Hive world and gubernatorial seat of the Ptolemaic Dominate, an ancient multi-system polity pre-dating the imperium by eight millenia and a major player in the power politics of the Aliris Sector.
Ptolemy is a hot white giant star surrounded by rings of rubble extending out for one and a half Astronomical units. These are the remnants of early planetary bodies that either failed to form or were torn apart by her solar tides. Ptolemy-Alpha is naked rock irradiated by the fierce rays of its primary. Ptolemy-Beta is the first habitable planet of the system; water rich and tropically hot this agri-world with its three growing seasons easily feeds the teeming hives of Alexandretta, or Ptolemy-Gamma. Ptolemy-Delta is an arid but rather cool world partially terraformed in ancient times, cross hatched by canals carrying water from the ice caps it is a mining and industrial world with a strong Mechanicus presence though it is not a Forge World. At the edge of the habitable zone is the gas giant Ptolemy-Epsilon orbited by the world sized pleasure moon Cypria.
Like most ancient hive worlds the planet of Alexandretta is pretty used up. Outside of the cities you will find nothing but barren miles of sand, stone and lichen like yellow ground cover dotted by a few shallow seas fed by small, seasonal rivers running down from the time worn mountain ranges.
These outer wastes are not unpeopled; rebels, outcasts and religious ascetics all scrabble some kind of living out of the limited resources to be found there. There are still pockets of arable land to be found in the jagged highlands and a flourishing desert ecology of mostly nocturnal carnivores and prey animals to be hunted.
The continent sized hive of Alexandretta Polis dominates the south-eastern quarter of the planetary surface and is by far the largest concentration of population on Alexandretta but there are a number of smaller pyramidal cities, some extremely ancient, dotting the planet; Serapion, Philae, Hermopolis, Faiyum, etc.
Culture and Civilization
The Church of Alexandretta adheres to the Divus Imperialis sect which teaches that the Emperor had a single, purely divine nature and was thus completely apart from and inconcievably above mere Humans who cannot expect to comprehend His purposes but must submit entirely to His Will as revealed by His Church. This hegemony is however regularly challenged by half or wholey mad religious visionaries who periodically stagger in from the outer waste to preach passionate, subversive doctrines and excit unrest among the proles. Witch-cults are another recurring problem testing the dominion of the Church and the watchfulness of the Inquisitorial cabal headquartered in Alexandretta Hive.
Alexandretta is also home an ancient Death Cult which was long ago ruled an acceptable variation of the Imperial Creed by the Holy Synod and is embraced unquestioningly by the most strictly pious Alexandrettans. Its main tenents involve the necessity of a ritually correct funeral and continual prayers and offerings on behalf of the departed souls amounting to a form of ancestor worship. The dead are regarded by the living as perfected beings and necessary go-betweens to present the prayers and petitions of most imperfect mortals to the God-Emperor.
The Outer Wastes are dotted with necropoli, some going back tens of thousands of years, the most famous of which is the Ptolemaeus Necropolis, burial place of a thousand generations of Basileus and Basilissas, their relatives, courtiers and servants. It comprises a monumental city of the dead nestled within the tawny, titanic walls of a long extinct volcanic crater. The mausolea, obelisks and statuary are built on a cyclopean scale out of black and white and colored marbles and are lavishly decorated with inscriptions and reliefs.
Ancient custom requires that the dead be buried with all their personal possessions, religious and votary items and figures representing their kin, servants, residences etc. Needless to say burials of the elite classes are veritable treasure chests. This tradition has led to the practice of the wealthy storing their treasuries in the Necropoli where they are protected not only by religious sanction but by the very material arms of the Death-Head Guard, Desert warriors in the service of the Necropolis priestesses. These guards are recruited from among the waste outcasts by the priestesses supplemented by underhive dregs periodically dedicated by the City Phylarch. The Basili have been known to sentence nobles, courtiers and even members of their own family who have lost out in the endless political intrigues to Necropolis service. This usually proves to be a delayed death sentence but a few such exiles survive and even rise to leadership of the guard. Very occasionally a levy of Death-Head Guards is included in the regular military tithe for service on the Wall. The Imperial staff values them highly as infiltrators.
Each necropolis has its college of priestesses to perform the rites that secure the afterlife of the departed, make the offerings and pesent the prayers and petitions of the living to the dead. Unlike the Death-Head guard the priestesses are recruited solely from among the elite. Ancient houses and nouveau riche aspiring to such status voluntarily present their small daughters for consecration at Hive temples. These girls, never less then six years old or more than ten, are delivered to the nearest necropolis for training unless the parents have designated a specific one for their child's service.