Execution Hill Launch Complex
The Execution Hill Launch Complex is an outpost of the Cobalt Protectorate on Lepidos. Effectively a city-state in its own right and the only majority Evermornan human majority settlement on the planet, the Complex serves as an important diplomatic outpost between the Protectorate and the local League of Lepidosian City-States.
The population of the Complex is just under Evermornan human in extraction. 35% of the population are Lepidosians from a variety of city-states and outlying territories of the Great Ilmenite Desert, and around 20% are of human-Lepidosian blended heritage. Around 80% of the population are either citizens of the Protectorate or in the course of becoming citizens, with the remainder being tourists, diplomatic entourages, and the employees of local commercial ventures conducting trade with the Evermornans.
The Complex, including its network of stations in geostationary orbit, operate under the Protectorate's governmental system. This means that members of each local Clan Council and the overarching System Council are chosen from among citizens by a system of 'merit sortition,' with popular representatives able to be re-elected for a single extra, forshortened term. The councils handle Clan- and system-level legislative matters through the crafting of referrenda which are voted upon by citizens. Importantly, because the LLCS is a Protectorate Periphery state, actions by these councils have only as much legal weight as the native Lepidosians will permit. The structure of the Protectorate allows for significant local autonomy except insofar as it applies to defensive military actions: the Protectorate is, first and foremost, a defensive alliance designed to preserve human and human-adjacent life wherever it may be found.
The Cobalt Knights and League Defense Forces both maintain bases at the Execution Hill Launch Complex. The two fighting forces share training programs to better prepare both for the rigors of combat in exotic locales; the Evermornans provide traning in micro-gravity combat, piloting, armored warfare, and CBRNE, while the Lepidosians provide training in infantry tactics, desert survival, covert operations, and counterinsurgency. Both groups also maintain a significant forces in orbit around Lepidos and the surrounding planetoids, forming one of the most significant active-duty space combat forces in known space other than that found in the Evermorn-Armoa Binary System.
Industry & Trade
Typically, metal ores and personnel go up the space elevator for use by Protectorate contractors and the League's own nascent space forces. As Lepidos is arid, water has material as well as spiritual significance; asteroid water, as well as a wide variety foodstuffs grown in orbiting plantations, are sent down to the surface. While the Protectorate has superior technology to the League, it shares this sparingly. Having learned lessons from exploring the ruins of humanoid worlds where runaway technological development led to war and other forms of self-destruction, the Protectorate shares its technology and the knowledge of how to make it in measured doses with the citizens of the League powers. This educational outreach is performed at the Complex itself in several institutes of learning, but is also transmitted via satellite programs established in the surrounding city-states, such as Steel Mill Corners.
As implied in its name, the Execution Hill Launch Complex is a port town built around launch facilities for a variety of spacecraft. SSTO runways and laser launch arrays ring the city, hoisted over the terrain by arcades both to provide additional clearance for surface roads and to help obscure the blinding glare of laser batteries in operation. The anchor point for the Harkinite Memorial Orbital Elevator lies at the center of the city, surrounded with a museum complex discussing the history of cooperation between the Evermornan and Northern Lepidosian peoples. Like all Protectorate cities, the surface only holds a fraction of the Complex's commercial, industrial, and municipal infrastructure, the rest being distributed among huge underground vaults to prevent any one incident from crippling the city. The city relies upon a combination of geothermal, orbital solar (conducted via the space elevator central trunk), and fusion power.
Guilds and Factions
The Evermorn Strategic Colony Initiative maintains a significant presence in the Complex, providing education, training, and medical treatment - including cryoprotectant therapy - to League citizens. This is because, while Initiative nominally favors Evermornan interests, it is also an arm of the Protectorate's overarching conservationist goals. Furthermore, the Initiative recognizes that Lepidosian and human-Lepidosian spacers have a number of physical advantages with regard to long-term colonization efforts elsewhere in the Sealed Kingdoms Region, being more gracile and more apt to use water and food resources sparingly than pure-blooded Evermornans. As a settlement originally established as part of a diplomatic and military outreach to the Lepidosian peoples, a significant contingent of Cobalt Knights live at the Complex. This force is occasionally called upon by the League to help settle disputes between city-states, quash the various bandit bands that roam the desert beyond the purview of the League, and hunt down pockets of the (increasingly rare) revanchist Occult Fraternity.
When the Magocracy of Lepidos governed most of Lepidos, their ruling cadre - the Occult Fraternity - used a combination of pseudo-theocratic mysticism and intimidation to dominate the less powerful monotheist factions in the Great Ilmenite Desert. Execution Hill was a place where dissidents - or simply those who displeased the Fraternity - were executed in gruesome, ritualistic displays of governmental power. After Wurth Harkin and his Harkinite expedition arrived, they wound up coming to blows with the Fraternity over the latter's insistence on the continued use of slaves and living sacrifices to maintain the power structure; the Protectorate, as a culture, was born directly out of a resistence movement against the slaving Iron Talon Mining Concern. Wurth and Shank Moswen spent a long period of time stoking the fires of uprising in the more rural Great Ilmenite Desert, but it became apparent that direct action against the Fraternity would be required to break their hold over the planet. The first official battle of the war that would ultimately topple the Magocracy of Lepidos took place at Execution Hill, with Wurth and Shank sending their platforms to the surface to engage in the fighting personally. By chosing this spot and spilling the blood of the Fraternity over a spot where so many Raikepists were martyred, the Harkinites - and by extension the Protectorate - won the lasting admiration of the rebel factions that would become the League of Lepidosian City-States. For this reason, in the aftermath of the conflict, Execution Hill was chosen as the permanent meeting place between the Protectorate and the League - and, as usually happens with spaceports, a burgeoning settlement fuelled by commerce and cultural admixture sprung up in the environs.