Rosskar Solar Duality
Rosskar is a pale, depressing world caught between a vast nothingness of the Segmentum Pacificus. Once it was beholden as a jewel of the Imperial Truth, home one of the largest Legions in the Emperor's realm, and the birthplace of the famous Rosskan Strelky. Now it sits as a sad reminder of the trials the Imperium has faced over the countless years, burned, decrepit, and superstitious. Rosskar produces an unusual amount of Psykers compared to most other worlds, making it a repeated stop by the Inquisition. The Silver Cataphracts chapter holds little control over it, but efforts by Chapter Master Kharikov may change this.
Rosskar was held as a beacon of hope for countless colonists. A far flung world offering rich bounty in both vegetation and beasts. Before proper studies could be done, millions swarmed the world to colonize it. The forests were beaten back, technology kept balance in check, all was well. But not for the colonists. They had been interested by a planet with gleaming crystal ice lakes, beautiful majestic tree covered mountains. Animals of all types and shapes in the fields in the rays of blue sunlight. What they found instead, was a hostile planet with infrequent yet devastating snowstorms, hidden and deadly creatures of the forest. The thistles on the branches looked less magnificent, more menacing. Constantly growing out ahead even after you've trimmed them twenty times today. Trying to claim you and your family to be subject to the will of the sinister wood.
But the Rosskans had little to worry. The best in robotic servants kept the hyper-aggressive foliage from pressing on too hard, with automated facilities that kept the inside of the cities warm and cozy. That is, until the Men of Iron rebelled. Fierce was the fighting with them, but human kind prevailed over the mechanical monstrosities. Unfortunately much of the infrastructure and technology had been lost, with nearly ninety-percent of the Rosskan colonists killed in the fighting.
In the chaos, the few million that still lived were paralyzed by the techno-lords that arose from the ashes. Having selfishly hoarded all the remaining knowledge for themselves, they forced all others to be subordinate to them. Thus ushered in an era of fear and ignorance which even now has not been seen on Rosskar. The main populace had no access to learning of any kind, relying on oral accounts that became horrendously corrupted as time went on. The Covens formed in these times, organizations of wise women to guard against the encroaching number of Psykers awakening on the icy world. These Covens gave help to the people, preserved knowledge with writing, and most of all kept out of control 'Witches' from releasing the horrors of the warp on the main populace.
The Techno-Lords branded themselves as the Gentlemen. The Gentlemen formed an aristocracy of privilege, leaving all others in the squalor of the cold. Hoarding their private resources. But they did bring order to a chaotic time, and without them, the forests would have overtaken the settlements in those perilous times.
In time, some Gentlemen broken off from the main group taking with them their own carefully controlled technology. Soon cities appeared all over Rosskar, with Gentlemen ruling them. War came soon, always using up the poor civilians for the grand ambitions for some master. No city, ever, changed hands. The wars became a past time for the nobility after a while. The bloodlines grew large, the people continued to starve, and Rosskar began to mold into what it would be known as for much of the Great Crusade. A white pearl, with grey specks of humanity on it.
The Primarch could have landed in the forests, coming to tame the beasts and become a wild son of the woods himself. Or he could have landed in the slums, taken care of by the impoverished and taught humility. But instead, he came into the abode of the most wealthiest, powerful, families of all. Their collection of information was the stuff of legend, with Adeptus Mechanicus Adepts still awed by the purity of the documents found on the archives of the family. They were named House of Ibirien, which translates from the Rosskan dialect into Low Gothic roughly as 'The North'. For they were as ruthless as the icecaps which were totally uninhabitable even by the humans of the Golden Age.
Alexandri was spared nothing. He lusted for knowledge more than any child of the Ibirien family. He was famed for his impressive physical stature, leadership in commanding squads fighting border conflicts with the neighboring cities, and generally for the honor he brought the family. But his was a cold, calculating mind. Upon his twentieth birthday, his brother told him the truth of his origins. Alexandri had already deduced he was beyond being normal, but this understanding of where he came from sparked a righteous fire in him. A zealotry not seen in the relaxed, collected man before.
He was destined for greatness. Being the son of a God? No. Being the ruler of Rosskar, all of it? Yes. Most certainly.
The Years of Blood
It did not take long for Alexandri to enlist the aid of his old comrades in the City Militia. Formed gangs were brought into his fold, mobs of peasants sworn into secrecy. Guards were then paid off, allowing his ad-hoc force to overtake the city without a single complication. Well, there was that one clause with the total eradication of every Gentlemen House say for his own precious Ibirien. His family never forgave him for his act, but it did not matter. Ambition, that was all Alexandri cared for. Within a year his pulled together force was a drilled army, that launched lightning attacks on every surrounding city.
The first dozen or so were taken ridiculously quick compared to all other campaigns. Was it because the people were driven by a new purpose? Freedom from the Gentlemen? Whatever the case, the Primarch maliciously used it to conquer his world. But then, resistance was met. An allied coalition formed against him on a plateau known as the Central Plain. Seven cities, closely locked together, known for being the fiercest of enemies had now banded together. Their walls had walls behind them, with reinforced bunkers behind that. Assault after assault was carried out against the Central Plain, with nothing but failure resulting from it.
Alexandri then sought out the council of the Covens. Long had they been cast out of the cities, but they could not be silenced by the Gentlemen. They remained in the land between snowy field and encroaching forest, keeping the beasts back with powers beyond Alexandri's understanding. He asked them two questions. How can I be happy? How can I conquer Rosskar? The Witches told him what must be done: To take the walls, one must destroy the city around it. To find true happiness, one must seek to those closest to him.
Taking their advice to heart, Alexandri fell to the mercy of his remaining original family. They forgave him, for there was no excuse or ploy. His armies leveled the Central Plain, not aiming at fortifications, but indiscriminately bombarding the urban areas. Eventually, the people gave up. Some fought on until there was no city left to fight for. As a promise to the Ibirien House however, all the Gentlemen and their families were spared. This sparked a seed of resentment in his people that fester in due time.
Alexandri named himself Emperor of Rosskar, and attempted to fix the many problems in a vain effort to craft his world into a utopia. The simple fact was however, it would take time to reform the populace and rebuild the glory of the past. Not all knowledge was preserved, but he worked tirelessly to match his promises made at the beginning of the long war. A generation passed, and many of those promises had gone unfulfilled. The people split into two camps, those who quietly did not approve of their Emperor but decided to leave things as they were, and those who he had made scorned through years of seemingly false promises.
The Ibirien family was targeted after several failed attempts to kill the Rosskan Emperor. This drove Alexandri into a fury, establishing the illusive Secret Police. Not good looking men in fine suits, but average every day men plucked, trained, then put back where they were in society. Endless amounts of uprisings died before they surged, eliminated in their infancy. People disappeared often, and all now felt the long arm of the Emperor of Rosskar. By the end of the decade, the head of the shadowy organization joked that there were more rebellions made by their sting operations than actual attempts to overthrow his majesty's rule.
Alexandri had past the test. He had shown he was willing to do anything it costed to hold his seat of power. Such a man could keep things running on Rosskar, smoothly, many believed.
When one of the famous Immaterium infused solar flares beat out from Rosskar's waning sun, on 098-855.M30, a Navigator of the 444th Expedition Fleet saw it. Like a moth to the flame, the Navigator insisted on investigating it immediately. From astrological charts, there should have been nothing here. The Expedition Fleet had just made contact with Forgeworld Kyuw, and it's sworn Knight World of Kazak. They needed to return with news of the discovery. But the Fleet commander chose to press on ahead. After making contact with the surface, and sending a welcoming party to the planet below, it became clear the leader was one of the fabled lost Primarchs.
To the Rosskans, not much changed immediately. In a month or so, suddenly however, thousands of incredibly strong and tall people were casted out onto the streets. The effect on the Rosskan people was instant. Some Astartes rose to prominence through diplomacy, wise words and a silver tongue. Others used brute force to climb their way up. Most however had little ambition choosing to instead live out their lives as Rosskans as they had been told. This was the first time the barriers of Post-Human Dread would be shattered, and it would not be the last.
In little to no time Alexandri began work on forging a small fiefdom, the Rosskan Principality, with Rosskar as it's crown jewel. Even with the depopulating effects of the Strelky, the planet boasted a massive population. In the following decades, with the help of adepts from Forgeworld Kyuw, whole sections of cities were turned over to full time dedication of production. The Central Plain, with it's seven cities that had so stubbornly fought Alexandri in the past, was rebuilt fully. This time with the best in Imperial technology being added onto the defenses.
An odd sense of pride emerged in the people at this time. The Imperial Truth was being accepted not just as an ideology, but a way of life. The last traces of superstition from the dark days of the Gentlemen Houses was disappearing from the populace. People strove to learn, to educate themselves. Literacy rates skyrocketed from fifty-eight percent to ninety-six percent in a single generation. It was not just an industrial revolution that took place, but a cultural one. For the first time ever, Rosskans didn't absolutely hate everything about their world.
The Hektor Heresy
It was not to last. Just at the height of this glorious age, came the dark news of Hektor's betrayal. The people of Rosskar though themselves safe, removed from the war and a target in which only people who despised Alexandri would take. Some even questioned if the Regent should join with the Warmaster, or already had. The Legion was away, with only a few paltry Astartes garrisons remaining in the Rosskan Principality. But again, why worry, war would never come to them. The naivety did not last long, as Supreme Commander Alexey marshaled the planet into action. More Strelky were drawn up, trained, and militias organized. The old Vityaz suits of power armor were recommissioned for use by the remaining Gentlemen. If war came, the Son of the Primarch would be at least prepared for it.
The Sons of Fire, Life Bringers, and Mastodontii taskforce acted brutally swift upon entering the subsector. First they cut off Rosskar from it's sister territories in the Principality, wiping them out before moving on. Though the details of the event are unknown, Forgeworld Kyuw was destroyed with no survivors though no Legionary forces went to the world itself. Finally, it was time to strike. The Strelky Fleet in orbit fought valiantly, but it was nothing in comparison to the Legionary vessels' might. Little over half the planet was sacrificed in the first week alone then, relying on orbital and surface-to-void defenses to keep the advantage over the Central Plain.
The Traitors had expected a swift victory as the morale of the defending humans crumbled. There were no Astartes to hold a firm line, and their might would win the day. But time and time again they were rebuffed by the Strelky. The Rosskan forces took major casualties in the process of each skirmish, bleeding them dry of manpower. The surrounding territories however heard of Rosskar's plight. Ships from all over started entering the system, bringing with them guns and troops. If it was not for these timely reinforcements from the Imperial Army, all would be lost surely.
As the months drew on the few remaining cities on the same hemisphere as the Central Plain began to fall. Alexey consigned these places to be bathed in radiation, blasting them apart with the ancient weapons even the Gentlemen never resorted to using. These nuclear devices were continuously deployed from then on, especially against the Astartes of the Life Bringers Legion. The Central Plain became breached in its southernmost city, the entire area lost in a month. Fighting intensified greatest here when one of the most horrific Human vs. Astartes urban conflicts began.
In four months, the entirety of the Central Plain was lost. The remaining Imperial Army which had stayed behind, and the last of the Strelky put up a final defense around the Tower of the Regent. Down below was the gigantic underground super-structure housing the Astartes garrison and the gene-seed banks of the Legion. Nearly 20,000 glans were stored in there, the lifeblood of the Silver Cataphracts and a boon to any Traitor Legion if seized. Alexey had taken advantage of the sacrifice of the troops above, saving what few civilians he could. Out of the pre-Heresy population of ten billion, only one million Rosskans survived.
The Traitor Legionnaires eliminated those on the surface, deciding to attack the following day after a rest and rearmament.
The Steel Marshals Legion arrived twelve hours later, overwhelming the taskforce's battered ships and making planetfall swiftly. The timely arrival of the Legion had ensured the future of not only Alexandri's Legion, but his homeworld. Starvation was looming right around the corner for the million survivors. Even if the thousand or so remaining Astartes defending the gene-seed banks could hold for their Primarch and Legion, all the people of Rosskar would die.
In the aftermath of the attack, half of Rosskar was inhabitable due to radiation. Solar flares from the odd, weird sun mixed in a minor touch of the warp with it. Those poor souls lost in there mutated, scavenging among the wreckage of left behind battle gear. These mutants descended from stragglers on both sides still to the modern day plague Rosskar. A week later, Alexandri arrived with the Silver Cataphracts Legion. The Steel Marshals joined with their brothers, heading towards rumors of Gaspard Lumey's location. Alexey was plucked from Rosskar, with a few hundred of the Strelky born on Rosskar staying behind to take care of the displaced civilians.
After the disbandment of the Strelky, millions of Rosskans taken up into the ranks of the Auxilia came back to their planet determined on reconstruction. Alexey chose however, to live out his days on Ciban, leading to great resentment among his former soldiers for the man. In time, Alexandri would fall, and then the Silver Cataphracts would accept the Codex Astartes. The Rosskans felt humbled, their wings clipped and ambitions blunted. Once they had been the center of a small universe, and now they sat alone once more, a sad white dot all by itself.
Recovering in Reformation
Somehow, the planet had become more hostile. The radiation not only twisted men, but beasts as well. The mega-fauna now had become horribly altered, growing even more deadly. Those from the Strelky began forming a militia to fight off the beasts using their old equipment. A council was established, a long time coming as it took decades to build up. It brought a democratically elected leadership to replace of the old rulership of Alexandri. The pride of the Principality and the Silver Cataphracts was gone from the people. Illiteracy began to increase steadily due to the loss of faith in the Truth.
Not much else happened in these times. Rosskar went unnoticed, being largely unimportant to the rest of the Imperium at large now. The millions became billions once more, but this time limited to five thriving cities. Councilors from each of the five would convene to talk about laws and business. Terms were limited to two years, but there was no limit to how many terms one could serve. So long as one held the popularity of the people, they could stay in charge perpetually.
The Second Holocaust
Old grudges still lied squarely on Rosskar though. Cresyk of the Mastodontii Legion, his warband known as the Ivory Swords, organized other Mastodontii warbands to exact revenge on the Regent's homeworld for grievances stretching back nearly a thousand years. His force came down upon Rosskar before they even had any idea what was going on. This was not the rows upon rows of determined fighters they had expected. The Silver Cataphracts Chapter responded swiftly, but could not stop the mayhem raging around them. The cities were razed, the people left to the cold.
To stop the rampant destruction, the remaining missiles of radioactive ordinance launched. Once again, parts of the Rosskan world were sacrificed wholesale to save them. The Mastodontii warbands only fought ever harder after that, determined not to slow down like they had done before during the First Holocaust. In the streets the bodies of women and children were strapped to the front of Predator tanks and Shadowbaldes. All along the streets lie dead bodies. Cut down, lined up, simply crushed by neglect, it was a mish-mash of callous human butchery.
The Cataphracts stuck to a single city, defending it best they could from a constant barrage of armor. In the end, they succeeded in only saving ten million lives out of the planet's current population of seven billion. Cresyk found little joy in this entire campaign, compared to what he had imagined. His ad-hoc force left, but they had left behind them a ruin of a world once more. They had taken only minor losses, but there was no challenge in it for him anymore. The Rosskans were a beaten dog, just like the one they put on their banners.
In the Forty First Millennium
What little glory remained of Alexandri's rule and of the Rosskan Principality died with the Second Holocaust. The next thousand years had a far slower development than the previous millennium. The Imperial Faith spread like wild fire on the planet, reaching in the hearts of countless foolish souls. The Councilers, who had ruled even during the crisis of the Second Holocaust, were replaced by a dual-dictatorial rule of an Arch-Confessor and Arch-Deacon. Mutants are a part of every day life on Rosskar, but the religious fervor forced many out of the cities. The loss of knowledge during this time led to the eventually spreading of the forests to overtake the remaining cities. Those soldiers from a long lineage of monster-hunters took over the walls. Keeping those beasts at bay for the populace.
Religion is an easy solution to the fact that life is horrid on Rosskar, especially now. The two Ecclesiarchal Priests ruling the world concern themselves more with eradicating those few who follow the Imperial Truth, or stirring up the righteous fervor of their followers to commit genocide on mutants than with dealing with mundane Rosskan issues. Many of those manning the wall warn of the time when walls won't protect them anymore. When the canopy of thistles well rise above their cities, and snuff out the sunlight. When that happens, it will be a constant battle for survival as every creature that fears the light will readily attack them. Many try to flee the planet, and head towards Lucky Ciban, with familial traditions of the Imperial Truth guiding their way.