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Coürt of the Sunñe Cyng background and location

Exercitus and the Port Cassian system

The planet Exercitus, a civilised world in the system of Port Cassian, in the Hesiod-Siculus subsector, is a towering sprawl of bureacracy, with countless trillions of imprecations, status inloads and papers being filed, triplicated, dispersed and ratified. Billions of desk-slaved indentured servants toil to stem an endless tide of requests; grinding slowly through automated acknolwedgements, approvals or denials to urgent imprecations, which turn up years, decades or even generations late. It is just one of a number of planets in the Antona Australis sector whose entire population is turned inward to the harrowing process and storage of records and documents.

Exercitus is a world of pedantry, argument and resignation. An ink-stained army - in ages past, quite literally - of scribes, verbum fabri and scriveners feverishly sift through seas of yellowing papers, flickering dataslates and crackling wax-dripped papers every day, in agonisingly long shifts, in a vain attempt to bring reassuring and unchanging order to the infinite complexity of a subsector. It is a world where men and women die daily through the pressures of overwork, anxiety and datahorror.

Senior scribes, invested with some authority, rubricists are tasked with that most vital aspect of bureacracy: fact checking and correction. So massive are the backlogs of Exercitus' records that rubricists, eolorem and outmen - along with paleoscribes and archaelogians - are still combing the sector for evidence relating to events as far back as M31, not long after the sector was made Compliant and before the vast majority was officially charted. This sisyphean task will never be complete, for every year brings an exponential increase in the amount of material being discovered, as well as a near-infinite loss of records and data in the rare but inevitable fires and outloadleaks that spell haemorrhages in spots of humanity's knowledge. 

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    Cepheus and the City

  Cepheus is a very different world from the dirty spires of Exercitine. Equally inhospitable, but through cold and material want. Here, every man can be anonymous, losing himself in the thin winds of the plains, or hiding in the anonymous seas. Cepheus is wild, untamed. Priests and caitiffs rub shoulders with mendicants and those who simply cannot function elsewhere in human society. The world is thinly peopled by hollow-eyed anchorites and hermits who huddle in lost mountain caves and isolated flesh-tents far from others.

  The baseline level of Cephean technology is feudal, with most of the populace ill-educated subsistence farmers and fisherfolk. A few millions are spread over the planet, mostly clustering in scattered villages and hamlets with little advanced technology beyond the occasional long-maintained tractor unit, power generator or distance communicator. Despite the paucity of its wealth, the planet is home to a small urban population who live in gas-lit towns, and notably, the capital - known simply - and portentously - simply as the City. A sprawling mass that stretches from horizon to horizon, the wood- and brick-built shanties and halls are built over and on top of previous levels like successive layers of scarring. High towers rise and fall, streets are cleared and repopulated, whole regions are flooded or burned or fall victim to plague... but the City continues. It is home to unknown numbers of inhabitants, but the numbers must be huge. Nevertheless, it is ever-crumbling, with abandoned quarters bricked off, rediscovered and hidden again over decades as the population swells and drifts and dies.

  Here can be found a few off-world merchants, drawn here by largely reliable trade agreements or to disseminate treasures from beyond the stars to the capricious though relatively sophisticated aristocracy. Tourism, uncommon through the Imperium, is all but absent here, and the space port is poorly stocked and maintained. The City is nevertheless relatively large, drawing wide-eyed chancers, honest traders - often village headsmen - and dispossessed orphans and ne'er-do-wells alike from across the planet. Inevitably, it also proves a moth-lamp to more than a few wastrels, ne'er-do-wells and cheats.

  The tendrils of the criminal underworld runs like a cancer through the City, bringing violence, narcotics, the pamphlets of apocalyptic cults and numerous other ills to the benighted inhabitants. The corrupt and inefficient 'Nichtwacce' serve as local enforcers for the Adeptus Arbites, who are largely content to keep a brooding watch from their Fortress-Precinct, and sally forth only on the rare occasions that civil disobedience threatens the space port – and thus access to the wider Imperium. The City is dim and dirty and corrupt... but exciting. For a populace that grubs a thin living from hostile, salt-rimed soil, the City promises danger and thrills; and ultimately, through the space port, an escape from drudgery for the wild-eyed few who seek a new life beyond anything they know. 

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  Thee Welle-they-are-borne

  Over all of this sit the Welleborn, a privileged Patrician class who vie and scheme with and against one another. Through a process of survival of the fittest, only the most resourceful and dangerous families have survived the millennia of their tenure. Like a pack of well-groomed and pampered wolves, the Welleborn have been whittled down into a relative few sleek, deadly families. These names command respect, allegiance and fear amongst their peons, and their influence stretches across the City and beyond. Tens of centuries of prudence, careful investment and occasional all-out conflict mean that the Welleborn are fabulously wealthy; and indulge in every possible way to advance themselves through everything from juvenat treatments to extend their lifespans to full-on bodily modification to indulge the whims of fashion. All physically and mentally augmented, the Welleborn are terrifying capable - and near alien in intent and capability from the general human populace.

  The Wellborne may be wolves, but above them all sits the pack Alpha – the hereditary Imperial Commander. Planetary governor, limitless tyrant, father to his people, the Sun King of Cepheus. His tenure has been short, and the world of the Welleborn is unsettled; for the Sun King is not of this world. 

  The new Imperial Commander effortlessly brushed aside four separate assassination attempts - for the Wellborne do not take kindly to interlopers, and their web of intrigue spans far beyond the cold sky of Cepheus - before he presented himself, masked and armoured, before the Chamberre Sacrystan, symbol of the Adeptus Ministorum and de facto seat of Cephean and City government. Accompanied by hulking warriors in humming plate, an equerry presented an Imperial Warrant, excommunicating the previous Imperial Commander and devolving power to him in perpetuity to the aghast representatives of the Wellborne. 

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  An Civill Warre

  For the first time in forty Centuries, the Wellborne were presented with a stark and unavoidable choice. Most - after weeks of secret internal debate - sided with the new Sun King; and the few supporters of the little-loved Hamantash Dynasty were exiled, executed and driven out into exile; their vast wealth confiscated. That the Sun King is loved by the people is well-known. He has moved the status quo, and things are in flux. Prophets declare him a saviour; a messiah - one who will bring a new life to the world, and tear down old certainties. 

  A multi-sided war has begun. With the press-ganged followers of the deposed Cyng-in-Exyle, the vengeful machineries of the dispossessed Wellborne, the mass of Cityfolk and the coteries of the effulgent New Aristos just a few of the dozens of claimants to power. Between these clashing hosts the outlying slums of the sprawling City burn; and with them, the rest of the world. Nevertheless, none - save the half-mad and near-powerless Cyng-in-Exyle - dare openly challenge the seat of the Sun King. He resides in finery in the palace, which remains inviolate. Hosts war at the gates, seeking the teat of the Imperial Commander and the milk of Imperial legitimacy that this promises. Blaring trumpets and gleaming banners borne by rival factions march through the streets and boulevards, declaring their chosen lord legitimate and press-ganging gawping onlookers into their ranks. 

  Even while bombardments and sieges continue, the inhabitants of the City need to eat. Many - indeed most - are largely unaffected by the war beyond the hardship and rationing; both of which were harsh but common facts of everyday life before the Sun King arrived. The City was ever dangerous, and while fires and the occasional bombardment of macro-shells may annihilate whole regions, the population emerge and breed and replenish, stoic or resigned to their fates. 

  If the Sun King himself has motives beyond providing the tithe, none know. On his rare public appearances, he is masked and anonymous, capriciously indulgent but distant. He is surrounded by banners and bunting and bustle wherever he goes. Gold is scattered alongside rose leaves and dream-ribbon. Trumpets, cornets and drums announce his glory and power. His power is limitless, his influence infinite. The people whisper that he speaks to the Emperor himself. The Sun King is like unto a god.

     

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  There is but one flaw in to his claim Kingship, one mar in his golden armour.

  The Imperium has no knowledge of the Cephean Warrant of Imperial Commandery and Planetary Governance. 

  The Warrant is a fake.

 

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