+ inload: Hive Confronsis +

+ Golgotham: Hive Confronsis +

Planetrise: From the pock-marked moon of Foretithe, the blighted planet Golgotham emerges over the horizon. The second moon; Corest, is visible on the left of the image.

 + Like most hive-cities of Golgotham, Confronsis runs on hyperfedual lines; with a few powerful spire families extending their patronage glutinously and insidiously into the depths of the hive-belly, where the industrotech clans – great organisations of affiliated family groups roughly equivalent to nation-states – toil ceaselessly beneath the ever-watchful eyes of the spires and authorities in order to feed the rapacious needs of the Imperium at large. Beneath these in turn are the benighted inhabitants of the largely lawless underhive; who live brief, scuttling, parasitical lives of equal parts freedom and fear. +


+ The Spire nobility +

+ Like a maddeningly vast tree or fungus, wealth is drawn ever upwards through Hive Confronsis, out to orbit. The dynastic spire houses jealously guard exclusive rights to communication with the outside Imperium; maintaining their position through strangleholds over advancement and development. The methods for this vary from house to house; but the oldest and most powerful houses operate every means at their disposal – legal and clandestine. +

+ The hypercompetitive nature of life on Golgotham means that the noble houses of the spires are united in just one thing; pursuit of advancement. True charitable works and attempts at general improvements for the populace are, for the most part, long-forgotten – such experiments leading to exploitation by competitors, or causing riots amongst the ever-suspicious industrotech clans, who fear alteration in the status quo. +

A typically well-equipped bodyman of House Graveney.
+ There are a few dozen noble houses; with a population running in the low millions between them. All own controlling stakes in at least one spire, while the most influential – Houses Serpentine, Graveney, Ur, Falconbrook, tegeus-Cromis and Neckinger – dominate swathes of the skyline as well as substantial holdings in the hive itself. Similarly, all will have vassal and allied industrotech houses that operate exclusively for the nobles. Many also have a – carefully shrouded – hand in the underhive; exploiting every possible source of wealth or power the hive has to offer. +

+ As long as they pay their share of the planet's ruinous tithe, Imperial Commander Barquentine – the Planetary Governor – is content for the heads of the houses (generally termed the paterfamilias or materfamilias) to operate as they see fit. Generally, this means appallingly aggressive – and often blatantly immoral or illegal – acts are commonplace. While open conflict between the noble houses themselves is rare (though far from unheard-of), proxy wars between the forces of the industrotech houses that are tithed and bound to the respective Spires are near-constant, as the noble forces tussle for power and influence. +

+ While there are wastrels, fever-seekers and fops in every house, the nobility of Confronsis are monstrously capable and marvellously astute – and to cross them is to be drawn almost inevitably into sadistically protracted ruin to serve as an example to others.

Many bored spire-dwellers become thrill seekers – some so criminally as to attract the attention of the Inquisition...

+ Brat gangs +

+ The children and scions of the Spire nobles are, for the most part, spoiled; wealthy beyond the dreams of avarice. Most are rigorously trained; indoctrinated and cultivated as potential successors to the head of the household, for even within the household proper, there is intrigue and danger. Granted influence, power and wealth, most are completely divorced from the realities of life in the hive; and regard the industrotech and underhive populace as a form of game or vermin. Many so called 'brats' form gangs and delve in search of danger and excitement, baiting and killing the very source of their wealth by engaging the industrotech guards in firefights – simply for the thrill. +

+ One might think that such gangs would be no match for the underhivers, but no noble house lasts long without a core of steel. The children of the spire nobles are clandestinely equipped with the best the Imperium has to offer – many indulgent noble houses openly tolerate such 'hive safaris'. Many brats are stimmed with combat drugs, genhanced, or trained by family militia bodyguards. Even exotica as personal protection fields, automedicae and similarly advanced tech is not unknown to the brat-gangs. +

+++

+ The Industrotech clans +

+ Numbering in the billions, the industrotech populace of Golgotham eke a tiring, precarious existence of production, deprivation and daily risk. Their lot is the punishingly physical labour that keeps the crumbling manufactories, refineries, mineheads and mills of Golgotham operating. Most live in cramped cell-quarters near – or even within – their dangerous, noisy workplaces; rarely straying beyond the confines of their occupation. +

+ Bowed, malnourished and resentful, the bulk of the industrotechs are monitored and driven to such disspirited levels of exhaustion that meaningful rebellion is kept simmering; though protests and riots are commonplace. Equally commonplace is the brutal punishment laid down on such rebels; both from without, by the militia of the House's noble sponsors and the Enforcers; and from within, by the House's own internal forces. +

+ Most industrotechs live from hour to hour, avoiding conflict and finding what diversion they can in prescribed diversionary holos and the Church. Of course, with such a vast populace, it is impossible for the overseers to monitor everyone – resources are thin, and impoverished prefects easily bribed. Grey and black markets abound around synthohol, narcotics, pitfighting and other semi-tolerated diversions. +

+ Crime, both openly violent and the less visible – such as smuggling, protection rackets and gambling – is common. As a result, all inhabitants of Hive Confronsis will bear a knife, hatchet, shortsword or club as a matter of course. Most will carry an improvised firearm of some sort; with many clans issuing signature or honorific weaponry to their workers. +

+ The minor houses + 

+ The vast majority of the population belongs to – or is indentured to – an industrotech clan, or house – the terms are interchangeable. The minor clan-houses – of which there are thousands – tend to be broadly related in massive extended families sharing a distinctive genotype, though exceptions to this are common enough. Small and relatively nimble, the minor houses operate in unique and constantly adaptive manners, producing short runs of a dizzying variety of materiel and product as licenses expire or tithes are withdrawn by sponsors for faults or errors in production. While a vast quantity of materiel is exported from Golgotham, this represents only a tiny proportion of what is produced – most is swallowed up by the hive-cities themselves. +

Low-ranking overseer-adepts of the Mechanicus are a relatively common
sight on Golgotham, though they are rarely tangled up in gang-fighting.
So diverse and large is the industrotech population – even within a single hive like Confronsis – that it is hard to make sense of the melange of cultures and subcultures that make them up. Most of the minor industrotech houses produce goods under monotask license to the Forge Worlds of the sector; stamping out arms and armour for the Imperium's armies alongside agricultural gear for the sector's agriworlds; and gewgaws and fripperies for the civilised worlds. An industrotech might easily spend their adult life as a factotum; moving just one arm in an endless action, stamping out near-worthless keyrings or plastek novelties for distant planets. +

+ Few minor houses make a large profit – there is little incentive, as excess is skimmed off by the protectionist nobles; and obvious growth will lead to raids from and conflict with rival industrotech houses. Most minor houses are grindingly conservative; favouring stability – however gloomy and thin – over additional danger. The minor houses jealously guard their slivers of territory – which may focus around a warehouse district, group of hab-blocks, or perhaps a refino-mill and its surrounding spoilheaps. The territories are as varied as any one might imagine; and limited not to the horizontal plane – indeed, many mining clans will control great vertical shafts through fathoms of the hive, taxing travellers who use these useful means of ascent. +

+ The major houses +

+ Houses that do successfully make a break for profit can find themselves elevated into the major houses – those that can afford to dominate and control subservient minor houses; or completely annex and exterminate them. Such events – where a new major industrotech house expands its ancestral territory – is inevitably the result of bloodshed, and usually leads to further conflict. Most such attempts result in the destruction of at least one minor house; its scions being enslaved or forced into the underhive as they lose what little protection the ancient clan-territories could provide. +

Ill-starred mercenaries, like deserters from the guard or
abhumans are tolerated at midhive, Some achieve notoriety.
+ The result is a new extended clan that combines to form a major house. Some are alliances tempered in blood, with two or more previous rival clans combining permanently through intermarriage, ritual vows of mutual kinship, or through more esoteric means, such as genesplicing or body-piloting. +

+ More commonly, one clan will become dominant over another, forcing the members of the lesser house into a subservient existence as thralls or bondsmen. Subservient houses generally form an oppressed slave caste; branded, electooed, maimed or otherwise marked as 'undermen', and gradually exterminated over time by giving them the most dangerous roles of all, or forcibly tithing them to the Guard draft. Particularly ruthless (or paranoid) house masters will lobotomise their serfs to become automats; deny them breeding rights, or simply chemically/physically castrate the workers to prevent a future rebellion while maintaining their ability to labour. Such is the brutal reality of life in hive Confronsis. +

+ The major houses form their own tier within the hive proper. Able to afford, bribe or bully their way into prime locations near the hive skin or the great thermal vents at the core, the major houses have extensive territories that are (relatively) well-powered or include views onto the outside world. To modern eyes, such a view – of a chemically colourful ash wasteland covered by brooding, churning clouds – would be terrifying, but to a hive-dweller, seeing a horizon is a thing of such wonder that many attribute to the outside world a holy quality. +

+ At the current date, there are thirteen major houses; all bitter rivals. Each has its own distinctive characteristics from long-held prejudices, specialisations and beliefs. Hugely varied, each major house of Confronsis has its own form of government, its own culture, and its own indentured militia, which serve as part of the Planetary Defence Force. These forces range from the lithe and subtle warriors of House Demogorgon, to the muscle-brutes of House Ordovic, and the violence-choirs of House Sephulcrave. +

+++

+ Industrotech gangs +

+ The hive is vast and echoing. Seething though it is with humanity (and other denizens), vast though claustrophic tracts are unexploited. While the industrotech houses have large territories, these are continually shifting. Unfortunate outlying habs can be cut off from house territories by attack or natural disaster – indeed, there are tales of isolated habs remaining under siege for months or years before succumbing. Unless an area is important to a house – such as containing a taxable link to the heatsink ,or providing some particularly valuable export, many houses will simply write off the losses because reclaiming them is economically unviable. +

+ It is not just possible but commonplace for entire complexes of warehouses, throughways and hab-blocks to be lost as a result of hive quakes, plagues, internecine conflicts or population migrations. Officially restricted from exploiting such neutral territories, it is the gangs of the industrotech houses that explore and exploit such areas. +

+ In addition to their official militaries, all of the major industrotech houses overlook a semi-tolerated gang culture that operates beneath scrutiny and without official support. These provide the houses with groups of unbalanced, frustrated or potentially dangerous house members who are encouraged to explore the hive, raiding, disrupting and unbalancing rival houses – or finding rich plots of land to exploit. Word travels fast in the warren-like bounds of the hive, and a gang that manages to find a route into a warehouse or isolated settlement will soon find itself having to fight to maintain its territory. +

+ While their activities are de-facto criminal, gangs provide kin of the house with much-needed protection, comradeship and a substitute family structure. More importantly to the industrotech house councils is the fact that the gangs – often workmates – work more productively together, and act as a permanent watch and defence against attacks – from rival industrotech houses, from spire safaris, and from uprising underdweller groups. +

+ Gangs are as varied as any group of humanity. Some favour a unifrom paramilitary appearance; others revel in individuality. Distictive and extreme clothing and hairstyles; along with piercings, tattooes, and body modification are common amongst the underhivers – and more so amongst gangers. There is no such thing as a typical gang, but some name themselves after their territories – Cromerty Piston Killers, the Eighteenth-Parallel or Gutterwell Boys are example – or a particular ritual practise; such as the Headtakers, Widowmen or Mara Cavorta. Still others pick a seemingly meaningless, intimidating or even whimsical name – the Yellow Henry Gang, Black Gates or Whistling Sheers. +

+++

+ The Underhive +

+ Beneath the spires, beneath the belly of the hive, beneath even the lowest of the minor industrotech houses, are the twisted and tangled tunnels and caverns of the planet's surface itself. Remnants of ancient mines and ruins of the original settlements, the underhive is where the lowest of the low can be found – scav-gangs, scions of vanished or destroyed minor houses, escaped slaves, abhumans and mutants like the near-mythical vermen all make an uneasy and uncertain living here. +

+ While the hive proper sees gang warfare between rival houses, the underhive is the true palette for the artistry of gang warfare. Here, there are no enforcers to sweep down; no house militia to scatter the small gangs. In the underhive, the heaviest of weaponry can be deployed; proscribed drugs and practices indulged, and the worst crimes of all committed in the name of wealth and personal power. It is a heady cocktail for the young men and women that make up the gangs... +

+ The underhive of Confronsis is lethally dangerous, with precious and long-forgotten technology mingling with brutal chemical pollution. Deluges of literal acid rain – formed by the gradual leaching of chemical waste from uphive mixing with the steamsweat of the populace – is a continual threat, and the thick, close air is tainted with metallic air-borne gasses and poisons. Movement of the hive itself, as it settles further into its agonisingly prolonged but inevitable ruin, sends great gouts of dust and ash shooting up from ancient shafts and tunnels as they collapse; and yawning sinkholes and pits can open up with little or no warning. +

+ The tangled territories of the underhive do not directly contribute to the hive's wealth or society; nor do they benefit from the uncertain benefits of 'trickle-down wealth' that supposedly benefits the industrotechs. Down at hive bottom, banditry and raiding are near-essential to survival. One is either a killer, or a victim. +

+ Nevertheless, there are some things found in the underhive that are found nowhere else – great vaults of archeotech, exploitable hive fungus and direct power couplings are just a few of these. All are of immeasurable value to the industrotech houses and beyond; but too unpredictable to waste already desperately-thin resources on exploiting. This is left to the gangs, who descend to fight each other and claim the spoils. +

+ Known semi-permanent areas of the underhive +

+ Chemsalt Plain

+ The Great Brown Waste

+ The Crumble

+ Shelftown

+ Fastnet

+ The Bight:

3 comments:

  1. Oh this is absolutely marvellous! I can see a lot of Gormenghast inspired lore mingled in too. Plus 'violence choirs' has become my new favourite concept! <3

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  2. I.N.S.P.I.R.A.T.I.O.N.A.L

    Reading through this I am transported half a life away to a young teenage boy writing up the worth-its of the Black Blossoms, sultry vipers eeking an existence working the Phantom Flows sweat dens and the mysterious Mandala Eldarin, the mind scorched hab proletariat in thrall to the ancestral memories of xenos artifacts.

    Great writing opens up the possibilities of this universe and makes the reader only capable of thinking how they can craft their own stories within it. Bravo, I look forward to more!

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