Legend has it that the eponymous and most populous of the three great hives of Desoleum was founded during the Great Crusade. The plains of solidified minerals attracted industry very quickly, and it became a major foundry for the war effort, producing lasguns by the millions. The hive contributes large numbers to the Desoleum Involute Cadres, and at least one division is permanently stationed near the great hive for the city’s defence from threats from both within and without. Those Cadres drawn from Hive Desoleum are highly regarded, providing manpower to the Desoleum Oathsmen Grenadiers, the world’s Imperial Guard regiment known for its expertise in prosecuting urban threats.
The Consortium of Desoleum Primus
The ultimate masters of the hive city of Desoleum Primus, the Consortium, exist at the apex of a rigid system of fealty and servitude. The hive is ruled by the maintenance of unimaginably strict bonds of obedience, enforced by the implementation of a network of oaths that intertwines every single level of its highly stratified society. This complex web links every possible sphere of life, regulating everything from the subtlest of manners to the span of years a worker-serf can expect to live. All hivers carry a special cogwork device that indicates their work area and their oath of servitude. Those above them hold these oaths in their own oath-cogs, micro-embedded as tiny wheels, each an intricate snowflake of brass and wire. The more dominions under an oathholder, the more elaborate the device. Lady Desoleum’s oath-cog, encompassing the entirety of oaths throughout the hive and across the planet, is supremely ancient and dense, a massive snowstorm of whirling cogs that takes years to alter for new oaths. It is brought out only for affairs of state, as it is far too heavy for normal wear. Entire cloisters of Mechanicum drones exist purely to maintain its proper functioning, and legend says that should it freeze up, the hive would surely collapse.
Desoleum City: The Main Hive, commonly known as Desoleum City, is home to the majority of the hive’s known citizens. The sights, sounds, and smells of industry abound, for it is devoted almost entirely to production, controlled at the whims of the Consortium and a few of the more commercially active noble houses. The air is stale and thick with smog, despite the constant whirring of the hive air-cyclers. During shift changes, walkways and thoroughfares are crowded with exhausted, blank-eyed workers, while mag-trains screech past overhead on ill-kept railways. The sounds of the hive’s life-sustaining systems and the machinery of the manufactorums overlap, creating a constant drone of background noise. The harsh light of the flickering chem-lamps and electro-torches cast deep shadows, bursts of flame from manufactorums vents periodically providing illumination, and citizens do well to stick to the main roads, averting their gaze from the dark crevices and alleyways.
Three Stakes Rest: Three Stakes’ Rest is the unofficial name given to an ill-delineated area of forlorn, decaying habs, forgotten chambers, and structurally unsound passages and roadways, all connected through collapsing gantries, pressure-sealed hatchways, and tunnels of corroded metal. Though it lies many levels above the generally accepted boundary, Three Stakes’ Rest is in many ways an extension of the lower hive. Sanctionaries do not patrol here, nor do law-abiding citizens have any reason to visit. The kilometres of decrepit tunnels are home to maddened dregs, outlaws on the lam, and nests of dangerous vermin. Many gangs use the area as neutral ground for conducting business, though from time to time one gang or another attempts to claim it as their territory, resulting in vicious fighting.
The Gallowsway: The Gallowsway is a dank and forgotten place perched on the under-edges of Desoleum City. Very little in the way of wealth from the hive trickles down here, nor do power, light, or food. It is home to thousands of unclaimed corpses. Sent each day from the poorer sections of the city above for disposal, they fester in monumental warehouses before being processed in the level’s numerous Mortuarius Factorums. These range from executed criminals, unknown dead, and, worst of all, those that have broken their oaths. It is a foul place to live, but one that must exist lest the city become choked with its own dead. Gallowsway points of interest
Gantry: Gantry is the Underhive settlement closest to the Gallowsway, located about 10 hours down through the ruins past the Purity Gate and ruled by Vornas Crimson. Years ago, a hive-quake collapsed the area below the Gallowsway and turned it into a twisted steel wilderness in an enormous cavern of plasteel and rock. Gang law rules here now, where miscreants and criminals gather to shelter from the righteous anger of the Sanctionaries. Though there is occasional talk of reclaiming and restoring the area, nothing has ever been done.
Suspended over a section of the Stygian Wash (a great, dank sump river that runs down into hive bottom), Gantry is home to several thousand souls. Most are members of the Red Walk, but there is also a good mix of other criminals or unfortunates that have found themselves washed up on its streets. The town itself is divided into several levels, the uppermost controlled by the Red Walk, with various other areas given over to its other enterprises.