Landunder is an unusual Hive World of the Imperium of Man located in the Malfian Sub-sector of the Calixis Sector. The tectonically-unstable planetary crust floats freely on a deep chemical ocean of water and dissolved strategic minerals. Every hive city on Landunder is built to cling underneath the planetary crust in suspension using now-lost advanced gravitic technology. There are eight of these "hanging" undercities, containing almost a billion inhabitants.
Landunder's rich export trade derives from ocean-depth mining and chemical treatment of the recovered minerals as the undercities' processing plants exploit the curious and lucrative mix of oceanic chemicals. Stable Warp routes run from Landunder to Malfi and The Lathes and many Imperial merchants choose to make the run to deliver these highly-sought after chemical additives to the larger population centres of the Calixis Sector and the wider Imperium.
Deep within the Calixis Sector, buried in the Malfian Sub-sector, lies the Landunder System. The core world, Landunder, houses some of the most unusual hive city construction in the sector, with the majority of hive cities hanging submerged and suspended underneath giant tectonic plates which float on an ocean of chemicals. Beautiful and bizarre as these cities may be, none are as anomalous as Hive Subrique.
Subrique is a small continent unto itself, with the bulk of the giant island descending almost to the very bottom of the chemical ocean. What really makes the hive unique on Landunder, however, are the spires that rise from the surface, stabbing up into the sky. With the relatively flat features of the land masses, this makes the upper spires of Subrique the highest elevation on the planet. More interesting, however, is the great mass that is the underhive. Made up of equal parts cavernous rock and forgotten architecture, the Down-Spire of Subrique holds many secrets in its labyrinth.
Hive Subrique has entered troubled times. Eighty percent of the population has been tithed to feed the Margin Crusade, this diaspora leaving the hive bleak and empty. Only those quick, wealthy, or clever enough avoided the draft gangs and a fate far off in the stars. A powerful Rogue Trader vessel looms high above, warding off all, be they predator or saviour.
The hive government is dead, executed by the Adeptus Arbites, who have seized control of the city. The remaining nobility hides high in the spires, struggling to maintain their stature or aspiring to fill the void in power, even while the hive crumbles around them. The Arbitrators enforce Imperial law and hammer down all threats to order, while most of the hive below sea level belongs to the gangs of Subrique.
Hive Subrique is the largest of the hives of Landunder, with a total mass of three times that of the standard planetary hives. From sea level, the highest point of the spires is over fifteen hundred metres up. While enormous in scope, it should be noted that the spires above water comprise only one-fifth of the total area that makes up the hive. Below the surface, it reaches depths of well over five kilometres. At the base, Subrique is twelve kilometres at the widest point, and eight kilometres at the narrowest. The submerged bulk of the city is surrounded by the same natural rock that makes up the floating tectonics.
From a simple examination, it would appear that a city was built upon the smallest of these earthen plates, and that the constructors of the hive simply built downward, into the island. More thorough study has revealed, however, that Subrique has always been complete, and that all of the stone in and around it has accrued over the millennia. Furthermore, it appears this is an intentional effect; the archeotech generators which power the turbines also produce an electrodynamic field that attracts the heavier elements out of the chemical ocean and calcifies them into the artificial landmass that makes up the outer shell of Subrique.
This also serves to purify much of the water immediately surrounding the hive, making reclamation for life support all the easier. As an added benefit, the calcified stone mass is both tough and buoyant, allowing the hive to conserve power that would otherwise be used to keep the city from bobbing in the sea. Since the draft came through, it was hoped that this floatation effect would mean the generators could be used less, thus allowing the enginseers who pilot the city to work less strenuously It seems, however, that when the generators are not running the acidic nature of the chemical ocean begins to eat at the mass of compacted minerals that make up Subrique's landmass. This means that these poor souls get very little rest, and more than once fatigue has led to near-disaster.
Much of the history of Subrique is shrouded in mystery and legend. While the hive city is clearly of Imperial design, even the most seasoned Tech-priests of Mars admit to having never seen anything quite like it. Much of the interior has the appearance of the bulkheads of a starship, as opposed to a manufactured hive city, leading many Explorators to believe that Subrique may be the remnants of a crashed vessel.
In the depths of the Down-Spire, there are legends that the propulsion systems still work, and that Subrique is repairing itself. They say that, one day, the city will take its place among the stars once more. Regardless of these legends, most of the history of Subrique that is certain has only taken place since Lord Militant Golgenna Angevin conquered the sector. During this period, the sector was awash with fortune-seekers, pirate captains, and Rogue Traders. Among them, notably, was the Zanatov Dynasty.
Archduke Renald Savatt became the first Lord Executor of Hive Subrique shortly after the colonisation of Landunder during the Great Founding of 450.M39. The Archduke was appointed by Drusus himself and given a specific set of directives by which he and his hereditary line should rule: The Legacy Charter. While the details of these directives have never been made public, and are believed to now be lost to the ages, it is known that the Archduke and successive Lord Executors have made Subrique quite prosperous over the millennia.
Savvy business acumen, combined with a natural aptitude for leadership, have ensured that the other hives of Landunder always turn to the Lord Executor of Subrique when it comes to planetary policy in all matters, from governance to trade. When the most recent Lord Executor came into power, Logan Savatt, it was believed that Landunder was at the cusp of a new golden age of prosperity. This especially seemed true when Corsair-Captain Tarian Zanatov, recently returned from the Koronus Expanse, entered orbit in his Battleship, the Righteous Indignation, and requested a private audience with the Executor.
This encounter resulted in Zanatov gaining exclusive barter rights on behalf of the planet, allowing the Rogue Trader to negotiate all transactions for the resources of Landunder. The output of Hive Subrique increased by ten percent within the first year; the profitability of the hive increased threefold. Productivity, morale, and income all increased significantly, and it appeared that the forecasts were all correct -- a new golden age was upon Subrique.
Then came the Margin Crusade. When the Departmento Munitorum draft ships arrived at Landunder, they demanded eighty-eight of every one thousand citizens from each hive city on the planet. Corsair-Captain Zanatov, viewing the inhabitants of the planet as a resource and, therefore, his to barter, stepped in to negotiate on behalf of the Lord Executor. The people of Hive Subrique held a parade in honour of Zanatov for every solar day he remained in negotiation, six in all. After all, if he could strike a bargain with the military that was even half as beneficial to them as he did with their trade partners, it would be possible that very few of them would have to go off to the front.
On the seventh day, Zanatov was supposed to bring the news of the deal he had struck. In his place came draft teams -- tens of thousands of teams from every Munitorum ship in orbit, all descending upon Hive Subrique alone. The deal Zanatov had negotiated was that, instead of eighty-eight out of every thousand citizens from each hive, the Departmento Munitorum could claim seven hundred ninety-two for every thousand from Subrique, alone. The other hive cities would remain untouched.
For nearly a full Terran year, the draft teams hunted for recruits to fill their quotas throughout the hive. In the upper-spire, the nobility that could afford to pay people from other hives to immigrate to Subrique and take their place did so. In the Down-Spire, the gangs knew all of the best places to hide, all of the labyrinthine tunnels that ensured they would never be found. As a result, the bulk of the draftees came from the middle-spire: factory workers, shopkeeps, hive operators and the like.
Of course, many came from other areas. Some Down-Spire residents were too destitute to live higher up, yet too moral to join up with any of the gangs. Likewise, some of the nobility from the upper-spire lacked the skill, drive, or connections to make it as an officer, but still wanted to serve the Emperor in battle. Soon enough, the population had been reduced from almost twenty-three million to just under five million.
The results were devastating. Trade shut down due to lack of both business and employees. Water purification plants could not produce, causing outbreaks of disease. The Cyber-Mastiff manufactoria could not operate, nor could the mineral farms that provided so much of the wealth of Subrique. Within a few short solar months, the hive was destitute. For reasons unknown, Zanatov was in near-orbit over the hive city, threatening to fire on any ship attempting to enter Subrique for any reason, including those bringing immigrants to Subrique. Lord Executor Savatt sent many astropathic transmissions, begging anyone and everyone for aid.
Ecclesiarchy ships brought millions of ration packs, which they traded to Subrique in exchange for a promise that they would make their annual tithe. Savatt agreed, despite the unlikely nature of this goal. For his part, Zanatov would not interfere with the delivery of aid from any source, so long as it did not include manpower. In fact, he would frequently deliver goods to individual hivers who could pay, and he would even, on occasion, make a charitable donation of his own to the people of Subrique.
For example, when one of the larger continents was drifting along the equatorial line, Enginseers had to pilot the hive city far north to avoid it. This left the hive exposed to an unacceptable level of cold, for which the hivers were unprepared. Zanatov spent a small fortune to provide them thermal life-support units and blankets. At the same time, it is well-known that the Rogue Trader has supplied weapons to the most violent of gangs.
During the worst of these times, a form of semi-institutionalised slavery became prominent; for example, gangs would kidnap a few of the turbine Enginseers, then "ransom" them to their supervisors each morning. Eventually, the gangs would grow more bold, kidnapping the supervisors and renting them out to their managers, then grabbing the managers and selling them back to the project foreman. Once in a while, they would kidnap the foreman, who could only be ransomed back to the Lord Executor.
Hesitant though he may be to turn to Zanatov for anything at all, Savatt would occasionally need the Rogue Trader's militia to restore temporary order. Shuttles would land, filled with the private armies of Zanatov. They would hassle any gangs they could find, return any stolen people they could barter for, and leave, just as quickly as they had arrived.
Soon thereafter, several new ships arrived in orbit over Landunder. The Adeptus Arbites had arrived, in force. They were responding to the decline in production of the Cyber-Mastiff manufactoria, as well as rumours that the planetary government had broken down.
The Arbites were welcomed into the upper-spire by Lord Executor Savatt. They repaid the Executor's graciousness and hospitality with a thorough interrogation, followed by a swift execution. Savatt's advisors soon followed, as did the leaders of the eight other hive cities, but the executions ended there. Lord Marshal Goreman, though he never set foot on Landunder, personally contacted Rogue Trader Zanatov, seeking an answer as to why he had set the hive up to fall so far. While it is unknown what was said, the Righteous Indignation continues its vigil in close orbit.
Landunder lies along a stable Warp-route between Malfi and The Lathes, deep in the Malfian Sub-Sector of the Calixis Sector. The proximity of the sub-sector to the Halo Stars makes the hive planets within an ideal recruiting ground for the Margin Crusade. Both Malfi and The Lathes rely on many of the chemicals processed from the oceans of Landunder for their own manufacturing, which has made the hives of Landunder wealthy.
The planet, which consists of nine hive-cities, is ruled by a council consisting of one leader from each hive, although most of the hives look to Subrique for the more important issues. Throughout the sector, when asked of Landunder, many believe Subrique to be the central hive that rules over the rest of the minor cities. They may be correct in this assessment.
Subrique drifts around the planetary equator of Landunder. Massive archeotech turbines keep the hive mobile, allowing it to navigate through the ocean and around the continents. Normally, these systems require no less than twenty-five thousand crew for operations; since the draft ships came, through, they have been operating at half-capacity. This has led to several close calls, with the hive taking minor structural damage on more than one occasion.
Due to the caustic nature of the atmosphere, Landunder has no natural inhabitants, not even at the microaugural level. However, despite the presence of many cities that, technically, classify it as a Hive World, many Tech-Priests have treated Landunder as a Death World, adapting other life forms to survive the harsh environment. This has contributed to the continuing myth of the cyber-shark.
The Blades of Landunder
By ancient accord, no citizen of Landunder is permitted to carry a firearm because of the danger they pose to the structure of the city itself. Over the generations, the use of blades has become universal and this world has birthed some of the greatest knife-fighters in Calixian history. Their weapons (known to outsiders as "Landrian blades") have become so much a part of the culture of the world that the guilds, crews and gangs of the eightfold cities are each separated and distinguished by the blades they favour.
Each has a highly developed art of wielding their chosen blade and, from the highest-born satrap to the lowest chem-scummer, everyone who lives in Landunder does so with a knife less than a sudden gesture away. It is rare indeed for a Landrian child of either sex to pass to adulthood without at least one good scar (and usually more than that) to prove their honour. Tales of the Landrian blades and the skill of their wielders has spread throughout the Calixis Sector, and wealthy collectors on Scintilla often pay large sums for "blooded" blades of good provenance.
- Dark Heresy: Core Rulebook (RPG), pg. 324
- Dark Heresy: Book of Judgement (RPG), pp. 96-98
- Dark Heresy: The Inquisitor's Handbook (RPG), pg. 123
- Dark Heresy: Guide to the Calixis Sector (Fantas Flight Games Web Document)