The Hive (DII)

This singular monstrosity in its being holds a greater co-variance with modern history than any other entity, person, guild, empire or, yes, an entire species. It is a haven of science and reason. A place of industry and was central to the power of the empire. It is also a lawless, scum-filled, cesspit so dangerous that no right-thinking sentient being would be within smell of it (let alone sight).

I live here, feel free to visit.

It is perhaps a rule, only proven by one unique, esteemed and admired exception, that Gretchen are not interested in historical matters (that exception of course being myself), further I have little interest in the mediocre doings of the other lesser species excepting that of humans and their empire. Therefore in discussing the hive we shall begin our discussion with Emperor Corsini, and with a short background.

The origin of the Hive is lost in the past; though there are many theories based around a so called mythical species that was responsible for these and other artifacts. Quite frankly I am not an espouser of these claims. The concept of a great mythical species that died out leaving great artifacts of godly might offends me. Its the sort of concept one would find in every other penny-hack-written trash work of fiction our society poisons itself with daily, with the fiction in truth only bought by the plebs to have something to burn come the death of the pope.

I say again dear peasant that if you must burn something at least buy and burn something of quality such as my other pamphlets.

Anyways, although I agree there are subtle similarities between these inventions, I personally am an espouser of several individual great minds being responsible. Great minds like myself, only without the soul and artistic capabilities that are required to be a true writer and historian. What is fact is that it was unlikely to have been a Gretchen structure, there being little of our peculiar practicality about it (for example the majority is above ground and not below, where previous of the Shamic supplies had been exhausted, see sidebar A). However I digress and put the podlings before the whores! In structure then, the entirety of the hive is formed out of set Shamic and thus probably alone is theoretically worth more then every civilisation that exists under god’s gaze (past and present) combined.

Sidebar A On Shamic

The average citizen is unlikely to have encountered this marvellous material, so while it is not my speciality, as the hive is heavily dependent upon its trade it behoves me to lower myself to a sufficient enough degree to provide a short science lesson.

The material known as Shamic is in its natural state found in seams in deep non-porous rock. Although liquid under pressure as found, at room temperature it rapidly cools and becomes malleable much like clay. However upon contact with air it rapidly solidifies to something considerably harder then steel. To make things more interesting for the miners at liquid state its incredibly toxic and at the clay state highly flammable (but strangely not in liquid state). It is also almost certainly not naturally formed by standard geological conditions and there have been several hypotheses about exactly how it occurs.

In size it rivals almost that of the highest peak of the bordering mountains in height, in width perhaps not so impressive, at half a mile in diameter at its base. However thus in total internal space we are perhaps discussing eighty times the size of London, though note that is most certainly not habitable space.

How far it descends is no business of yours (filthy imperial spy!), but it is enough to say it descends further than the nitrous essence threshold value for Shamic. In internal structure, in its chambers, corridors, stairs and shafts it is as if it has been created by some kind of mad poet. It is still a regular occurrence that at a local guild some genius will work out a system for a small sub-population of apertures only to find a hidden message, joke or just plain dirty picture. But what made it of immense tactical value to our would-be Emperor was the continued maintenance, extensive mining and hard work of the Gretchens. Water from the Lake of Willis, air pumped in via an extremely expensive set of highly sophisticated valves and pure liquid Shamic thanks to their genius.

And so like a Velten to carrion the Emperor circled the Gretchen abode, his second target since he managed to swindle a half dozen bumpkins into helping him with his megalomaniac schemes. As I am an unbiased and objective historian in these matters I will admit that his method of entry was of some intelligence. A bespoke diamond cutting device was created and somehow dragged to 200 feet above ground level. How he knew precisely where to tunnel is still a mystery to this day but his target was a Shamic cooling conduit (at, I might add, just the right distance along for the substance to have lost its explosive properties). Once an hole was manufactured the results were predictable, which were in summary that a ramp was formed from frozen Shamic and the emperor could enter through the now inert and useless conduit (interestingly to this day, humans have been unable to come up with any other solution to creating an entrance than stealing his idea and further vandalising Gretchen hard work, so please, feel free to do so).

And so Gretchens were taken by surprise by his unprovoked attack, his Ratlings managed to drive us almost to the sea level with this advantage and it was not until the brave and heroic actions of Cobold the Pointy that his evil advances were stopped. It would have been here that this upstart met his end, here would have been where they would of annihilated him once and for all. However Cobold the Pointy being somewhat a philosopher as well as a tactician (sharing similar qualities to myself it must be noted) was somewhat impressed by the emperor’s grasp of simple theoretical concepts.

The exact agreement reached contains from the Gretchen side a non-disclosure clause so you gets nothing from me, but to summarise the Gretchens gave him all territory above the fifth level. Such generosity has never been matched in all my annals of history!

And from this the hive became a duality of rustic spirit and reason, of brain and brawn, of industry and commerce, etc etc.

Lucky us, hey?

Hive Geography

When people imagine the Hive they apply the same values as human towns across the world, towns exemplified by urban societies such as the tiers of the Florentine province. The rich at the top, the scum at the bottom. The hive is however based upon practicality rather then a human notion. Something for you to consider.

or while it is true shit flows down, so does water, which is pumped in from the aptly named lake of Willis (if you dont understand why it is aptly named this is because of your inferior imperial education so dont worry). What does however rise, and how, is heat. Further due to continued human stupidity the top fifth of the hive is now missing, and those nearing the top are always in the danger of a further disaster. Thus with some exceptions in the form of the tertiary structures attached to the hive, the poor are at the top and insides of the hive, the powerful at the bottom and edges.

So from bottom to top then. Well almost, like everything in my little book Ill try and keep it human-centric as I wouldnt want it to be too much of a strain for you.

The August Kingdom of the Gretchen

Gretchen land starts at the fourth level of the hive and extends down an indescribable number of levels beneath the ground (as in Im not going to describe how many for its none of your business). Traditionally the four levels of the hive above ground are accessible to all visitors to our kingdom without visa, and indeed it is initially hard to tell the difference between the levels three and four and the human trader levels above as they’ve allotted a number of areas within the bubbles to humans.

The next two levels form what we term the valve and enough humans have been allowed access to these areas for it to be common knowledge. The first level (as we term them) is one completely allotted for the usage of the military forces and the great Gretchen army.

The second holds many of our external institutions and can have almost a few hundred human visitors a year! After that is none of your business.

The Hollow

From the first level all the way to the tip is the hollow. A monstrous shaft of great importance to all of the hives inhabitants, for without the hollow the hive would very quickly heat up to such a degree as to cook every living being within it alive. This stated, as this is one of the largest areas within the hive, short thinking human and Gretchen alike have gradually filled in the edges and sides with hanging structures, and indeed, the first eight levels serves as the central market place for the entire Hive.

Traders’ Levels

As already mentioned, there are only a few signs to tell the difference between the highest Gretchen levels and empire territory. The trader levels go up for another four which when considering the size at the base is extremely impressive. It becomes less so when one considers the number of these that have become inhabitable due to industrial occurrences that have happened over the years.

The traders levels have for sale almost anything and with the lack of an organised church presence barring a few quiet chambers of the orders, frequently church law is ignored. Certainly on the occasions that the church has attempted to enforce their rules upon these levels then the bloodshed has been great and not always to the church’s original plans. This stated the council is always careful to avoid a full blown purging of the hive by the united orders and so makes sure that the traders do not break church law blatantly and more importantly obey those edicts the church is fervent about.

Corsini Station

After an intense period of lobbying by the enlightened carriageway consortium to the hive council, the hive sold the smaller of the five ramp ways to the consortium to convert into the chief terminal point for their expressway.

For once I have no protest to make about this decision. The amount of trade and interesting passengers arriving from far and distant lands since Corsini Station opened is impressive.

Nobles’ Levels

Above the traders lie the nobles, rich dynasty members who have bought the rights from the council to maintain an estate within the hive. In this level too lie the council chambers of the hive, as well as the bureaucratic areas needed to maintain the structure. It is notable that the great dynasties, despite having only a minuscule influence upon the council in terms of seats, appear to believe it to be as important to have an estate or household here as to have one in Wien, and representatives of almost all the great dynasties can be found in the hive.

Crafters’ Levels

While always going to be of inferior nature to Gretchen merchandise there still remain the hopeful, and above the nobles lie those crafters who can either not afford the space upon the traders’ level or have no wish to reduce their profit margins. I suppose also too there exist some areas of industry in which humans do in fact reign supreme, knitting for instance and embroidery, and it is here where the tailors and cloth makers can safely produce garments to be sold on the traders’ levels.

Middle Layers

Finally above the crafters we find the ordinary households of the hive, where organised levels start to become truly organic layers. As space on the lower levels is at a premium price it is common to find the households of the crafters and traders here, as well as those that maintain the hive and of course the servants of the nobles. Typically the higher one rises the poorer the owner, the lower the more influential, and indeed some of the lower layers can consist of noble or wealthy traders who have decided to spend upon space what they could have made in location.

And herein ends civilisation in the Hive.

Top Layers

The next seventeen layers are without a doubt the greatest and most motley collection of dodgy scum in the empire. Even the criminal organisations here cant agree on an organisation. Roughly speaking you have two territories.

Upper West Hive

No one disputes the senior roacher Don Julians primacy in west hive, for in addition to having a larger private army than any of even the Counts in the hive, Don Julians influence extends to a position on the Hive council itself. However all this said, exactly whose loyalty is to which lieutenant is always an open question. Its even conceivable Don Julian prefers it that way. Routine conflicts occur openly between these fellow Roachers and this seems to have been a state of affairs since before Don Julians ascent to his lofty place.

Upper East Hive

If east hive has an organisation at all above that of the level of the many uncountable gangs that infest this area it escapes me. East hive appears to be united in one common thing alone.

Intense dislike of west hive.

As the edge of east hive and west hive is a war zone between these two groups and as my definition of east hive is that it is a war zone I suppose technically you can even say they’re winning.

Exactly who they are except being people from east hive is, as noted, an open question.

Imperial Garrison Layers

The final twenty levels of the hive remain the province of the imperial Garrison of the hive, the hive town grenadiers. However this stated their actual training grounds are outside the hive at the foot of the main entrance, so exactly what the imperial Garrison uses the top layers for is open to debate, one well known feature is however that of the observatory.

Minaplintss Observatory

Another fine example of human stupidity is Mins observatory. Once again disregarding Gretchen advice over the structural stability, another hole was tunnelled out of the hive and an observatory was built upon the sides of the hive to gaze upon the stars upon the orders of Emperor Minaplint the First. To this day there is still some small work done by human scholars upon this area of science and every so often a ground breaking idea like we revolve around the sun” is suggested, then proved to be true rather than us just knowing it to be true.

The Highest Tip

I myself have visited the highest tip of the hive, having been granted special permission from the imperial garrison stationed there. It is fully apparent that the hive was much taller, considerably so I would argue, beyond the official statement of a fifth, and that as the years and centuries spread on, as humans made improvements to the hive that the highest tip in actuality broke off.

Notable Military entities within the hive

Hive Town Grenadiers

The hive town military contribution to the imperial regime is a legion of elite Grenadiers of both human, and a remarkably large number of nationalised impressionable Gretchen youths (personally I am of the opinion that they just realise they’re likely to get to cause a larger amount of chaos with the empire than with the Gretchen’s own armies). Armed with some of the finest Gretchen munitions this urban assault legion is feared by all: often this includes the Grenadiers own side.

Gretchen Hive Teams

While the Gretchen army is only very infrequently deployed, the Gretchens maintain an indeterminate number of special operations squads deployed both to deal with issues in the Hive and occasionally loaned to the empire when some genius nutcase comes up with a particularly troublesome invention. Almost entirely made up of pure Gretchens rather then the larger and stupider vat grown big uns, Gretchen hive teams are given only the most cutting-edge equipment and are heavily augmented with steamware.

By far the most famous of these hive teams is Gretchen hive team five.

Outside Town

As big as the hive is, and as much space as is available within, the fact remains that due to the sheer amount of trade that flows through Hive town an external town was bound to grow, and has done: and has been destroyed and rebuilt countless times in every conflict that has graced our doorstep. The greatest industry here lies in the docks, for the Hive is the last major navigable point on the river for the smaller ocean-going vessels. Beyond here, it is barge only and thus the docks are eternally busy with traffic.

Marinko’s Bog

Under the far side of the bridge that cross the river Ghilg outside Hive town lies the charmingly named Vici encampment of Marinkos bog. To date there have been three localised inquisitions and countless parables of ones done before the last sede vacante. The cost of lives due to accusations of heresy within the bog has been large, however for some reason the bog is always repopulated once the dogs of the church leave.

Introduction | The Charente Regions