|Groups of Note:|
“Real Lubyankans have no proverbs. We have vodka and misery.” – Lubyankan proverb
Lubyanka is a frozen, barely-habitable planet with a weak atmosphere in orbit around a red dwarf in Subsector Tertius. Its orbital period carries it through a number of mineral-rich asteroid belts and outer rings of gas giants at irregular intervals, and the thin atmosphere means that meteors and orbital debris impact the surface with punishing frequency. The kinetic shock of these strikes keep the core in a molten state, and the low temperatures and ice shelves on the surface trap and cool the meteors.
The valuable minerals contained within these strikes create a “gold rush” effect, with a chance to Several major Houses including Majid, Globex, Montforte, Caerlyn and Palamyr have competing claims to mine this mineral wealth and transport it off-world. Their primary labour for this enterprise is prisoners condemned to hard labour, their indenture contracts bought from the Arbites or the Enforcers of vassal planets. By ancient compact, to “claim” a debris strike requires a registered and Administratum-approved scan of the mineral composition of the meteor; the first such scan recorded is considered to have legal rights to the site. Therefore, tunnelling from beneath the surface, or using orbital laser strikes to clear the surrounding ice and allow surface access is required. Gangs of indentured miners ruthlessly fight for first claim on every new strike; participation in a successful claim is one of the few ways the miserable inmates of Lubyanka can hope to gain privileges or relief from lives which are otherwise nasty, brutish and short.
No atmospheric terraforming has been carried out on Lubyanka, since a more robust and habitable atmosphere would deflect more meteors and risk denaturing the precious mineral deposits within. As a result, the deep tunnels near the inner core are broadly habitable and pleasant; ambitious and thrill-seeking scions of Noble Houses have their palaces here, among hydroponically-grown greenery and well-lit promenades under sumptuous domes lit by false Mechanicus solar orbs. A little further out are the hab-tunnels of the guards, jailers and pakhan gang-bosses, whose lives are often as short and miserable as their charges. As one travels further towards the surface, the tunnels become colder, smaller and more dangerous. Rebreathers and protective clothing are necessary for anyone wishing to survive near the surface for any length of time.
The single spaceport, Meshchansky, is a miserable and desolate series of landing platforms at the top of a series of ice-bluffs near the planet’s equator. It is surrounded by a substantial network of void-shields to protect it from incoming debris strikes; even so, the process of landing and taking off from Lubyanka is notoriously perilous, and those shuttlecraft pilots able to do so confidently attract lucrative contracts from the major Houses. Any vessels attempting to enter or leave Lubyanka’s atmosphere without authorisation from Meshchansky tower control are swiftly and brutally destroyed by a network of orbital defence satellites.
The majority of Lubyanka’s population are convicts and their descendants. Those born on the planet have no titular right to freedom as Imperial citizens; the costs of their birth, food, clothing, oxygen and the most basic of education in tunnel-craft and the use of mining technology are considered debts against their citizenship. Since planetary law prohibits children from accruing personal wealth, all are automatically convicted of bankruptcy and sentenced to life imprisonment the day they come of age. These convicts survive past adulthood only if they become quickly and lethally familiar both with the dangerous mining equipment they are required to use daily, and with the tactics required to carry out short, savage and lethally effective combat in three dimensions. These skills make the planet a very desirable recruiting-ground for Imperial Navy press-gangs, but the competing noble Houses are jealous of their indentured servants, and it is a lucky voidship that navigates the maze of hostile bureaucracy to achieve pressing rights even once in a decade.
Inmates who can prove seven generations of birth and accredited work for a single House’s mining teams – not an easy task, on a world where certification of birth and bloodline by a scrivener costs heavily in favours or stolen goods – are permitted to apply for status as a vassal of their House. Provided with a fractional share of their House’s mining tithe, these lucky few usually go on to become gang-bosses, trained mining engineers and technical staff, as well as comprising a substantial proportion of the House guards, overseers and merchants.
The current Chief Warden of Lubyanka – a title with most of the privileges of a Planetary Governor – is Quintus (né Quinta) Clemens Montforte, a harassed and nervous young minor Scion of that House whose scrupulous approach to fairness in adjudicating claim disputes does nothing to reduce the regular accusations of favouritism levelled against his office.