Faith and Betrayal
“The Kasballica? Cross them and you’ll end up with a blade in your back, and they’ll kill your kin as well, just for the inconvenience.”
-Jonas the Sharp, Footfallen
The Kasballica has existed in the Calixis Sector ever since there has been a Calixis Sector to exist in (and arguably before, with its foundations being laid down in the settler ships enroute from Ixaniad Sectors). Barely a world in the sector is without its Kasballican prince or princess, with its own hierarchy, outposts, and secret channels through which its collectors and enforcers roam. It is not only the legitimate authorities who have much to gain from the exploration and exploitation of the Koronus Expanse. For centuries, criminal organizations have attempted to benefit from the wealth and power that flows back from the Expanse, with varying degrees of success. The Kasballica Mission, based in Footfall, is the latest and most successful in a long line of these criminal groups.
The Kasballica has a long and bloody history that predates the Calixis Sector. Carried into the sector to settle the worlds of the Drusus Marches in the aftermath of the Angevin Crusade, a dozen old and established criminal syndicates from worlds in Segmentum Solar warred silently even on the colonist transports that took them to newly-conquered worlds. By the time the transports finally reached the Drusus Marches subsector, the war was almost over, the shattered remnants of each crime baron’s armies slowly rebuilt into a single, larger one—the Kasballica.
In the centuries that followed, this singular organization fragmented again, splitting into more localized interests on several worlds, communicating only through their rulers, self-declared barons, dukes and princes who each ruled over a single world’s Kasballican enterprises. Rivalries sprang up, and the line between healthy competition and outright war became blurred as each fought to obtain wealth with which to dominate their rivals.
Then the Koronus Passage opened, and suddenly a new source of wealth emerged, granting a new lease on life to the fractured organization, particularly those parts of it that had made in-routes into the Cold Trade—the sale of forbidden xenos items throughout the Calixis Sector. Within a decade, the internecine war had stilled, the assorted factions regarding the new opportunity as too great for any one crime lord to handle alone, and they moved to infiltrate Port Wander.
Their operations on Port Wander were a limited success for a time, hindered by the relatively small population of the starfortress and its abundance of Imperial authority figures unwilling to let an independent criminal organization get in their way. Their efforts were further set back by the siege of Port Wander, which prevented them from accomplishing anything for nearly a decade. After the Imperial Navy reclaimed Port Wander, the Kasballicans there departed, seeking a better base of operations in Dewain’s Footfall, the new and more lawless settlement on the far side of the Maw.
The Kasballica Mission
Unfettered by the laws of the Imperium, and able to exert its power across the breadth of Footfall’s society, the Kasballica Mission (a term which refers specifically to the Kasballican operation on Footfall), thrived as it had never done before, and soon, Footfall’s Prince of the Kasballica was as wealthy as his peers within the Calixis Sector. It was not to last; seeing their investment turned against them, the other Kasballica factions pressed their peers in Footfall. The end result was a resurgence in the secret war between the Kasballican factions that continued for well over a century, weakening the Kasballica Mission to the point where its rivals in Footfall were able to hinder its efforts.
Between the increasing presence of the Amaranthine Syndicate, arms dealers hailing from the city of Gunmetal on distant Scintilla, and agents of the Malfian crime lord Iridan Nox, the Kasballica Mission was struggling to maintain its place on Footfall. The secret war between the Calixian Kasballicans and the Mission on Footfall ground to a halt, as both sides realized that neither would profit from being forced out of the Expanse.
The aftermath of the secret war brought a greater degree of stability, and the Mission was rebuilt to consist almost entirely of trusted vassals and retainers from the other factions. With rival criminal organizations from further afield moving in on Footfall, the Kasballica could ill-afford another schism. The new structure of the Mission was to ensure that it remained under the control of the Kasballica in the Calixis Sector, which in turn would maintain stability for the organization, When the Maw closed in 813.M41, this plan paid off.
Amidst mass starvation, it was only the Kasballica, whose vaults were well-stocked with supplies, who managed to endure with little loss of power or life, as all around them begged and scrounged for those same supplies. When the Maw reopened at the end of that year, the Kasballica Mission had not only managed to hold out against the settlement’s starvation, but had thrived in spite of it, gaining new ground and extending its influence across Footfall further than it had ever done before.
With every year, the Kasballica Mission attempts to negotiate better and longer-lasting deals with passing Rogue Traders. Lacking the resources to venture out into the Expanse by themselves, they must content themselves with trade deals, dealing illicit goods for a cut of the profits. This has always been sufficient, for there are precious few routes through which one may sell such proscribed items. Because of its long existence, and in part thanks to its recent resurgence, the Kasballica control many of the illicit trade routes into and around the Calixis Sector. However, when speaking of power and wealth, sufficient is never enough, and the Kasballica are not content to sit on their laurels and make do with what they have already accumulated.
The Kasballica and the Adeptus Arbites
“I know about the Arbites. Know very well. I know how far back their rule goes. I know when the first Precincts were founded here. I know it because my own predecessors were already here and watched them land, look around at the new sunlight, and measure the ground for their fortresses. The Kasballica has been in Calixis for longer than they have. Let’s not demean ourselves by fearing them.”
-Yenga Kwill, Princess of the Landunder Kasballica
On many Calixian worlds the Kasballica’s operations merit barely more than a slender dossier in the Detectives’ bureau stacks, worlds where their ambitions are devoted to nothing more than coordinating a shadow industry of tiny crimes whose aggregate wealth flows upward through Kasballica patrons into the prince’s coffers. As long as they restrict themselves to mundane squabbles with the planetary authorities, such networks are ignored, except when an enterprising Detective-Espionist might cultivate them for informants. At a number of hotspots throughout the sector, however, Kasballica operations have grown big and assertive enough to push into Arbites territory, infringing on the operation of the Imperium in ways that cannot be ignored.
Out toward the rimward stars the increasingly brazen piratical enterprises coordinated by the Kasballica of the Periphery have stretched the Precinct fleet thinner and thinner still. The princes of Merov, Lo, and Grove’s Fall have been collaborating on a ramshackle but vicious fleet of their own, terrorising trade coming back from Port Wander and specifically targeting vessels that have crossed the Kasballican mission on Footfall. Some of the fleet is run directly by the princes, some of it is made up of hapless traders who could not repay Kasballican backing for their own ventures in the Koronus Expanse and have had their choice laid out for them—the risks of turning corsair themselves to work off their debt, or the certainty of Kasballica retribution Lord Marshal Goreman and Marshal-Commodore Mhal would dearly like to strike out directly at the mission on Footfall but have not yet been able to muster the resources away from the rest of the sector.
Along the spinward border a multi-directional war between several Kasballican princes has escalated well past the usual petty exchanges of crude assassinations and small scale sabotage and grown to the stage where stable Imperial governance is being disrupted and orderly tithe collections threatened. The crash of the Hexenwide, an in-system barge loaded with radioactive fuel whose disintegration in the lower atmosphere of Sozomen’s Last Stand irradiated hundreds of thousands of hectares of plantation-land, has been firmly linked to the opening of hostilities by Ghonan Dyexx, the prince of Bront. The reprisal raid, a showy affair that rampaged through Bront’s upper capitol hive, was designed more to stir up savage riots and laborers’ insurrections, and was eminently successful, paralyzing the hive for a month and badly damaging Dyexx’s personal holdings Since then the princes of NDO-K4, Cantus, and Mosul have all joined in the war in similarly spectacular fashion. Given their preferences, the Vanguard High Precinct command would tell the planetary governors to grit their teeth, tighten their belts, and wear the trouble while the Kasballica thinned out each others’ numbers and forced each other into the open, ready for a mop up, but the chorus of complaint from the governors and the Administratum has goaded Goreman into demanding a quick and permanent end to this, and so Arbitrator contingents are being drawn from all over the High Precinct to come down on the Kasballica with overwhelming force.
To trailing, at Haddrack, Detectives are carefully infiltrating the Governor’s court and the Departmento Munitorium to try and track Kasballica efforts to manipulate the Imperial Guard tithe for the nearby warzone at Protasia. Princess Ignetta has involved herself on two fronts—using none-too subtle bribery and coercion on the planetary authorities so that the human tithe falls heavily on the planet’s two major northern continents, while her own main power base across the three southern continents remains strong, and ensuring that a number of Kasballica agents personally loyal to her are shoehorned into command positions in the Guard tithe. Ambitious and optimistic, she is looking forward to the day when the Haddracki regiments take Protasia and claim it, and the new settlers will be led by her own catspaws and established as a Kasballica fief subject to her control. The Arbites have not yet tarnished that optimism by launching into righteous prosecution against such a shameless crime against the Adeptus, but the case against her is almost complete and the day of reckoning is not far off.
The Kasballican Agents and the Inquisition
The crime barons of the Drusus Marches have agents across the Calixis Sector and even within the Koronus Expanse. The sheer audacity with which many of these men conduct “business” can rocket the unscrupulous to positions of power well above their station. These “Low Dukes” (as they are mockingly called in Hive Tarsus) are often considered little more than con men and crooks whose influence allows them to rub elbows with more proper nobles. When this occurs, the Kasballica leadership will often attempt to reign their operatives in, as their actions can disrupt proper business and draw unwanted attention. The Kasballica will cut ties, forcing their agent to operate independently. Rarely, a clever “Noble” will find ways to protect himself, maintaining his position and rising to power on his own. More commonly, they are brought up on charges, and only the intervention of a Judge or Inquisitor will save them from a bullet in the brain-pan.
This combination of savvy, ambition, and an ability to deal with other cultures without “going native” has drawn the eye of several Calixian Ordo Xenos Inquisitors, most notably Inquisitor Vilane. His missions into the Jericho Reach have brought him in contact with the Tau, and it is this rare blend of resourcefulness and an air of stolen authority that make his Kasballica “Nobles” so useful. Most often pressed into service by the Inquisition as part of a sentence for crimes (often crimes for which they are innocent), many ex-Kasballica agents dislike the Acolyte lifestyle, and strive hard to improve their own comfort while on assignment. This “questionable” loyalty can lead to strife in the cell, but thus far, the results have been worth it.