- “From Pride to Envy, every Infernite is a scumbag.”
- “And what about above Pride?”
- “Ugh, don’t get me started.”
- Conversation between two banished angels in a Sloth café
Infernum is the outermost inner planet of the Sanctum system, once a place of exile and repentance now having formed its own libertine and anarchistic society. Infernum is stuck in a simmering rivalry with its sister planet but in the end also their ally against outside forces.
Infernum, though remaining an independent polity, is intrinsically connected with Sanctorum as the recipient for all the outcasts and rebels against the Sanctum government, happily integrating and caging the exiles in. Rumour has it that Infernum never left the sphere of influence of the High Choirs of Sanctorum - they simply reached an agreement both sides could be happy with.
Infernum is, contrary to its name, quite the cold place. The world is located just barely at the outer edge of the Goldilocks Zone and possesses a thin atmosphere making it very cold on the surface. The mountain death zone of the planet comes into effect at a meager two kilometers, making virtually any climbing or even significant altitude changes from terrain require supplementary oxygen.
Mean temperatures of the planetary surface hover around 8° Celsius with moderate and subtropical climates centered around the equator. Due to its highly circular orbit, seasons are much less pronounced, and a lack of natural satellites such as moons leaves the world with no tidal forces influencing its waters. As a result, the equator of Infernum is a fetid mess of swamps, bogs, and mangrove forests which are virtually unsettled.
The vast majority of inhabited climates are generally located in the tundras, taigas, and midland hills of Infernum.
The people of Infernum are officially referred to as “Infernites” or colloquially “Demons”. Ever since their culture's inception Infernites have preferred to express themselves through adopting the visuals and anatomy of depictions of infernal creatures in liturgical, cultural, and pop-cultural sources from across the stars. Having existed as a society for 200 odd years, much of the Infernum population are actually descendants of the original exiles who have inherited their physiological and genetic modifications from their highly customized ancestries. Prejudices and stereotypes are common among the people on Infernum based on what infernal creature(s) an individual exemplifies, subtly pushing individuals towards meeting the expectations befitting their physiology.
The society of Infernum is free, libertine and lawless. There is no centralized government and law - anarchy reigns in its completion. However, this does not mean there are no guiding rules or inhibitive forces bearing down on individual Demons. As a means of establishing some trust and civilization demons often engage in contracts with one another which are binding upon their honour.
Of course, nothing stops them from breaking a contract, but this will always lead to repercussions: an oathbreaker is untrustworthy and will quickly lose assets, allies, and cohorts as their reputation plummets. This makes demons people of their word by necessity - and contracts terribly convoluted and predatory, trying to get away with as much as possible. Mastery of technicalities and exact wording of contracts ensures the powerful stay on top and everyone else can feast on their scraps. Those with power wield it through contract based organizations. These legally bound entities, resembling anything from a common corporation to an organized crime gang, often encroach into the average Infernite’s lives in ways that would almost seem counterintuitive for such a free society. But in order to join them, a Demon has to accept the terms and conditions. And to exit the agreement, to pay the price stipulated in the exit clause. Safer housing, better access to common goods, and even a place to better oneself through education or genetic modification are all reasons people sign into these groups. Some of these organizations are grouped together into larger organizations, meaning a “clean” corporation may be offloading their dirty business into a partnership with a violent gang.
Overall, Infernum society is anarcho-capitalist in nature and is “ruled” by many different cartels, conglomerates, and their subsidiaries, engaging in conflicts that have a stark resemblance to turf wars of gangs - criminality and business are entwined lovers on the planet.
The people of Infernum live up to the moniker of “Demons” from their genetically modified appearances, down to their (necessary) love of contracts. Demons tend towards visual appearances that invoke some reference to human demonology. Wings, horns, tails, distortions of the body, and anything else that can be done with available genetic modifications. There are also Infernites who simply choose to remain human or human-looking, as well as people still adopting Sanctorum-styled looks and genemods. These people are usually outward-facing members of their respective circles, interacting with the Elysian Colonies or the Commonwealth on a more regular basis than other Infernites. Despite the hellish living conditions, life goes on for most Infernites. Many raise families, the wealthier choosing to custom design their offspring before they’re even born. Those who are genetically modified before birth may end up with “offspring contracts” agreed to by their existence. The more expensive it was to have the child, the more likely it is for such a contract to be formed.
For those wanting to get people on the cheap, there are vat grown people. Born without parents, and often as property or indentured servants, vat grown Demons may come from a popular template or a custom made one. Since the Elysian Colonies have few restrictions at all, all forms of vat born are permitted. Usually doing the jobs that nobody else would willingly do for as long as their lifespans let them. Or they escape, either out of the Mohole or offworld entirely.
Many Demons pay great sums of money to get an education or find at least one way to better themselves over the competition. The threat of ending up in Envy is ever present, and that’s quite the incentive to stay on top.
Associations and organizations are paramount to long term survival, many Demons signing common contracts to protect and support each other, but this practice is often predatory towards those who cannot afford to buy access into a more mutually beneficial network, often outside the Mohole. The most common form of this is finding employment with a corporation; living in their housing, buying from their stores, using their services, and scraping by on their paycheck.
The celebrity culture of Infernum is something unlike any other. The most influential demons commonly adopt the names of powerful demons of Sol demonology, using them like a stage name for all public appearances. Fanbases bordering on being cults follow these influential demons, hoping to receive some favor in return; and often getting nothing. However, these reigns are not forever, Demons can challenge each other over these adopted names, with the winner keeping the name and the loser facing a whole slew of consequences for it (death being a possible one, Envy being another). These contests for power are rare, but highly publicized, and keep the people entertained and complacent. This highly competitive (and often bloody) celebrity scene is one of the major cultural exports of Infernum into the rest of the Elysian Colonies.
The Purgatory Towns
Purgatory Towns are a tongue-in-cheek way to refer to townships, villages, and hamlets that are outside the influence of the wider Infernum society, making up a 30% minority of the population. These populations live in the habitable taigas and tundras of the planet, subsisting on primary resource extraction economies as well as limited agriculture and pisciculture. Most inhabitants are Demons who have had enough of the largest city of Infernum but don’t want to leave home, or freshly arrived Angels too terrified to live in the Mohole. There's not much else to be said about the Purgatory Towns aside from the fact that most of their residents get very annoyed when compared to their much more famous neighbors.
The Mohole of Sin
The Mohole of Sin is the primary settlement of Infernum, encompassing the majority 70% of the population in a 50km wide Mohole that nearly reaches the planet’s mantle. Descending downwards into a spiral, seven districts have been carved into the sides of the hole or built into the descent itself. Travel between the layers is easy as long as one can pay the ferry price - a toll which increases the lower you start and the higher you want to go.
Sloth is the surface of the Mohole and the first meters into the descent, being mostly a transitory place for immigrants and emigrants to enter or leave the Mohole. There are very few attractions defining this upper entry layer and nothing truly special about this place, unless you consider the myriad airborne pollutants rising from the lower levels an attraction. Continuing to suffer from Greed’s ever-prevalent smog, most people try to stay inside and cater to tourists before they delve deeper, leading to a sleepy and cozy atmosphere that helps blunt the culture shock and soothe terrified newcomers.
Greed is of a dualistic nature. On one side of the coin there are the glittering spires and highrise offices that jut into the sun inside the Mohole, and on the other there is the smog and mines of factories and smelteries. Greed is the center of the Mohole’s industry with kilometer-long tunnels growing out of its districts like cancerous veins, where debt- and raid-slaves undertake the grueling task of extracting and refining mineral wealth which often is directly shipped to the factories - bellowing smog and pollution uncaringly to the surface along all stages of this process. Beyond that are the countless law firms, banks, and the glitzy casinos all carefully built away from the misery of the manufacturing boroughs, where tourists and natives alike rub shoulders and gamble their wealth away to the magnates ruling this pit.
A forbidden district for most, Pride is the pinnacle of the Mohole’s society: situated in the middle of the hole, its temperature is most pleasant, and being below Greed makes the air untainted by their pollution resulting in this being the absolute nicest place to live on the planet. Indeed, those who live in Pride can only sing its praises! From artificial garden domes to exhilarating galas and museums, it is practically a gated community for the rich, the influential, and the very, very lucky.
But make no mistake: this is still Infernum. Here, competition relies on reputation and everyone is an enemy to be outdone. Character assassinations happen on the daily, and those who break the facade of peace are often banished into the lowest levels of the Mohole. One can soar high in Pride’s own little hierarchy only to be outcast by a more ruthless and charismatic opponent.
Where the air grows thick with the atmospheric pressure, where the temperature becomes just on the edge of uncomfortable, there lies the district of Gluttony. Here is where most if not all food for the Mohole is grown, raised in factory farms, expansive hydroponics arrays, and robust clone laboratories. Contrary to what an outsider might expect, the air in Gluttony's productive zones is often thick with dense and toxic gasses like carbon dioxide and pesticides, necessitating that residents and visitors of this level own and be intimately familiar with the use of protective gas masks. Most of this toxicity is either reclaimed and recycled or, more commonly, allowed to descend into the Mohole and onto the lower dregs.
In the areas zoned for commercial and residential activity the circumstances are moderately more bearable. The restaurant culture in Gluttony is the strongest of all in Infernum: delicacies and curious exotics are served and tried out on the daily, making it a Mecca for foodies and adventurous eaters within the Elysian Colonies, as long as one doesn’t mind not exactly knowing what kind of untested substances or livestock they consume.
Lust is, in one word, hot, often swelteringly so. Here the temperatures reach subtropical levels deep within the earth of Infernum. This district (the last official one) is infamous for its nightlife and criminal activities. Gangs of Wrath do their business here in sapient trafficking, while Gluttony and Greed magnates concoct and sell drugs of a wide variety to distribute to the people. Of course with such a name, Lust is also the unquestioned center for prostitution and fetish clubs of all varieties. Aside Wrath, it is one of the most dangerous (and probably most exciting) places for a tourist to visit.
Wrath is the second-lowest level of the Mohole and not actually a district, per se, but rather the life support and waste management sub-levels of all the other districts, mostly manned by slaves and runoffs from Envy. As a means of bringing some order and to ensure continued operation, patrons of the upper levels sponsor gangs and thugs to keep Wrath in line. Of course this often means rival sponsors use their gangs to swipe at each other, leading to a population huddled and eager to work while these factions engage in territorial warfare whenever it pleases their masters to distinguish themselves.
Nobody truly wants to live in Wrath; it is a constant struggle and fight for survival amidst a barely-checked population of people who are violent and aggressive by necessity. Those who can show ruthlessness, tactical acumen, and a sense of professionalism are occasionally swept up and inducted into Greed or Pride PMCs or used as personal bodyguards - the dream of every ganger down below.
Those who live in Envy are perhaps the unluckiest people on Infernum. Here is where the Oathbreakers, the washouts, the losers, and the pathetic live. In the expelled sludge and detritus of all the districts above, Envy is the scrapyard of the Mohole where Greed’s ground pollution and the trash of the others are dumped into. Here, scavenger clans fight for scraps with makeshift weaponry and try to accumulate enough money to secure passage to Wrath and maybe even beyond. This escape from the depths is uncommon but possible, especially when they are exiled demons from the higher levels and not “native dregs”.
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