House Reticulum (夾白蛇首) is one of the seven families that form the Houses Minor of The Empire. Their sacred duty is the arming of The Empire and the provision of its duellists, assassins, and personal bodyguards.
Like most of the Noble Houses, much of House Reticulum's history was lost during the chaotic aftermath of The Scream and The Guild retconing. What stories remain are often skewed or warped with few, if any, knowing the families true history.
The truth is that House Reticulum originates from "East Asia's Governmental Block - Earth" (EAGB-E). During the human colonisation of Acheron Rho, EAGB-E was tasked with the responsibility of providing the weapons and munitions needed to protect the colonists. Shipping these supplies from the core worlds took too long to be a realistic proposal. Instead, EAGB-E provided a complement of expert weapons developers, manufactures and testers. These people, on the starship Reticulum, were the seed from which the noble house grew.
This section is currently being revised, in the meantime see House Reticulum Titles
Structurally, House Reticulum is split into two sects; both of which are represented by their most masterful, respectively.
- Crafters (夾白 - "White Patches Attached") - master weaponsmiths on the bleeding edge of weapon manufacturing responsible for creating The Empire's most powerful weapons. They form a marginal majority in the House.
- Saishu - The head of the Crafters. When a crafter becomes a Daikannushi, they join the council of Daikannushi. This council elects the most skilled and experienced of them. This chosen person becomes the Saishu.
- Daikannushi - Representative. A Crafter becomes the Daikannushi on the completion of a Mahati Astra.
- A Daikannushi that has been patronized by the Emperox themselves earns the title of Jingushi.
- Kannushi - Leader of a workshop.
- Shinkan - Independent artisan.
- Wielders (蛇首 - "Snakes Head") - master duellists, assassins, and personal bodyguards responsible for forming the literal blade of the Emperor. They form a marginal minority in the House.
- Asura - Representative. A Wielder becomes the Asura upon the besting of the current Asura and reigns until they are bested.
- Kheshig - The title given to wielders bound to serve as private bodyguards for the emperox.
- Yaksha - Leader of a dojo.
- Rakshasa - Independent duelist, assassin, or bodyguard.
Note: These names only provide a general sense of what a noble in House Reticulum does. For example, there are many Yakshas who sometimes do independent work. Additionally (bar the titles of the representatives) these titles are not really a sign of an individuals skill.
To achieve the rank of Yaksha and Kannushi, the applicant must seek the approval of another Yaksha/Kannushi or the approval of the Asura/Daikannushi. Once this is achieved, the applicant is tested and seen if they're worthy. They are responsible for training the best, and thus only the best can teach.
The only exception to this structure is the Astradhari, who (when they exist) is the undisputed leader of the entire family.
This division between crafter and wielder is the clearest example of the theme of division in the family. The relationship between these two sides is a long and complex topic, of which many scholarly articles have been written. Very roughly it can be equated to a 'love-hate relationship'.
Though most members of the house seek to join the ranks of honored crafters and wielders, a few nobles refrain from these traditional practices and instead prefer to pursue civil leadership.
- Fumu Guan - Civic leaders in charge of the cities of Aomori and the surrounding lands.
- Khun - A title for a noble of Reticulum, without office or specialization. This term is used to refer to children while they have yet to join a branch of the House. It also is the given title for any non-Reticulum noble who marries into the House.
House Reticulum Military
For the main article, see Military of House Reticulum
Like many of the noble houses, House Reticulum maintains a token military, with many of the House's nobles holding rank. Although it is highly uncommon for a member of House Reticulum to style themselves using any rank they hold in the Tentara Kerajann Aomori (TKA), it has become custom for officers of the Dueling Fleet to style themselves so.
- Laksamana - The commander of the fleet as the whole, as well as those of the individual wings. They make up a small admiralty for the House of Reticulum.
- Kolonel - The chief officer aboard individual ships. Some of the larger ships, such as the flagship HRS Honoured Agreement of Mutual Temperance and Justice, have Kolonels as chiefs of their larger sections.
- Letnan - Leaders of individual sections. Especially skillful pilots and gunners may also hold this rank without the explicit command responsibilities.
For the main article, see Dueling
House Reticulum's traditions of dueling formed the basis of the Formal Agreement of Noble Grievance Resolution (FANGR). By imperial decree (of The Masked Emperox) this system is now the system that all nobles use to settle their grievances, rather than escalating to armed conflict. As home to the sectors best duellists, House Reticulum offers services to all other families, allowing Reticulum nobles to fight in their name.
Fights for entertainment are called bouts.
An Open Secret
While technically a secret (in the legal/official sense), the existence of Reticulum assassins is suspected by many, and a small portion of the nobility possess contacts capable of connecting them with these assassins. As far as who knows who is an assassin, there is a complex web of organization where only two individuals have knowledge of all assassins, the Asura, and the Saishu. Otherwise, only a few select agents, who might have connections to several or only one assassin, act as contacts to those who wish to hire. Even assassins only know who another assassin is if they’ve met and divulged that information to each other.
Hiring an Assassin
If someone wants to hire an assassin, they must do so through a contact. This ensures that not only does the Noble in question not learn the identity of the assassin, but also has plausible deniability. Arranging a contract itself is based on a variety of codes, and could be anything from specific poem structures, to codes embedded within gossip. These codes have been disseminated among various noble families across the houses, and only those who passed them down or bartered with other families know them. The contracts are only recorded as gift exchanges between the Noble buyer and the House, are often carefully misdated (say to a pre-arranged future visit solely for the purpose of deniability), and are stored as physical copies kept in several locations across Aomori. The contract stays valid indefinitely, provided that no time restrictions were specified in the contract, and even if the assassin eventually dies without killing their target, another will be assigned or allowed to take up the contract, and receive the pay upon completion. Payment can range from cold hard credits to other goods and services, provided the assassin agrees.
Training an Assassin
A select few Yaksha, trusted implicitly by the leadership of the house, are responsible for training the assassins of House Reticulum. This training is a heavily guarded secret, and employs varying methods. Potential assassins are selected at a young age by their Yaksha and covertly taken in for training.
The Price of Failure
Due to the unending number of variables that may affect a mission, failures or setbacks of some level are to be expected. If cover has been maintained when an attempt fails, the contract is still in effect and will continue to be so until the target is dead. If cover is broken and the assassin is caught, their existence will then be denied by the house and all/any records of their existence will be destroyed. They are still to attempt to kill their mark, provided they live and escape, and then will either exile themselves, or kill themselves. Any who fail to do so, or who are exposed to a high degree, will instead be killed by another assassin.
Contracts from Non Nobles
Various assassins may accept contracts from non-nobles who have managed to learn or hold onto a code from when their family was noble. While contracts against non-nobles from non-nobles are generally found to be acceptable, contracts against Nobles would be more variable. Some assassins may take a contract at a greater cost than usual, while others might outright refuse.
The noble tongue of House Reticulum is an artificial (pidgin) language that is a synthesis of Earth's East Asian languages. Most of its words are borrowed (such as Aomori) and it is written in the Chinese character set (which is commonly used in many East Asian languages). The language's existence came about in a bid to ease tensions after the creation of the EAGB-E.
During the initial orders, Earth's Central Governing Body assigned the name Reticulum to the EAGB-E support force. Rather than informing their superiors that, Reticulum is not visible and therefore two distinct constellations in the Chinese system, the governmental officials took the initiative. They divided the two constellations that make-up Reticulum between the weapons manufacturers (夾白 - "White Patches Attached") and their testers (蛇首 - "Snakes Head"). This tiny decision went on to have huge cultural ramifications. Now, many in-house Reticulum state that the family would not be whole without the union of both its halves.
For the main article, see Reticulum Education
Reticulum education begins at a young age, moving from a broad curriculum to a much more specialized mentorship under experienced Yakshas and Kannushi.
For the main article, see Reticulum Spirituality
The majority of Reticulum, both crafter and wielder, believe that the weapons they craft and wield are beyond other such implements. Such is the skill of each member of the house that the results of their craft become touched by their mortal souls, becoming Shintai. These weapons hold some link to those noble enough to make and wield them, forever and irrevocably marked.
Traditionally House Reticulum style and fashion are derived from many East Asian cultures but it may differ. Many Reticulum house members wear very practical clothing for their day to day life. A crafter might be wearing something that stays out of the way and keeps themselves cool while they work on their craft. A wielder would wear something easy to move in while still protecting them in their day to day training and exercises. When a wielder is tasked with any job they are wearing clothing that suits their fighting styles first and foremost before fashion. A bodyguard is the most likely to be seen wearing heavy armor or in a formal outfit with armor hidden underneath. An assassin will be wearing something dark and inconspicuous. A duellists clothing takes on a more traditional style rather than the practical style, but still allowing for the swift movements needed from the duellist. For formal events, the style follows traditional clothing styles depending on the occasion and where it is being held. If it is outside in the heat the clothing might follow a more Tibet style of clothing but if it is cold out Mongolian fashion might be more applicable.
Though nobles may entertain themselves with many hobbies, there are only two true arts in House Reticulum.
The crafting of weapons is the most commonly cited art form in House Reticulum. Crafters are always seeking to improve, creating weapons of war which are equal parts beautiful and effective. While each weapon a crafter creates has a special significance to them, there is a culture of perfectionism within the crafters. The completion of each weapon is both a joyous and sombre occasion. With the completion of a weapon, a crafter is able to show the culmination of their time and skill. However, a completed weapon also serves a reminder of their limits. This drives the crafters to constantly strive to create better, more magnificent implements. It is also the reason why the creation of a Mahati Astra, a perfect weapon, carries so much significance within the ranks of the crafters.
Should weapons go missing or become lost in the void of space, the Department of Armament Reclamation and Examination is contacted to sort out the issue.
The artisans of House Reticulum make use of the Heuristic to gauge if the recipients are truly worthy of such art, favoring those who have proven themselves heroic, or at least prone to heroism.
The second art form of House Reticulum is the art of wielding. The perfect weapon is useless without someone capable of using it to its fullest potential. Reticulum's wielders are not merely hired guns or goons. A wielder is a person who has devoted themselves wholly to becoming a conduit of their weapons power. The greatest wielders are masters capable of molding their style to any weapon, pushing it to its exact limit, before trying to draw it beyond. In the eyes of a wielder, a weapon is not a tool, it is a child. You must guide and cultivate it. To fail one's child is not only a mark on yourself but a disservice to its crafter.