About Letifer Secundus
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Letifer Secundus follows a bloated and irregular orbit around Catullus-106, a giant carbon star whose sputtering corona renders most of the worlds in its system utterly uninhabitable, and Letifer very nearly so. Never designed for habitation, Letifer was originally a mining colony; following the Lash of the Eye in 328.M41, it was requisitioned for use as a giant refugee camp for Imperial evacuees.
The giant stacks of prefab habitats lowered from orbit – supposedly with a lifespan of no more than thirty years – were still there a century later, and had formed the core of what would soon become known as Digitalis Hive (so called because the five spires resemble fingers clawing up from the blasted earth). Today, nobody can say for certain whether a single molecule of those prefabs still exists anywhere in Digitalis; if it does, it is buried somewhere deep beneath Hemlock, the longest and deepest of the five Spires.
The “Lords And Ladies” of Letifer, as the Hive upperclass are known, are a mix of descendants of aristocracy from the original refugees and conniving merchant clans who have forced their way to the top through patronage from the Ruttyer vassal house which holds the planetary governorship. Poison – whether gleaned from the venomstorms that plague the outside surface of Letifer, or cultured in the extensive private gardens and botanical parks that are the pride of the upper Spires of Monkshood and Nightshade – is the favoured method of negotiation between the Lords And Ladies. Territory disputes, inheritances and even artistic and philosophical debates are settled with a drop or two of clear, odourless liquid, concealed in a drink or on the point of a blade.
Below, the scum of the underhives are less civilised but no less enthusiastic in their approach to inter-gang relations. The venomstorms provide a number of pleasingly brutal substances for disposing of one’s enemies, as well as – to those blessed with a little chemical know-how – a number of harmful but intensely addictive narcotics which are traded, smuggled and exported to great profit. Every Letiferan Underhiver is involved in the drug trade somehow, even if they believe themself to be a simple enforcer or engineer in the great, echoing hydroponics halls; every honest PDF paycheque is filtered through an administrative office lousy with corrupt officials, every Administratum dictate makes its way down to the lower levels through vox-casters repaired and maintained with the profits of smuggling and illegal narco-trade.
In recent years, a number of investigations into organised crime on Letifer have failed to reach any conclusive judgement, to the great frustration of the Arbites and the PDF – and to the relief of House Ruttyer. It seems almost an open secret that many of the Lords And Ladies, in addition to the White Froth Mob and the Tremor Sisters (two of the most powerful gangs in the Underhive), have close connections to a larger organisation with tendrils spreading across the Sector; but despite the thousands of Thrones and millions of hours poured into uncovering the connection, every shred of evidence seems to melt away as soon as an Arbites searchlight is turned upon it. And despite the hard work of PDF and Navy personnel, hundreds of tonnes of illicit Ketracel, Opia, Whip, Bluetongue, Zap and 333 make it off Letifer every year, snaring the weak-willed and the thrill-seekers into the vicious grip of their dealers.
The darkest of the rumours speak of shadowy pacts made with voices heard in the heart of the Venomstorms, of gang bosses and Lords And Ladies who have grown so close to the terrible secrets of Letifer that they are able to walk about on the surface unmasked and unsuited. From time to time an Inquisitorial investigation will root out a nest of heresy or witchcraft in the darkest recesses of the Underhive, purging the half-human things it pulls up into the light with fire and the sword; but still the rumours persist, as if the rot has taken hold somewhere much deeper in the heart of Digitalis.
The Emperor-as-Cleanser is the most popular aspect of the Imperial cult in Digitalis Hive, and His light is commonly called upon to purge infections and contaminations. Pious Letiferans will wave sacred Aquilae over their food and drink before consuming it, and bathe wounds in holy water rather than antisept. (Rich Letiferans have poison-sniffer Auspex units built into their Aquila amulets, and visit chapels where the priest can afford to flush the font with antisept on High Holy Days.)
The Letiferan First Armoured are a well-regarded Imperial Guard mechanised regiment whose levy is regularly refreshed from the planet’s population. Their heavily-modified Chimaera-chassis tanks are a sight to strike holy terror into the enemies of Holy Terra; enclosed in a completely airtight seal, the interior of the tank is a complex mixture of fire control chamber and alchemical laboratory, where the large number of propellants, poisons and biological agents carried on board the vehicle can be swiftly and accurately mixed and combined into shells custom-designed to kill any individual or unit the tank might encounter. The boast of the First Armoured is that they have a “suitable vintage for every occasion and any company”. The regiment’s greatest record is a minor skirmish on the Tenebris border, where a single well-mixed shell was recorded as killing six thousand, three hundred and eight combatants, two thousand civilians, all livestock on the western continent and the grain crop for the next four decades.