Sunday, July 1, 2012

Star Wars : Planets of the Malicrux V


MIMANDE is a rocky agrarian world of incredible slate towers and canyons, where a heavy mist lingers throughout the year. This cool damp climate is perfect for a number of agricultural products, and the farms that work the narrow valleys are renown for their vineyards and breweries. Its people have thrown off the shackles of technology and a simple pastoral life. Normally such worlds quickly fall prey to slavers and corporate exploitation, but Mimande is barren of mineral wealth (some whisper suspiciously so) and massive ion nebula that surrounds the system makes travel treacherous. Some traders risk the trip for the Ral'cath spirits, or the latest produce from Kau’meta Vineyards; the fermentation process excludes all droid and technology process so creates a purely organic luxury item that attracts excessive profits – assuming the ship survives the journey to nebula, and the trader has something of worth to barter with. Credits are worth nothing here, with value being placed on the usefulness of items and the skills a man can give his society.

MOLOVAR is a shattered world, split in two by some cataclysmic event predating the fall of the Malicrux Empire. The forces of gravity have been hard at work however, and the remnants of the planet have reassembled to form a new world of high volcanic, tectonic and cosmic activity. Numerous chunks of the planet still orbit the central planetary mass, and meteoric bombardment is a continuous threat. Volcanoes run along the great fissures that cross the world, and there are constant seismic events as the two main halves grind against each other. Imperial geologists, vulcanologists and astrophysicists are drawn to Molovar, and from the relative safety of its outermost moon they monitor the planet below, eager to decipher the mystery that surrounds the planet. All data indicates that whatever triggered Molovar’s cataclysm, it was not a natural occurrence. What troubles the Empire is that those responsible might still be out there, hidden deep in the Malicrux Nebula.

PALAUGA is an ocean world, with a central core of solid state water and thus lacking in the magnetosphere necessary to protect its inhabitants from the mutational effects of solar radiation. Life thrives here despite the hardship, or possibly because of it: the radiation causes constant mutation and an accelerated evolution, and most established species have developed a radiation resistant chitin. It is home to the Palauga, a species of sentient crustaceans that come in a wide variety of forms, all heavily armoured and armed with vicious claws. The Palauga developed a society of warring feudal states when the first explorers from the Republic arrived, and the reception found them exceptionally tasty. The Republic closed access to the world, but did not count on the Palauga reverse engineering the starship their entreé arrived in. While it took them six hundred years to do so, revolutionising their society and galvanizing them towards the stars, when the Palaugan Emergency spread across the Malicrux Sector one hundred years before the clone wars, it took a unified military force composed of armies from across the Sector to drive them back to their watery lairs. In the decades since, the Palau reigned in their appetites and began diplomatic overtures to the surrounding planets, and were finally admitted into the circle of noble houses. House Palauga has proven to be politically savvy, currying favour with the power of the time; with the rise of the Empire they have been vocal supports of their doctrine and welcomed the appointment of an Imperial Governor with open claws, and have promised a mighty feast in his honour.

PORT KULLUS is a vast trade collective scattered across a number of space stations, ship berths, satellites and small moons in close orbit around the ringed gas-giant of Bokucryeu. While Sapphirica may be the political epicenter of the Malicrux Sector, Port Kullus is its commercial heart. The great majority of goods that past into and out of the Sector pass through Port Kullus, and it is here that goods and cargo manifests are inspected, recorded and taxed before being transferred from local haulers and freighters into massive spacebarges that run the trade routes into the Galactic Core and beyond. This requires a huge number of services, and the entire system is overseen by guildmasters personally appointed by the Sapphrician nobility. Tariffs are collected, filling the coffers of the noble houses, but they in turn pay a sizable proportion to the Empire. Corruption, smuggling, bribery, tampering and theft are inevitable, and the Yellow Prince is the undisputed master of the darker aspects of the trade hub. His base of operations is unknown, and few if any ever lay eyes upon him, but such is his power that on a whim he can shut down most operations in Port Kullus, and thus the Sector. The shipyards are where his influence is weakest; here the mechanics and shipwrights are allied in powerful and belligerent trade unions that keep the Yellow Prince at bay. The entire collection of myriad orbital bodies and stations are protected by an array of defensive systems. Those fools who attempt to raid Port Kullus rarely if ever get a second chance.

PROHL is a semi-arid planet that has a ring of automated warning beacons to keep travelers away. It is known among spacers by the more infamous moniker of “Murder”. The planet is shrouded by a layer of continuous ionized storm clouds that block all scanners and plays havoc with ships attempting to make a landing. Below the cloud layer lies a 10km high layer of hot, humid and breathable air. The land itself is rugged and arid and covered in alternating dense forests of 30-40' tall mushroom type 'trees' and 10' bamboo type grass fields, the dim light that filters through the cloud layer leaves the land in a perpetual twilight by day or absolute darkness by night. The name “Murder” is allegedly attributed to the first transmission received by explorers from a crashed starship on Prohl: "<static> .. this planet is murder .. <hash>". Only three of the 30 odd crew of a specially shielded research ship have ever officially returned from the planet. They describe giant spider-like creatures, intelligent and technologically capable, with advanced cybernetics grafted to their bodies – vibro-blade enhanced slashing limbs, metalo-ceramic weave laced through their carapace, cortex nodes to enhance reflexes - and they swarm and kill any who land on their planet. Those few researchers who brave the planet believe an ancient race placed them here, though whether as a prison, to isolate them from the galaxy or protect the galaxy from whatever they guard is uncertain.

RAVENHOLT is a verdant world named after the sentient black-winged birds that soar over its lush dark forests and lofty peaks. Waterfalls spill down great mountains to feed a broad network of cool lakes and rivers, and much of the world remained untouched under the stewardship of House Rabenhout. It was sparsely populated, with only a handful of cities concentrated on the northern continent where rustic arts and harmonious architecture blended with the great trees of the forests. This philosophy was reflected in the cities' artisans and craftsmen, who were famed for their exquisite woodcarvings and independent head-strong manner. Of course, all this has changed since the demise of the Old Republic, and overthrow of House Rabenhout by the political machinations of House Kyrieken. Now the world is the focus for rampant industrialization; the old trade in pharmaceuticals, rubber, wood and other natural products was superceded with vast opencut mines and refineries that draw precious trillenium ore from the earth. An essential metal in the manufacture of starship components, the trillenium trade has swelled House Kyreiken's coffers and they have not been idle; whole cities have risen up out of the pristine forests and massive shipyards are currently under construction in several regions around the planet. In another coup for the House, patriarch Skyris Kyreiken has been appointed as the Imperial Governor for the sector, and the planet now serves as the focus of Imperial military might. The Sector Army is based here, and while the majority of the Sector Fleet has been dispatched in the far reaches of the galaxy in the hunt for the Rebel Alliance, two Imperial-Class Star Destroyers now orbit the planet. What the Ravens think of these interlopers in their forests and skies no-one can be sure, though the few old woodsmen who remain are certain that the Ravens have their own plans to rid their world of the accursed Kyreiken.

RUKH is a cold and desolate mountain world that stands at the border of the only known route into the Djakarshi Forbidden Zone. Great watchtowers and powerful sensor arrays rise up from the icy peaks, monitoring the interstellar and hyperspatial regions that surround it. Maintained by the Old Republic for millennia and now under Imperial control, it is there to ensure nothing or leaves the Forbidden Zone. Of course, there are always foolhardy souls who are willing to try, and rescue teams are on standby to bring in the wayward vessels, though what happens to those who break the quarantine is a mystery. In fact most of what occurs on Rukh is a matter of speculation, for more detailed information is blacklisted by the Empire.

SAPPHIRICA is a beautiful ocean world, the blue jewel that crowns the Malicrux Nebula and gateway to the Sector. Blessed with abundant seas and favorable winds, Sapphirica has long served as the sacred gathering place of the noble houses of the Malicrux, who reside in stunning white cities and palaces that float in the skies over the waves. So captivating are the twilight vistas of the Nebula rising over tranquil seas that even the Emperor Himself has an Imperial Residence here, a shinning pinnacle of architecture formed from millions of golden blades that turn slowly about a central palace. As is befitting a world frequented by the ruler of the galaxy, the entire planet is protected by a vast energy shield, projected by a number of huge generator towers that burst from the waves to loom kilometers into the sky. The capital of Allura is the largest floating city where the noble houses hold council. It is a hotbed of political intrigue and scandal; what transpires in the gleaming council chambers and scintillating banquet halls can have ramifications that affect every corner of the Malicrux Nebula. In the upheaval that followed the rise of the Galactic Empire, the power and influence of nobles of Sapphirica has been somewhat diminished as more and more Imperial might is exerted by House Kyreiken on Ravenholt; however it would be impossible for the Empire to maintain order across the Sector without the support of the Sapphirican Houses, and for the time being an uneasy alliance has been thrust upon the two worlds.

SICCIDDE is a scorching desert world rent by massive canyon systems that house numerous industrial cities. Sicciddian weapon factories play an important part of the Sector's manufacturing economy, with large research facilities and proving grounds; most of the labor is provided by convict workforces, typically alien labourers the victim of the Empire's pro-human stance. Acts of sabotage and uprising are not uncommon, but the local planetary wardens are brutal in repressing such actions. The planet is controlled by House Siccidde, who had little trouble adapting to the doctrine of the New Order; they enjoy the full support of the Empire's bureaucracy and receive regular shipments of prison labour from across the galaxy.

SINAMMON is a beautiful pleasure world where the sector’s elite come to play, bathing in the golden seas beneath lavender skies or dancing the night away in the light of Sinammon’s seven moons. Access to this shimmering paradise is heavily restricted, with all interstellar traffic directed to the orbital station that circles the equator; here all visitors must turn over any weapons as they board shuttle craft that then descend through the clouds to their palace of pleasure. Sinammon offers all manner of idyllic pastimes, from relaxing on tropical sky-yachts then nautodiving the vibrant reefs that colour the shallow seas, to aeroboarding from the troposphere, landing on a mountainside, and working the slopes before paragliding from glacial cliffs of the polar continent. Anything to whet the appetite of a bored nobility. Naturally with such an influx of the wealthy, security is paramount and the planetary defense force is as deadly as it is discreet. There are a number of small enclaves scattered across the planet where the rich may retire and live in peace, and holonet stars rub shoulders with retired admirals and corporate princes. Idyllica Holdings maintains the staff and security, essentially ensuring that the world runs smoothly, far from the prying eyes of the holonet media or the gawping stares of a star-struck public. It is rumoured that Idyllica is slavish in meeting the needs of its clientele, and caters to all tastes, however sordid. Such speculation is of course dismissed as the envy of the masses.

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