The Iron Bitch
|Flag of The Iron Bitch|
|Motto: "Live By Her Will"|
|No Map Available|
|Region||Delta Zeta IV|
|Official Language(s)||English, German|
|Leader|| Emperor Ranisath,
Governor Sharan Tauraórë
|Population||165 Million (/12)|
|NS NSTracker Sunset XML|
The Iron Bitch is a lost human colony on the world Delta Zeta IV. Located 29 light years from Sol the planet is hidden from casual observation behind a nebula which also blocked any attempts at radio contact. The planet is a jungle hellworld filled with animal and plant predators of all kinds. The colonists survived due to the iron fisted direction of the colony leader Fredrick Eisenherz (Fredrick the First). Until recently the planet has been ruled by the Eisenherz family through a line of Emperor's and Empress's until the most recent, Katrina Eisenherz the First, caught the eye of Emperor Mephet'ran, ruler of the C'tan. In a swift and decisive war the Emperor crushed the military in a brutal battle inside the city walls. The nation is now ruled as a direct province by the Emperor Mephet'ran and Katrina has not been seen since.
The colonists who landed on DZ4 were all of a germanic stock though where they came from has been the subject of speculation and research. Government records as to their Terran origins are murky and seem to have been deliberately obscured. There is some evidence to suggest that the colony ship itself was of Territory design but this is not conclusive. It has also been suggested that the colonists were not volunteers but rather penal subjects for whom the risks of long term spaceflight and primitive hybernation were not an issue. This idea is due to the primitive level of some of the surviving hybernation units as well as other artifacts.
Before the conquest of Eisenherz by the C'tan the people were invisibly though completely divided into three distinct societal classes. The nobility consisted of the royal family, heirs to the throne both near and distant, as well as various mistresses and lovers allowed to participate in their decadent lifestyles. The nobility also controlled the business and financial life of the nation. Outside commentators have compared their business methods to those of the robber-barons of the 18th and 19th century United States. Most of their business deals were designed to hurt another member of the nobility without raising the ire of the Emperor or Empress.
Below the nobility was the military with their dual role of protecting the nation from the creatures of the nightmare jungle and the nobility from the commoners. The common soldier was pulled from the ranks of the commoners quite literally. Nobles would be directed by the Emperor to raise a certain number of soldiers and the most common method was to secure an Order of Conscription. Usually these were granted in areas where that noble already exercised a large measure of personal control but, if one was savvy, they could obtain the order in an area under the control of another noble. These areas were then swept for men of fighting age who were then drafted into service. These sweeps were sometimes hurried, in which case they left the area only minorly worse off, but other times they were carefully scripted efforts that left whole districts bereft of skilled labor.
The military also served as an outlet for those minor members of the nobility who had too much time and not enough money on their hands. Nearly every officer of Colonel or higher was either directly related to the noble house or sought to be. While this ensured the loyalty of the military it also created a massive chain of incompetence that easily broke when the C'tan invaded.
The commoners were the last and largest level of society. Families were large, poor, and generally uneducated. Restrictive business laws as well as the possibility of conscription encouraged most commoners towards simple businesses and labors. While the large businesses owned by the nobility fed off the work done by these small families it was a predatory system.
Eisenherz City and the New City
In part to increase their chances of survival and in part to increase his own power base Fredrick the First consolidated all of the colonists into a single settlement he then named after himself. Eisenherz City started as a small walled city of ten thousand and has since grown into a multi-walled and layered city of nearly 120 million. The city started on a low hill which has been completely mined out and leveled to create the buildings and massive walls that surround the city. The city itself is a massive hexagon with five distinct rings created by the defensive walls. As the city expanded outward successive sections of walls were constructed until the city reached it's current size.
Each wall reflects the experience and times in which it was built. The innermost wall is also the tallest but in many ways the least durable. It was built in a hurry and is thin with poor firing angles for it's various gun emplacements. The middle walls were, for the most part, built carefully with an eye towards total defense and are usually not much higher than the local wildlife can generally jump over. The outermost wall, built during Katryna's reign, is a sloppy affair that is more designed to slow down the wildlife while the next layer prepares their defenses. This, along with her systematic negligence, left the outermost districts of the city vulnerable to attack until the arrival of the C'tan and their subsiquent rebuilding projects.
The vast majority of the city buildings are dingy, but durable, stone and timber structures. These generally range from three to five stories with the first two or three stories directly abutting the cobblestone streets. Typically the top one or two stories are built with a cantilevered overhang. These make the streets appear smaller than they are, and most alleyways are tunnels with only a slight gap between the overhangs. The roofs are generally steep with wooden shingles and no gutters - minor street flooding is common during the rainy season. Each building is usually combination of multi-family dwelling on the upper floors and several shops or workspaces on the bottom. Basements are not typical, but those that exist are generally used as cold storage.
Some specialty buildings exist as well though these follow the same pattern for the most part. These include jails, factories, government offices, and the houses of the nobility. Aside from the Emperor's Palace even the house of the nobility are multi-family dwellings with their servants and their families living behind carefully hidden doors. The Emperor's Palace-Fortress in the very center of the city is the only single-family structure with the dwellings of his servants actually forming a small town around the fortress.
The typical city street is a cobblestone affair four to five meters wide with periodic sewer drainholes in the center. These are linked to narrow sewer tunnels that run under every street and that are linked to the nearby structures via narrow covered trenches. Most of the streets are laid out in a careful grid pattern that radiates outward from the nearest grand avenue but this is not always true. Some city districts have, in times past, been razed by attacking creatures and by the army in it's zeal to drive them out. These areas are often quickly rebuilt and have winding streets, dead ends, and multi-branching intersections. When the C'tan invaded these were amoung the last areas to fall as the soldiers used their own knowledge of the areas to put up a heavy defense.
Radiating out from the Palace-Fortress of the Emperor are six Grand Avenues. These avenues provide the quickest route between any distant districts of the city and in the time of the Queen were a primary method of control. Soldiers patrolled these heavily and questioned passersby continuously as to their activities. At the gate in each wall there is a huge square. Some of these are devoted to large government buildings while others were used for the massed punishment of criminals. Close to the Palace these are typically grand spaces with fountains and statues dedicated to past rulers. Not even Katrina had the audacity to erect a statue to herself in these spaces and one has not appeared in her memory as of yet.
The C'tan have instituted several major renovation projects ranging from reconstruction of the damage incured in the invasion to a general city beautification project. With the addition of some paint and stain as well as the talents of local artists many of the structures have been given new life and have become far more pleasant places to live and work. Most of these decorations and changes follow their Germanic origins - carved timbers, painted doorways, and painted wooden shutters. Previously the streets at night were dark and unlit but this has also changed thanks to streetlights added by the city.
The New City is a more recent construction, with, at present, a smaller population, although it fills the same area as the Old City, roughly. Loosely based on the design for ZMI’s megacity four on Mars, it has a theoretical population limit of around two hundred and fifty million. Structured into seven concentric tiers of walls, each as high as the previous one, save the innermost set, which rises into a vast statue.
Each wall is a large structure that rises to two and a half kilometres in height over its predecessor, with the outer wall of five kilometres in height. The outer wall’s diameter is fifty kilometres, and the average span between walls is somewhat lower than five kilometres. The walls themselves are made of necrontyr-built living metal on the outside, and a form of structural steel inside, which forms a honeycomb network of cells, as in a beehive, behind the outer armour layer.
Each area, of steadily decreasing size, is, due to the hostile nature of Delta Zeta Four’s aerial wildlife, covered by thick plates of a semi-reflective translucent plastic substance, which is set with solar generators. However, taller buildings do rise above this insulating surface, and they are obliged by by-laws to have a full security rig throughout this area.
Between the perimeter and second walls, the first circle of the city is dedicated to defence, heavy industry and agriculture. This circle is essentially one solid, military-rugged building, up to hydroponics gardens that occupy most of the top layers, and provide non-essential foodstuffs, including fruits and vegetables, and grazing for food-animals. A large number of buildings, defence towers particularly, rise above the greenhouse layer of this circle. Below it, there are large stores of vehicles, the city only has one exterior gate open at any one time, although there are several backups, they are permanently sealed, and more heavily armoured than the rest of the walls. The main gate is wide enough to permit the access of titans, large ‘mobile battleships’, and almost every other ground vehicle in use both in Delta Zeta Four and abroad. Lower levels of this tier consist of fortifications designed to stymie infiltrating life forms, and even intelligent opponents, and also house heavy industrial areas, including vehicle manufacturing, armaments production, and the overflow from the second circle.
The second circle, between the second and third walls, houses general industry and agriculture, including consumer goods production, and stock foodstuffs manufacturing. Notable among the second circle’s industry is production of artificial foodstuffs to supplement ‘natural’ farming on the upper layers of the city. This layer is, home to many warehouses that overflow from the next layer, too. Like the other circles, it also houses a number of defence turrets which rise above the agriculture layer, which, like its cousin in the first circle, is built on an armour layer only somewhat weaker than the outer walls, however, the number of turrets per unit area is greatest in the outer layer, and less in inner layers
Circle three contains overflow from circles two and four, as well as serving as the main centre for storage of large goods, emergency supplies, overflow hospitals, low-security prisons, water supply and infrastructure control, and everything else that doesn’t neatly fit into other areas.
Circle four contains specialist foodstuff orchards and parks, including horse-riding parks and various private gardens or allotments. Various indoor recreational areas thrive below this, alternating space with the city’s commercial districts, ranging from more mass-consumer oriented, at the main public link to circle four, to specialist or business establishments.
Circle five contains the majority of the city’s population. Housing tends to consist of spacious apartments, and this circle has no agricultural level, instead, it is designed to allow natural light to penetrate as deeply as possible into the circle’s districts during the hours of daylight. The upper layers of circle five tend to contain museums, art galleries, theatres and other ‘cultural’ institutions, as well as viewing galleries that provide views of the city and the jungle beyond. Some of these areas are among the few places that truly qualify as ‘open air’ in the city, and are constantly, if quietly, monitored for infectious diseases, parasites, and hostile life forms.
Circle six is the smallest, and contains the administration of the city, as well as ‘upper class’ housing, which, despite this designation, is essentially the same as the previous layer, but with a more conceited ambiance. It also contains hotels and housing catering to off-worlders of various types.
The City’s Central Spire was designed by competition, and as a result of several of the judging panel being keen to demonstrate loyalty, it takes the shape of a statue of Mephet’ran with a bladed staff held high and holding out a plate that serves as the main landing area for the space port, rising twenty-five kilometres above the foundations of the city. At its base, it contains necrontyr power sources, and carefully monitored taps into a major water table, and at its peak, the statue serves as a space-craft landing area. The C’tani in the city as something of an amusement generally views it, although rumour has it that if another city is built a similar statue will be its centrepiece. The inhabitants’ attitude towards the monument was generally negative. The spire contains numerous gravitic generators both to prevent accidents in the precariously perched star-port, and to serve as another form of defence.
Transport in the city consists largely of a ‘lift’ network, which operates through almost ten million tubes, which descend to a layer in the bedrock below the city, and through a network that has spokes radiating out to correspond with all areas. As a rule, this network takes between ten and thirty seconds to reach a destination, though some delays have been known. A separate military system exists for defensive purposes. A train system takes considerably longer, as the accessible gates in each wall are on opposite sides of the city from each other, making the journey from the perimeter gate to the spire a long one, taking almost an hour, however, trains between circles four through six are relatively swift, as the journey to travel around the base of each wall is considerably lower. It is also possible to use air vehicles between towers above the agricultural layer, however, this is rarely used for non-military purposes.
The walls themselves, while crenulated for such a circumstance, are not generally manned, instead, weapons turrets, fixed and mobile, are the keystone of the city’s weapons systems. As well as this, as with Eisenhertz city, a number of automatic outposts surround the city for almost a hundred miles around, to deter smaller creatures and monitor larger ones.
The jungles of Delta Zeta IV are home to a plethoria of aggressive and dangerous flora and fauna with the distinction between the two being very hazy at times. While much of it is your 'garden variety' medium to large predators it is also notable for being home to a very large number of super-predators from gigantic to huge.
The most well known and common of the predators is the Iron Reaper. This scaled quadraped is capable of quick bursts of speed and even quicker bursts of damage thanks to it's two scythe-shaped forearm blades and mildly articulated split fingers. It typically hunts in packs and attacks with long leaps followed by frantic slashes. While the scaled carapace along it's back and upper limbs is capable of deflecting small arms fire it's underbelly is quite soft. Unfortunately this requires an attacker to be facing it and thus exposing itself to a leaping attack.
While the common Reaper pack is small, three to ten individuals, there seems to be a cyclic event which triggers all of the local population to gather into a single mega-pack of thirty to fourty thousand individuals. Some scientists have speculated that these are due to the appearance of a nearby super-predator but others believe this is a 'thinning' event that results in massive mating and the deaths of the weaker pack leaders.
One of several sub-varieties of the Iron Reaper, the Iron Reaver is apparently a semi-common mutation that results in a larger and more vicious Reaper. It is a solitary predator and can be easily distinguished from it's smaller cousins by both it's size and it's additional forelimbs as well as seemingly random spikes. While they are not actively hunted by their cousins they do hunt them in return and this tends to make their lives brutally short.
What do you get when you cross a razorback hog, a triceratops, and a few hundred thousand years of Darwinian competition in a nightmare jungle?
The Helboar, like the Iron Reaper, is one of the few pack predators on Delta Zeta Four. Technically the Helboar is an herbavore but since most of DZ4's flora is aggressive it compensates by being just as aggressive as any normal predator. Small packs of helboar will gather around a plant and then consume it as a group. These are not grazing animals - they routinely defoliate small areas as they move from plant to plant completely consuming it.
Helboars are quadrupeds with the general body shape of a boar, the armored bony ruff of a triceratops, and the horns of the same. Their horns and ruff are both essentially very dense hair growths like a rhinoceros horn. This means that their horns are less a sharp instrument but more of a blunt goring ram. The helboar generally uses it's horns by ramming and trapping a predator between it's horns and a tree or rock and then repeatedly crushing it. Because this leaves it's face and sensory organs vulnerable these are both small and somewhat protected by thick hair 'scales' that cover the rest of it's body like an armadillo.
The Helboar is one of the very few native species that the colonists of Delta Zeta Four have been able to successfully domesticate. The flesh has a taste something like buffalo and the creature must be slaughtered quickly in order to avoid spoilage due to the release of several toxic glands. Spoiled meat is also toxic - clearly another defense against attack on this savage world. Herds are generally raised together from a single litter and harvested together. This is generally done by means of an explosive glued to the neck behind the ruff a month after birth when they are separated from the sow.
Helboars are also ridable after a fashion. It was discovered by some foolhardy herders that it was possible to mount one after a sufficient period of time had been spent herding the beasts. After the arrival of the C'tan it was determined that this was possible due to a herd identification pheromone given off by the helboars that gradually impregnated the clothes of the herders. Currently the military is experimenting with using synthetic pheromone as a method to allow soldiers to ride helboars as patrol cavalry with some success.
Giant Terror Spider
Most of the water on DZ4 is brackish swamp and sluggish streams that empty into medium lakes that are in turn choked with plant life. Woe be to the animal that finds a still clean pond for these are usually traps set by the massive Terror Spider. When aroused these creatures much resemble a massive spider with legs as thick as tree trunks. Spider Ponds are ambush hunters though, and hunt by digging into the ground upside down with their legs splayed out to surround a pool of still water they construct. The unwary are either killed by the neurotoxins in the water if they are small enough, or if they are larger they are speared by the massive legs before being dropped into the pod to be digested by the mouth at the bottom.
The Razor Wing is both one of the rarest of the super-predators as well as one of the more common small insect-like species of Delta Zeta IV. In it's larval stage it resembles a common housefly that varies in size from one to two centimeters long with a split abdomen and four clawed legs. It flies by means of a large number of flagella that have tiny hairs branching off them along the horizontal axis. The flagella themselves are not dangerous but the hairs are nearly mono-molecular and can cause internal tissue damage if ingested. In the larval state this is mearly a defensive mechanism.
Larval Razor Wings are carrion-eaters who seek out dead animals in small to medium swarms. When they find a corpse they first eat their fill of it's soft tissues and then burrow in. Once they have implanted themselves in the host corpse they begin the transformation to an adult Razor Wing. Most do not survive this process as they are usally eaten by other carrion-eaters or by the other members of the swarm as they attempt to consume the whole carcass. Assuming one manages to consume the whole thing, a process that takes days to weeks depending on the size, it emerges as an adult Razor Wing. These are similar to the larval stage except that they have fewer flagella and there are viscious stingers on the ends of the split abdomen.
The hairs on the flagella have widened to the point where they are visible as semi-translucent winglets though they still retain their near mono-molecular edge. The Razor Wing hunts with both these as well as the stingers, which contain a potent neurotoxin. Adult Razor Wings can grow up to four meters in length though their flagella-span is three times their length. Adults are lone hunters who reproduce asexually via eggs laid in the water.
Killipedes are one of three species that share the absolute top of the food chain. Killipedes, as their name implies, resemble Terran millipedes except that they are the size of a freight train. They roam the jungle eating absolutely everything in their path in a slow deforestation that, if their numbers were higher, would rapidly leave the planet uninhabitable. As it is there are between ten and fifteen of the creatures that roam the planet at any one time. Since they are easily tracked the human colonists just get out of their way and only once have they been forced to kill one.
While they resemble millipedes they also share some reptilian characteristics. They have scales and the ability to regrow damaged body parts such as legs and indeed whole sections of their body. This is also how they seem to reproduce - when one is severed the non-head portion will begin regrowing a head. While it is essentially defenseless at this stage it is still very hard to kill - the scales on a killipede grow thicker with age and the number of leg sections increases. The size of the leg sections decreases gradually until the tail where the newest section is more like a pair of pincers about the size of human fingers.
Killipedes kill their prey using a large pair of mandibles on their head. This is not their only method of offense however. Each section had it's own waste elimination organ that concentrates the toxins found in most DZ4 life and secrets it. This extremely concentrated poison can be used as a weapon by simply rubbing the waste organ on the target creature. To ensure a kill the killipede will often wrap itself around a target while holding it firmly with the mandibles and rub as many waste organs as possible on the prey.