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Winter's Embrace Edit
The sub-sector known as Winter's Embrace is located between Footfall and Lucin's Breath in the region of space called Winterscale's Realm.
A cluster of half a dozen habitable systems located close to the Maw, it was created to be a toehold in the Koronus Expanse, a trade hub, and, most importantly, a shining example of the Imperium's ability to thrive in every corner of the galaxy, however treacherous and hard to reach it might be.
Too young to be truly prosperous, its worlds have a boomtown, goldrush feel to them, as largely impoverished colonists flock to the area on the promise of riches to come. And riches there are – at least, for the lucky few. There are few places, even in the Imperium, where wealth and technology are concentrated so exclusively among the elite. The majority of colonists live little more than a peasant's existence, toiling in fields or mines, crammed in heaving shanty towns or crumbling hab-domes. For those lucky enough to secure a home in the newly-constructed cities, at least some of the comforts and technology of the Imperium have made it even to this remote frontier, and administrators, merchants, hauliers and other white collar workers enjoy a reasonably privileged lifestyle. Genuine wealth, in all its fabulous and obscene glory, is reserved for the corporations, financiers, and – above them all – Rogue Traders who founded and own these worlds.
For the most part at least, these conditions don't exist through willful cruelty. Corporations are greedy, certainly, often downright unscupulous, but the bottom line is that there simply aren't enough resources to cater for the flood of hopeful new colonists, and the situation isn't helped by the ever-greater tax burden being heaped on the colonies by Sub-Sector Commander Luminus Bale. Bale is convinced that ancient Eldar ruins found scattered amongst some of the colonies and nearby planets indicate an imminent xeno threat: that the Eldar will return to reclaim their lost worlds. He is therefore funnelling every Throne (and recruit) he can raise into building up planetary defence forces, orbital weapon platforms, and even a small fleet of warships to defend his sub-sector, while the already struggling colonists pay the price. Daily he sends scout ships into the void in search of some sign of the Craftworld he is convinced is lying out there somewhere, watching and waiting for its moment to strike.
Certainly, Eldar have been spotted near Winter's Embrace, along with many other xeno scum, but nothing to indicate an impending invasion, and the suggestion of a nearby Craftworld seems the imbodiment of paranoia. Curiously, though, if Commander Bale were simply looking for an excuse to strengthen his military and (by extension) his grip on power, Ork freebooterz pose a much more obvious, and quite genuine, threat, not to mention the chaos scourge and other, stranger xenos that haunt the darker depths of the Koronus Expanse.
The Founding of the Colonies Edit
Winter's Embrace was colonised a little over two hundred years ago by a team of six newly-elevated Rogue Traders, as a condition of receiving their Warrants of Trade. These individuals were each expert in a different field relevant to the project – xenobiology, mining, agriculture, construction, and so on – but, as successful and prosperous as they were by conventional standards, they did not yet have the resources needed to carry out such a vast endeavour without outside help. They therefore sought aid from a number of powerful interstellar consortia, financed by the allocation of shares in the new colonies.
The enterprise was a success, and to this day the colonies are governed by descendants of the original Rogue Traders, each the founder of a mighty business dynasty. Still, even their vast power is not unlimited. By tradition (and law) dating back to the first Sub-Sector Commander Bale, no Trader may possess more than a 49% share in any given planet, and may be removed from office by a successful shareholder vote. In this fashion, the Rogue Traders help to keep each other in check and order is maintained.
Haven System (Bastion) Edit
Wealthiest of the colonies of Winter's Embrace, Bastion is the personal desmesne of Sub-Commander Luminus Bale. Fertile and verdant, it boasts rich mineral reserves, the greatest manufacturing facilities in the sub-sector, and some impressive Eldar ruins.
Bastion is orbited by a number of trade ports, zero-g manufactoria and other space-borne facilities. Largest of them all is The Buttress, a heavily fortified shipyard which serves as the regional headquarters for both the Imperial Navy and Bale himself.
Jotunn system (Thrym and Surtr)Edit
Thrym is an ice world, circling far from the warmth of its parent star. Its sealed habitats export some of the most precious resources in the frontier – oxygen, hydrogen, and water itself.
Surtr, in stark contrast, is a volcanic mining world orbiting so close to Jotunn that life is only sustainable in shielded, underground facilities. Its bounty of rare and precious metals more than pays for the regular supply shipments from its icy sibling.
Chimera system (Typhon and Echidna)Edit
Lush and verdant, Typhon is a garden world slowly being transformed into an agri-world to meet the needs of the sub-sector's growing populace.
Echidna is a research station of the Adeptus Mechanicus, a vast complex burrowed into the largest of the system's asteroids. Devoted to the study of the many unique phenomena of the Expanse, its labyrinthine depths are crammed with busy explorators, tech-priests and their mechanical servitors. Despite a permanent staff of over 1,000 personnel, there is never a shortage of research material, and the tech-priests are famously overworked.
Wyrmling System (Frostbite)Edit
Frostbite, named for its glittering tracts of blue dumortierite quartz, is the most heavily populated world in Winter's Embrace, due to the presence of a pre-existing culture of abhumans. Short and squat with delicately pointed ears, the locals had devolved to a medieval level of technology, long isolated from the light of the Emperor (assuming He had even ascended the throne when Frostbite was first settled).
Fiercely independent by nature, they have been thoroughly subjugated by the colonists, and now form a resentful (and occasionally openly rebellious) slave labour force under the governorship of Rogue Trader Symelline Mensche.
Magister system (Scion)Edit
Scion is a Cardinal World of the Ministorum. Founded by over 10,000 missionaries on a teeming jungle planet that was deemed barely suitable for human habitation (bordering on being classified a death world), fewer than a thousand survived the first brutal decade. Those thousand zealots eventually slashed and burned an entire continent, purging it of every conceivable predator – not to mention everything else – and sanctified it with a mile-long temple to the God Emperor. Inspired by this example of faith triumphing against all odds, a multitude of the pious have flocked to Scion from all corners of the Imperium.
Guardian System (Elysium and Nemesis)Edit
Elysium is a Terra-like planet, with a varied climate and plentiful natural resources. Famed for its orbital shipyards, it specialises in constructing and servicing merchant vessels, and manufacturing high tech goods. Its founder was a tech-priest, and his dynasty continues to enjoy good relations with Echidna.
Once almost as wealthy as Bastion, Elysium's current governor has had a falling out with his childhood friend Luminus Bale over the latter's harsh taxation regime and militaristic policies. As a result, the Sub-Commander has been subtly undermining his enemy's interests at every turn, while bolstering his rivals (chief among these being the governor of Frostbite, Symelline Mensche). New taxes always seem to hit Elysium the hardest, and it falls to the planetary governor to enforce them, regardless of whether or not he approves.
Nemesis is the dismembered head of an old Warmonger-class Battle Titan, found floating in Guardian's asteroid belt. No one knows what happened to the rest of the God-Machine, or how its head came to be lost in this remote system, but it now hosts a small research team of Tech-Priests from Echidna, who have surrounded it with weapon platforms and installed a makeshift dock. Although Nemesis is not officially considered a port, miners and passing trade ships often use it as a safe harbour when threatened by the asteroid belt's thriving pirate community.