|Groups of Note:|
“Visited the major temples with S. – impressive but dull – then managed to slip the leash and spent a few spectacular hours exploring off the beaten track. Found the most beautiful shrine to St Euphrati nearly hidden, boxed in by massive hab-blocks on all sides. R.S. hauled me out by the ears before long, wittering something about the criminal element. I can’t see that I was ever in any danger.” – Travel Diary of Lucius di Firro, 551.M41
A large and temperate world just off the main shipping lanes of the Primus sub-sector, Gaudium’s landmass appears in a series of shallow coastal islands and peninsulae. Due to strong oceanic currents and magnetic anomalies, none of these islands are more than six miles wide from north to south, though some are hundreds of miles long east-west. The terrain and climate is therefore littoral throughout the entire inhabited region of the planet. Typhoons and even tsunami are not unknown, and often cause havoc to the underdeveloped and low-lying Underhive communities who live below the level of municipal storm defences.
When Durovera’s Crusade first arrived at Gaudium in the early 050s.M41, they found a thriving and moderately populous planet inhabiting a series of painstakingly designed and ancient Hive-Cities spread across the equatorial islands. Forewarned by her decisive and bloody victories elsewhere in the sub-sector, the planetary government surrendered immediately and unconditionally to the Warmaster. As a reward for their swift acquiescence, the Warmaster declared that the planet be designated a place of worship and thanksgiving to the Emperor. The Crusade’s finest architects immediately went to work recladding the Hives with reverent architecture depicting Imperial saints and Primarchs; glutted with funds captured from newly-conquered worlds around the Sector, the reverent artists’ most fervent fantasies were allowed free reign in plascrete, glass and stone. The pious flocked in their droves to worship at the newly consecrated tabernacles of the Sector’s newest Shrine World.
The problems began in the mid 200s. Under the new Warmaster’s agenda of stability and security, travel between planets became a new possibility for billions of would-be pilgrims. With word of Gaudium’s spectacular and inspirational temples spreading across the Sector, millions of these paid their Thrones to House Monteforte for travel to the holy site. Arriving at the planet, however, many were shocked to find that due to a peculiarity in the local Warp currents, travel off Gaudium was nearly twice as expensive as the inbound route. Most found the return journey too expensive for their stretched purses; and finding life on Gaudium frequently more pleasant than their home worlds, many decided to settle – legally or otherwise. The low-hives and Underhives soon began to swell with newly-arrived immigrants – righteous souls, driven by the Imperial faith and determined to make an honest living in His Light; but driven increasingly by the pressures of overcrowding and resource competition.
Three centuries later, the stunning architecture of Gaudium still remains, but the Hives have become sprawling, ungainly monstrosities stretching precariously out over miles of polluted coastal ocean. The planetary government continues to struggle to sustain a population many times larger than the original Hive structures can tolerate, and any building contractor or jobbing engineer will always find more work on Gaudium than they can handle – particularly if they have a reputation for building fast, cheap and in total ignorance of Administratum safety protocols.
Under Governor Catal Antoni, the hereditary descendant of one of the original architects who designed the cladding for the primary spire-temple at Spire Primus, the planet has maintained its long history of hostility to House Monteforte, blaming the Noble House for its ill fortune to this day. Monteforte ships are subject to a succession of thinly veiled punishment taxes whenever they attempt to enter Gaudium shipping lanes, and most have resorted to docking instead at nearby orbital stations and allowing their passengers to complete their journeys by realspace ferries instead.
For the last several decades, the Prosperitas Sector meteorological survey has sent a series of increasingly frustrated official memos to the sub-sector Administratum, noting that the frequency of extreme weather events on Gaudium has increased by nearly 23% year-on-year since the mid 560s. The savants’ best estimation is that if this trend continues, the force of tsunami and typhoon events could threaten the structural integrity of some of the Hive Spires themselves within the decade. So far no official response has been received – nor has any explanation for this disturbing trend been uncovered.