Who needs royalty when you have the council of nine ruling families, an elite group that, between their daintily clenched claws, zealously guard ownership of the majority of Qreshi land. Once there had been Ten, but the sudden loss of one of the family heads - one unfortunate enough to lack an heir - plunged the entire Quad into civil war as the remaining Nine scrambled to lay claim to as much unclaimed land as they could.
Aristocracy, regardless of the universe, wallows in grace and decadence - or at least, those high enough in the ranks do. Senior members of the Nine each have sprawling estates, where they host lavish galas for such things as land blessings, and use distant Leithian ‘vessels’ to carry their heirs (childbirth being too gauche for their delicate sensibilities).
Through their control of the Company, they often have the ability to directly annoy/shatter/manipulate even the most independent souls. Whether they’re sending the Company out to
After all, they own the Quad. Few are foolish enough to protest that… for now.
The Company is the Corporation owned by the Nine that controls all commerce, industry, mining operations, citizenship regulation, and law enforcement. They safeguard and enforce land rights as well as maintain the prisons, staff the indentured workers, and carry out executions as the Nine commands. They are not, technically, the governing body of the Quad, nor are they the armed forces that answer to the government. However, where the delineation is between the two is hard to see, and very few try anymore.
Administrative duties in each location align with its respective class structure - Company headquarters and the aristocracy that runs it can be found on Qresh, upper to mid-level management and process centers on Leith, and save for those overseeing operations, employees on Westerley are either locals trying to improve their lot or those who are really unpopular within their spheres of influence.
Due to the lesser position of the Westerley natives, those who are employed by the Company there often find themselves walking a fine line between trying to protect the people around them and being reviled by those same citizens for buying into the Company’s manifesto. Some can walk this path with flawless skill, others teeter, toes dipping off to one side or the other.
Company Informant, WallFlower Citizen, Flawed Do-Gooder, or Sleeper Revolutionary - it doesn’t matter, they’re all at the mercy of the whims of the Nine and their own acting skills to see themselves through to the next day.
Those unfortunate souls who carried the blood of the Nine, but were too low in the hierarchy to reap the finer benefits, were given two options - stay on Qresh and eek out a lackluster existence with little prospects of increasing influence or stature, or move to the newly terraformed moon, Leith.
Those who moved were able to gain land, build their own network of influence and commerce, and cultivate a way of life that provided a pale simulation of that which is enjoyed on Qresh. It's not ideal, but more than they had before. Well-bred and questionably well-mannered, Leithians are prosperous farmers and wealthy merchants, earning the bulk of their joy selling the fruits of their servants' labor to the other parts of the Quad.
Like any well-to-do-family, there are always a few fanatics mixed in with the businessmen. Those whose heritage traces back to the first families to colonize Leith are the True Leithian citizens. These families and communities are ready, willing, and armed to protect their ancestral lands from the grubby paws of the delinquent Seventh Genners (Westies).
Stay off their lawn, or they might just shoot your feet out from under you.
“Our pain is your redemption. Let us suffer for your sins.”
Located in the mountainous regions on Leith, Scarback Monks undergo intensive training at the Monastery before they’re allowed to travel among the populated areas of the Quad. Not only are they taught the history of their order - about how the faith grew in the darkness of the mines, and how it’s maintained there through the miners who begin toiling in the depths of soil before accepting the robes of the order - but the theology and the rituals of pain as well.
A major tenet of Scarback religion is to take the pain of others upon their own person, to draw the suffering of their believers into themselves, helping them carry the weight of their burdens. This is achieved many ways, with the two most notable being:
One, the practice of suspension, where the monk has temporary piercings laced throughout their body so they can hang in suspension from hooks while in a meditative state.
And two, scarification, wherein they use an ornamental talon to cut superficial wounds on their flesh to both engrave scriptures and offer blood blessings to those in need of guidance.
During the blood blessings, Scarbacks coat their thumb with their own blood and then draw that blood down over the recipient’s closed eyelids, down to their cheeks as they recite the blessing:
And the roots grew.
The seeds travelled from a home we’ve forgotten, finding soil on Qresh.
And the roots grew.
From one world to two moons, one mother tree to unite us all.
And when we rise her branches hold us,
And when we tire her trunk shelters us,
And when we die her roots will carry us home.
Praise the trees.
Because of their religious obligations, Scarback movements are not monitored too closely - a fact that a fair few revolutionaries use to their advantage. Regardless of where they are, Scarbacks are easily recognized with their brown or rust colored cloaks and open chested dull yellow robes. Often they forgo wearing an undershirt to provide both easy access for scarification and to reveal the scars of their faith.
Believers call the monks of the order “Uncle” or “Aunt”.
Unarguably, the most complex existence belongs to those who reside on Westerley. At once both wildly free and harshly regulated, ‘Westies’ are often overworked, underpaid, struggling to survive, and living chaotically, as they have the least control over their circumstances. Some grumble softly and plot quietly. Some rage loudly in the bars but toil meeky to maintain their family’s good standing from one generation to the next, reaching with desperate hands towards the light at the end of their purgatory, hope dangled on a political carrot before them in the form of the Seventh Generation Accords.
All within Westerley find measures of hope and despair in the Seventh Generation Accords. These accords represent a treaty between the families of the Nine and the citizens of Westerley voted into law one century ago. In the accords, the Nine promised any family that works diligently for the company from one generation to the next would be granted land and citizenship on Leith upon reaching the seventh generation.
It’s no easy process to make it through that many generations without infractions along the way. Still, enough have managed it that it’s a cause for concern - for both True Leithians and the Nine alike.
What began as a whisper has steadily grown into a storm. Dissatisfaction with the Company, the razing of the badlands, and the struggle for mere existence for those on Westerley eventually hardened into a clear anti-Company movement. The resistance began in Old Town and has slowly grown in both size and location.
Those within the Resistance's aim is two-fold - to remove the Company’s influence and establish Westerley’s independence. To achieve this, the Resistance has spent years carefully inserting moles and informants in the Company, the RAC, and the Westerley populous.
"We are a single body, with no allegiance to anyone but ourselves. We offer one simple service to all of our clients - we will cross contested jurisdictions for you, find who or what you’re looking for, and bring it back to you in the condition requested. Simple. Elegant. No one knows who hires us, but everyone knows they can trust us to get the job done, and we can guarantee that because our agents are guided by one principle, one code. What is that code?"
"The warrant is all."
Reclamation Agents, or Killjoys, are independent contractors that act similar to bounty hunters. Based on history, background, and experience, agents are assigned a level (1 - 5) that sets specific limits on a class of people who otherwise have a rather wide range of authority with regards to warrant enforcement. Killjoys are allowed to use whatever means they deem necessary to carry out a warrant’s parameters, a fact that has created a strained relationship with the Company’s enforcers. Enforcers are required to allow Killjoys access to restricted areas/space to complete a warrant, however they are not required to help the agents complete their mission or provide any form of information/tools/gear necessary for success.
Because of the strained relationship, the RAC often prefers to deal with rogue agents on their own terms rather than let the Company handle them - because for a detained RAC agent, Company prisons can be fatal.
Agents are required to gain physical contact with the item/target in question to be deemed as having custody of their warrants - projectiles that embed in the target (such as a tranq dart) constitute as contact and provide them with lawful custody.
Note that members of the RAC give up all citizenship and affiliations once inducted into the organization.
Levels of Reclamation Agents:
Level 1Least experienced agent, cannot accept above a level 1 warrant by themselves. Usually paired with a more experienced agent to complete their training. Not authorized to use deadly force unless their own life is threatened.
Level 2Slightly more experienced agent, can accept a Level 2 warrant or below on their own. Still often paired with a more experienced agent to guide them, still not authorized the use of force unless their own life is in danger.
Level 3The most common rank for the experienced agents. Authorized to work independently on warrants Level 3 and below. Can use deadly force if authorized to do so by a Level 4 Agent or higher (if, say, the authorization is included in the warrant).
Level 4Senior level, more experienced agents capable of taking on the Level 4 warrants. Level 4 agents can form their own teams of equal and/or lesser ranks, can authorize lower ranking team members the use of deadly force, and are held responsible with the RAC for any failures their teams commit.
Level 5Elite agents, same roles and responsibilities as a level 4, however, 5’s are able to take any type of warrant available, including black and kill warrants.
Level 6A particularly persistent urban legend where Agents are brought into a secret sect within the RAC and trained - possibly even turned into hack-mods - to form an elite level of agents.
Above it all is the Rat King - a man who coordinates scavenging practices, lookout rotations for the sections where people are housed, and resides over social order down below. Most have a deep affinity with the Scarbacks and take any opportunity that arrives to request blessings.