and Angels of Fury. The combined force of Marines and Imperial Navy beat the Nurglites back into the perimeter of the Corumbino Nebula, where vengeful Chaotic reinforcements fall on the Imperium’s fleets. The Blue Daggers vessels take a savage pounding, and although they lose no ships larger than an Escort, their fleet is left at two thirds strength. Eventually, the pirates are driven into the Warp Storms at the heart of the Nebula by Battlefleet Naxos and the Celestial Knights.
M41.688: Whiplash – On the Frontier world of Hangonne, scraps of an archaeotech cache are found by enterprising gold prospectors. The Mechanicus snatches it up, and finds it to be left over from an abortive colonization attempt by Terra, over eighteen thousand years before. All usable technology has decayed beyond any use, save one: a shipping pallet of electric whips, apparently used for fighting off predators. Cognomen Electro-Priests eagerly add the whips to their arsenals.
M41.700: The Fourth Glasian Migration – Again foretold by the Tarot, the Glasians strike Cloudburst Sector. The expanding military forces of the Cloudburst Sector meet the aliens head-on, and although the Glasians come harrowingly close to destroying Nauphry VII, the Imperium again defeats them.
M41.704: The Rot Souls Rise Again – After thousands of years dying and reawakening in the pits of the Warp for the amusement and defense of Nurgle, the Rot Soul Brigade abruptly appears in the roiling Warp Storms at the extreme galactic north. The Nurglites rampage unchecked until they arrive in the Cloudburst Circuit’s fringe, where they are detected by horrified Astropaths of the Rogue Trader House Rowsdower. The Rogue Trader fleets of the region quickly marshal their forces and blunt the Nurglite assault, but four Rot Soul troopships escape the death of their escorts and escape into the Circuit proper. The Basilikon Astra move a fleet of their own to intercept, but the ships instead abruptly shift course and discharge their diseased cargo onto the world of Combine, specifically to attack a Blue Daggers company there for a mission. The Daggers rout and slaughter the Nurglites before they can contaminate the soil of the indispensable Agri-world.
M41.742: Macragge Stands – The Tyranids assault Macragge, the homeworld of the Blue Daggers’ ultimate progenitor Chapter, the Ultramarines. Although casualties run into the millions of humans and hundreds of Marines, the Ultramarines eventually drive off and destroy most of Hive Fleet Behemoth.
M41.749: Overambition – Warships of the Battlefleet Drumnos report that one of the hundreds of lesser pirate fleets that operate in the Oldlight Exo-zone has vanished. Local worlds on the Drumnos-Cloudburst border brace for the worst, and indeed the Frontier World of Hangonne is promptly invaded by the pirates, seeking plunder and recruits. A force of Blue Daggers and Cloudburst Defenders intercept and destroy the pirate ships as they retreat, and manage to return some small amount of stolen goods to the grateful people of Hangonne.
M41.750: Hunger, Evil and Infinite – The news of the arrival of the Tyranid Hive Fleets, albeit in a sanitized form, reaches the ears of the Cloudburst Sector. Civil unrest and upset damage productivity on some Cloudburst worlds before the Arbites restore order.
M41.760: Greater Need – A dozen Battle Brothers and two Techmarines of the Blue Daggers depart Septiim to join the Deathwatch, at the specific request of Watch Fortress Excalibris. Only the Techmarines and two Battle Brothers return alive, fifty years later.
M41.788: The Scadial Campaigns – Fifteen Imperial Guard regiments, each raised from a different world in Cloudburst, dispatch to the Cloudburst Circuit, alongside fifteen Navy and Space Marine ships and twenty Daggers. Their ultimate objective is far beyond, in the Exo-zone, where the Segmentum Ultima battlefleet is staging to attack the Ork empire of Bluddrunk Bonesquat. Though most of the Daggers and starships of the fleet return, the Imperial Guard survivors are too few in number to become a reconstituted regiment, and they are left behind as a permanent garrison on Bluddrunk’s former homeworld to defend it against uprisings of Feral Orks.
M41.799: Heresy Stirs – Oromet’s Ecclesiarchal servants lose control of a dangerous heretic in their own number, the Deacon Woldenbar. He has turned his soul completely to Chaos, and manages to convince a million humans of the Oromet system and beyond of the true divinity of the Dark Gods. The Inquisition captures him alive, and cryo-freezes him for torture and interrogation on Celeste.
M41.800: The Fifth Glasian Migration – Once more, the alien monsters in the thrall of Tzeentch enter into the realms of men and assault the Cloudburst Sector. Although the Blue Daggers are able, with the aid of the sector’s millions of defenders, to kill the Glasians and sink their command ship before it has the chance to destroy any Imperial worlds, the civilian casualties in Septiim and Mendic rise into the millions.
M41.826: Fire and Death – The Imperial colony Letrione in the Mendic system falls to Chaos Undivided in mere weeks. How and why Tzeentch allowed this is unknown, but whatever the cause, an entire system is lost to mankind.
M41.839: Green Waves – Though not numerous or directed enough to be considered a true Waaagh!, the Orks of an unknown world in the Oldlight Exo-zone stage an invasion of the Cloudburst Circuit. Hundreds of ships from human, Ork, and at least one unknown alien species’ fleets race to strategic points in the hot gasses of the Circuit, and fight over the uninhabited worlds. The Imperium manages to force an uneven peace by destroying enough Ork ships that the survivors can no longer mount sufficient force to both attack the other factions and defend their holdings, while the mysterious aliens disappear.
M41.848: An Unremarked Beginning – The future leader of the Free Corsair Coalition, Langdon Reith, graduates with honors from the Nauphry War College, and witnesses some of the ships he will someday command in the FCC attack the ship on which he first serves. He barely escaped with his life in the fighting, and watches as the leaders of the pirate attackers are ripped to shreds by Navy retaliation forces.
M41.862: Rampancy – A Mechanicus research base on the border between the Hapster Subsector and the Naxos Sector, AGF322, drops out of contact. Basilikon Astra ships sent to investigate are fired upon by cogitator-controlled lasers on the asteroid into which the lab is built. The Basilikon destroys the asteroid. No freshly-slain bodies are found in the remains, indicating that the Mechanicus personnel in the base were already long-dead.
M41.874: Clog – The Imperial Navy station Bulwark suffers a crippling hit from the pirate ship Wealthy Lads, destroying its function as a proper logistics hub of the Navy. It is sold and renamed.
M41.879: Full Strength – The Blue Daggers reach the nominal full strength of their Chapter. This totals to just under 1400 Marines, not counting Dreadnoughts and Marines in the Deathwatch. Although the Daggers have sufficient gene-seed to continue expanding, they elect to at least try to adhere to the Codex, despite their Honor Guard far exceeding the number they are traditionally allowed.
M41.897: Necrons – Although contact between the human race and the Necrons had first occurred many hundreds of years before, the destruction of Sanctuary 101 by the Necrons is the first contact of which any video records survive of individual aliens. News of their existence filters through the Adeptus Mechanicus and the Adeptus Astartes, leading some Deathwatch Marines to question whether border facilities like Dascomb would be better deployed in places where they could protect the Imperium from the Necrons.
M41.900: The Sixth Glasian Migration – The fleets of the Glasians arrive in the Cloudburst Sector once again, and promptly lay siege to four star systems. Overall, the full-strength Blue Daggers are able to repulse the Glasians, but the Mining World of Lordarine is nearly lost to the Imperium when the aliens overrun the capital. Only a last-minute destruction of their Cylinder by a Terminator Squad from the Daggers prevents a repeat of the Chlorit disaster.
M41.904: Rebellion – Future Admiral Reith steals a Light Cruiser from the Imperial Navy and defects, forming a pirate group. His first successful capture is against an Imperial freight convoy, which mistook his ship for a legitimate defender. He ambushes and loots the convoy before they even have a chance to confirm his identity.
M41.912: Foreseeing – The potent Pscryer of Oglith, a recognized Tarot-Reader and Sanctionite, detonates on the job. Two minutes later, a ship carrying Ork Weirdboys crashes on the planet, guided by a psychic signal the Imperium can barely detect. Oglith Jaegers hunt and kill the Weirdboys, but the Orks manage to locate the entrance to the underground Feral Ork communities before they die, and were minutes from contacting them when the Jaegers kill them.
M41.917: Downfall – The Colliard family, which has ruled Cloudburst for nine hundred years, is officially deposed by the Senate of the High Lords for remorseless and repeated misuse of Adepta resources and attempted conspiracy. After a brief discussion between the Administratum and Ecclesiarchal leaders of the Sector, the Quintus family is elevated from the high court of the Celeste Subsector to the throne of Cloudburst. Although none alive in the Sector now know, this was instigated by a retired member of the Adeptus Custodes, in their function as a member of the Eyes of the Emperor.
M41.931: Ingrates – A rebellion sweeps Hive Walden on Thimble, and the Overlord mobilizes the Argent Shield and Sword to suppress it. Four hundred thousand citizens and half a million rebel PDF and militia perish before order is restored, at the cost of forty percent productivity in the Hive’s factories.
M41.939: Unbreathing – Over four thousand daemon-worshippers of the allegiance of Slaanesh and Tzeentch either buy passage or hijack passage to the Dead World of Brotherhood, and begin fighting over the ruins of the Exterminatus-flattened world. Inquisitorial observers, watching from stealthed ships in orbit, are baffled by their ferocious fighting in vac suits and enclosed armor. Their objective remains unclear. All die within four months.
M41.942: Conscription – A brigade of Thimblan Argent Swords and four regiments of Septiim Guard deploy to the Pox Ring Containment, a special detachment of the Officio Munitorum raised to drive off the Nurglite armies rampaging through central Naxos. They are joined by two squads of Blue Daggers, three Techmarines, and an Apothecary, to serve as advisors and emergency backup if needed.
M41.948: Shields – An archaeotechnological machine is discovered by Explorators on the Feral World ABS00273. The machine appears to be a hybrid power plant, collecting geothermal, wind, tidal, solar, and thermoplasmic energy to fuel an enormous Void Shield of Dark Age origin. The Void Shield appears to cover a previously undiscovered and subterranean storage chamber on the world of cavemen and tribals. The Mechanicus begins restoring the advanced technology and probing the edges of the chamber, which seems inaccessible from the surface. Initial surface-penetrating radar scans suggest it to have been cold storage for a shipwreck of some kind. The Void Shield is over one hundred fifty percent the strength of a contemporary Mechanicus Void Shield of equivalent generator size, and unfathomably ancient, dating to even before the Rise of the Iron Men.
M41.949: Hidden Knowledge – The Space Hulk Dreadful Sight skids through the outer edges of the Triplicate system. To prevent any contamination of the helpless primitives on the planet Triune itself, a combined force of Solstice, Cognomen, and Fabique Skitarii intercept and board the Hulk with help from ten Blue Daggers Terminators. Aboard the Hulk, they find over two dozen Khorne daemons, fighting just as many Tzeentch daemons for control of the vessel. Now that the Hulk has left the Warp, they are vulnerable to direct attack, and the Skitarii and Marines manage to purge them, with casualties. The Hulk is still on a collision course with Triune, however, and so the Mechanicus reluctantly destroys it, though not before pilfering the datacores and ammunition of the ships in the Hulk.
M41.961: Beggars and Thieves – The nomadic fleets of vagrants and scavengers that eke out a living in the spinward edges of the Drumnos Sector come under sudden attack from unknown Eldar and Ork pirates. The nomads flee towards the Cloudburst Sector, but only one third make it before the pirates capture the rest.
M41.977: The Rot Souls Drive On – A collection of Nurgle cultists on the border of the Naxos and Cloudburst Sectors abruptly go public and begin assaulting an Arbites Courthouse on their homeworld. The arrival of Inquisitorial reinforcements from Cloudburst drives the cultists off world. They capture a freighter and fly off into the nebulae between Naxos and Cloudburst, where they successfully summon the Rot Souls. The Rot Souls and their cultist backup fly towards the previously secured worlds of the Corumbino Nebula, and assault Imperial mining colonies there. The overstretched defenders of Naxos barely hold on against the pustulent tide.
M41.984: Murmurs of Crime – The great Merchant House Herrera endures a scandal as four of its mercantile offices on Septiim Primus are found to be smuggling illegal gene-mod technology. Arbites and Ordo Hereticus investigations yield four executions and over five hundred arrests, and the impounding of two Herrera freighters.
M41.985: Darkness Rises – Fluctuations in the Astronomican and surges in Genestealer activity in the northern Segmentum Ultima lead to unrest and civil disturbances on hundreds of worlds in the region. Two outposts in the Circuit go dark.
M41.989: Betrayal – The Imperial Luna Cruiser Swift and its two escort Cobras abandon the Imperium for the growing power of the Free Corsair Coalition. The Imperial Naval Commissariat of the Ordo Praefector issues an ‘Assassinate on Sight’ command for the traitorous Admiral Reith.
M41.990: Annexation – The FCC invades and instantly conquers Zlodziei. The Imperium does not immediately respond.
M41.992: The Battle of ANKH 909 – The FCC captures the Imperial Endeavour Light Cruiser Flame so quickly that its Astropath does not have time to call for help.
M41.993: Iconoclasm – A cabal of Heretical progressives on the world Forender-b corrupt the Bishop of the little agri-colony. He preaches the inherent equality of all mankind for two years before the Ordo Hereticus notices and burns him at the stake.
M41.994: Surge – A blast of aetheric energy two light-years outside the Foraldshold system presages a thinning of the Materium boundaries, but to the surprise of observing Magi, nothing else happens.
M41.995: Preparation – Citing the increased demands on the sector’s resources from securing the borders against the FCC while also fighting the Glasians, the Cloudburst Sector Administratum increases tithe requirements from all worlds able to pay them. Civil disobedience follows on some worlds.
M41.996: Recall – The Blue Daggers summon all of their brothers on deployments outside the Sector back to prepare for the arrival of the Glasians.
M41.997: Imperial Warnings – The Tarot foretells Glasian assaults in more systems than ever before. Imperial Navy and Blue Dagger ships fly to the future invasion sites to begin preparing for the fighting.
M41.998: Oglith Burns – A force of well over two hundred sixty thousand Orks invade Oglith when a mistake in their fleet’s navigation directs them away from Gorkypark. The Sector Administratum makes the tough call of diverting most of their Glasian defenses to Oglith to attempt to secure and protect the Subsector Capital.
M41.998: Reinforcements – A task force led by over a full Battle Company of Celestial Knights arrive in Septiim to negotiate backup to reinforce the Cloudburst Sector. After stocking up on ammunition on the Gargantuan, the task force under Seventh Battle Company Captain Irlain Ironhand departs to the Forender system, led by the Strike Cruiser Citadel of Stone.
M41.998: Infiltration – After a year of debate, the Inquisition determines that the Zlodziei invasion represents too clear a threat to the security of the Imperium to be allowed to fester into something worse. However, most Sector assets are either bracing for the Glasian Migration, relieving Oglith, or aiding Rogue Traders in securing and looting the Cloudburst Circuit and Oldlight Exo-zone. Thus, four specialist teams of Throne Agents, Interrogators, and Inquisitorial special operations Scions and Stormtroopers fly to Zlodziei undercover to infiltrate and kill the Admiral that has bound the Coalition together. If needed, an emergency relief force of Clegran Hunters can dispatch to reinforce them.
M41.999: Anarchy – The Lord Primarch Roboute Guilliman, Lord of the Thirteenth and Master of Ultramar, awakens on the Throne of Corrections in the Fortress Hera on Macragge. Cadia explodes when Abaddon the Despoiler crashes a Blackstone Fortress into it. Machinations of the Custodes, Inquisition, and Drukhari result in some temporary repairs of the Golden Throne. Khaine’s Gate in the Undercore of Commorragh shatters; the ancient Aeldari weapons that Asdrubael Vect stationed there to stop a daemon incursion are instantly overcome. The 13th Black Crusade to split the Imperium begins and captures several worlds around Cadia. Mordax falls to Orks. The Hadex Anomaly and the Eye of Terror begin expanding. Belisarius Cawl begins deploying Primaris Marines. The Space Hulk Predator crashes on an Imperial mining colony on Lossos.
M42.000: The Seventh Glasian Migration – The Glasians attack the Cloudburst Sector, hitting six systems this time, including several worlds that lack the means to stop their invasions outright. One hundred thousand Orks descend on the Forald’s Legacy system and attack the Mechanicus colony there. The Blue Daggers, the Imperial Guard, the Scions, the Mechanicus, the Imperial Navy, the Deathwatch, the Inquisition, and unnumbered millions of PDF and SDF prepare for the worst as the darkness closes in.
People, Places, and Words
Noble and Merchant Houses
In any place where the immense wealth of the Imperium is allowed to concentrate into a small handful of families, the inevitable effect is patronage. The noble Houses of the Cloudburst Sector may not have the immense pedigrees of the Sol Sector families, but there are some who have managed to accumulate so much wealth that they have been able to subsidize entire industries to their will.
Mercantile Noble Houses
Mercantile Noble House Herrera, Septiim
The Septiim system offers endless opportunity for a freighter captain out to make some money. Of all the systems of the Cloudburst Sector and Circuit, it has the largest number of inhabited bodies, with three rocky planets, three gas giants with inhabited moons, a Forge Moon, and multiple Lagrange stations. It was natural for such a system to develop a large merchant and freight business, and so House Herrera has grown to fill the gap.
The House started as a fairly unimpressive shipping concern until the Glasian Migrations began. Suddenly, the House was inundated with business as people moved off Septiim to other worlds in the hopes of avoiding Glasian attention. The House quickly began exploring other shipping contracts, such as the movement of food and textile materials from Agri-worlds and Paradise Worlds to Thimble, and moving outside Septiim proper to ship materiel for the Navy if dedicated haulers weren’t available.
Those efforts may have moved Herrera from a regional player to a large one, but it didn’t become the dominant shipping concern in Cloudburst until they scored the coup contract to become the exclusive transportation agent for the huge supply barges carrying finished goods from Coriolis and Combine to their shipping partners. Being the exclusive shipping agency for the largest military base in the Galactic North and the most productive Agri-world in Cloudburst catapulted them ahead of their competition.
Success has gone to their heads, however. Several members of the House’s senior leadership have recently been arrested by the Inquisition for transporting illegal gene-mod technology. The secretive nature of the Inquisition means that the rest of the House may never know precisely what was being transported, and the shameful lack of documentation for the products in question means that the Inquisition was able to seal the incident up, probably forever.
The House may have been diminished by that scandal, but it is not broken. Already, the House is recouping its losses and attempting to expand its fleet to operate outside the Sector proper. However, it has so far constrained its efforts to the Exo-zone and Circuit exploratory outposts, not into the Drumnos Sector. The Drumnos Sector mercantile concerns are far wealthier than Herrera can ever realistically hope to be, and could easily out-bid them.
Mercantile Noble House O’Neill, Thimble
Thimble is the beating heart of industry in the Cloudburst Sector, as a Hive World generally is. The vast population capacity of the city allows for the planet to create and design products no other world in the Sector except possibly Cognomen could produce, or need in such volume.
Naturally, in the money-driven and aristocracy-choked hell of the Imperium, the noble houses that best sponsor the enormous manufacturing concerns are often able to become great profit ventures themselves, until there is no difference between the manufacturing company and its noble patrons. House O’Neill of Thimble already had extensive patronages of manufacturing companies in their Hive, as did several other noble houses, but the O’Neills were ambitious. In time, the O’Neill family expanded their interests to consume several of the supply companies that fed their factories, the shipping companies that moved those supplies, and even the production firms that refined the raw goods.
The O’Neill strategy was a patient one, not exactly original. Vertical Control has been a part of manufacturing technique since M2. However, the O’Neills mastered it, and did so with a combination of business acumen and legal finagling that has allowed them to reap ludicrous profits. So far, House O’Neill and House Zhong have worked together to manufacture starships of such quality that the Navy could scarcely do better, and even the Mechanicus finds it distantly impressive.
However, the true triumph and core business of House O’Neill doesn’t lie in space. The unique history of Thimble in the Sector allows it to serve as both the undisputed non-Mechanicus manufacturing hub of the region and a grossly underutilized one. Thimble has both a complete manufacturing hegemony on non-Cognomen goods and a nearly exclusive monopsony on several refined minerals that few other worlds need. As a result, the only competitors in scale for House O’Neill goods are the Mechanicus and out-of-Sector businesses.
House O’Neill’s founders and strategists realized early that that meant that the Houses that managed to be the ‘competition’ for Mechanicus products and lock down those markets would effectively run totally unopposed in pricing and quality for those who couldn’t afford Martian perfection. Aircars, clothing, construction tools, chemicals, synthetic rubber, household goods, and other products that Cognomen makes are exquisite in their production standards, but unreachably expensive for people on many worlds that lack Thimble or Celeste’s robust economy.
Therefore, House O’Neill manufactures the best knockoffs of those Cognomen products that they can, sells them on as many worlds as possible, and aggressively researches ever more ways to build and store them without sacrificing much quality or stepping on the Cognomen Magos’ Council’s toes. The O’Neill stamp of quality can be found on all but two of the worlds in the Sector and has spread beyond. Although the Mechanicus is somewhat exasperated by this, there is little they can do about it. To share their own advanced designs and engineering with the House would be to elevate those uninitiated in the ways of the Sacred Machine to their own level, which their pride cannot allow. To let the O’Neills simply research new techniques without inhibition would be sinful, and to stamp them out would be a gross impeachment of their Treaty of Mars.
So, for now, Cognomen and House O’Neill exist in a simmering state of rivalry which only the Cognomen contingent seem to care about, and House O’Neil never acknowledges. As far as House O’Neill is concerned, as long as their customers are usually happy and they themselves are grotesquely rich, they couldn’t care less what the Techpriests think.
Outside of their extensive manufacturing concerns, House O’Neill is a noted patron of arts and education, having sponsored great art schools on several planets, including Coriolis and Celeste. This is not because of some great philanthropic worldview on the part of the O’Neills, but rather an effect of having so much money that there is little else on which they can legally spend it.
However, several scions of the family have perished in the use of alien weapons in the blood-sport so common among the Thimble idle rich, and have thus come under rising scrutiny from the Ordo Xenos, especially in the last hundred years. The current Lady Inquisitrix Cloudburst is herself a former Ordo Xenos Inquisitor of immense skill, and prosecuted the opposition to the Cold Trade in alien technology for two hundred years before rising in rank. She knows perfectly well how much the Thimble Highborn love to collect alien gadgetry, and has her subordinates watching them like hawks. House O’Neill is hurriedly performing internal review to ferret out which of its scions is responsible for the huge upswing in alien artifacts making their way into the Household before it is too late.
Mercantile Noble House Zhong, Thimble
The building of ships in the Imperium is an undertaking like few others, with the costs rising far above what any one non-governmental force could afford in most cases. House Zhong is a rare exception. It is the only entity outside the Mechanicus and Navy authorized to manufacture Warpcraft in the entire Cloudburst region.
Zhong holds one other distinction of note: it is the oldest surviving House in the Sector. It can accurately trace the core of its gene-line back to the original Levitna Colony Group, well over twenty thousand years before, and its origin to a long-dead Terran noble family from the age of the Terran Federation. Zhong survived the Age of Strife and the long darkness between the Heresy and the coming of the Imperium to the region by essentially claiming the least desirable hive on Levitna’s radiation-scarred surface for itself and killing all comers. It wisely bowed to the Imperium when it arrived, and was rewarded with the honor of being the only noble house elevated in its native hive. They were passed over for the privilege of becoming the Planetary Ruling Clan, but has prospered anyway, thanks to being able to do something no other hive can: total industrial devotion.
In the other hives of Thimble, the hives are all fairly inter- and intra-dependent in their manufacturing needs, as could be expected from the great vertical cities. The Zhong hive, however, which they named after themselves, is not. It is a resource hog in every way, being unable to even develop most household goods. The Zhong hive is dedicated solely to the manufacture of starship components, and to their elevation to space for use in the great orbiting shipyards. Lacking an Orbital Spire, they make do with very high-elevation launch pads.
As most shipbuilding concerns do, the House yards began as simply making the components of naval ships, and not performing any assembly. Gradually, however, economies of scale allowed Zhong to do more and more of the preparatory steps, including some circuit fabrication and assembly. The Navy was pleased by this since they had to do less work and didn’t have to rely on the Adeptus Mechanicus as much. Over time, Zhong shipbuilding took over more of the House’s time, until they became less a noble family and more a corporate Board of Directors, although they are still accorded a title in the Thimblan peerage. The components they made were initially no different than those of any other shipbuilding corporation, but over time, Zhong made more of a conscious effort to diversify their offerings to lure in the cheaper Chartist Captains and Rogue Traders. Eventually, the inevitable shift occurred, and Zhong bought their own shipyard in orbit over the Mining World of Delving.
The Delving yard was a metaphorical goldmine for the House Zhong. Here, with direct access to the refined minerals from the planet below, the House was able to produce ships of nearly Navy quality without any interference from the Thimble authorities, and to meet contracts from Rogue Traders. Unlike some of their Great House contemporaries, however, Zhong never compromises on quality. A shoddy toaster or clock may be a minor inconvenience, but a shoddy starship engine can kill hundreds of thousands of people. Thus, and to the Mechanicus’s approval, the breakaway from the stifling leadership of the Thimble government did not yield a reduction in appreciable quality from the Zhong industrial output.
Zhong yards today work around the clock in the great orbitals of Delving and Thimble, manufacturing vessels for Rogue Trader and Departmento Astrocartigraphicae mapping voyages. They have patronized the Grand Anchor yards more than once, buying shipwrecks and scrapping them for parts, and have even played a role in the disassembly of Space Hulks that managed to achieve stable orbits in Cloudburst systems. Zhong merchants ply their wares of spare parts and upgrade kits at every private shipyard in the Sector and even some in the Naxos Sector beyond.
However, the House Zhong does have its limits. They know better than to try to break into the territories of the far older and wealthier merchant combines in the Drumnos and Naxos Sectors. Drumnos has far busier space lanes, but has its own Houses to supply it, and the Naxos Sector is a crumbling warzone, too dangerous to insure properly thanks to the Nurglite pirates ripping it apart.
Likewise, the House subcontracts uncomplainingly to the Mechanicus in two critical ways. The psionic Thrones Navis used by Navigators to pilot ships through the Warp, and the actual Warp Drive Cores used to propel them, are the exclusive remit of the Cognomen Orbital Yards, and the House Zhong has no intention to try to break into that market. Only Adeptus Mechanicus Techpriests of Forge World certification are permitted anywhere near the blessed components when they are purchased in bulk from the forges of Cognomen and Solstice, and the House pays their prices without complaint. The Warp is simply too dangerous to risk tampering with.
Mercantile Noble House Carvan, Celeste
From the impossibly abundant fields of Combine to the endless latifundae of Cassie’s World, the breadbaskets of Cloudburst do business at every turn with House Carvan. This young and expanding mercantile concern has sprawled over the Sector like an indolent cat, and has a partial or fully vested ownership in a third of the farms on the technologically advanced worlds of the Sector.
Unlike some of the other manufacturing Houses of the Sector, however, Carvan rarely administrates most of their holdings directly. They prefer a less centralized approach to business that has served them well in the slow-acting field of agriculture. The science of agriculture is also more challenging than most interstellar trades, thanks to the combination of the slowness of Warp travel and the fact that no two planets have seasons of the same length (and may not have seasons at all). As a result, the work that Carvan does has to be customized to their target markets, and can’t be applied uniformly, thanks to the sheer variety of their vendors. This includes great deep-space hydroponic floater ranches where animals breed, live, and die in zero gravity so as to have less burdensome bones, seabed sponge farms, great herds of grox and cattle on the plains of wind-swept worlds, and slaughterhouses that fill whole cities. Attempting any degree of uniformity in most regards would be nothing better than a waste of time.
Thus, House Carvan prefers to rely on local oversight and supervision for their partner and subsidiary food vendors. The House has override and veto authority on most crucial decisions, but only employs it when needed and never without review, and always works their hardest to comply with the relevant Sector and Imperial laws. These laws concern things like tolerable bacterial and synthetic molecule load, expiration dates, and shipping regulation, as well as things like supplying ships that travel outside Imperial jurisdiction.
This does not mean Carvan is lax in its scrutiny of its foods, of course. The Carvan name can be found from the undercrofts of Gorum’s Folly castles to the gourmand kitchens of the highest Celeste society, and everywhere in between. Carvan’s most prestigious contracts are generally awarded by members of other Imperial noble families and Houses, including the Quintus family itself. The House also does not force itself to comply with a single brand identity, and has created thousands to apply to every conceivable market. Their most profitable is the ‘Clear Suns spacer foods’ brand, sold by the gigaton to ship crews, and often containing the most preservative-filled but guiltily delicious foods a low-ranked crewer can look forward to eating between the stars. For crews of very small ships, or ships that take decades to travel to between destinations, Carvan offers the ‘Solitas Meals’ brand, consisting of far higher-quality foods that stay good so long as specific storage and preparation requirements are met, since nothing drives an overstressed crew stuck in the Warp mad faster than lousy food.
Of course, the nobles of the Sector wouldn’t be caught dead eating such things unless they were slumming it, and so Carvan also offers the ‘Nine Star Dining’ courses, which consist of locally-prepared gourmet foods and come with a price tag to match. Most of these foods are actually prepared and eaten on the same planet on which they were grown or butchered, making the ‘Nine Star Dining’ brand ironically the most widely-varying in quality.
However, while Carvan are savvy marketers and regulators, their record of actual quality is less than perfect. Whole lots of megatons of food have had to be recalled by Carvan at catastrophic losses when pieces of metal from broken scoops or agitators were found in boxes of food labelled ‘metal detector certified.’ While alien bacteria are rarely a concern for human illness thanks to humanity’s unique cell membrane and receptor composition, it is a huge concern for food storage since some alien bacteria can digest nearly anything that is dead even if it is harmless to living humans.
The House Carvan headquarters is technically located on Celeste, but it may as well not be. Almost four sevenths of its production and eighty percent of its corporate staff are located on Combine, where they produce gigatons of food for the Imperium. Because Combine is one of the precious Agri-worlds that is in no danger of soil depletion, the world also takes in some fertilizers from other worlds to replenish the nutrients of the soil in a proportion to the rate it is taken away, instead of the more machine-like Agri-worlds that simply run their soil ragged. Carvan’s presence on the world means that they are able to take a more active role in the oversight of their vendors and farms than they usually are, even heading up the staff on several themselves.
Carvan is one of the few merchant Houses in the Sector that began as a merchant family and only gained a nobility title later, which is the source of some derision from their peers. However, this has served them in one crucial fashion: they are the only Cloudburst Peerage merchant family to have a foothold on the vast space station Port Maxient. They established their greenhouses there before receiving titles of aristocracy.
Mercantile Noble House Albert, Celeste
While some Imperial worlds practice the harsh and draconian law of their own warlords, civilized Imperial worlds prefer to adopt customs that allow for the benefits of Imperial law without the lack of subtlety inherent to the more primitive worlds. This can result in civilized worlds adopting vast and intricate law systems that have a dizzyingly complex array of subcodes and strictures that no layman could ever understand. While the Arbites enforce Imperial law with as close to true neutrality as they can muster, the law of some planets is so convoluted that dedicated experts are needed for consultation on its finer points and applications.
Enter House Albert. This ancient House is the smallest by employee count of all of the intact Great Houses of the Sector, but its wealth and influence could well eclipse most others. The House Albert staffers and barristers are able to aid and advise on nearly any legal matter of the worlds Cloudburst, Celeste, Septiim, Cognomen, Hapster, Nauphry, and Thimble, and their senior council of trial lawyers has worked with the Arbites on twenty worlds more. Albert’s lawyer staff are specifically forbidden by Sector law from participating in the House’s actual duties as members of the Cloudburst peerage, and so the House nobility and barristers can’t be the same people. House Albert’s staff has absorbed several private law firms and sponsors law colleges on Thimble and Celeste, and is always looking for fresh talent. The sheer length of time that some Arbites-led trials can take allow for Albert lawyers to be called in from offworld in many cases.
Mercantile Noble House Joun-Lee, Celeste
Where the Imperium goes, there is always war. The beautiful countryside and endless beaches of Celeste may not routinely house invading aliens, but much of the rest of the Sector experiences warfare, from the internecine conflicts of local nobles to the private armies of Rogue Traders. House Joun-Lee is the pre-eminent provider of men under arms in the Sector, and has been for over a thousand years.
Thanks to the rather restrictive laws regarding the legality of private militias in Sectors being different from Sector to Sector, there is little chance that House Joun-Lee will expand to other regions of Imperial space. They have a large and competent corps of marketers and salesmen, who have liaised with planetary officials, noble houses, field commanders, and recently Cardinal Drake to provide armed personnel for various tasks.
Despite the unsavory reputation of mercenaries in much of the modern Imperium, the majority of the House Joun-Lee contracts that they have served over the past few hundred years have been security and patrol contracts for prisons, Penal Legion camps, construction sites, and colonial outposts in the Cloudburst Circuit. This is steady work, well-paying, and not very risky, at least not compared to warfare against aliens. The longest contracts the House has served are providing security guards and trainers for the same to the great storage yards on Coriolis, where hundreds of millions of military families cache their larger possessions while their loved ones go on tour among the stars. They also retain the possessions left behind when a family on deployment is killed in action until they can be auctioned. The House Joun-Lee mercenary companies occasionally also work with Rogue Traders, but this isn’t as common among House members as it is among freelance groups, due to the low probability of returns on investment.
The House Joun-Lee is permitted a much larger contingent of soldiers than most Houses on Celeste ever will be, thanks to contracts of exclusivity granted to them by the Sector Overlord many centuries ago. Any noble house that wanted to sponsor a mercenary group now would need to be shrewd and play a lot of catch-up work to overtake Joun-Lee’s enormous investments. Additionally, House Joun-Lee has a significant force of atmospheric transports and fighters, most of them not quite up to Forge World standards or even Naval ones, but more than enough to flatten a small city if need be. These are expensive to transport and even more expensive to refuel and rearm after missions, so they are fielded only for the most exorbitantly pricey contracts.
As with all mercenary work, Joun-Lee’s field is not without its dangers, especially around the times of the Glasian Migrations. Nobles or government officials who want to prioritize the defense of a specific place, instead of the more general work of the PDF or the Astra Militarum, will hire House Joun-Lee forces to provide the extra muscle. The fact that the House has been able to hire troops out to so many places is indicative of their logistical skills, which are often called into service to aid in the transport of PDF troops on those occasions that they work with the House.
The House buys most of their equipment from either House O’Neill or the Mechanicus, although they are also known to manufacture some simple equipment, including uniforms, in the great factories of the city of Civitavecchia. As might be expected for a mercenary company, the House Joun-Lee logistical bottleneck is Warpflight. When a contract is levelled to hire House Joun-Lee troops, the client is generally expected to pay for transport or supply it themselves. When a Rogue Trader is the contractor, this is trivial, but when the contractor is merely some noble or Governor who may not have a fleet of their own, transport is usually provided by sympathetic merchant Captains, who may well appreciate having a massive anti-boarding force at their disposal. When no other option exists, the House Joun-Lee leaders can hire House Lunther logistical ships to transport them. The Household would also very much like to buy a Universe-class Mass Conveyor, but the Inquisition has kindly informed them that that would subject the House Joun-Lee to a far higher level of scrutiny. After all, Lord Primarch Roboute Guilliman specifically divided up the Imperial military to avoid a Horus Heresy on smaller scales in the future, where one charismatic Traitor turned half the Imperial military by subverting eight people. Of course, as a house of the Imperial Peerage that has no actual presence in the Administratum, House Joun-Lee isn’t technically bound by that separation of forces edict, but the Inquisition has enough headaches to deal with, and the House isn’t willing to press their luck any harder on the subject.
At the present time, literally all of the House Joun-Lee forces that are not tasked with pre-existing contracts have been hired indefinitely by Cardinal Lamarr to defend Johdclan’s Paradise. As such, its entire ground contingent has been scrambled to defend the planet except those needed to resupply their long-term postings elsewhere. It is this, above all other hirings made by the paranoid Cardinal, which has driven up the suspicion of the Ordo Hereticus. Retaining a few troops to defend groundside holdings is one thing, but tasking an entire mercenary fleet to feed and transport an army for unclear durations is quite another. House Joun-Lee would not hesitate for one instant to sell out the Cardinal if their continued association with him would get them in hot water with the Inquisition’s Ordo Hereticus.
Mercantile Noble House Senai, Coriolis
When it comes to the beauty of the natural world, the artificial society, and their blending at the seams, there are few groups in the whole Cloudburst Sector that have quite captured the art of it all like House Senai. The Coriolis-based House of military nobles are high-standing members of the Sector Peerage, and had ruled an entire Fortress-citadel on Coriolis for over two thousand years. Their indulgence in high art is a more recent phenomenon, and of all of the House patronages in the Sector so far, the relationship between the nobles of the House and the group they patronize is most distant in Senai’s case. Very few of the Senai family members are actual artists, as opposed to House Joun-Lee, which has several of its youths as actual midshipmen in their command vessel, or House Albert’s many family lawyers.
As is the case in many of Coriolis’s noble families, the roots of the House Senai are planted deep in the Imperial Navy. The Holy Fleet of the Imperium is a refuge for the untalented youngest children of many Imperial peer families, of course, and has been since after the Scouring ten thousand five hundred years before, but for House Senai, it is a point of pride.
The House Senai origins are all tied up in the ancient remit of the Imperial Navy to supply transport and air combat roles for the Imperial Guard. As was imposed by the Lord Regent Primarch, Roboute Guilliman, over ten thousand years ago, the Imperial Guard may no longer maintain a fleet of its own, and no armed air nor space craft. Instead, those were to be provided by the Imperial Navy or Adeptus Mechanicus, so that no one faction of the Imperium may amass both enough ground and space firepower and transport capability to conquer any territory. House Senai was originally a household of lifer Imperial Navy officers, many thousands of years ago, who were responsible for transporting the many millions of Segmentum Solar and Ultima soldiers and colonists who built the first wave of Cloudburst colonies. Eventually, the House settled down, then nothing more than a very wealthy family with a very small noble title, in the leadership of a refurbished Navigator fortress on Coriolis.
Eventually, the House expanded their remit over the surrounding land, using their money to create efficient and clean irrigation systems, surveillance networks, and galleries of entertainment and sport for the people who lived around their fortress. When Coriolis was formally declared a Fortress World of the Officio Munitorum, the Senai family was elevated to a proper title of Earldom, and given a high posting in the newly established Coriolis aristocracy.
As with all noble families that received their title through hard work, the Senai family lorded their position over their rivals, and immediately began flaunting their power. Keeping up the tradition of sending their youngest off to serve in the Navy with commissions, deserved or no, the House Senai family never quite lost sight of their roots in service, but have taken to the Coriolis nobility like a Terran Highborn. The family eventually lost the position of fortress administration with the shifting tides of economy and politics on the planet, but by that point, they had diversified their holdings to include far greater varieties of money-making businesses. The House had then moved into direct patronage of many of Coriolis’s artists and universities.
As a part of their patronage of the many art colleges of the planet Coriolis, the House Senai funds many up and coming painters, sculptors, and photographers in their journey through their mediums. Many of the House itself are not involved in the process at all, and simply spend a bit of money to enjoy the outcome. However, the House Senai elders have hired many vendors and curators to dispense and sell the artwork of their patronages to galleries and museums across the Sector and beyond. As can be expected, the Ordo Hereticus and Ecclesiarchy have covertly examined the artworks the House distributes for signs of Slaaneshi corruptions.
Senai-affiliated merchants also salt the works of their patronages through the great auction halls and guild offices of the greater Sector, as much for exposure as money. After all, Senai isn’t the wealthiest noble house around, but there’s no harm to be found in good publicity.
Artworks that the House has taken possession of directly are stored in huge, pressure- and moisture-controlled vaults. These vaults have expensive cogitator-controlled thermostats and light level controls purchased from the Cognomen factories, to prevent the natural damage that artworks can suffer when improperly exposed to the environment. When a piece is bought, it is loaded by House technicians into simple grav-sleds and lifted into waiting shuttles for delivery to the happy customer. All Senai facilities are guarded by House Joun-Lee mercenaries, despite that being something of an overkill gesture on the most heavily defended planet in the Sector.
Mercantile Noble House Lunther, Hapster
One of the key advantages of the complex and interdependent economy of Hapster is that its lines of patronage and commerce are very well defined. Laws that govern noble patronage are clear and unambiguous. There are thousands of years of precedent behind every decision, and the Imperial government has ample knowledge of all the local rules and protocols by dint of their tremendous age. There are noble families on Hapster that predate much of the Terran aristocracy.
As a natural result, some of the ancient lines of patronage between the Hapster aristocracy and the guilds, laborers, and artists they patronize are so ironclad in their age and circumstance that they have become economic fixtures of their own. The House Lunther, by far the wealthiest in the Subsector by two orders of magnitude, is one such fixture and the largest. House Lunther has one colossal advantage over the younger noble families of the Sector. Its ancient ties to the Navigator House True allow them to be the only noble House in the Sector to have a staff of Navigators on retainer. As such, House Lunther’s ships are faster than any other in the Sector save possibly the Daggers and Astra Explorator. Their ships, lacking the massive armor and weapons of a warship to slow them, can speed along Warp paths that fly narrower routes and longer distances than most others. The speed of their ships allows them to serve in a niche that no other House in the Sector could fill: logistics. The House Lunther fleet carries all manner of supplies, information, and passengers across the Sector, for a price.
House True is nominally based on Terra, of course, as most Navis Nobilite Houses in good standing are. However, House True once felt a distant tie of kin to the Hapster Subsector, seeing as that is the rough region of space in which they took shelter during the ancient purges of the mutant populations of Terra. Today, of course, most ties between True and Hapster are purely commercial. Given how few psychics in general and Navigators specifically there are in the Cloudburst Sector, however, it is well worth the investment for True to send some of their younger scions out to the hot reaches of Cloudburst for work with the House Lunther fleet. They have the market utterly cornered, with only official Imperial Adeptus Administratum and Officio Munitorum vessels having more ready access to the skills of Navigators there (beyond the Inquisition’s dark fleets, of course).
House Lunther is active in the politics of Hapster, too, but thanks to the highly stratified and procedure-driven laws of Hapster they can exert little direct influence over the governing or legislating of the Subsector. Lunther flotillas occasionally contract with House Joun-Lee mercenaries for transport services. Their most frequent subcontractor is House Ritria, for whom House Lunther often transports supplies.
Mercantile Noble House Ritria, Oglith
In the Cloudburst Sector, the supply lines of the overstressed Adeptus Mechanicus often prevent the timely installation of resources needed for large-scale construction. Full colony ventures are usually spared this, but land development can be time-consuming and costly on those worlds that lack an industrial base. House Ritria is a collection of nobles, related by marriage, that have stepped into the gap. The House pools its resources and funds construction firms, most originally based on Oglith, and buys them mass transit with their equipment to worlds that need them.
House Ritria is a far looser House than most. Oglith has very little aristocracy, thanks to its origins as a fairly high-tech Frontier World. As a result, its Houses are more like extended Clans, of the Thimblan sort, than a traditional Imperial peerage. The House Ritria concerns were not originally trans-stellar at all, but confined to the Rampart system. Eventually, however, the construction firms that the House patronized grew so wealthy that they were able to pay back all of the House’s investments. Rather than cut the firms loose, the House used their new glut of money to buy passage on a freighter to Hangonne, where they were able to corner several construction niches immediately with their great wealth and experience.
Ever since then, Ritria has been an odd duck among the many noble Houses that sponsor industrial or service corporations in the Cloudburst Sector. They stay well out of the way of Sector politics, preferring to spend as little time politicking as possible to get the job done and stay profitable. They work well with the other Noble Houses, and spend their money promptly, rather than hoarding it forever. The House has also been able to score lucrative construction contracts with those planetary governments that are uninterested in playing ball with the Mechanicus for metalwork and masonry.
House Ritria is the only authorized user of Maskos machines outside of the Adeptus Mechanicus and the Maskos government not under Administratum control. Officially, the House does not use slaves. Unofficially, their lower-level employees could well be called slaves for how little money they make. The construction firms that House Ritria employs often make use of teams of indentured servants and people working off debts that the company purchased from their creditors.
Territorial Houses and Turf Gangs
The nature of the few worlds in the Cloudburst Sector to have large cities means that relatively small numbers of places in the Sector are plagued by gang warfare. However, the few that do have endured vicious and destructive conflicts that have claimed hundreds of lives and millions of Thrones’ worth of property. While some of the gangs are purely local concerns, such as the piratical turf-trading thugs of Soak, others are gigantic crime syndicates or mercenary armies with thousands of troops. The largest are the massive noble-sponsored gangs on Thimble, which serve as proxy armies for the Thimblan nobility in their endless fights for prestige, manufacturing contracts, publicity, and wealth.
None of the organizations listed here have even a fraction of the power and wealth of the Cloudburst Mercantile Noble Houses. Any attempt by these lesser organizations to enter into direct warfare against House O’Neill or House Zhong, for instance, would end with the upstart organization butchered to the last with the full consent of the local law enforcement. However, to those denizens of the Spindle system who are not incalculably wealthy, some of these organizations are insurmountable forces of corruption and violence.
Because the population of Thimble is so much smaller than the population of the vast and ancient Hive Worlds of the Segmentum Solar, most of the populace of Thimble has managed to avoid being dragged directly dragged into the gang wars. However, the larger gangs are still thousands-strong, and some even control entire structures inside the hives. The lines between Noble and Hive Gang Houses on Thimble can blur when the nobles themselves partake of the gang warfare, for sport or to prove themselves.
Noble House Lienzo, Thimble
Lienzo is a prime example of how the aspirations of the poorer noble houses of Cloudburst are never enough to carry them to supremacy. Among the ruling gangs of the world Levitna before it was renamed to Thimble, the house was in prime position to rise to a position of rulership in the new Imperial order. However, they failed to kowtow to the new Adeptus Administratum reconstruction and integration officers as the ruling houses did. Now, Clan Ahad and Houses Zhong and O’Neill rule supreme over the Spindle system, with colossal wealth and power, while their former rivals scrabble about in their leavings for scraps of money.
So the embittered and weary leaders of House Lienzo imagine, at the least. In practice, the industrial and political power they wield here would amount to many times the amounts needed to become unassailable powers on worlds like Clegran, Obelisk II, or even bipolar Nauphry IV. Lienzo’s leadership are simply so engrossed in their tiny affairs that they can’t see the opportunities that knock upon their doors. They fund billions of Thrones’ worth of industrial activity in their home hives, their scions have helmed ships in the Imperial Navy, and their Clan-mates rule whole corporations of vast wealth. All of that pales beside the power of the Clans Ahad and Vorbach, which could crush Lienzo like insects at a whim. That, and that alone, is the subject of the musings and bitterness of House Lienzo.
This bitterness crops up at inconvenient times. While they are far subtler than most in this regard, the House Lienzo youth are often practitioners of the Cold Trade of proscribed xenos artifacts. Between that and their boredom, the House is directly responsible for some of the harder-to-explain reports of xenos weapon discharges in the underhives of Thimble. Much of the Ordo Xenos attention paid to the world stems to the volatile alien artifacts of the upper Highborn going out of control, or being used in petty squabbles. The House Lienzo use of alien weapons is more insidious and crueller. Bored scions of the family have thrown their lots in with the street gangs populated by the children of the House Lienzo factory workers. Startled Enforcer and Judge reports have reached the Arbites and Inquisition, concerning apparent battles between Craftworld Eldar and human forces in the underhives, fought entirely by weapons carried by Lienzo troublemakers.
As a result of this alien dabbling, the House Lienzo gangs are a force to be reckoned with in the underhive wars. The rank-and-file of these gangs are the commoners of the hives themselves, given a taste of the power of a Clanless House. Rising to become a member of the noble house itself is impossible, thanks to specific breeding requirements for membership. However, those commoners who acquit themselves well in battle in the service of the spoiled offspring of the House Lienzo can expect rewards bestowed on their families, perhaps in the form of shortened shifts in the Lienzo factories.
Lienzo is no so flush with alien artifacts that they can afford to arm themselves with xenotech exclusively. House Vost are generous sellers of xenotech, but Lienzo doesn’t get much of a discount. The House equips its scions with alien weapons on missions for the House, but on expeditions of pure boredom, few House members would dare arm themselves so. The rank-and-file hivers equip themselves with shotguns and rifles in the main, with a few lasguns in the hands of those who earn them. Given the rising Ordo Xenos scrutiny levelled against the planet Thimble of late, the House’s internal security might start to crack down on obvious uses of xenotech.
The leader of the House is the decrepit, withered old banker Gareth al-Lienzo, who is so far gone in his old age that he can barely move. The battles to succeed him have ended, and his youngest son Saïd shall inherit his father’s throne.
Noble House Vost
Of all the houses and gangs of Thimble that do not control sprawling, interstellar merchant empires, the House Vost is the wealthiest. There is one reason for this. They are the source that feeds the hundreds of xenotechnological artifacts into the rest of the Thimblan combatants.
House Vost has spent centuries ingratiating themselves into the networks of Rogue Traders and Techpriests who ‘dispose’ of xenotech by selling them to others. While this is hardly a new trait for the Rogue Traders of the galaxy, the Cloudburst Sector’s long focus on corralling the Cold Trade has left those Traders with few options. The Inquisition’s best efforts can’t entirely overcome the natural proclivity of Rogue Traders to seek wealth by ignoring the Emperor’s strictures on alien science.
Originally, House Vost spent their fortunes as many lesser nobles on Thimble did at the time: buying up derelict buildings on the surface and in the hives, so that when the Imperium ordered them brought back online and operational, the nobles would profit. House Vost focused their efforts on buying buildings around the perimeters of hive footprints, where they could control entry and exit from the huge city towers. However, the exterior of Thimble is a very ow priority for the Adeptus Mechanicus’s restoration teams. Even now that the planet’s hives are almost entirely back online, the outside wilderness remains almost uninhabitable. While roving gangs of hivers and scavengers do exist outside the glittering silver walls of the hives, most of the open world of Thimble is devoid of people. Thus, most of the buildings that House Vost spent their money on turned out to be worth little beyond their insulative capacity. Many were stuffed full of Adeptus Mechanicus life support and maintenance equipment, and little-used beyond that. There are external gateways to the hives that have not been opened in thousands of years.
That meant that House Vost, at the end of the initial surge of Levitna’s rebirth as Thimble, owned substantial amounts of access to something next to useless. While the house did manage to recoup some of their losses by turning derelict buildings into residential towers and landing assemblies for freighters and cargo ships, most of the holdings of House Vost have turned out to be almost useless.
However, in recent centuries, two positive developments have arisen from these early purchases. The first is that Thimble’s massive population increase has led to a squeeze on housing. That has helped to ensure that the space in the long-uninhabited outer shells of buildings has risen in demand. The second is that as more Rogue Traders have come to Thimble to sell xenotech they can’t turn a profit on elsewhere, House Vost is uniquely suited to accommodating discreet meetings and exchanges.
The House has enough experience in such things that they have been able to train appraisers to evaluate the worth of alien technology. Shielding such experts from the Inquisition is a real trick. With the elevation of Lady Inquisitrix Lerica from her previous role to the leadership of the Sector Conclave, Inquisitorial scrutiny has dropped somewhat, allowing House Vost to flood the market – chiefly House Lienzo, their largest customers by far – with alien weapons.
The alliance between House Lienzo and House Vost is a purely financial one. House Lienzo would sell Vost out in a heartbeat, and Vost would do the same. Their gangs have even gone to war against each other in the past, although that is a rare occurrence. The larger threat to both, besides the Ordo Xenos, is the spreading influence of the hiver House Kaung, which would no doubt leave either in tatters if it were to focus its full efforts against one or the other.
Most of House Vost’s fielded gangs are tenants of their buildings, whom they give discounts on for rent in exchange for service. Clan Ahad’s lax oversight of the residential districts of the hives means that they rarely bother to intervene in this technically-illegal arrangement. Vost’s residential gangs are not uniformed, but they can identify each other by the distinct curling geometric shapes of the house’s tattoo design.
Judith Vost is the current leader of the House, and she has ambitions to rise higher yet. Joining one of the ruling Clans of the world would allow the House a measure of immunity from the further attention of the Inquisition, as well as chances to spread their business into areas where they are presently not welcome.
Hiver Gang House Kaung
The Imperial Creed is one of vicious intolerance. While its interpretations and factional sectarianism have waxed and shifted over time, many things remain constant. To follow the Imperial Creed is to deny the witch, abhor the thinking machine, deny the witch, scourge the demon, slay the mutant, and burn the heretic, in a litany of exclusion and violence that any loyal Imperial citizen knows by heart.
Thus, House Kaung is a true aberrance, in both senses of the word. The House is almost exclusively mutant in composition, and yet the public face of the House is as pious as the Ecclesarchy when it comes to denouncing the flaws in the Imperial hoi polloi and hoi aristoi.
This is not as contradictory as it initially appears. The many byproducts of Imperial industrial activity are highly toxic, and the general disregard for the wellbeing of its citizens that it holds ensures that many are exposed to them. Mutations that stem from exposure to the mutagenic power of Chaos are never, ever tolerated, but there are some small allowances made for mutants whose flesh-twisted forms are the product of their mothers being exposed to the Imperium’s own waste. The mutant members of House Kaung are among them. Technically permitted to live by Adeptus Arbites precedent, mutants on Thimble are forced to register with the government of their hive. Once they have done so, they can apply to attend Adeptus Ministorum-run education facilities, which have a well-deserved reputation for utter brutality.
Thus, the mutant population of Thimble live as second-class citizens in the guts of the hives. The thing that separates the mutants of Thimble from those of nearly every other hive in the Imperium is coordination. House Kaung is no mere rabble of gene-dregs. They are an organized and very public force in the life of Thimble. Their numbers are not clear to Clan Ahad’s authorities, but they might actually eclipse those of every other House that isn’t O’Neill. Members of the house go about in heathered grey tunics, tabards, and boots, with pants in colors that match the official colors of the hive they inhabit. More zealous members of the House don masks of the same material, to hide their faces from the humans they live beside.
The root of this elevated organization is that of a common piety. Since it is clear to the Genetors of the Thimble Mechanicus that the mutations of the populace do not derive from Warp exposure, but are instead a side effect of the Imperium turning the planet’s industrial equipment back on, its mutants are not in violation of the Imperial Creed. The mutants of Thimble may not be identical, but the grudging tolerance of the Ecclesiarchy has let them find a common identity in their second-class status. The leadership of House Kaung are elder mutants and rogue Adeptus Ministorum priests who have united in their desire to turn the mutant population to the Emperor’s light.
Unlike the other Houses of Thimble, House Kaung did not arise from the union of pre-Imperial scavenger Clans into a Noble House. House Kaung only came to be centuries after Levitna became Thimble. This means that the House has no sprawling financial base to turn to, as House Zhong did. However, through sheer force of numbers, the House is a genuine rival to the other Houses of the planet.
Behind its façade of total unity, however, House Kaung is riven by internal dissent. The mutants of the House are quick to show the public their commonality, but the leaders of the House are not of one mind about how best to expand and improve the House’s fortunes. Some of its members are simply grateful to the Emperor for letting them live in an Imperium that detests them and would happily burn them at the stake if given the chance. Others seethe with resentment towards the Imperium, but venerate the Emperor as a perfect and benevolent god, and believe they should destroy the local Imperial government to replace it with one of greater tolerance. Others yet think that holding the Emperor and His Imperium responsible for their status is a waste of time, and simply want to destroy the other Houses for making their lives hell.
The two largest factions are polar opposites in their approach to Thimble. One, which calls itself the Projectionists, believe that publicly professing their faith will make it harder for the human citizens of Thimble to curtail them as they take over the underhives of every city on Thimble. The other, dubbed the Revanchists, have no problem with expressive faith, but favors armed confrontation with as many of the other factions of the planet’s hive populations as possible, even if the Ecclesiarchy itself would condemn them for it. The Revanchist goal would undermine the Projectionist one, and thus they come into conflict more often than not.
More than a few of the younger members of the House are unhappy with that status quo. Why, they ask, should the House concern themselves with the Ecclesiarchy at all? Is the Ecclesiarchy itself not the ultimate root of so many of their problems? Is it not the doctrine of the supreme, unaltered human that is used to justify every single purge and oppressive act against the mutant? Older members of the House preach caution, however, as nothing would unite the human population against the mutant population faster than the mutants turning on the Ecclesiarchy. Hives are vast places. The Ecclesiarchy are often the only large body of organized humans that encounter mutants in any significant number on Thimble. If the rest of the population, the part that has no allegiance to the Houses, were to suddenly find a great deal of rowdy mutants on their doorsteps demanding change, would the fact that they aren’t Chaos mutants really stay the hands of the superstitious normals for long?
Thus does the House Kaung exist in an uneasy peace with itself, with much of its internal structure defined by mutually exclusive goals under the cover of united means. The sheer numbers of the House, which continue rising unabated no matter what genetic control measures the hives enact, ensure that even with their low-tech weapons, they could easily throw down any other one non-Merchant House and give any two Noble Houses a run for their money. The fact that the House uses faith, whether genuine or false, as its cover for movement and organization, is part of the reason that Houses Vost and Lienzo strive to hide the sources of their xenotech from the House Kaung leaders. House Kaung despises those two Houses, with a bitter, seething hate. They flout the laws against xenotechnological use openly, and are rarely called to ask for it, whereas House Kaung’s members live every waking moment in fear of a lynching by superstitious humans. If the House Kaung leadership committee, which contains several ordained Ministers of the Adeptus, were to capture unequivocal proof of the ties Vost and Lienzo have to xenotech smugglers, the hives would erupt in a war that could cripple them for generations.
Kaung troops make use of repurposed industrial equipment and military weapons in the main, along with ancient hunting weapons and the occasional looted grenade launcher. While the street-level gangs of mutants that the House uses as their muscle are numerous enough for maintaining their turf, the true might of Kaung lies in the overwhelming numbers the House could bring to bear if its own members were roused to battle. This has never actually happened, but if all of House Kaung were to gather in one place, they might outgun an entire hive PDF.
The House has few allies. The only body they can call true partners in survival on Thimble are the nomadic Clan Ironsights, in whom they see a common drive to live and overcome all odds. The fact that their territory doesn’t overlap helps keep the peace between the two. House Nailspitter sees the bond between these two difference Houses as a rising threat, and has taken covert actions in the past to split them apart.
House Kaung has no true leader. Decisions are made collectively by a committee of forty elder mutants, family leaders, and a few Ecclesiarchal advisors.
Nomadic Clan Ironsights, Thimble
The millions of farmers, scavengers, and nomads who live in the barren, hostile wilderness of the planet Thimble exist in a hostile equilibrium. Some settlements do not need protection from raiders, but many do, and the population of raiders near the south pole is high enough that the PDF sometimes sorties to shield the farms there from roving packs of criminals.
Clan Ironsights may not be a real Clan like Ahad and Vorbach, but to the occupants of the wilderness, that is a minor distinction. There is no middle ground on the opinions of Ironsights among the wastelanders. They are either in awe of it, loathe it, or don’t care at all.
The Clan’s huge crawlers roam about the wastelands, collecting scrap and loose minerals from the wastelands, and taking their fill of the ruins of the hives that were too badly damaged to bother rebuilding. The raider gangs that dwell in the hive ruins fight back often, and have long preyed upon the Clan caravans. The roots of their struggle go unrecorded, but the clashes between them have spanned centuries.
The Clan rarely has reason to engage with the Houses and Clans that dominate the hives, but that may be changing. In the past few years, the raiders that have assaulted Clan Ironsights fuel depots and crawlers have had better weaponry and vehicles. There is no source for this equipment in the wasteland itself, which means that it is coming from the hives. Covert infiltrations of the marketplaces of the hives has revealed to the Clan that the only probably source of this weaponry is House Nailspitter, which has been stockpiling munitions themselves.
The Clan’s forces in the wastelands are hugely diverse, with the numbers and equipment they can deploy being situationally dependent on the climate of their engagement zones. Near the poles, where they face more competition from raiders, they tend to deploy more outriders and foot units. Near the equator, where they alone can operate with impunity, the Clan tends to keep to their huge crawlers. If they get wind of a major find of archaeotech that their crawlers are needed to loot in the hot zones, they dispatch forth, leaving their escorts behind. The crawlers are generally quite safe, but the escorts and outriders need to fend for themselves until the crawler gets back.
The foot soldiers of the Clan generally carry a mishmash of Imperial, pre-Imperial, and kludged weapons as available. Not being in the hives, they have few options for replenishing their stocks of weaponry. With the rising tensions between themselves and House Nailspitter, the Clan has had to spend more and more on modern weapons, with an emphasis on burst-fire rifles that can be fired from mounts. This has led them to charge more for their protection efforts on behalf of the settlers in the wasteland. The conflicts between Clan Ironsights and their enemies have grown large enough that the PDF has taken notice, and has resolved to simply shoot any raiders or Ironsights people sighted near the polar farms until they learn their place.
The Clan doesn’t bother with identifying insignia. Their hyper-white crawler shells are all the identifying markings they need.
The leader of the Clan is elected on a ten-year basis from the Captains of the individual crawlers. The incumbent at the turn of the millennium is Rieka bint Malati of the Silver Turtles caravan, but her term will run out in under a year.
Hive Ganger House Nailspitter, Thimble
The Nailspitters plan for the long game. Although they are not one of the ancient familial Houses that dominates Thimble, the Nailspitters have risen quickly in firepower and money for the past several centuries, to the point that they are now posing a serious challenge to the territorial domination of House Lienzo.
The Nailspitters started as a turf gang, founded by an ambitious off-worlder named Ralgo. Ralgo, an expatriate of the Naxos Sector capital world of Asklepian, was one of many who moved to Levitna when it was rebuilt as Thimble. He and millions of others were flown in to resettle the planet and help bring the hives online. Unlike most of the expatriates, he had no particular logistical or technical skills. He was chosen by lottery, to escape the menial drudgery of the Naxos Sector’s endless attrition wars.
Upon arriving in Cloudburst, Ralgo began a campaign of subtle intimidation, blackmail, targeted violence, and robbery to impose his will over the people. The hives of Thimble, at that point, were still expanding back into their historical roots, and had far more living space than they had people to fill them. Ralgo exploited the circumstance to stake claims on ideal quarters, and slowly built a gang around himself.
The gang pushed around their neighbors, but also took control of some of the reconstruction and industrial efforts on Thimble, gambling that the ruling Clans would not be interested in the efforts of their social inferiors as long as quotas were met. Sure enough, no ruling clan nor the Arbites felt the need to dislodge them so long as order was kept.
The gang long outlived Ralgo, and probably would have continued to toil in their criminal and industrial workings – so commonly linked on Thimble – were it not for a stroke of fortune. A plague struck the world in M40.234, decapitating dozens of lesser criminal syndicates that did not seek aid for fear of doctors reporting them to local law enforcement. The gang that would one day become House Nailspitter quickly swooped in and took control of them, dectupling their territory without firing a shot.
The gang spread and spread, recruiting thousands of disaffected gangers to do their bidding. The group’s leaders quashed former tribal identities by forcing all of their new troops to submit to the Nailspitter initiation rites and hazing rituals. The gang swelled, and may have been brought low by the Arbites had the gang not shifted their focus.
With their new size ensuring them a measure of safety, the newly-minted House set their sights on stability. The Nailspitters take pains to ensure that those territories they control – usually the mass transit operations that connect the poorer parts of the hives to the outside and each other – are as stable and quiet as can be. They use steel-fisted brutality to ensure this, including against the members of the other Houses. Concurrently, the House uses more covert means to ensure that none of the other Houses attain the level of power that the ruling Clans do. This has extended in the past to outright murder and sabotage against the Clanless noble Houses, even some with formal titles of Imperial aristocracy. They use measures of stealth to ensure that no trace of their sponsorship remains on those they patronize to perform these crimes.
The Nailspitters don’t constrain themselves to just attacking those higher on the Thimble pecking order, however. The House also attacks weaker targets, including independent gangs and even Clan Ironsights. Their aim is to capture any source of wealth, labor, or property that other organizations could use to ape their own success. The Nailspitters, in their long wisdom, know that a group as large as theirs could be brought low with another plague, a Glasian Migration, or some other event entirely outside the planning of their rivals. Thus, they ensure that at all times, a clear line of succession exists for their leadership.
Nailspitter exists on two planes of operations. The first is their public facing, with their own troops and the street gangs they employ maintaining order on their levels of the hives. These are the Nailspitters that the people of Thimble are familiar with, and to whom the locals pay their protection money. They employ a mixture of slug, shot, and las-weapons, and use highly visible insignia on their arms and clothing. The abundance of cheap, quality fabric on Thimble allows them to get quite creative with their gang insignia and costumes.
By contrast, their private forces are quite invisible. Using camouflaged equipment and clothing, hand signals to keep silent, Stormtrooper-quality suppressed weapons, and a mixture of bribery and stealthed aircars, they terrorize and murder those the Nailspitters expect to get in the way of their eventual goal: overthrowing House O’Neill.
Indispensability is the key to the House’s long-term survival. The House managed to avoid being slaughtered by the Arbites and the local Enforcers during their takeover of their rivals by virtue of playing a role in keeping order in the hives during the plague. House O’Neill is playing a super-high-stakes game of chicken with the Adeptus Mechanicus. There is no way the O’Neills, for all their wealth, can win a true tariff war with the Adeptus Mechanicus and its infinite wealth. Thus, to displace the O’Neills, the Nailspitters can either try to bring down their rivals with sabotage, or else stir the Mechanicus to action.
However, the long history of the Adeptae ignoring the day-to-day life of the human race on Thimble has suggested to the Nailspitters that the Mechanicus will not be prompted to take the O’Neills down unless something catastrophic happens to the Mechanicus. The only way that the Nailspitters’ leadership can think of to do that is to start destroying Mechanicus facilities on the planet. However, to do so would surely cause the planet to collapse into anarchy, since the Mechanicus is the only faction around that can maintain Thimble’s overtaxed life support and terraforming devices. Thus, the Nailspitters have begun a campaign of attack and bribery against the customers of the O’Neills, its family members, and its less-guarded assets, while publicly appearing to be a force of stability for the world. They have even begun arming the enemies of the other Houses on the planet while using their black-ops teams to kill off their own enemies. The Nailspitters know that Clan Ahad doesn’t give a damn who is in charge of the transit stations as long as they work.
Presently, the Chief Nailspitter is Nikkyo Kasumoto, who has led the House with an iron fist and a taste for the finer things. He rose from the private face of the House, and it shows, with his taste for resolving problems with bribery and kidnapping instead of street battles.
The Waveriders, Obelisk 2
The piratical gangs of Obelisk 2 are the dominant force outside the core of the floating cities. Convoys of cobalt freighters and other tithe-bearing ships sail unmolested thanks to the protection of the military, but pirate attacks and raids on non-tithe assets often claim whole ships. There are hundreds of these gangs, in addition to the sanctioned ones that get deputized as city militia and the PDF.
The Waveriders are a typical, if large, example of these gangs. Most such gangs have a few dozen to a thousand riders, all of whom get around on the oceans using combinations of smaller jet skis and larger boats, with a few submarines here and there and a drone or two. The gangs also typically have a foot contingent as well, either stationed on cities they have conquered or in large boats used for boarding actions. The Waveriders are no exception.
The Waveriders are one of the older gangs, and have maintained their position of relative strength by virtue of being smart enough to extort significant sums of money from the processing and waste management hubs that handle the tithe goods. They don’t interdict the goods directly, but instead bleed those who produce the goods dry, knowing that a little problem like monetary loss will not be an acceptable reason for the tithe-producers to use to explain to the Administratum why they’re behind on production.
The gangs generally operate one of two ways: either democratically electing the four highest officers with each larger vessel captain getting a vote, or through a battle royale of all those who want a shot at the title after the old one dies.
The Master of the Waves is the self-styled Admiral Eiler Gustavsson, who cut his way to the top, in the way of the piratical gangs with no formal democratic structure.
In the Cloudburst Sector and the neighboring, less inhabited territories, there are dozens of Rogue Trader individuals and family enterprises that have made a mark. Here are several.
The sole Knightly house of the Cloudburst Sector, and the dark secret it hides.
Not all the stories of the Cloudburst Sector's Rogue Traders end well, nor do all noble families decline with grace.
Cloudburst Sector is led and plagued by a vast assortment of people. The leadership of the Sector is tenuous in some Subsectors, vibrant and omnipresent in others, and cruelly oppressive in yet more.
However, the Sector also has heroes, monstrous enemies, and sinister infiltrators. It has an assortment of devilsome pirates, Chaos cultists, and even a few Terran intercessors of terrifying power.
Regional Terminology and Astrocartographic Nomenclature
The Cloudburst Sector is a loose sector, with many large star clusters or nebulae. The sector is on the east side of the Segmentum Ultima/extra-Obscurus border, at the extreme galactic north. Large belts of asteroids drift through the void, with the occasional Space Hulk ejected from the Warp and skidding through the darkness. There have never been any large incursions of Tyranids or Necrons in the sector, though there are some feral Orks here and there. There is evidence of a much larger Ork presence in the past, perhaps the remains of an abortive Waaagh! No Tau have reached the sector, and what few Demiurg, Thraxians, Vespids, and Kroot there are about are mere mercenaries, ultimately of no political consequence. There are no Eldar Craftworlds or Exodite colonies about, and what Eldar are present in the sector are generally pirates, Dark Eldar raiders, or refugees fleeing the Necrons, never in one place for long. Oddly, the sector appears to have been partially passed over for colonization by the ancient Eldar, the Slann, and the primeval Martian and Terran Empires. This is especially strange in the case of the Septiim system itself, since it contains a shocking three shirtsleeves-habitable planets, which in any other sector would have been a prize of unfathomable value to the colonists of old. No unique STC printouts or creations, or components, have ever been found within thirty lightyears of the Septiim system, and there are only four Webway gates within moderate Warp flight distance. The Ork colonies in the area are small, feral, and of little threat, though the Navy has made a point of annihilating the ones it finds growing in size, generally with space-to-surface artillery or precision lances. Were there more battleships in the sector, they may even try to destroy the greenskins. The principal consistent alien threat in the region is instead from Ork Freebooterz. They constantly visit the area, refueling at Gorkypark, the one significant permanent Ork presence in Cloudburst.
The Cloudburst Sector centers on the Celeste system, which contains the moon after which the sector is named. Celeste itself is a planet, a verdant and beautiful paradise world. There are no peripheral Sectors, as the Cloudburst Circuit is not a sector; the Drumnos Sector borders Cloudburst coreward. To trailing, there is the Oldlight Exo-zone, spinward is the Naxos Sector.
The Sector has a common trend among the names of its worlds and stars: they tend to be named after the first or middle names of the Rogue Traders who found them (if an Explorator didn’t get there first). This stems from ancient conflicts among Rogue Trader houses of neighboring Naxos fleets. The Naxos Trader houses competed viciously for naming rights on new Proximate Circuit systems and properties, and thanks to the unpredictable time effects of traveling uncharted Warp routes, sometimes Rogue Traders would arrive at Fabique having equally legitimate claims to having discovered a world.
To resolve this, the Administratum’s Departmento Astrocartigraphicae and the Mechanicus’s Astra Explorator stepped in. They decreed that all Rogue Trader ships that were seeking new worlds in the Proximate Circuit would carry clocks, built to Forge World precision on Fabique itself, all set to the same time. When a Rogue Trader came to a Forge World with a claim of discovery or conquest on a new world in the Circuit, and it was contested by another, the clocks would be compared, and the one with less time displayed on it would be judged accurate. Tampering with the clocks would result in the striking of Colonization Rights from the Warrant of Trade or Writ of Marque the offending Trader Dynasty possessed, plus the less quantifiable scorn of the Machine God.
This new system was immediately put in place and uniformly enforced. It became common practice among exploring Rogue Traders to find a world, perform the fastest possible scans of its atmospheric composition, officially name it after themselves, leave a beacon at the edge of the system declaring this to be the case, and then make a direct course for Fabique to lay staked claims. Worlds with names like Gorum, Johdclan, Foralds, Vasari, and Locke appeared on maps in the Fabique Astrocartigraphicae vault, each with bare minimum settlement data and a meticulously determined date attached. Before long, between the relentless pace of MacDonald’s fleet and over two dozen Rogue Trader flotillas hard at work, the outline of the modern Cloudburst Sector formed. Even the sector’s capital moon orbits a world named after a Rogue Trader, though the Capital was placed on the rainy moon instead of the magnificent paradise of the world itself – perhaps, some mutter, to prevent a Rogue Trader from getting too much credit for their lucky discovery.
Like all regions of His Divine Majesty’s territory, the Cloudburst Sector either uses, or is germane to, terms that come up often in Inquisitorial discussions of it. The following is a list of several.
Cloudburst Circuit: A term for the distant, hard-to-navigate, and mysterious clusters of stars and radioactive gasses that hang beyond the formal ‘edge’ of the Cloudburst Sector, between Imperial territory and the roiling Warp Storms that delineate the outer limits of the Galaxy. Prior to the establishment of the Sector proper, this was titled the Oldlight Proximate Circuit; it was larger, and encompassed the region now known as Cloudburst Sector and the Cloudburst Circuit. The galactic limit Warp Storms, called Terminus Shock, of severity ranging from hideously tumultuous to nearly ‘safe,’ shroud the entire Galaxy. In the Cloudburst Circuit between the Cloudburst Sector and the Galaxy’s northern edge, the storms are thin but violent, and on the rarest of occasions, unmanned probes may even pass beyond them. The Circuit itself has thousands of planets and superasteroids within, but thanks to the high radiation levels of the Circuit’s ubiquitous nebulae, they are hard to reach. Among Imperial Astrocartigraphers, there is a persistent and empirically sound theory that the Warp storms are generated by the fact that the Warp is a mirror of all sentient life, and there are no bodies near the Galaxy that could support life. Therefore, the Warp Storms represent not only the physical edge of the Galaxy, but the practical limit on the range of human Faster-Than-Light travel that relies on total Warp Immersion (as all human and Ork ships do). While this also means Chaos cannot spread to other Galaxies if true, this is small comfort for the Imperium and no comfort for those mad Rogue Traders who have travelled beyond the Warp Storms to find new galaxies to inhabit, who are most surely all dead now.
Emergency Command Asset Force (ECAF): This formation is unique to Cloudburst. It consists of a single flag-grade officer, usually a Brigadier General, along with their Honor Guard, a small group of specialists including Chaplains, Sanctioned Psykers, Commissars, and Stormtroopers, a handful of vehicle crews, and roughly two hundred veteran infantry. These forces stage from Coriolis and Septiim and fly to their destinations in Fast Clippers manufactured over Hapster.
Each ECAF dispatches to locations where official Guard leadership is needed, and take command of whatever forces await them. ECAFs dispatched to sites of larger conflicts, where an officer higher in rank than Brigadier would command, instead serve as advisors to whomever is already present, perhaps to fill gaps in a chain of command. The field units from each ECAF filter out to cover deficiencies in the present Guard or PDF structure, while the specialists and advisors either attach to the command staff to consult, or take to the field as well as force multipliers. The exact composition of ECAFs can change as Sector Command attaches or removes assets as needed.
For instance, it is common practice to append an extra sniper or rangefinder to an ECAF that will be taking command over an artillery-heavy formation, to augment their target acquisition capability, or a snowmobile Rough Rider unit to an ECAF that will take over an arctic warfare infantry force. ECAFs can exert no control over Navy assets, but they do sometimes include paratroopers with an attached Imperial Navy transport.
Each ECAF lasts only as long as it needs to in order to complete a mission, after which all surviving personnel and equipment are recycled into the general pool of assets on Coriolis and Septiim. When an ECAF is needed, the Imperial Guard authorities on Septiim and Coriolis pack whatever personnel are needed into the new ECAF, which is then given a serial number and the services of an Astropath, shoved into a Navy ship, and sent wherever they are required. Of course, not all Imperial Guard and PDF officials take well to being displaced by a newcomer from off-world, but when the alternative is losing a war, they generally manage to stifle their pride.
Elevation to ECAF General is challenging, and the criteria are different from most advancement opportunities in the Imperial Guard. In order to be promoted to a flag-grade rank and become eligible to assume command of an ECAF, an Imperial Guard officer must have spent at least two years as a Colonel or Lieutenant Colonel in the Guard and have won at least two campaigns against the Emperor’s enemies. Given that wars in the Cloudburst Sector are usually either small brush fires among factions in a planetary population or fought by Rogue Traders in the Circuit, this means that there are relatively few opportunities for a Guard officer to actually qualify to run an ECAF inside the Sector proper.
Thus, many ECAF Generals rise to their rank by being part of a regiment raised to fight in the constant battles against Chaos in the Naxos Sector or against the never-ending pirate hordes of the Drumnos Sector. The Inquisition is aware of this and encourages it, for the most part. High Inquisitrix Lerica may not call herself a Monodominant, but she does hold its tenets that humans should work together to drive all other contenders for galactic rulership extinct in high regard.
Some ECAFs arrive in time to see the war they were supposed to oversee end before they can make a difference, either because the Imperium has lost or because the PDF and Guard were able to drive their threat away. When that happens, by the request of Sector Command, the presiding General can become a permanent part of whatever remains of the Astra Militarum structure on the planet, or collect any defeated survivors and take them for quarantine and interrogation elsewhere. On the rarest of occasions, an ECAF may merge entirely with the command structure of an existing larger formation of the Astra Militarum, and serve as the elite core of that formation. However, this costs Sector Command their most experienced assets, and is done only if Sector Command believes that there is a significant chance that the planet in question might actually fall if it is not done.
Because of the scarcity of psykers in Cloudburst and the sheer distance between Cloudburst and Terra, ECAFs are sometimes the only source of Primaris Psykers and War Psykers in an Imperial command structure. Their use against pirate forces in Drumnos is especially devastating; even pirate lords with a pet hedge witch or two cannot counter the raw, horrible power of a Terra-trained Adeptus Astra Telepathica War Psyker. A Primaris Senior can devastate a whole infantry company with just a few seconds of prep time, drive daemons back into the Warp, or explode the minds of Orks; mere pirates stand little direct threat.
The ECAF model is so successful that some Imperial Commanders have pointedly asked why so few other Sectors have embraced them. The obvious answer of territorial conduct by nearby Sectors, jealous of their own structures and tactics, doesn’t seem to hold up, since the Imperium is desperate for advantages over its enemies. In reality, however, the layout of most Sectors prevents the ECAF structure from being especially useful elsewhere, since most Imperial Sectors are more densely packed with worlds than Cloudburst. Cloudburst’s astrogeography has small clusters of worlds shoved close together by the billowing gas of its host supernebula, isolated from each other by up to a dozen light years of hard-to-traverse, radioactive space and Warp rifts. It also has a relatively low population and few psykers. Other Sectors simply do not have these problems, and so the ECAF structure would be more redundant than helpful.
Orbitals and Void Platforms: While the ancient nature and diverse roots of culture and architecture in the greater Imperium have resulted in wildly differing types of space construction before, the Cloudburst Sector is much smaller, younger, and more internally organized. Thus, the types of deep-space construction common in the Sector can be sorted into several distinct categories for the convenience of travelers. Some belong to more than one category.
- Deep Voids: These are constructs designed specifically to drift through the depths of space, nowhere near a star. The common Imperial Navy anchorage series model Xerxes is one such Deep Void. These can technically include most models of Star Forts, as well, as those are generally too large to orbit a planet directly.
- Star Forts: This is a category of enormous and self-sufficient space platform, so large as to be able to stage whole starships of capital displacement or even construct warships of Escort weight. A Star Fort is able to defend itself with firepower equivalent to or greater than that of a Battleship with ease, and serve as the lynchpins of large fleet maneuvers and campaigns. They are generally immobile, and must be pulled into port with a tug or many tugs. These are ruinously expensive to build and relocate, and so are only fielded in times of great need.
- Firepoints: These are former asteroids. Sometimes called ‘monitors,’ a Firepoint is a hollowed-out natural planetoid or rock that has been filled with life support and combat equipment, and uses its natural rocky shell to serve as extra armor. Hard to destroy and cheap to build, they are very popular among Imperial Navy personnel who must station these defenses along the Imperium’s outer border. However, they are also not very well-armed for their weight, and their spherical shape makes it challenging to bring a preponderance of their firepower to bear on a single target.
- Void Platforms: A general term for any space platform constructed within the gravity of a star but not in direct orbit of a planet. Some Void Platforms have large, self-contained solar and hydroponic wings, able to provide abundant light, heat, food, and electricity to the crew of the Platform, or even export a surplus. These tend to have light point defenses, if they have any at all. Others are bristling walls of guns and armor, and defend the most direct routes from nearby Mandeville Points or Warp Gates to the orbital pathways of inhabited planets.
- Orbitals: This is the term for any space construct that has a permanent human crew and directly orbits a planet. This can range from the colossal orbital plates of ancient Terran Federation worlds with hundreds of millions of residents to the light observation rings that circle Frontier Worlds with a crew of four. Some are defended, but most are purely scientific or commercial.
- Satellites: While this term technically refers to anything that orbits a world, the common usage is for an unmanned device that circles a planet and fulfils some purpose-built role, like observation, debris interception, or defense. These are cheap and easy to replace, and any vessel with an internal hangar can repair them, so they are very common as throwaway defenses of planets with no dedicated surface-to-space guns, but may also augment the defenses of the worlds that do. Others use telescopes and cameras to record objects at the outer limits of a system, using machine patience to record an area too huge for direct human observation.
- Space Station: Imperial Space Stations are a broad subject. Common Space Station types include the commercial hubs and customs platforms that allow for the trade of cargo in a system far away from its defensive perimeter. They also often include those constructs that fill the gravitationally-predictable Lagrange points of a planet or moon’s orbits. Technically, all orbital plates and Void Platforms are Space Stations, but not all Space Stations fit into those categories. Some laymen use the term ‘space station’ to refer to all inhabitable objects built in space, but this is not strictly accurate, for a Space Station is generally purpose-built and well within the gravitational range of a star, and are rarely self-sufficient.
- Orbital Spire: In the most purely technical sense, a Spire is not a void construct at all. However, all Orbital Spires have two anchors, and one is invariably an Orbital itself. These Spires are vast spindles of carbon nanotubes, homogenous mixtures of metals that bond together, and power transmitters in the form of microwave beamers. A Spire is essentially a combination of roadway and elevator, and can take many shapes. The simplest is a single cable that connects an asteroid in geosynchronous orbit to the planet below, and serves as a guy-wire to a flotilla of tiny floating cargo cars that ride the cable up and down, carrying cargo without having to use polluting rockets or expensive plasma boosters. More complex models include entire enclosed roads, on which electric cars drive over charged strips of metal and plastic, collecting motive energy from the very surface beneath them. These are ludicrously expensive, and are used only in worlds with extremely high gravity where space flight would be too costly to regularly perform, or worlds with enormous shipping volumes where fuel needs couldn’t be realistically met. The most expensive of all Orbital Spires are nothing less than orbit lifter trains, which use vast robotic cargo lifting machines to drag thousands of tons of cargo in vacuum-tight boxes from freight depots on the ground to Orbitals high above. Only Forge Worlds and the wealthiest Paradise and Hive Worlds can afford these, and in Cloudburst, only Cognomen can.
Oldlight Exo-zone: This is the first section of the galaxy’s territory outside of the Cloudburst Sector to trailing, and it is at least partially within the light of the Astronomican on the southern edge. It is not a Sector, per se, but is instead the region of space between the northern edge of the Segmentum Obscurus and the edge of the Galaxy proper. For over eleven thousand years, since the first Iron Warriors scouts visited the place during the early Great Crusade, this region of space has been of little interest to the Imperium. Were it not for the existence of the Eye of Terror, it would no doubt have been explored and exploited thoroughly. However, the Storm of the Emperor’s Wrath and several smaller Warp Storms stand between the edge of Obscurus and the actual maximum range of the Astronomican, thus screening it from Terra and making Navigation excruciatingly slow. As such, the border of the Cloudburst Sector is traditionally the border of the Imperium. Thus, though ships that follow the Warp currents without Navigators can travel there as easily as they can anywhere else, there are few colonies here; Imperial warships could not come to their defense in haste if they were attacked. The name stems from the fact that at the outer edges of this region, light from before the opening of the Eye is visible, and the galaxy can still be viewed un-marred by the hubris of the Eldar. The region once played host of the savage war between the Imperium and the Rangdan, and possibly their mysterious allies/servants, the Slaugth. Only specific Explorators and Inquisitors are aware of this. Unofficially, however, the general Ordo Xenos is fully aware that the region is a terrible hotbed of violent aliens even now. There are no fewer than four massive Deathwatch Watch Fortresses within three weeks’ travel of the Oldlight Exo-zone: Excalibris, Pykman, Castillos Nullifact, and Dascomb.
Rangdan Xenocides: The Rangdan Xenocides were a trio of wars, spanning thirty years from M30.861, and a few skirmishes afterwards, between Imperial Humanity and the Rangdan alien species. The Rangdan, made aware of the Imperium thanks to the Astronomican, were cerbavores, and made a delight and a spectacle of harvesting the nerves and brains of thinking beings. Humans, perhaps the most delicious after Eldar, were ideal prey for the beasts, and they launched a crippling assault against the Imperium as soon as they came within range of it. The resultant slaughter saw the brains of over eighty-nine billion humans eaten by the monstrous creatures from Old Night’s depths. The 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 6th, 11th, and 20th Legions of the Astartes had committed their fullest strength to repelling the monsters, and only barely survived the attempt. The 11th, it is whispered, did not. The Rangdan, it transpired, were not even the principal threat behind the wars. Living weapons, deployed at the end of the war by Rangdan with oddly shriveled skeletons, revealed that at least some of their technology, so much more destructive than that of the early Crusaders, actually came from the Slaugth. This race of flesh-eaters was the stuff of the nightmares of the Age of Strife. Their frighteningly advanced technology and nearly indestructible flesh-horrors proved to outmatch the Imperium in destructive power; the Emperor was forced to utilize His most powerful weapon to destroy the core of the Rangdan race. Unshackling a secret weapon known only as the Labyrinth of Night, and compelling it to serve him with pure psychic power, He turned the power of the Slaugth against their Rangdan brain-slaves, killing them and destroying nearly all non-Martian technology for light-years in every direction. Between the total devastation of all nearby habitable worlds, the loss of all archaeo- and xeno-tech caches for dozens of light years, and the fact that the Astronomican was barely visible in the area, the Imperium had abandoned the region to its fate. The possibility that the Slaugth were controlling the Rangdan, or the reverse, has been blocked from further investigation by Imperial decree.
Septiim Economic Zone: A term used to refer to the 10-light year sphere around the Septiim system, which contains three star systems with no habitable zones, but many servitor-operated mining platforms and freighter stopover platforms. The Zone contains the Septiim system, the ANKH 909 system, the ANKH 910 system, and the Adeptus Mechanicus mining colony and research base Feldsprite in the ANKH 911 system. The Zone also contains all of the military facilities belonging to the Loyalist Chapter of Space Marines called the Blue Daggers. The Daggers defend the Zone from the Glasians and other threats, and draw their recruits from the populations of the worlds and mines within. The Zone has its own Imperial Navy detachment at all times, one that is a significant percentage of the strength of a Subsector Battlefleet. This is a necessary measure, however, despite the cost, since the Navy is expected to help the Daggers disable the defenses of the colossal Glasian Control Cylinders that spearhead each Glasian Centennial Migration.
The Long March: This refers to the great colony venture sponsored by the megacorporations of ancient Terran Europe that seeded the first technologically-advanced colonies in the region: Levitna and Hapster. It is of some academic interest to the local authorities for the fact that it apparently missed dozens of habitable worlds in its path, including some more habitable and comfortable than Hapster or Levitna have ever been, like Celeste and Septiim Tertius.
Waaagh! Igzok: This was the first Waaagh! to threaten the region, during the absolute height of the Terran Federation’s power, immediately prior to the rise of the Iron Men. It is known that it managed to enter the region by flying aboard some Space Hulks, but broke against the Federation’s fleet. Records from that era are understandably sparse, but they indicate that the Orks had been set on their course by a massive surge of aetheric energy from the edge of the Galaxy, perhaps from a star falling into a Warp Storm’s core. The exact date of this battle is lost to history.
The bizarre, extra-galactic aliens that bedevil the Cloudburst Sector.
The Free Corsair Coalition
A collective of amalgamated pirates and gangs under the rulership of a rogue Imperial Navy Admiral and his mysterious Eldar cohort.
The sprawl of radioactive gasses, stones, and debris that delineates the Cloudburst region is cut up by arbitrary boundaries, as is often the case in early Imperial mapmaking. The boundaries of later Imperial maps were better-informed. The nearby regions of Imperial territory are far more heavily populated than Cloudburst is, and their problems don’t recur every hundred years: they are constant.
The nearest two populated areas of Imperial space are the Naxos Sector and the Drumnos Sector. These two Sectors are thousands of years older than Imperial claims to the Cloudburst region. Their gross populations are correspondingly greater as well, and both Sectors have entire networks of ancient Hive and Forge Worlds to provide goods and services on scales that dwarf the total output of Thimble and Cognomen in Cloudburst. However, both Sectors are under significant assault by the enemies of Terra around the clock, rather than being only intermittently troubled by hostiles as Cloudburst usually is.
The entire region is referred to colloquially as the Tri-Sector area, thanks to their having few physical boundaries between each other (which is rare in Frontier Sectors, which may have no physical proximity to other Sectors). Each Sector is responsible for raising their own military forces, but may trade with each other without license, and are surcharged only a nine percent tax to raise Imperial funding.
The Naxos Sector is directly to the spinward of Cloudburst, and is a much larger Sector by both physical volume and total population. The Drumnos Sector is coreward of Cloudburst, and has even larger population counts, but is only ten cubic lightyears larger in total thanks to the completely uninhabitable Ruinwall Warp Storm that borders it on the trailing side and brutal pirate fleets that have stymied its growth to rimward and spinward.
Naxos Sector lies to the spinward of Cloudburst, and is under constant assault from the armies of Nurgle.
Drumnos Sector sits coreward of Cloudburst. It is a vast and densely-populated realm of colossal commercial endeavors, trade guilds, and ancient colonies, with one of the greatest Forge Worlds ever built at its heart.