The Apostasy Gambit
Scintilla is the capital world of the Calixis Sector of the Segmentum Obscurus, and is a thriving Imperial hub that supports the largest planetary population in the sector.
It is dominated (some observers say “shared") by two vast hive cities, Hive Sibellus and Hive Tarsus, into which the vast majority of the planet’s groaning population are crammed.
Despite the dominance of the two great hives, the “offspring” communities of Ambulon and Gunmetal City contribute significantly to the planet’s economic function. Scintilla is a world of splendours where the wealthy and powerful compete with ruthless appetite. Astonishing magnificence abounds, from the wondrous fashions of the hive nobility to the towering spectacle of the hives themselves. Landmarks like the Lucid Palace and the Cathedral of Illumination are famous throughout the sector.
Scintilla is also a world of corruption. Moral decay eats away at the noble houses, members of which are often deluded by their own wealth and status. In the rarefied culture of the high-born, the corruption of power and privilege runs deep. Noble houses consider themselves (sometimes correctly) as above or outside of Imperial law and can wield immense influence. Their attitude towards those lower-born is callous: it is not unknown for thrill-seeking degenerates from noble houses to prey upon lesser humans as sport, often feeding secret Chaos cults devoted to Slaanesh.
At the other end of the social spectrum, the underhives are rife with mutants, outlaws and ultra-violent gangs, as well as the psychotic zealots of the Redemption. The middle hivers trapped between the aristo spires and the rancid underhives live out thankless lives of unending toil, where ignorance is a virtue, and death is a reward for a lifetime of loyal, drone servitude, fulfilling the exorbitant tithes levied on Scintilla by the Administratum. It has been this way since the days of Angevin, and Scintilla’s various corruptions are so deeply ingrained that they have become invisible even to those who perpetrate them.
Galactic Position: 88/23/CS/SW.
Satellites: Two moons (Sothus and Lachesis). Orbital docks in geostationary orbits above Hive Tarsus. The Scintillan moon Lachesis is home to the base of the Inquisition’s Tyrantine Cabal. This is the Bastion Serpentis, a bleak fortress of age-polished black stone jutting from the surface of Scintilla’s moon. Few people know of its existence, and those who do not are kept away from the moon by dire warnings about geological instability. Lord Inquisitor Zerbe can normally be found at the Bastion.
Climate Classification: Temperate.
Tropospheric Composition: Nitrogen 72%, Oxygen 25%, Argon 1%, Ozone 1%, Carbon Dioxide 0.5%.
Religion: The Imperial Cult. The Cult of the Redemption is also active on several planets in the Calixis Sector, but its spiritual home is Scintilla.
Government Type: Adeptus Terra.
Planetary Governor: Sector Governor Marius Hax.
Adept Presence: Adeptus Terra, Administratum (Goldenhand Consular Taskforce), Adeptus Ministorum, Adeptus Astra Telepathica (Astropathic Choir at Hive Sibellus), Adeptus Arbites, Ordos of the Calixian Conclave High Council Officio (palace headquarters at Hive Sibellus).
Climate: Climate is temperate with extensive equatorial deserts.
Geography: Three main continents — mountainous/volcanic southern polar cap, equatorial crescent deserts/jungle (Hive Tarsus, Hive Tenebra [extinct]), northern temperate landmass (Hive Sibellus, Ambulon, Gunmetal City). Remainder of planetary surface covered in ocean (heavily polluted, severely depleted fish stocks). Two moons (Sothus and Lachesis). Orbital docks geostationary above Hive Tarsus.
Economy: Scints, Scolds and Scabs – These are all terms used in the hives of Scintilla, and have become synonomous with the most valuable denominations of Thrones, based in no small part on Scintilla’s excessive levels of wealth. A currency called Rounds are used in the depths of Gunmetal City, where actual bullets are sometimes used as a currency.
Principle Exports: Scintilla is a major exporter of manufactured goods to the Imperium including ship-drive components and weaponry. It is also an important source of manpower, with a large Planetary Defence Force (PDF) and a huge underhive populations, both of which make for excellent Imperial Guard recruit sources.
Principle Imports: Scintilla cannot support itself and requires massive imports of food from the Calixis Sector’s many Agri-worlds.
Countries and Continents: Scintilla has three main continents – a southern polar cap mountainous/volcanic, an equatorial crescent deserts/jungle (Hive Tarsus, Hive Tenebra [extinct]), and a northern temperate landmass (Hive Sibellus, Ambulon, Gunmetal City). Remainder of the planetary surface is covered in ocean (heavily polluted, severely depleted fish stocks).
Military: Army of the Scintillan Protectorate (medium/high quality Planetary Defence Force, based at Hive Tarsus).
Contact with Other Worlds: As the sector capital, Scintilla has a great deal of contact with other worlds in the Calixis Sector, as well as worlds in other secotrs and segmentums. Stable Warp routes link Scintilla to Tranch, Settlement 228, Iocanthus, Luggnum, Sephiris Secundus, Malfi, Orbel Quill and Baraspine.
Tithe Grade: Exactus Extremis.
Scintilla’s most important features are its two hive cities: immense, multi-levelled arcology cities that house billions of Imperial citizens. Both hives on Scintilla are largely independent, ruled by councils drawn from the nobles of the spire. The majority of the inhabitants are middle hivers, the labouring classes, without whom the planet’s manufactorums and trade houses would cease to function. Almost all middle hivers are owned by or indentured to nobles from the powerful, sector-wide Great Houses or from Scintilla’s own lesser houses. The poorest and most neglected areas are the underhives: polluted, crime-ridden places where life is cheap and brutal gangs struggle for supremacy before violent death inevitably claims them. As long as the violence does not spill over into the middle hives, the authorities are happy to let the gangs murder each other in the cesspits of the underhive.
Scintilla’s two great hives have always competed with one another for prestige and influence, but no rational observer could fail to acknowledge Hive Sibellus’ dominance. Geographically the larger of the two hives, it is often referred to as “the Capital” or the “ruling hive”, and is both the seat of political and administrative power on the world, and the centre of the planet’s manufacturing might. Hive Tarsus functions as a dark, shadowy twin, popularly referred to, by Sibellians, as the “Other Place”. Hive Tarsus is a mercantile hive and controls all off-world trade and commerce. Neither hive could function without the other, a fact celebrated in Scintillan proverbs and myths. However, neither great hive would openly admit to the importance of the “offspring” communities, Ambulon and Gunmetal City, both of which wield considerable influences of their own.
Law on Scintilla is the province of the Magistratum, the planet’s local Enforcers and police force. In the hive spires, the dark green greatcoats of Magistratum officers are a common sight as they patrol the streets and investigate anything from petty theft upwards. In the middle spires, they are concerned mainly with serious or violent crime, unable and unwilling to deal with other common crimes. In the underhives, they are almost completely absent. The quality of the Magistratum’s officers and procedures varies enormously through the layers of Scintilla’s hives, depending on the funding and support they are given by the ruling noble councils, and on the environments they have to work in. Inevitably, it is far easier for a noble victim to get the Magistratum to investigate a crime, and far easier for a middle hiver criminal to be arrested for one. The Adeptus Arbites have a strong presence on Scintilla but they leave everyday policing to the Magistratum, concentrating on sedition, interference with the Imperial tithes, certain cult and psyker activity, and in using their paramilitary strength to help put down major riots. Most Scintillan citizens never see an Arbites officer unless it is from the wrong side of a riot shield. The Arbites and the Magistratum despise each other and have little interest in working together except under dire circumstances.
The laws across Scintilla vary from place to place, but two constants are trial by combat and duelling. Both are legal on Scintilla, and trials by combat are especially common when the hive city nobility are involved. Trials by combat, where the accuser and defendant fight to decide who is right, have conditions attached depending on the nature of the crime (murder and severe violent crime is to the death, while some crimes have restrictions on the weapons to be used and sometimes bizarre conditions for victory, from first blood to the removal of limbs). It is permitted for either party to have a champion fight in their place and a skilled combatant can find lucrative, if perilous, employment in the Bloodsquares run by the Magistratum. Needless to say, good champions do not come cheap, and the very best are retained by the noble houses of the spires. Similarly, duelling is permitted on Scintilla and forms a part of the culture in the hives and elsewhere. The Magistratum does not interfere with duels and killing an opponent in a duel is not considered murder. This means it is entirely possible to eliminate an enemy by manufacturing a matter of honour between him and an opponent who happens to excel at the form of combat used in the duel.