Nobledark Imperium Member States
A brief list of national entities that joined the Imperium whilst being interstellar powers in their own right.
Species that are members of the Imperium (Xenos Familiaris) can be found here. Other xenos species can be found at Nobledark Imperium Xenos.
- 1 Survivor Civilizations
- 2 The Craftworlds
- 3 Minor Xenos Races
- 3.1 Tau Empire
- 3.2 Demiurg
- 3.3 Diasporex
- 3.4 Kinebrach
- 3.5 Watchers in the Dark
- 3.6 Tarellians
- 3.7 Thexians
- 3.8 Nicassar
- 3.9 Ulmeathic League
Not all planets were as lucky as Old Earth during the Age of Strife. Although the planet was devastated by the horrors of the Old Night, at least it still retained much of its technology and infrastructure and much of its surface still remained habitable to human life. Other worlds were not so lucky. On many planets, the collapse of the Great and Bountiful Terran Empire caused the inhabitants to regress to medieval or even Stone Age levels of technology. Other planets retained some degree of advanced technology, but the conditions of their world were so harsh that people could just barely survive without assistance from offworld, and welcomed the Imperium with open arms.
When encountering a devolved human society, the Imperium would often unify the planet by the most expedient means possible and then get the appointed representative of the planet to swear loyalty to either the Imperium, the Empty Throne or the Steward depending on prevailing cultural norms of that planet. Worlds with stories of a savior figure that would save them from the Old Night, a common type of story on many worlds, typically had the Steward inserted into that role to ease integration. Worlds that still had some dim memory of the Golden Age typically swore loyalty to the Imperium, which they saw as the great Terran Empire being rebuilt. Worlds that had prophecies of a king that would arise in the distant future to lead them into a Golden Age, another common belief, found it easier to swear allegiance to the Empty Throne instead. For these worlds, it was hard to see anyone born during that age as a potential messianic figure.
These worlds, which are typically under the direct control of the Imperial government and the Administratum, became known as Administrated Worlds, which make up the vast majority of the worlds in the Imperium today. One notable exception were the Forge Worlds, who would only listen or swear loyalty to the lost holy land of Mars, through which the Imperium acquired their cooperation.
However, the Imperium also discovered many worlds that like Old Earth had managed to rebuild from the Age of Strife and become highly advanced societies in their own right, some even managing to carve out their own small interstellar empires. In addition to the Sol-based Voidborn Migrant Fleet and the Mechanicum of Mars, these included the Realm of Ultramar, the Interex, the Hubworld League, Colchis, Inwit, and Necromunda, among many others. For these entities, which became known as Survivor Civilizations, the Imperium offered them a deal: political and industrial autonomy, within certain limits, in exchange for inclusion and a prominent place in the Imperium. The Steward could see that they were as legitimate an inheritor of the Golden Age Empire as Earth was and knew that had he been salvaged by one of them then he would be offering this deal to Old Earth, not to mention that if he was in their position this was the kind of offer he would hope would made to him. The terms of these agreements sometimes varied slightly from world to world, sometimes resembling hammering out trade deals as opposed to treaties of alliance.
Savlar: Because Fuck You, That's Why. - Above the Space Port door on a corrosion resistant glass slab.
Savlar is a shit hole that runs on spite. Food grow there is poisonous and can only be consumed in careful combination so that the various toxins cancel each other out. The air is laced with harmful chemicals and the weather patterns are unpredictable across most of the surface making predicting what is on the breeze all but impossible. The water is unsafe to drink for all but the hardiest of constitutions and must first be filtered.
All in all nobody should ever go to Savlar. Life is short, dangerous and unpleasant. Much like the people that call it home. Or at least a Savlar curse word that is equivelent to home. Savlar has a lot of curses, all forms of wishing natural hazards upon the recipient in lewd and profane ways.
The only reason that the planet has any value at all to the Imperium is for the mystical substance known as neutronium. It is not actual "neutronium" but is just something that the lay-person calls neutronium due to it possibly being non-baryonic matter. Importantly it is the key ingredient in the orbital tethers and even more importantly it is produced nowhere else in the galaxy.
There are only two places in the galaxy that the Imperium can reliably get neutronium. One is by salvaging and repurposing neutronium from Dark Age constructions, mostly orbital tethers but occasionally the carcasses of Dark Age starships and other creations. The problem is that this neutronium is obviously limited in supply, there are many planets with orbital rings that were once home to thriving human populations that are now blasted wastelands, but it is not possible to dismantle something like the Daisy Chain of Earth or the Telstarax of Medusa for usage elsewhere. The other place is Savlar. Savlar neutronium has many more impurities and is much weaker compared to the neutronium produced by humanity during the Dark Age of Technology, akin to comparing low-quality iron ore to Damascus steel, but it is neutronium nonetheless.
Savlar has no native life forms and when man first set foot on it had almost no atmosphere. The atmosphere is has now is a side effect of the old industry. That it turned out breathable, if barely, was just a coincidence. Savlar is now home to an ecosystem made up of extremophile and borderline extremophile life forms of the sort typically found growing next to volcanos on less awful worlds.
The hideous environment is a result of the neutronium manufacture. In the old days of the Golden Age the chemical run off was contained for processing as the world around the facility was slowly terraformed. When the Old Night rolled in the tanks were breached, the processing facilities destroyed and all but one of the factories burned to the ground. This released the chemical cocktail that Savlar is known for.
The natives of Savlar are descended from the people who used to work there and got stranded in ancient days. Genetically they are more or less pure human but like Fenrisians there is very minor deviations. They can handle drugs and toxic substances far better than most people. Biological and cybernetic modifications to help deal with the environment are common on Savlar and in the regiments raised there.
The Neutronium Workshop operates at a mere 5% of it's original estimated output and is tended to by a peculiar and closed order of tech-adepts descended from the maintenance teams and workers that once operated the factory in the Golden Age. The Savlar Order is very much a closed order. They don't let anyone in, nobody leaves, they don't concern themselves with things beyond their gate, and they call no outside authority master. They make neutronium, and cybernetic trinkets, which they exchange for stuff. That's how they like it and that is the extent of how the arrangement would have, could have and should have been. But then the Olympus Mons brotherhood got involved and nearly ruined everything for everyone.
All technological wonders of humanity belong to the Mechanicum. The Savlar Order tended the last neutronium workshop. They were human, the workshop was a human creation and therefore they must submit to the rule of Mars. They sent them a letter, politely worded, to that effect. Savlar sent a letter back telling them in no uncertain terms that they would not submit to outsiders and called into question the parentage of the Mars Council and accused the Fabricator General of sexual deviation.
A second much more strongly worded letter was written, this time demanding, not asking with the declaration that refusal would have them meet the entire Skitarii army should they refuse and was delivered by none other than Ferrus Manus himself in all his brutal glory. The Savlar Order responded with a crudely drawn picture of a magos bent over taking it up the ass from an anthropomorphic Aquila. The substance used to make the offending image was discovered to be fecal matter.
Before this could escalate any further The Steward stepped in. Savlar was elevated to the status of Survivor Civilization, a status it did not deserve by a long way, to be counted alongside The Interex and Ultramar in legal standing. As an allied Survivor Civilization they had all the authority they needed to officially tell the Olympus Mons Brotherhood to go fuck themselves, which they did.
The Mechanicus could have banned all of their trade to Savlar and black listed anyone who did so. They could also have slit their own throats and gurgled the theme song to Aspects of Steel. By this point it was known that the Savlar Order were more than prepared to destroy all that they held dear rather than let it fall into Mars' hands. Mars had gotten into a contest of spite with Savlar and they were fools to do so.
One of the ways that Savlar has spent the better part of 10,000 years infuriating Mars is the baffling tradition of The Great Savlar Scavenger Hunt. Once the stockpile of neutronium is filled a list of items is placed on the outer gate of The Workshop. The list invariably contains a great variety of a great many thing, some of them quite strange. Partly this is almost certainly to prevent the Mars priesthood from deciphering the needed raw materials, some of it's obviously for personal use. The list somewhere will always contain food and fresh water. In exact amounts. Everything is given with exact amounts, in native Savlar measurements. If they ask for a very specific amount of Valhallan Brandy in a specific number of arsenic bronze containers then you bring them that, no more and no less. Deviation from the list is not permitted and the contestant is disqualified. First one back with the entire list ticked off to the Order's satisfaction gets the entire stock heap to divvy up and sell on as they see fit.
It infuriates Mars as it puts them on equal footing to common traders and the like. There is also no pattern to the demands and it is a constant point of discord in the filing system. Creatures of order as they are this infuriates the Mechanicus Scribes and that is almost certainly why the Savlar Order do it. Because fuck you, that's why.
Beyond this very little of the Order is known. Investigations have been requested and refused. The Inquisition could push the issue but it's not worth the risk.
The society outside of the walls of the Workshop is mostly slightly above subsidence farming with very little surplus left over to support many urban structures. Society, civilization is pushing it a little too far, tends to be tribaly based and ruled by the elders or those who have opted to stay sober for a while.
Religion is a plethora of small gods, though Salvlars would claim that they are too small to be gods. Typically they can only be interacted with after taking something mind altering but there is too much consistency in the hallucinations for them to be nothing but things see in the trips. There have been investigations by both the Arbiters and the Inquisition but nothing that can prove or disprove, all that they can say is that there is no notable Chaos corruption.
Indeed not. Chaos offers hope, but they have given up on great hopes. Chaos offers comfort in despair, but they feel not too much despair. They don't feel much anger at things and merely accept the shit. They don't revel in the fumes or seek much excess. If their small gods of the æther are deamons they are doing a terrible job. Most common advice that the small gods give is to slow down on the LSD wine, which is a distinctly un-Chaos thing to suggest.
One more or less consistent belief among the tribes, and it can be inferred to have originated in The Workshop, is the Great Machine. It follows that the Omnissiah is the underlying mechanisms of the universe, the Ultimate Machine, but that it's obvious that the universe is broken. Therefore god is broken and man must increase in wisdom to find a way of fixing it. Once fixed the universe will work right. It is known as the Faith of the Broken God. It is considered HOLY SHIT levels of heresy within the main branch mechnicus but the MArs Priesthood never quite gets as far as declaring the Savlar Order as such because neutronium.
Drugs are about the only thing that make life on Savlar tolerable. They will surely reduce your life time but on Savlar you're probably going to be dead by age 45 snorting Rainbow Dust or not so it's not really the issue it would be on a less fuck awful planet. Besides the neutronium the planets only other notable exports are soldiers and recreational drugs.
The soldiery is a motley band of mostly addicts ( usually recruits) and mostly former addicts (usually veterans).
The Migrant Fleet
See Void Born (Placeholder)
The Mechanicus of Mars and its various Forgeworlds
Interexi Military Forces
Hubworld League (Squats)
Hubworld Military Forces
The worlds of the Hubworld League are all fortresses. This is in part due to their natural architectural inclinations: any sturdy, underground structure can become a bunker with a minimum effort. Mostly, though, it is a matter of natural selection.
Worlds that were not fortresses did not survive the Long Night. The bulk of the Hubworlds are located near the galactic core- the largest concentration of Orks in the galaxy. During the Dark Age of Technology, endless robotic armies rendered this a non-factor. During the Age of Strife, each already-devastated world thrown back onto its own resources... only the worlds which forted up survived.
Visitors to squat holds often remark on how elaborately decorated they are. Statuary, engravings and murals, fine masonry and intricate fountains; their excellent craftsmanship extends far beyond weapons and armor. Such artwork tends to accumulate over time; the oldest holds are best described as 'cluttered with masterpieces'.
Visitors experienced in military matters see how the complex and winding paths would force an invader to divide their forces and funnel through chokepoints. They would notice how the engravings conceal hidden passages for the swift movement of troops, or the mechanisms of elaborate deathtraps.
Perhaps the collections of fine art is a reaction to the stress of having to live in a giant, trap-filled bunker all the time.
At it's height in the relatively short lived golden age of the Great Crusade the Republic of Ultramar counted approximately 500 worlds within it's borders and whilst many of these were mere provincial outposts and nothing more than seeds of potential they were indicative of a thriving and growing civilization.
At the time the Expeditionary forces of the Imperium first made it to the borders of that real, most august of the survivors of Old Night, it was grand and exceptionally so by the standards of the time though far less than it would become with a little over two hundred worlds to count as it's own and many is states of disrepair. But for all the faded glory they were not without their grandeur and when the diplomats and ambassadors of the Imperium offered them sanctuary within it's aegis they were somewhat hesitant. And why would they not be? They had survived for thousands of years alone at the other end of the galaxy to the long forgotten homeworld surrounded by barbarians and monsters. Their inclusion as a Survivor Civilization was eventually achieved on mutually favourable terms.
In the days of the Great Crusade Ultramar prospered like it had not done since the days it was part of the Great and Bountiful Empire before the Age of Strife. With fresh trade links and the pressure of barbarian invasion removed Ultramar again took it's old colony worlds back and regained the ground it had lost.
But for all that the realm itself prospered in this time the internal structure of it was called into question with many of the new border world powers, grown rich and strong on Imperial trade, questioning the right of Macragge to rule all undisputedly. As time went on this dissatisfaction did not abate and the rift between the Provincial Powers and the old money Throneworld only deepened.
Into this descended Gaufrid Fouché, grandson of the Primarch Roboute Guilliman, son of King Gunthar Fouché and about eighth in line for the crown of Franj. Gaufrid was under orders from his grandfather to set up the Ultimate Plan B contingency and set up the groundwork for the Imperium Secundus for the unthinkable eventuality of the Imperium failing. Ultramar was far enough away to probably be unaffected by anything that could kill Old Earth but civilized and prosperous enough to be a viable seed from which to regrow. Although Gaufrid had no actual direct authority within the Realm of Ultramar he did have considerable invested in him by the Imperium with which an ever increasing majority of Ultamars trade went through. Peddling this influence with the provincials and the nobility of Macragge he set forth propositions and proposals that would turn the elective monarchy of Ultramar into a fairer and more representative system of one planet one vote with an overall leader elected for times of dire emergency. Macragge agreed to this to retain some power against the increasing might of Calth, Calth agreed to it as recognition as not Macragge's subordinate was all they ever wanted and the provincial worlds agreed because it gave them a voice and they all agreed to it because refusal to do so would see a great decline in trade and hardening of the borders with the rest of the Imperium. Was this entirely fair? Probably not, but many things are less so.
With the long term threat of eventual civil war averted Gaufrid Fouché married the head of one of the major internal Ultramar trading companies (mostly a purely political decision though he was good friends with her) to further his influence and set about the meticulous and tedious task of reforming the planetary, even nation based, militaries into a more cohesive whole. His task was not entirely limited to maters of military and his hand could be found in almost every aspect of Ultramar's functioning.
Under his influence the realm grew richer and stronger than it had ever done before and many would argue since.
Then The Beast came and all that planning seemed so very insignificant compared to such reckless barbarity.
Ultramar was, by great good fortune, not as targeted as maybe it could have been in the War of the Beast. Guilliman's choice for an Imperium Secundus proving to have been correct in that regard. This is not to say that Ultramar got off easy, just that it got off easier and because of Gaufrid's tireless efforts Ultramar had never been more prepared. But worlds still burned.
The path of rebuilding took a long time. A long, long time as many of the WAAAAAAAGH!!!!! splinters scattered about and stranded corrupt eldar raiders filtered to the eastern fringe when The Beast was cast down. Ultramar endured, the Fortress of the Galactic East. Gaufrid took the name of Guilliman over Fouché to emphasize his authority, a name that his descendant would hold for the rest of Imperial history. Gaufrid Guilliman never saw the completion of the rebuilding of Ultramar, he was a rare example of Rejuvenant Rejection and had adverse reactions to the procedure, he fell to the ravages of time at the tender age of 156.
After the Breaking of the Legions it was deemed that the Ultimate Plan B was never not going to be a possibility and to safe guard it the XIII Legion core Chapter would be gifted to Ultramar and thereafter be renamed Ultramarines.
As of the dying of this Dark Millenium the realm of Ultramar spans nearly 300 developed, sophisticated and cultured worlds, still making it the grandest and strongest if not the numerically biggest of the Survivor Civilizations. As Acting Chapter Master Titus puts forth his reform plans before the Senate and the upheaval in an age of uncertainty all know that either Ultramar will finally die or will be reborn stronger than ever to meet the oncoming storm.
The planet of Colchis was a virtual feudal world by the end of the Age of Strife. The population had been nuked back to the Stone Age by the rebellion of the Men of Iron, and it had taken nearly nine millennia to reach even that level of technology again. An effort not helped by the sporadic Chaos uprisings and the brutal semi-arid climate of the planet.
From the stars came the Eldar of the minor Craftworld Bel-Shammon. The people of Bel-Shammon were desperate. The solar sails and propulsion mechanisms of the Craftworld had been damaged beyond repair, and they knew the birth of Slaanesh was soon at hand. Colchis was located only a stone’s throw away from the homeworlds of the old Eldar Empire, and the people of Bel-Shammon knew that without the ability to move their Craftworld away from the psychic eruption they would need to either find shelter or die. As a result, the people of Bel-Shammon were forced to take unconventional action, and ask the people of the nearby world for sanctuary. Tears of desperation turned to tears of joy as Colchians welcomed them to their home. In gratitude, the Eldar repaid the people of Colchis by teaching them how to build a global and peaceful civilization.
By the time the Imperium first reached Colchis during the Great Crusade, Colchis resembled some sort of planetside Eldar Craftworld crossed with a relatively calm and peaceful version of the ancient Holy Roman Empire. The planet was a veritable patchwork of nominally independent nation-states with a politically independent papacy acting as a mediator in international disputes and a representative for the planet as a whole. The Craftworld Bel-Shammon itself had been dismantled, its wraithbone structures turned into housing and architecture and its Infinity Circuit incorporated into the planet itself.
When the Imperial ships first arrived in the Colchian system, they were greeted by elegant system defense ships. The Colchians had no Warp technology, but only because they never felt the need to go anywhere. There was a Webway gate in the center of the papal palace, having been moved planetside from the old Craftworld, but the planet had little contact with the greater galaxy and had not had a visitor from offworld in decades. The language they were greeted in seemed to be some sort of Old Earth descendant language strangely hybridized with craftworlder High Speech. The Imperial ambassadors were later to learn that this was the global language of legal documents and trade, a practice mirrored in the Imperium with High Gothic.
The Imperium had expected Colchis to be controlled by an Eldar aristocracy ruling over a human underclass. To their surprise, no Eldar on the planet held any position of power above the level of provincial assistant administrator or equivalent title. The refugees of Bel-Shammon had never wanted to rule, they only wanted a place to settle. Colchis was brought into the Imperium as a unique and civilized world reminiscent of an idealized version of some pre-fall Eldar haven, albeit with only 8% of the global population actually being Eldar.
Colchis has remained relatively peaceful despite the general tumult in the galaxy since joining the Imperium. Colchis may not be armed to the teeth like Cadia or Krieg but it has still had to fight off its fair share of invasions. Among the people of the Imperium, humans from Colchis tend to get along better with the Craftworlds than the average human, due to their similar culture. Craftworlds like Alaitoc see Colchis as proof that mankind are not completely hopeless and can eventually learn to be civilized, perhaps in a few million years or so. Human and Eldar supremacist groups like Craftworld Dorhai see the harmonious and relatively non-militarized world of Colchis as the embodiment of everything wrong with the Imperium.
"See, this is the cultural suicide of both the Eldar and human of this world. What my sights lay upon is the abominable fusion of both and the advancement of none. This is the destruction of Eldar culture and their human partners follow suit, there is the strength of none while holding the weakness of both."
- unknown Dorhai writer
"See that fool? That one right there? That is the actual suicide of both Eldar and humanity. I look upon them and I would be turned to pity were it not for the disgust at their stagnation and wretchedness. They prattle on about purity whilst their society crusts over in bones of wraith and dies starved of love or sunlight. They prattle on about purity, romanticizing a time that never was when they lived in some unseen Eden all the while carefully omitting their decadence and depravities. Let them turn inwards and look no more upon the outside world. We will pick their corpses clean, we will out last them, our beautiful hybrid society ever young, ever vigorous. If they cannot change they will rot."
- Her Ecumenical Excellence Mother Dwynwen XXIII of Colchis.
The Eldar Craftworlds mostly entered into the Imperium as the same manner as the Survivor civilizations. The Craftworlds were never ones for formality or paperwork, but they venerated their goddess Isha, who was in a political marriage to the Steward, and originally followed for that reason. Like the Survivor civilizations the Craftworlds had to be dealt with on a case-by-case basis, the terms for their inclusion varying from Craftworld to Craftworld. Over time many Craftworlds saw the benefits being part of the Imperium and integrated to greater and lesser extents, whether it be interacting with the galaxy directly or the colder, more pragmatic reason of having the rest of the Imperium as a buffer against any would-be enemies.
See The Craftworlds
Minor Xenos Races
Although the Imperium is best known as the grand alliance of humanity and Eldar, there are also numerous other minor Xenos races that also call the Imperium home. The Imperium first began officially admitting other races into the Imperium in M36, as a token of gratitude after receiving significant assistance from the Demiurg in the Imperial Civil War. Since then numerous other species, including Tau, kinebrach, the Watchers in the Dark, kroot, Tarrellians, even a few Necron Lords, have all been united under the Imperium’s aegis. These races are often known as “minor Xenos races” not because they are unimportant per se, but because they make up such a small proportion of the Imperium’s total population, even compared to the depleted Eldar. Even the Tau, the most numerous of the minor xenos races, are still outnumbered by the Eldar by an order of magnitude. Like Eldar Craftworlds and Survivor civilizations, minor Xenos races are often given a high degree of autonomy in the Imperium, so long as they follow the few universal rules. In some cases (e.g., Necron lords) inclusion into the Imperium is more like a mutual non-aggression pact than anything else, the Imperium pledging to keep its other citizens from antagonizing its signatories so long as those signatories in turn do not antagonize the citizens of the Imperium.
The Tau are the most recent major addition to the Imperium, and in some ways the most reluctant. They stood for thousands of years on their own, weathering Ork WAAAGHs, AI uprisings, Dark Eldar raids, and the vanguards of the hive fleets before finally admitting they could not survive alone in mid M39. They were a large nation by non-Imperium standards, the size of Ultramar or any of the other Survivor Civilizations integrated into the Imperium, and are the third largest single demographic in the Imperium after humans and Eldar.
Their long refusal to join the Imperium was a puzzle to Imperial minds. For thousands of years, 'Imperium' was essentially synonymous with 'Civilization'; for the Tau to reject membership was essentially to reject their own civilized nature, as far as the Imperial diplomats were concerned. Their stubborn independence is even more puzzling in light of how well Tau and Imperial ethics mesh, the 'Greater Good' ideal of a place for everything and everything in its place having a great deal in common with Imperial ideals of strength through unity and diversity. The Tau, naturally, believe the Greater Good is more complete, comprehensive, and generally superior.
Of course, integration was hardly frictionless. The Farsight Enclaves split off after a brief but bloody war to avoid becoming part of the Imperium. Many Tau resented going from an independent empire to a province of a far larger one, even though they understood the necessity. The subsequent attempts to accumulate more political power within the Imperium generated resentment among the Imperial aristocracy. But in the end, the truth won out- better together than alone.
As of M41, the Tau have become reconciled to their place within the Imperium, but remain ambitious. They want to become the equals of humanity and the Eldar, not just a junior member of the Imperium. They have the technology, they have the will, they have the unity of purpose- if they survive the coming storm, they have an excellent chance of doing so.
Military Forces of the Tau Empire
The demiurg, in the present day, are known as a nomadic race of stocky, silicon- based humanoids, noted for their superb craftsmanship and sharp business sense. As ever, the true story is more complex. The demiurg once had a homeworld, an empire. But no longer.
The foundations of the modern demiurg were laid almost eighteen thousand years ago, before the Fall, when they were a young race first expanding out into the stars. Their now long gone homeworld was located in a star cluster of intense stellar activity, which produced vast amounts of mineral wealth but also great radiation storms that sterilized all carbon- based life which tried to arise. It was not until a silicon based ecology arose that the cluster knew the touch of life, and after millions of years of evolution the demiurg were able to develop civilization and take their first steps into the stars in (relative) peace.
Their first colonies were founded by slower-than-light ramscoops on their closest neighbors, but their expansion only began in earnest when they built the Kybernetes. 'Invented' would not quite be the right word, for the demiurg maintain that the design was revealed to their finest craftsmen by their forge god Faruul in a dream. The Kybernetes are the demiurg equivalent of humanity's Navigators, although naturally there are a great many differences between the two. The silicon biology of the demiurg is exceptionally well suited to the addition of augmetics, and it by this technology that they navigate the depths and currents of the Warp.
A Kybernetes, once selected, undergoes radical and irreversible modification, binding them on the deepest level with their ship. In a very real sense they become the ship, their sense of self expanding outward into the metal. They feel auspex arrays as their eyes, hull plating as their skin, magnetic and gravitic field projectors as their hands, plasma jets as their legs, air recyclers as their lungs, fusion furnace as their heart. They will never again be able to walk on the surface of a world, but very few Kybernetes mourn the loss. And most importantly, the gain the ability to see into the Warp without going mad, and guide their ship-body along its currents. Compared to Navigators, Kybernetes have their strengths and weaknesses. They're slower on average and are slightly more dangerous; a Kybernetes cannot peer as deeply into the Warp as a Navigator and thus are occasionally blindsided by dangers a Navigator would see coming. On the other hand, any demiurg could become a Kybernetes with sufficient training and the necessary modifications.
With this gift from their god, the demiurg began their expansion in earnest, colonizing the many systems of the stellar cauldron in which they had been born. It was not an easy expansion, for all the worlds around them were scorched and lifeless, but their craftsmanship was up to the task. To bind the many colonies of their growing empire together, they created the first of the great Trade Ships; cathedrals of industry, designed to be almost entirely self-sufficient on their years-long tours of the outer colonies, each almost a city unto itself.
For over a millennium, the demiurg methodically expanded. They breached the boundaries of the tortured region of space they called home, and discovered for the first time complex life besides their own; a joyous occasion, one still well remembered by the modern demiurg despite the millennia of tragedy since. They encountered a few other intelligent species, established trading relationships, fought a few small wars. They even encountered the eldar a few times; although by this late point in the Empire's history these all ended in tragedy. But a few small raiding bands boasting of having a vast galactic empire were not enough to halt their steady rise. The demiurg were emerging onto a wider galactic stage.
Then it all ended.
Once more the forge god spoke in their dreams, this time not bearing a gift but a warning. Soon a great divine catastrophe will overtake this entire region of space. None will survive. Board your ships and flee while flight is still possible.
So they refitted their existing ships and built new ones for the longest journey any of them would ever undertake, packed them full of as many people as could fit, and sent them out. Thousands of tiny metal seeds scattering into the bleak void, running as far and fast as they could. The billions upon billions left behind burrowed into deep bunkers and prayed.
Mere weeks after the last ship left, the Eye of Terror opened. Behind them the fleeing ships could see their homes, their families, everything they had ever known, swallowed up by the madly yawning chasm, consumed by the cosmic abortion wound. Everyone left behind, it is hoped, died swiftly. If there is any mercy in the universe they died swiftly.
And the survivors were separated from each other by the turbulence of the warp, scattered across the length and breadth of the galaxy, tiny and alone in a universe going mad. Many, most, would have been overwhelmed by the myriad horrors, and indeed many of the trade-ships-turned-arks vanished without trace. But the demiurg as a whole adapted and endured.
They adapted to lives of strict rationing and harsh discipline. They forged their weapons into tools and their tools into weapons. They traded with those sane enough to talk to and, when necessary, fought with those who weren't. They sifted through the ashes of cinder worlds, scavenging for useful technology or resources. (The Mechanicus is still a little salty about this, even though they handed over any STCs they found as part of the terms when they formally joined the Imperium.) The perfected the methods of quickly and efficiently strip- mining asteroids and minor planets, to extract the maximum amount of resources before some imminent threat forced them to flee once more. When the warp was too turbulent to risk transit, they took the long way, crawling through the long darkness between the stars with Bussard ramscoops.
Some of them turned to darker paths to try and ensure their survival. Some turned to piracy, looting peaceful and defenseless worlds. Some dug up technologies they really should not have. Some even made deals with the very dark powers which had destroyed their homes. None still persist; the demiurg made a special point of hunting them down.
As the centuries and millennia passed, the scattered arks were able to find each other once more. The demiurg would never really be a unified state again; there had been too much cultural and political drift during their long isolation. Even if that wasn't a factor, they were simply far too scattered for any sort of central authority to exist. Still, they raised their sights higher than mere survival and began to recover. To forge a new society in the voids between worlds.
EDITOR'S NOTE: Demiurg were the first non-human, non-eldar race to join the Imperium. Other species like the Watchers and kinebrach had been admitted as vassal states, but demiurg were the first to come in as an independent power in their own right. Demiurg got the invitation for helping the Imperium during the Age of Apostasy and were admitted in the midst of the post-Vandire political restructuring. However treaties for inclusion had to be hammered out on a brotherhood-by-brotherhood basis. The best idea for the reason the Demiurg were invited so far is that either the Orks or Crone Eldar massed for a big push on the Imperium while the Imperium was too busy forming a circular firing squad due to the Imperial Civil War. Demiurg stepped in to help fight because the Imperium usually acted as a buffer against the big threats and if they went down all hell would break loose. Accepted the offer because they saw the mercantile opportunities in joining.
The identity of the demiurg's now- dead forge god Faruul is a matter of some debate. Some eldar believe it to have been Vaul, pointing the the demiurg's proximity to the Crone Worlds of the Old Eldar Empire, the mastery of the warp demonstrated by the Kybernetes, and foreknowledge of the birth of Slaanesh.
Some heterodox Mechanicus sects suggest it was a facet of the Omnissiah, pointing to the massive adoption of cybernetics among demiurg society, whereas Vaul was never associated with such augmentation in the slightest. (Such an opinion is considered heresy by many on Mars; to them the Omnissiah is a god of human technology and only human technology, not xenos.)
Although whether all technology or only human technology is the holy domain of the Adeptus Mechanicus per the will of the Omnissiah is a subject of theological debate still argued over by Mechanicus tech-priests to this day, the demiurg are still forbidden entirely from approaching within a million kilometers of Mars, officially to preserve its holy sanctity. Since similar restrictions apply to nearly all xenos breeds, nobody regards this as unusual.
The Guardians of the Dragon take no chances.
More of a religious movement than an actual species, the Diasporex are a nomadic fleet-bound civilization encountered by the Imperium during the Great Crusade. The Diasporex were first discovered by the expeditionary fleet of the Dark Angels, who were surprised when they accidentally stumbled upon what appeared to be veritable fleet after dropping out of warp around what they thought was a dead star. After an initial awkward misunderstanding, diplomatic contact with the Diasporex was made, and after turning down initial overtures at joining the Imperium the Diasporex pointed the Dark Angels in the direction of the nearest uncontacted human world.
The movement of what would come to be known as the Diasporex began during the Age of Strife. The founders of the Diasporex were native to a planet that was devastated by the warp storms and other psychic phenomena common to the Age of Strife and were forced to leave their homeworld to the relative safety of voidspace in order to survive. It was here in space that the Diasporex had what could be considered a religious revelation. They realized that here, in void space, not on a planet, not in the Immaterium, it was peaceful. Upon further thought, it seemed obvious in retrospect that the Void represented the true nature of the universe, given that the Void made up the vast majority of the universe, with the only significant phenomena being the movement of the major heavenly bodies across the cosmos.
Today, the Diasporex are a nomadic civilization, constantly moving from star to star across the cosmos. One of the only reasons they ever stop are to refuel their ships at the hydrogen collecting space stations they have set up at various waypoints across their pre-planned journey. The Diasporex travel through space using a unique type of engine of unknown origin. It is still debated whether Diasporex engines are of xenos design, represent a modified pre-Warp Dark Age of Technology engine, or are a mixture of both. Although the Diasporex engines work well for their purposes, they are maddeningly useless for any Imperial use. Diasporex engines are no better than their Imperial counterparts for in-system travel, and although being to accelerate to slightly faster than the speed of light, their slow speed means that it can often take the better part of a year at minimum to move from one inhabited system to its nearest neighbor.
In times of peace, the only other time the Diasporex ever stop their journey is to visit inhabited worlds, to trade with the locals for goods that they cannot grow or manufacture aboard their ships, and to proselytize others to abandon terrestrial life and join their creed. The Diasporex are a veritable menagerie of sapient species, including humanity. It is not clear if the original founders were human, xenos, or a mix of both. The Diasporex have deliberately obscured the true origin of their founders as a point of pride, to show that their creed is open to people of any species.
The Diasporex creed follows several simple rules: 1) Warp travel is forbidden, or at least restricted to an absolute minimum. Although Diasporex ships are capable of Warp travel, they only use it if the fleet is under direct attack. According to Diasporex beliefs, warp travel irritates the universe and makes it more difficult to hear the Harmony of the Spheres. 2) No violence except in self-defense. The Diasporex exalt peace and self-harmony, though they realize the galaxy is unlikely to conform to their beliefs. Peace-loving does not mean unarmed. 3) Relinquishment of worldly possessions. In addition to the simple reasoning that if everyone brought their belongings on board there would be no room for anything else on the ship, the Diasporex believe in asceticism in order to keep focused on the nature of the void. However, the Diasporex are not cruel. They often allow new initiates to bring on objects that have personal value or could benefit the fleet, such as a picture of family members or books.
As can be expected, the Void Born like the Diasporex and their way of thinking quite a bit, although not enough that they are willing to part with their worldly possessions and join them.
The Imperium mostly lets the Diasporex survive unmolested for several reasons. First, as the Diasporex travel from world to world, they trade and barter for goods with the inhabitants of each planet they visit. The Diasporex essentially act as a trade convoy for the worlds in their region of space, one that the Imperium does not even have to expend resources to maintain.
Additionally, the Diasporex serve as an important early warning system. The path of the Diasporex is well known and can often be predicted years in advance. If the Diasporex caravans scatter, it means that something unusual is going on. Furthermore, despite being largely non-aggressive the Diasporex have proven to be tenacious in the defense of their way of life, helping the Imperium during several Black Crusade by channeling the power of the stars they absorb energy from into devastating beams of destruction. The Diasporex are also skilled voidsmen due to the amount of time they have spent travelling voidspace, often able to outmaneuver Imperial ships despite their relatively antiquated technology.
The Diasporex and the Imperium have only come into conflict over two specific issues. The first is when an individual, usually an Imperial Navy officer, tries to join the Diasporex and brings Imperial property such as an Imperial Navy voidship with them as a gift. The situation is usually defused by the Diasporex denouncing that they have any claim to the ship, although they are willing to accept new converts and new voidships, they will not do so at the risk of angering the Imperium. The other is when someone tries to disturb or destroy the various hydrogen collecting waystations scattered throughout the galaxy. Although the Diasporex are typically placid and unconcerned with the actions of those inhabiting the solar systems they travel through, they will vigorously defend any threat to their way of life.
The Diasporex occupied quite an awkward position in Imperial politics for many years. After it became clear that the Diasporex were a theocratic democracy, and that they had only sent humans to meet with Imperial representatives because they felt humans would be comfortable talking with human ambassadors, it was clear that the Diasporex could not be simply admitted into the Imperium in the same manner as Colchis or the Interex. However, the Steward did not want to allow free trade with the Diasporex as a non-Imperial power, as that might give other systems a legal excuse to trade with more unsavory entities. At the same time, it was clear that it was not possible to stop the Diasporex migration and trade with other worlds without resorting to open war. In the end, the Diasporex were named an honorary member state and protectorate of the Imperium, albeit one that kept to themselves and never interfered in Imperial politics. When the Imperium began accepting non-human, non-Eldar member states into the Imperium in M36, the Diasporex finally had a place to fit into the Imperium’s political structure. Nevertheless, the Diasporex still almost never exploit their status to affect Imperial politics, preferring to sail the same route through the stars their ancestors plotted centuries before.
The Kinebrach are a heavy-set, simian-like species of xenos native to the Segmentum Pacificus. Indeed, it is thought that many of the fortress worlds scattered around the segmentum were originally built by them. In many ways, kinebrach appear very similar to Old Earth gorillas. Like gorillas, the kinebrach are ape-like, mostly herbivorous (though they are more omnivorous than gorillas), and when given the choice prefer to live in humid swamps and jungles. However, unlike gorillas, kinebrach walk bipedally erect, though their extremely long arms (which extend below their knees) betray their tree-dwelling habits.
Kinebrach have a tripartite jaw with well-developed grinding plates, which they use to grind vegetation and crush fruits and nuts. A deep slit between the two upper jaw plates contains the kinebrach’s oral olfactory organ, which lies at the front of the roof of their mouth. Kinebrach will sometimes flare the two flaps of their upper “hare-lip” apart, in order to better smell an unfamiliar individual or object. A kinebrach’s skin resembles a hippopotamus or wild hog, with a thick, dark blue-black skin covered by a thin layer of wiry brown to russet fur.
The Kinebrach are most famous throughout the galaxy for their skill as metalworkers. Metalworkers occupy an almost legendary status in kinebrach society, to the point that the kinebrach are actually led by a council of warsmiths. To the kinebrach, to be a decent leader you are almost expected to be a good blacksmith, as a good metalworker exhibits all the traits that must be present in a good leader. They must have vision, in order to be able to shape the metal to their liking. They must have patience, in order to be able to perfect their work into the form that they desire. And they must have strength of spirit, in order to endure the heat of the forge and the physical toil of hammering the metal into shape. Disputes between major kinebrach political figures are often settled by forge-offs, with each party trying to forge a superior work to demonstrate the righteousness of their belief or grievance.
This obsession with metalworking even extends into the Kinebrach’s method for dealing with daemons. Like many sentient species, the Kinebrach have figured out that if a daemon is bound to one place, then it can be easily accounted for and cannot roam freely to corrupt others. As a race of metalworkers, it seemed obvious to the kinebrach to bind troublesome daemons within forged weapons, as opposed to ordinary objects or living beings. These cursed weapons, as the Kinebrach call them, are then sealed in such a way that no one can access them or be tempted by the daemon sealed inside. Such cursed blades include Drach’nyen and the cursed blade stolen by Erebus during the chaos of the War of the Beast, which was later broken by the Dark Prophet and forged into the eight Anathame, the so-called “splinters in the eye of reality” that plague the Imperium to this day.
There is some suggestion that some kinebrach have gone rogue and joined the Chaos-worshipping Davinite warrior lodges, taking cursed weapons with them. The kinebrach are not happy to hear this news.
Kinebrach names are written as a series of hyphenated syllables, said almost like a drumbeat. This is apparent even in Kinebrach writing, where individual names are written in a distinctly different script than the words that surround them. This appears to be due to the modern Kinebrach writing style being the result of the fusion of two previously distinct Kinebrach cultures many millennia ago. Although the Kinebrach seem like a monolithic culture now, they apparently were not before the Age of Strife.
Like all sentient life in the galaxy, the Kinebrach were hit hard by the Age of Strife. After the end of the Age of Strife and the birth of Slaanesh, the Kinebrach believed themselves to be a dying species. This fear was only magnified when they encountered their nearest neighbors, the Interex. After first contact, communications broke down between the two species, and the two empires went to war. This war was devastating to the kinebrach, who feared that the conflict merely confirmed their imminent extinction. However, after about a century, the kinebrach were contacted by diplomats from the Interex. The Interex claimed that the breakdown in communications was due to imperfect translation technology on the Interex’s part, and they had never wanted to exterminate the kinebrach in the first place. Instead, they proposed an agreement. The kinebrach would become a protectorate of the Interex, providing them with advanced technology and metalworking in exchange for the Interex’s military protection. In addition, the Kinebrach would be forbidden to carry arms except during times of war.
The Kinebrach, for their part, did not care. They had been more concerned about the survival of their species than their ability to bear arms. Indeed, despite being led by a council of warsmiths, the kinebrach were a rather non-aggressive people and did not mind if another, more vibrant species went to war on their behalf. What’s more, the conflict had become so heated that some of the Kinebrach had almost been tempted to take up the cursed weapons out of desperation, something that the rest of the Kinebrach knew could have easily destroyed both civilizations. The Kinebrach were glad that such a worst-case scenario had not come to pass.
Like the Watchers in the Dark, the Kinebrach came under the aegis of the Imperium much earlier than other minor xenos races, entering as a protectorate of the Interex. However, with the official admission of minor xenos faces into the Imperium in M36, the Kinebrach became an officially recognized independent member state of the Imperium, albeit one with close political and economic ties to the Interex.
Today, the kinebrach are highly respected in the Imperium for their ability as metalworkers, representing one of the Imperium’s few non-Adeptus Mechanicus sources of technology along with squats and Earth Caste tau. However, unlike the Adeptus Mechanicus, the kinebrach are first and foremost artisans and metallurgists, rather than manufacturers. The kinebrach are more interested in making new alloys and crafting new masterpieces than in mass-production. Although the kinebrach have the knowledge to build starships, most find the intricacies of large-scale machines less interesting. Your average kinebrach would be more interested in a wall made of rare, high-quality, or particularly well-crafted metal than a highly-complex machine.
Given their similarities, many have wondered if the kinebrach are somehow related to the Jokaero, another simian-like race with an affinity for crafting and technology, some even going so far as to suggest the jokaero are a subspecies derived from the long-lost descendants of the kinebrach that existed outside the Segmentum Pacificus. However, genetic testing has shown that the kinebrach and Jokaero are two completely unrelated species, and their ape-like similarities evolved completely independently. When asked about this, the kinebrach replied that they had once wondered the same thing regarding Eldar and humanity.
The kinebrach’s main contribution to the Imperium and its long war against Chaos are not its soldiers. Although when pressed the kinebrach can be quite physically formidable, by weight of numbers they are insignificant on their own. It is their weapons, specifically their blades that the Imperium craves.
The kinebrach have tendency to put a lot of themselves into their work and that's not entirely figurative. The kinebrach as a species are all latent psykers but their ability is limited to what they can do with crafting and metalwork. In some ways this is a good thing, as it allows expression of psychic abilities in a more stable, controlled fashion, and if a daemon does possess a kinebrach what the daemon can do with its host is limited.
There's a lot of ceremony and ritual to it but one of their master smiths can beat a blade containing hate and anger and sorrow and it will hunger for war and vengeance on his behalf. The inquisition is always willing to pay top throne for a genuine Kinebrach knife. They make great daemon stabbers and a daemon stabbed with one of those knives knows it's been stabbed.
But there is a price to this.
Strands of fate twist around that metal and it will always be dragged to the war and will drag whoever is holding it. It is said that even an inanimate object has a minuscule reflection in the Warp, and kinebrach blades take this to extremes, its history impressing itself upon the present day in a vicious cycle. Not that this makes any difference in the Dark Millennium, everyone who owns one of those blades is already marching along the path of war.
Watchers in the Dark
When the Old Ones left much of their webway-making equipment on Caliban, it left a bit of a hole in the fabric of reality. This slowly allowed Warp energy to leak through into the Materium, something that wasn’t very helpful for a planet already so close to the Eye of Terror. Over the course of generations, much of the planet became uninhabitable due to Warp exposure mutating the local wildlife and turning the local ecosystem into a hellscape. Although natural selection due to Warp exposure had given the native sapient species a great deal of resistance to Warp energies and chaos-related mutations, it was not enough to protect them from the great beasts and detestable flora that covered most of the planet. Out of a sheer need for survival, the native sapient species of Caliban developed into a society fanatically obsessed with opposing Chaos and reclaiming their planet, but because of their limited physical prowess were unable to do much more than keep their few remaining bastions of civilization untainted at great cost.
The Dark Angels, being the first legion sent out beyond the Sol system to look for survivors of the Age of Strife, were the first to encounter Caliban. Upon meeting with the Dark Angels, the Watchers saw the opportunity these visitors from the stars presented them and entreated the Dark Angels for help. Luther, more worried that the Imperium was going to carve up Franj while his back was turned, was dismissive, whereas Lion, ever the idealist, saw the Watchers as people, a Chaos-opposing people no less, in need and stepped in to help. Lion and the Dark Angels made short work of most of the Chaos Beasts on Caliban, and in gratitude the Watchers pledged their fealty to Lion and the Dark Angels. A small garrison of Dark Angels was left on Caliban, but this notably did not include Lion or Luther. The garrison’s job was to help the Watchers rebuild their planet, but it was difficult because they could never really find the source of the Warp corruption and could only keep the number of beasts to a minimum.
The Watchers in the Dark are essentially the reason the loyalist Dark Angels even survived the schism. When two-thirds of your forces turn on you at once, it is difficult to even survive under normal circumstances. Although the Watchers couldn’t physically fight against the traitor space marines in direct combat, they could relay information and help loyalist marines find one another in the chaos, even helping loyalists tell friend from foe. And in a pinch, if you don’t pay attention to a Watcher in the corner with a knife while fighting your loyalist brother, he will seriously mess up your day. However, in the course of the fighting during the schism, Caliban was destroyed, and the Watchers in the Dark were left without a homeworld. Some say the Watchers intentionally blew up their homeworld, to deny the Fallen the use of the Chaos Beasts and the artifacts beneath its surface.
The Watchers are a very minor xenos race, even in comparison to the other minor Xenos races of the Imperium. Their homeworld is gone, and there are only just enough of them to act as support staff for the loyalist successor chapters of the Dark Angels. At first the Watchers were a rather poorly kept secret to the rest of the Imperium. However, when the Imperium started allowing minor xenos races to join the Imperium, the Dark Angels were some of the first in line to present a petition on behalf of the Watchers. People coughed when they saw this, but let the Watchers in anyway. It is likely that the Steward knew of the Watchers’ existence and their contributions to the fight against Chaos before they were officially known to the Imperium at large (probably from the Lion if nothing else), which is probably the reason why the Watchers were admitted into the Imperium despite being a group of mysterious Xenos attached to the descendants of the legion most infamous for going rogue.
Even as an official part of the Imperium, the Watchers are rather enigmatic. Watchers in the Dark can occasionally be seen on hive worlds and other metropolitan areas, but are almost always running some kind of errand for their chapter. Their biology and social structure beyond “warp-resistant, long-lived, and hate Chaos” are only known to the Dark Angels and a few Ordo Xenos Inquisitors who have found out via other avenues. Even the gender or age of a given individual is not clear. The Watchers technically don’t pay a tithe, but since the entire species is basically a vassal race nearly inseparable from the loyalist Dark Angel successors, nearly every adult member of the species serves in some fashion.
Despite, or perhaps because of, this lack of information, a whole host of rumors have appeared regarding the Watchers in the Dark. As with all rumors, it is almost impossible to tell where these stories came from and if there is a grain of truth in them or not. Some say that the Watchers one sees today are the same Watchers that served during the War of the Beast, and there have been none born since the destruction of their homeworld. Others point out that the Watchers would have become extinct by now through simple attrition if that were the case, even if they had lifespans longer than the Eldar. However, exactly how the Watchers are reproducing is unknown. Some say that they are simply nomadic creatures now, forever moving with their Astartes masters and making their homes in star bases and fortresses and ships, whereas others say they haven’t died out because they have one last secret breeding ground, deep under one of the hives of Old Earth.
Other rumors are perhaps more farfetched. Some of these rumors, bordering on conspiracy theories, say the Watchers are able to travel through darkness itself, or are able to know the names of everyone they meet, or are the only creatures besides the Eldar who know how to navigate the Webway, or that they sing beautifully but they won't let anyone hear them, or are Imperial sword Hrud. Some theories are as fanciful as the Watchers hand out present to good little boys and girls on Sanguinala under the command of "Cypher Claws", to as conspiratorial as the Mechanicus uses the Watchers to spy on your comings and goings and dreams, to as eerie as the rumor that the eldar forgot who they were, but the Watchers remember them and remember much more than the eldar would like. As with all things, the Watchers never confirm or deny any of these tales.
During the unification and the Great Crusade, the Steward encountered the Tarellians. Though their race had never risen to match the levels of the Eldar, the Tarellians had a modest interstellar confederation of loosely aligned agriworlds. At first, things went well enough. The Tarellians were cautious, and after a few inconclusive skirmishes, were receptive to human ambassadors. In point of fact, they scorned worlds that were not self-sufficient enough to be able to survive off of their own food supplies, meaning they did not contest Imperial settlers that took the barren (If resource rich) unexploited rocks in systems surrounding them. But, eventually, one Tarellian governor got greedy, and attempted to enslave a human colony en masse to manufacture weapons for his soldiers. Well, the Imperium sent a naval ship, and the governor ran back to his confederates, and a war started.
The Tarellians were good fighters. Managed a few wins against the odds, due to bickering and overconfident Imperial generals. Then a primarch came. Luckily, it was only Dorn, but just the same the Tarellians were beaten horrifically, and quickly forced to peace. A white peace with mild reparations, but one that shattered the Tarellian confederacy over the shame.
After that, there was no more Tarellian Confederacy. The fractured states were left alone, and "Tarellian Space" was just another lawless backwater. Until the tyranids came. The Imperium intervened (even over the protest of some particularly proud Tarellian despots), but by the time help arrived the damage was done. Over a full quarter of the Tarellian population died fighting on worlds consumed.
Now, the Tarellian sector is peaceful. They provide mercenaries and foodstuffs. They're likeable enough, and cautiously judged by the Inquisition as mostly loyal subjects, even if some Tarellian mercenaries are found among ork and chaos warbands, and the rest mutter about how Tarellia will rise again from time to time. It is generally considered bad form among Imperial officers to remind the Tau of the Tarellian histories, though Tarellians themselves seem to regard the Tau well, particularly for their resistance to joining the Imperium.
When the Tarellians spread out from their homeworld, they developed a number of highly divergent cultures on the planets they lived on. Tarellians also range wildly in body size based on planet, ranging from Tau-sized to slightly taller than a baseline human. Even during their most unified periods, Tarellian culture and social norms could vary wildly depending on the planet. Hence the Tarellian Confederacy, instead of the Tarellian Republic or the Tarellian Empire. Nevertheless, there are enough cultural similarities between them that the Tarellan cultures see themselves as distinctly Tarellian, much like the different Greek or Mesoamerican city-states saw themselves as a distinct cultural unit.
Of course, it’s entirely possible that there are many different groups of lizardmen out there in the galaxy, of which the Tarellians are but the best known because they developed the most extensive interstellar network. The Imperium, lacking imagination, might refer to the species as a whole as Tarellians even though the term only really applies to the Tarellian Neo-Confederacy.
Like some groups of Native Americans (Comanche, Sioux), Tarellians are well known for their mobility in war, able to march hundreds of miles from base camp in order to strike. The difference is that the Native American tribes did this through the use of horses. The Tarellians do this on foot. Tarellians originally evolved in an arid environment where they had to keep pace over shifting sand dunes and the uneven terrains of arroyos in extreme heat. Marching through a relative flat environment in balmy weather is a literal walk in the park for them. The Tarellians don’t really have riding cavalry, it's hard to see a need for it when you can run as fast as a racehorse, though they do domesticate heavier draft animals.
General Tarellian Society
Describing Tarellian society in broad strokes is very difficult. Like humans, Tarellians do not have a unified cultural baseline. Maza’s decentralized rule by a council of tribal elders is very different from the highly stratified society ruled by the Xibalaniqan mage-priests on Tikan, and so on and so forth. However, the following type of social structure is the kind found the Tarellian homeworld after the Age of Strife, as well as Nova Tarellia, the current cultural heart of the Tarellian Neo-Confederacy in the wake of Hive Fleet Kraken. In addition, this type of societal structure is present on some form on many of the lesser colony worlds founded by the Tarellians, most of which were settled by colonists from Tarellia during the tenure of the Tarellian Confederacy or as resettled refugees following the attack of Hive Fleet Kraken. Therefore, this kind of social structure is the closest one gets to a “generic” picture of Tarellian society.
The functional unit of Tarellian society is the hunter pack, a group composed of several associated individuals form a military unit, as well as their offspring. Each hunter pack lives in a hauden, a structure made of an artificial cement-like mixture that is part barracks, part homestead, and part domicile. Each pack is expected to be responsible for their own needs, producing or hunting their own food and maintaining their own equipment. The individuals that form a hunter pack may or may not be genetically related, hunter pack are often at least partially composed of family units but individuals may leave or join new packs upon bonding with another individual. Nevertheless, most Tarellians on Nova Tarellia and the colony worlds are normally part of at least one pack at any point in their life.
Tarellians are fiercely meritocratic. The leader of a hunter pack is elevated to that position based on the consensus of their peers, usually on the basis of the glory they have won. The process of elevating one to a position of leadershipp is called “shield-raising”, named after the fact that in the distant past when a leader was chosen the individual in question would be raised up on the shields of their comrades. An individual could not be hoisted on the shoulders of their comrades if the majority of the pack did not cooperate, and an individual could only be raised up if they trusted those around them. Individuals are not be elevated to leadership status just because of their ability to kill things, but based on their perceived ability to lead and command others. No Tarellians wants to follow a leader they do not trust to make good decisions. The leaders of a group of hunter packs are then organized into their own group, who choose their own leader, and so on and so forth until one reaches the highest levels of Tarellian society. As a result every Tarellian is aware of their place in the social hierarchy at all times, but it is a societal structure that allows for a great deal of social mobility and individual say. Meritocratic ideals are present on many other worlds like Tikal and Maza, even those which differ dramatically in social structure (Maza, for example, has little social organization beyond a council of elders drawn from the matriarchs of each tribe).
This system makes the division between civilians and military in Tarellian society exceedingly murky. Almost every adult Tarellian is capable of picking up a weapon and defending themselves in times of war, although the same thing could be said of many human and almost all eldar societies as well. Does this mean the Tarellians are nothing more than an authoritarian system where civil society is merely an outgrowth of the military? Or is Tarellian society primarily a civilian militia that simply happens to be organized into a highly fashion? Tarellian leaders are subject to the will of their civilians, something which is typically not present in a military dictatorship. An argument could be made for either. The Tarellians would say those who debate such things are far too fixated on the details, it is what it is and should be considered on its own merits.
The meritocratic nature of Tarellian society is one reason for the Tarellian’s dislike of the Imperium. While not ungrateful that the Imperium was willing to provide assistance in the rebuilding of the Neo-Confederacy, they do not like the fact that the Imperium summarily imposed their will on them afterwards. They do not like the idea of having a leader imposed on them, rather than chosen. If the Imperium had presented the rescue of the Tarellian race as evidence for their ability to perform as leaders, some Tarellians might have even considered this enough of a valid argument to voluntarily shield-raise them, but the Imperium did not. They unilaterally assumed control. As social pack-hunters, the idea of unfamiliar outsiders having power over them on any level is vexing.
This long-standing issue dominates Tarellian interactions with the greater Imperium. Tarellians are well known for their caustic, contrarian attitudes in Imperial politics, though despite their stereotype of being bitter and grumpy Tarellians are capable of forming positive relationships with individual humans (Tarellians even have a saying that roughly translates to “beyond more than two degrees of separation in the chain of command everyone is a grunt”). Rather, the political actions of the Neo-Confederacy are due to the fact that under Tarellian custom, the subordinates to the leader of a hunter pack are also expected to voice dissenting opinions to make sure their leader. To the Tarellians, they smugly consider their contrarian behavior to be fair play given how humanity waltzed in and declared themselves in charge.
The Tarellians weapon of choice is the disruptor rifle, a weapon invented and primarily used by the various Tarellian worlds which literally boils the molecules of its targets. They do make some use of autoguns and lasweapons when available. Mazans tend to prefer chainmail and longbows with light skirmish gear.
Perhaps the most distinctive weapon of the Tarellians, aside from their disruption weaponry, is the kultarr. The melee weapon of choice for Tarellians, kultarrs resemble a cross between a polearm, a pickaxe, and a hatchet. The kultarr was originally thought to have started out as a simple hand tool repurposed for war, until it developed into the weapon known today. At the far end of the kultarr is a simple spike. The main purpose of this spike is to blunt cavalry or infantry charges, or finish off a downed foe. Just behind this spike is a recurved spike, which is the main armament of the kultarr. Typically, a kultarr is swung downwards like a tomahawk to brain a foe or impale them and allow them to be dragged closer. The spike can also be used as a hook to drag cavalry from their mounts or pull an opponent off balance (their more traditional use, seeing as the Tarellians did not have cavalry until the Industrial Era).
The military success of the kultarr has led the Tarelians to produce numerous derivations on the design, most prominently the mahukultarr. Instead of a single recurved spike, a mahukultarr has several backwards slanting blades appressed together to form a massive cutting edge. The purpose of a mahukultarr is to leave large, jagged wounds that bleed readily and are difficult to easily close. Although resembling a broadsword, the weight of a mahukultarr means that it is wielded more like an axe or a club. The cutting edge is composed of numerous smaller blades, rather than one complex piece of metal, in order to prevent breakage and make it easier to replace blades that are broken. However, the sheer weight of a mahukultarr means that it is almost impossible for a Tarellian soldier to carry both one of these weapons and a rifle at the same time. As a result, mahukultarr wielding-soldiers are relatively rare.
Tarellian Blessed Atlatls
The Warp is not a realm of matter and logic, it is a realm of myth and metaphor. It is a realm where thought and symbology are more important than anything else. This one reason why melee weapons like swords are so much more effective at banishing daemons and other creatures of the Warp than bolters and other projectile weapons. There is something instinctively satisfying about striking down an enemy with a blade, telling you that it is gone and cannot hurt you any longer, an act that resonates with the nature of the universe and says that because you believe the creature is dead it is more likely to be banished. It is a primal feeling, one entrenched in our DNA. Although powder weapons have been a part of human history for nearly forty thousand years, melee weapons like swords and spears have been entrenched in human consciousness for much longer.
Such is also the case with the humble javelin. Javelins have been throughout human history, from the earliest hunter-gathers to the armies of ancient Roma to the city states of Middle Merika. It was javelins and atlatls that are ancestors harnessed to bring down the great beasts that roamed the frigid taigas and to defend against the scimitar-toothed predators that awaited in the night. Even harpoons, which are javelins in a sense, were once used to hunt the great leviathans that once prowled the oceans of Old Earth. As a result of all this javelins have attained a rather curious position in the human psyche. Javelins kill monsters.
Such is also the case with the Tarellians. Although a much more carnivorous species than mankind, they too developed their own javelin throwers and atlatls to bring down megafauna, and as with humanity the atlatl also attain the status of the “killer of monsters”. And so, when the Tarellians first encountered daemonkind, first encountered the creatures from the id, is it any wonder that they dusted off their ancient tools in the same way that humanity repurposed its swords and axes?
Atlatls are the Tarellians first weapon of choice against daemons. The method of manufacturing is completely different, darts composed of stainless steel and titanium rather than fire-hardened wood or stone, but the weapon is the same, just as the force halberd of a Grey Knight has its ancestry in the ancient designs of Old Earth’s Bronze Age. The Tarellians painstakingly craft these weapons with intricate ritual, infusing their essence with even more significance and meaning. They consider them blessed by the Old Ones, gifted with the power to strike down the Neverborn in their name, as if Zeus had gifted mortals his thunderbolts. Javelin throwers are rare, but highly respected sight in Tarellian armies. Such weapons are little more than inefficient novelties against other species, but are lethal to monsters from the warp. Although their ammunition may be few in number, and their wielders must be skilled to make every shaft count, when the points hit the target they hurt.
Worlds of the Tarellian Neo-Confederacy
EDITOR'S NOTE: Per original writer, section with Be'lakor could use some rewriting/expansion
The Tarellians, in a rather roundabout fashion, worship the Old Ones as their gods. The Old Ones, from what little we know about them, seem to have some sort of connection to the Tarellians. However, the Tarellians are not direct descendants of the Old Ones. The Old Ones, despite having dry, leathery skin, were still semi-aquatic and had to return to the water to breed. The Tarellians have scaly skin, and lay eggs. Instead, the Tarellians appear to be descended from components of the Old Ones’ biosphere, likely spread to other planets in the Old Ones’ first attempts at terraforming. In human terms, it would be as if a race of sapient rats rose to power long after the extinction of humanity, only to find human artifacts and come to believe humans represented a race of gods.
The Tarellians did not evolve on the original homeworld of the Old Ones. Whatever planet the Old Ones originally hailed from was lost long before the War in Heaven even began, although there are numerous fringe theories as to where said planet might have gone. The Tarellian world with the greatest concentration of Old One artifacts was Tarellia, the planet where the Tarellians originally evolved sentience. Unfortunately, most of the Old One technology on the planet was rendered non-functional beyond any means of repair and only the simplest, most resilient objects, such as statues, tablets, and stone carvings, remained intact. Ironically, the few Old One artifacts that have survived the millions of years since the War in Heaven tend to be either exceedingly primitive (stone carvings and tablets) or ridiculously advanced (the Blackstone Fortresses, the Webway, three of the four Ruinous Powers). According the Tarellians, the writing on these Old One artifacts inspired their own writing system and they can even translate it to a crude degree, though modern Tarellian differs greatly from the language used by the Old Ones.
After Tarellia, the Tarellian world with the greatest concentration of Old One artifacts was the colony of Xibalanique. Xibalanique was a harsh, dry world, even by Tarellians standards, one of the reasons why so many artifacts were preserved there in the first place. Said artifacts were just about the only reason the world was of any interest to the Tarellian Empire, as the world was barely habitable otherwise and its population before the Age of Strife was almost entirely composed to researchers studying the Old One artifacts. When Xibalanique was cut off from the rest of the galaxy during the Age of Strife, the Tarellians stranded there had to either adapt, or die. Xibalaniquans are short and stocky compared to other Tarellians and tend to be relatively heavyset, which is thought to be due to genetic adaptations towards conserving energy for times of famine in harsh environments.
The inhabitants of Xibalanique were also notable in being all psykers, a situation somewhat analogous to a Tarellian Prospero. It is not clear if this is because of something the Old Ones did to Xibalanique, or if it was simply due to a founder effect from the original population of researchers having a higher-than average proportion of psyker genes relative to the rest of the Tarellian worlds, as Tarellians psykers are not unique to Xibalanique. Tarellian psykers are normally so stoic and dispassionate as to appear almost emotionless, interspersed with huge spikes of emotion whenever they use their powers. This makes them less susceptible to daemonic attention than psykers of other races, but it also means they tend to use their powers in quick bursts and become rapidly exhausted when trying to do anything strenuous. Nevertheless, this was not enough to completely avoid attention, as Xibalanique was destroyed shortly after the end of the Age of Strife.
The Xibalaniquans that survived their planet’s destruction migrated to the other Tarellian worlds, where they were eagerly assimilated with open arms. The Xibalaniquans were of interest not only for their psychic abilities, which were of value to any Tarellian warlord, but also for any potential lost knowledge that had been lost to the wider Tarellian Confederacy. Due to their psychic powers, the Tarellians viewed psykers as being closer to the Old Ones and on many worlds these psykers (typically Xibalaniquans) were organized into councils of mage-priests, who often served as advisors to the resident warlord. This arrangement varied from world to world; for example Maza has no mage-priests in an administrative position, whereas on Tikal at some point in history the mage-priests became the direct rulers of the planet, rather than just advisors. The organization of mage-priests into councils was not simply for symbolic reasons, as it also allowed for the organization of mage-priests into choirs similar to the human astropath system for interstellar communication. Even today, the Tarellian remain one of the few non-human, non-Eldar races to use their own methods of faster-than-light communication.
The Tarellians know the bare basics of the War in Heaven. They know that their gods were in a war with a pantheon of anti-gods and that their gods spawned a race of dark gods to help them. They know that the gods made lesser beings to act as soldiers. However, this is where the Tarellians get a few things wrong. They believe that they were the race created by the gods to fight in their war, when they were not. Indeed, in terms of age, the Tarellians are closer to humanity or the kinebrach than the truly ancient races like the Eldar or Orks.
The Tarellians believe the stylized bipeds in the Old One hieroglyphics at the right hand of their gods, figured to the same scale that peasants are often figured relative to gods and royalty, are the semi-mythical ancestor kings and queens, from who the Tarellians claim their descent. They’re not, but don’t bother try telling the Tarellians that. They’re actually representatives of the various gods of the mortal races the Old Ones uplifted during the War in Heaven. Isha recognized herself in the carvings, as well as Kurnous and Qah. Actual mortal representatives of those races are nowhere to be seen.
The Tarellians also believe that their gods walk among them, though perhaps not in a physical fashion. When Isha discovered this fact in M30 this, as well as the general physical similarity between the Tarellians and the Old Ones, was enough to excite the then recently-freed Eldar goddess Isha about the possibility of finding surviving fellow survivors of the War in Heaven and Age of Strife. Although, still acclimating to the current situation in the galaxy, Isha made plans to travel to Tarellian space at the first opportunity. The mage-priests were excited at the prospect of an outsider taking an interest in their gods, and eagerly escorted Isha to the nearest temple to “show her their gods”. However, Isha’s hopes were to be dashed. Instead of finding living, breathing Old Ones, she found stone statues and temples filled with a few attending devotees. Isha, furious at having her hopes raised at and having that hope yanked away just as quickly, almost lashed out at the “horrid little newts” in her grief and rage, before being calmed down by the Handmaidens. The mage-priests at the time were confused and did not know what they had done to make the outsider so angry, but it is thought that later priests figured out what happened and were slightly bitter to the Eldar about it, seeing Isha’s reaction as a dismissal of their gods.
When the Daemon Prince Be’lakor, the last of the Old Ones, found out that the Tarellians worshipped the Old Ones, he realized he had potential means to take control of the Confederacy. It has long been known that Be’lakor has a habit of setting himself up as the power behind the throne in a number of empires both human and alien in his attempts to break free from the machinations of the Chaos Gods, though typically his involvement with these petty empires was visible only in retrospect. Be’lakor often likes to cover up any evidence of his existence, or better yet lay contradictory evidence or trick his enemies into destroying the evidence for him. However, in the millennia following the Age of Apostasy, Be’lakor began to find he had fewer and fewer civilizations naïve to Chaos to work with, with most either being absorbed by the Imperium, subverted by other aspects of Chaos, or being outright destroyed. When Be’lakor found out the Tarellians worshipped his people, being the last of the Old Ones he was by default their rightfully inherited master.
When Be'lakor felt he had enough information, he made contact with the Tarellians and enunciated his demands. At first, the Tarellians were surprisingly receptive to Be’lakor, apparently believing his claims and requesting that he meet their mage priests at their peoples’ traditional sacred meeting grounds to consecrate his reign. However, when Be’lakor and his court of Warp anomalies manifested in front of the Tarellian mage-priests, the Tarellians dropped the act and Be’lakor realized that for the first time in millennia he had miscalculated. Despite worshipping the Old Ones, Tarellian society is largely meritocratic and achievement-based to the point that social advancement is based on personal deeds.For Be’lakor to show up and claim that the Tarellians should fall to their knees and worship him because he is one of their long lost gods simply because he is a god, rather than what he has accomplished with his godhood, was highly insulting. The mage priests told him as much to his face.
This, according to Kroak, leader of the Tarellian delegation, meant one of two things. Either he was a fake god who knew nothing of Tarellian culture and was stealing someone else's title and accomplishments for his own ends, or he was a terrible god with no glory to his name and did not deserve to be worshipped in the first place. On that note, the Tarellians revealed the so-called “sacred meeting grounds” Be’lakor had met them at was actually a fake (which, the Tarellians added, if Be’lakor had really been one of their gods he would have realized was a fake in the first place) built above a vast cavern and wired with explosives. Then they triggered the explosives and sent Be’lakor and his retinue screaming down the mile-deep crevasse. Kroak himself dealt the final blow, striking the daemon prince with a house-sized rock as he tried to fly out of the rockside and burying Be’lakor beneath the debris.
Unfortunately, the Tarellians paid a terrible price for their insolence. The Tarellians had maintained their freedom, but they had done so by humiliating Be’lakor, someone to disrespect at your own peril. Be’lakor would not tolerate such disrespect from the younger races, but he was patient and more than willing to play the long game to get his revenge. Less than twenty years after the Tarellians banished Be’lakor, Hive Fleet Leviathan made galaxyfall. It is rather noteworthy that despite coming from the same general direction as Behemoth, something made the Hive Fleet change course at the last minute causing it to take a different path through the galaxy. Right through Tarellian space.
The nicassar are a species of gasbag sophont, a species in which the organic components are wrapped around bladders or other containers filled with a lighter-than-air gas (usually hydrogen or helium) to form an organic blimp. Through an unusual quirk of evolution life on the nicassar homeworld evolved in such a manner that their physiology produced hydrogen gas as a waste product. At some point an organism developed a way to capture this waste gas in bladders rather than just release it and a whole evolutionary radiation of floating organisms evolved (lightning strikes are fun on said world). The Nicassar homeworld’s gravity is higher than Earth (which actually improves flight ability for large animals due to denser atmospheres), and the Nicassar also supplement their natural hydrogen buoyancy with their psychic powers.
The nicasssar themselves basically look like furry UFOs with bear-like heads and six arms spaced evenly around the “disk” of their body. Their belly is covered in tough plates of skin kind of like an armadillo carapace when they want to drop to the ground to rest or hibernate. They actually give birth in a similar manner to Earth marsupials, the baby is born small and underdeveloped and crawls into the mother’s pouch during their frequent hibernation bouts, where they will suckle while the mother’s deflated body hangs from the ceiling like a bat until she wakes back up. Because of their status as gasbag sophonts, the nicassar tend to have a rather ethereal, “breathy” voice, even when communicating telepathically.
Nicassar are driven by an insatiable curiosity and are compelled to travel and seek out new experiences. This is as much rooted in biology as anything else, since as large airborne organisms it encourages them to disperse everywhere. Between their psychic powers, ability to hibernate, and three-dimensional thinking, it was rather easy for the Nicassar to develop space travel. They had spread out pretty widely (but thinly) over the area near Ultramar and the Tau cluster, and were well-known to the Imperium before they started letting alien races join.
Even after the Imperium started letting other species in, the nicassar were almost deemed Xenos Independens because of their wanderlust and curiosity. When the Tau were an independent power of the Imperium, it was hard to keep them out of Tau space. In many ways they were like the hrud, except unlike the hrud you could get the nicassar were capable of if they really had to. The primary fear was that the nicassar would go to a Chaos-corrupted system that was put off limits, get corrupted, and then spread it to the rest of the galaxy. Some even worried that their curiosity and desire for new experiences was a ready-made gateway for Slaaneshi corruption. And indeed, there are Chaos nicassar, like there are Chaos everything else, but the isolated nature of their conclaves makes it difficult for corruption to spread, and the initial fears of the nicassar being a vector for Chaos corruption seem to have been unfounded. Indeed, as the nicassar are all psykers, they knew about Chaos from the start and knew that it was only a shadow’s width away. It wasn’t some forbidden fruit waiting for them to come and visit it in some far off system, they had looked upon it already and presumably at least most turned away.
As they are curious by nature it could be more on the nature that they need interesting stuff to think about and they exhausted the potential for this of their homeworld. To this end they like stories and due to their psychic nature consider people to be walking storybooks. They travel a lot through tau space not because they consider the tau to be more interesting than any other group of people in and of themselves but because their homeworld, and their primary breeding ground, is on the border between Tau Empire and venerable Ultramar. It is frontier space for both peoples but the novelty hasn't worn off for the blue-skins yet whereas their ships in Ultramar space barely get mentioned because of how often they have been seen down the long years due to diplomatic interaction between the Tau Empire and the Imperium. Overall, the nicassar are kind of like the Diasporex in their tendency to wander endlessly and their nature as traders, but the Diasporex are in the northwestern corner of the galaxy and the nicassar are centered on the Eastern Fringe.
In more recent years, the tau have used the nicassar as a method of training the human and others psyker in their domain when no alternative can be made, the problem with this being that the Nicassar are unreliable and although they will let you on their ship they won't usually stop the ship so you will more than likely complete your training on the other side of the sector. The ships aren't all that fast but they are extremely efficient and low maintenance and so never have to stop. However, the positive of the Nicassar psyker training is that it's free. The presence of the new person on the ship is a new book to read and a new ear to listen. The Nicassar love to tell stories as much as they love to hear them. However they are made happy by gifts of sugary food. Honey in particular.
The ships of the Nicassar are not the most advanced in the Imperium, they are built for efficiency and rugged durability over most other concerns. For much the same reason they aren't the most well-armed or armoured. They don't typically go very fast because the inhabitants like to run them on the equivalent of not much more than tick-over. When startled they are more likely to run than fight, they might as a people look somewhat frightening in a bizarre way but they are not naturally aggressive or fighters. Their ships when commanded to do so do have a surprising turn of speed as the inhabitants shape their minds and psychic shape into something like giant sails and plunge deeper into the warp than most will go to get the deeper currents.
The technology that allows for this method of warp travel is non-transferable as it is linked directly to the Nicassar's psychic ability in some way. Attempts by both commissioned adepts, hereteks and earth caste specialists to build an analogous system for human or other species have met with only failure.
The Ulmeathic League was a collection of world protected/subjugated (the League had a singular word for both concepts as they did not see the need for a distinction) by the Ulmeatheans, a species of large (eight to nine feet tall outside of armor) semi-aquatic reptilian xenos that resemble crocodilians or marine iguanas. The Ulmeatheans are primarily herbivorous, having evolved from more carnivorous ancestors, but only relatively recently, still having the claws and large fangs to match. Their hide is covered by white, calcified callouses similar to those seen on marine iguanas or whales, which makes their skin even tougher to penetrate. Other than their callouses, their hide tends to be variations on green with some being almost blue and some being almost yellow, becoming gray, leathery, and with more pronounced scales with age. They have the ability to regrow severed parts given time but a limb will still take a few years. They are cold blooded and long lived, typically living about 100 to 120 years barring major illness or injury with the record being 168. They do have two sexes but outsiders can't tell them apart, the men tend to dress in brighter colours is about the only clue. Despite rumours they can't smell if you are lying and their sense of smell is no better than the average humans, similarly their visual range doesn't extend into the infrared. They can distinguish between colours better than baseline humanity and are brilliant at spotting thing like holofields, camelioline and camouflage nets.
Ulmeatheans naturally operate on a very authoritarian way of thinking with heavy emphasis on the notions of dominance, thought to be due to their evolutionary history and social structure. To the Ulmeatheans, the strong deserved to rule and the Ulmeatheans ruled the Ulmeathic League because they were strong and at the top of the social heap. The Ulmeathic League was primarily a caste system composed of the Ulmeatheans and a few other species of xenos. The Ulmeatheans were exclusively rulers and warriors, whereas The other species basically ran Ulmeathic civilization and performed all other tasks. That was how Ulmeathic society ran and for a good long while it worked. Any of the subjugated species could have challenged them for dominance and if they won their roles would have reversed and the Ulmeatheans would have been fine with that.
In battle, the Ulmeatheans tend to be slow and hard-hitting. It is important to note that they are slow in that they advance and cover ground slowly; opponents thinking them lumbering and awkward in close-quarters are in for a rude awakening. Ulmeatheans wield swords, though they look more like pieces of metal scavenged from a construction site than typical swords, and the speed with which they can swing them around is rather terrifying. They tend to have marginally slower reflexes than smaller species but not as much as you would think. Surprisingly enough, the Ulmeatheans are also very good at poetry and stoneworking, the latter to the point that even the eldar begrudgingly notice they have a talent for it. However, they generally do not do so as actual work, but because proficiency in poetry and stoneworking is expected of their station, much like how noble or warrior classes on ancient Earth were expected to know etiquette or calligraphy. It's just that those pursuits tend to come alongside their duty as warriors. They are the strongest- physically at least- and under Ulmeathic tradition the strong thus have a duty to fight to protect those under their care not as strong as them. Somewhat ironically, the Passeri probably have better records of Ulmeathian history and culture than they do about their own; life was good under their rule, and they still remember their debt. Plus they love singing, so writing ballads about the exploits of Ulmeathian heroes is something they genuinely enjoy.
The Imperium never bothered much with the Ulmeathic League beyond token diplomats and a few Rogue Traders. They were between the Ghoul Stars and Tarellians space on the edge of the galaxy, stayed out of other people’s business, and acted as a good buffer. The Imperium left the Ulmeathic League to themselves and more or less forgot about them due to more pressing concerns. Then Hive Fleet Naga came. The first real contact the Imperium had with the Ulmeathic League was a refugee fleet telling them that the League was gone. Just gone. To their credit the Ulumeatheans themselves had fought to damn near the last and bar a very few Ulumeathic children and essential personnel the ships were packed to the gills with their vassal races.
The Imperium offered the refugees settlement rights to a few systems with habitable but not all too pleasant worlds, gifts the League survivors accept with tears of gratitude in their eyes (well, Passeri tears at least; the remaining Ulmeathians were as stoic as ever). Today the League is a fading memory of better times. The Ulmeatheans were proud alpha males and females in the League’s prime, now they just look lost and sad. The younger generation deal with it better because they only heard tales about the League and how mighty they once were but they were either too young to remember or were just eggs when it all died. Soon a generation will be born without any contact with The League, Imperial Ulmeatheans. But the old grey-scales remember and they know the League won't rise again so they make lives as best they can. The Ulumeatheans have not tried to regain any of their old authority, their whole society is about knowing your place and they know theirs in the Imperium. They do though make very good soldiers.
The fact that the Ulmeatheans are reptilian, their ancestors were carnivorous, and their homeworld was right next door to Tarellian space raises the possibility that they are yet another lost Tarellian colony, ones that became “ab-tarellian” in the same way that ogryn are abhumans. The Ulmeatheans are incredibly offended by the idea that they were just an offshoot of those other tiny pipsqueaks (six feet being pipsqueaks by their standards); they forged their empire themselves, thank you very much. Younger generations are also prickly about it, though some are willing to entertain the idea. The Tarellians take offense at the suggestion of being related to Ulmeatheans as well, the Ulmeatheans heavily authoritarian system clashes with Tarellian sensibilities, Tarellians leaders are chosen on merit not because they've sufficiently punched their subordinates in the face. Actual geneticists don't know the answer to said question either due to this reluctance on both ends, but consider it an avenue worth investigating further, possible but hard to tell with how prone Tarellian genetics are to shifting to fit their environment, or are working on finding out alongside their main project of seeing if they can use that malleability to create some scaly super-soldiers.
The Passeri are an avian race located in roughly the same region of galactic space as the Ulmeatheans, though their tech was universally ahead of the lizards, if still comparable. Even so, they were friendly and a bit naive, so they played buddy with the big lizards and helped them onto their interstellar feet. The two races saw each other as equals- Ulmeathics perhaps begrudgingly, but if the strongest should rule, then those of equal strength should be of equal standing, and the fact that their technology was the source rather than physicality didn't really affect that- strength is strength is strength.
Then some other race in the local galactic neighborhood started expanding, and began targeting the worlds of the Passeri. While their name isn't remembered, their savagery and brutality most certainly is, as well as their penchant for taking slaves to serve as labor and "entertainment." The Passeri fought and fought hard, but while their ships were advanced they had never needed to pump them out on a war footing, and the aggressors had absorbed other races before them and was experienced in the art of killing. World after world fell as their fleets burned and tales of the horrors being inflicted on those who could not flee filtered through, until every Passeri world had fallen and the survivors fled in burning ships into Ulmeathic space, gleefully pursued by the ones who even now caged their families and made them perform for their twisted entertainment.
Their assault on the Ulmeathians can be likened to slamming headfirst into a wall.
The Passeri had not hidden their plight from the Ulmeathians, and had been sharing all of their information on the invaders, especially once it became clear the end was coming. Technology once reserved to stay competitive was now given freely, along with the scientists and scholars who could teach and implement the new knowledge. They knew the Ulmeathians well enough to understand that doing so meant they would never again be free, that the Ulmeathians would demand their subjugation as they were no longer equals, yet they chose to at least sell their freedom to the masters who would not slit their throats in front of their families and laugh. For some, it was simply passing on the torch in hopes that maybe their neighbors would survive the onslaught in some fashion, unlikely though it seemed. Those who thought so grimly were unprepared for the Ulmeathian response.
Unlike their plucky neighbors, the Ulmeathians were prepared for conflict, and had already set their war machine into terrifying motion, the steady beat of a heavy drum announcing their slow but steady march upon the warpath. Asteroids were ground to dust for shipyards that worked beyond their designed parameters, every male and female unnecessary for production drafted and pressed into service, and generals and admirals meeting daily to review new information, give orders, and draw up battle lines and strategies.
When the enemy came, they found fleets triple the size of any they had faced before, worlds hardened and prepared to endure sieges for years, and cold reptilian minds unflinching in the face of their vessels decorated with the corpses of their victims. The fight was long and bloody, the Ulmeathians never hesitating to sacrifice lives if it created an opening, never failing to go for the kill on a fleeing opponent, never falling back or giving so much as a single inch.
Then the Ulmeathians began to push the invaders back.
Their advance through what were once Passeri worlds was slow but inexorable, their industrial might combined with Passeri advances meaning their losses were always replaced by stronger, improved forces. Ship by ship, world by world they advanced, each world retaken immediately being mined for resources and fortified against counterattack, the rubble of a destroyed civilization being used as bricks in defensive walls.
The Ulmeathians had taken prisoners at first, respecting those who submitted to those stronger than them. Then they reclaimed their first Passeri world, and saw what had been wrought. There was no more mercy after that.
The once-haughty invaders began to crack against this onslaught; once-timid races they had subjugated began rebelling once more, their leadership bickered and set upon one another with pointed fingers and bitter accusations that may have robbed them of their finest minds. They saw the stone boulder rolling towards them, and could not comprehend why their slaves could not match the efforts of a numerically-inferior force. They did not understand the unquantifiable multiplier of a willing workforce who did not need to be whipped to work long beyond when their bodies should give out.
The end was a long time coming, but inevitable. Whatever it was the Ulmeathians had seen that so incensed them has been lost, or rather destroyed. Their march did not stop at the worlds of their former neighbors, but onward through the stars claimed by these aggressors, freeing many who had been under them so long they did not know the taste of freedom, and accepted their new masters willingly.
Their crusade was unforgiving and absolute; the vile homeworld of the aggressors was burned to uninhabitable rock, and their works and knowledge ground into dust, even their name struck from all records to erase all trace of who they were. Considering speculation that they had fallen to the Ruinous Powers, this may have been for the best.
It was a bitter victory for the Passerians; while their friends had won, the nation founded by their people had burned, their worlds broken and their cities reduced to rubble that had now been used to build fortresses and machines of war. No longer were they caged, but shackles still weighed their ankles, and now if their new masters chose to they could easily inflict the same pains upon them, and this time there would be no salvation. Many wept bitter tears as they braced for the victorious Ulmeathians to turn their gaze from the broken enemy back to their new possessions- for that was surely what they had been reduced to, a prize to be taken for having bested the adversary.
Their tears fell anew when the Ulmeathians pressed tools into their hands, and bid them build not bunkers and bullets, but homes and cities of Passeri design. Where they had braced themselves for an iron fist, they found an open hand upon their back; controlling, yes, but also steadying and pushing them back onto their feet. Their brightest minds were accommodated for and recognized, and while they were ruled they were not unrepresented, electing parliaments and senates from their own to implement laws not far removed from their own.
For the Ulmeathians are not slavers, just authoritarian. Though they have no qualms about ruling over their once-equals, they still remember when they stood side by side, and would not allow the kindnesses shown when they themselves were weak to go unrepaid.
The F'feng are a desert-dwelling humanoid species. Mostly nocturnal and spent the daylight hours in borrows. They had primitive firearms, some success with agriculture and a very limited industrial base when the Ulmeatheans discovered them. In their way the Ulmeatheans took pity on them and conquered them for their own good, as is their way. All in all they were better off under League rule and in the end, when Hive Fleet Naga came calling, the lizards fought hard to buy some of the F'feng time to escape their doomed world. Technically, the term "F'feng" isn't the name they call themsleves, it's actually derived from a slightly obscene word in base-Ulmeathic that translates to moron. The planet was called Nok-F'feng which was Idiot Town for all intents and purposes. The F'feng had no word for themselves as a species that didn't just mean "people" (and therefore excluded everyone not from their world and quickly fell from common usage) and had no actual word for the planet as a whole.
The Chief Commander who took over the running of Nok-F'feng was unusual and was almost certainly given the "great honour" of being a planetary overseer fore being so unusual. Jovial Ulmeathics do not exist or if they do they are so rare as to be not a consideration and are considered by their peers to be damaged in some way. Krupfoth was possibly a female of good cheer but it was channeled into the usual displays of power and authority that so characterize her kind. Having been given rulership of the Worst Planet in the League she set about making it less shitty. She made all wars illegal on the planet without her permission and declared that she would eat the chief of which ever tribe instigated hostilities. After a few F'feng chiefs being invited to dinner the message was taken seriously.
The energies of the tribes were then set to more constructive uses. Mostly this consisted of diverting or damming rivers, building vast irrigation systems, and generally maximizing the usefulness of what water the planet had whilst simultaneously getting the orbiting patrol boats to nudge chunks of space ice into the path of the planet. As the first stages of the work were reaching completion fruit trees were planted along the banks of new waterways and lakes to hold the earth together.
Krupfoth was not popular with the F'feng as they saw her as enslaving them to her will and denying them the freedoms they had enjoyed as little as a generation ago. But she did not care for the petulant mewling of idiots and her fellow Ulmeathic enforcers ensured that rebellions were short lived and ended brutally. It could not be denied by sensible F'feng that things were objectively better for the average subject if they kept their heads down and didn't cause trouble. They were better fed, less likely to die in skirmishes and raids, there didn't seem to be as many virulent diseases as there used to be and it wasn't as if the Chief was working them to death.
Many of Krupfoth's public speeches had such wonderful lines in them as
"Cower before the might of League engineering prowess"
"Plague and Contagion are slain without mercy"
"Resistance to my agricultural reforms are futile"
"All will tremble as I take your wastelands and beat them into gardens"
"Your petty squabbles are nothing compared to the might of League Law"
"Quake in fear as I call for rain upon the desert"
"Your homes are being protected, peace is been imposed and nothing you can do can stop this"
Nobody could tell if she was taking the piss or not because all Ulmeathic public announcements blatantly emphasize the strength of the current leader, what that strength is being directed towards and a declaration of challenge to any opposition.
Krupfoth was a 112 and very grey in the scales when the Hive Fleet arrived. She did not survive but many of her subjects did. The F'feng no longer hate her, time has changed her in the memories from a tyrant to a noble protector.
While the Ulmeathians did their best to erase all the works and identity of the Nameless Enemy, there is one piece of their legacy that could not be stamped out- not without crossing a line they could never uncross. Thus, some semblance of a legacy lives on within the race known as the Helith.
The Helith are a strikingly alien species, bearing close resemblance to an old-Earth jellyfish in some respects, with a series of air-bladders they use to float above the ground and four tentacles that split into fine cilia on the ends, similar to fingers, which they use to manipulate tools and pull themselves along. Their "head" sits on a thick, prehensile neck, and possesses six nostrils and four eyes. Their initial homeworld was a Gas Giant whose gravity was heavy enough to form a solid core but not quite enough to form a proper planet. The exact location is both lost and irrelevant, for they had only just begun to take their first steps into the Great Void when the Nameless Foe found them.
How long they were enslaved is unknown; none of their records survived, and information had to be passed on by word of mouth. It is known that at some point, their captors pulled enough of their ancestors from their homeworld to have a stable population, then forced every last one of them to watch as their homeworld was bombarded, the weaponry intentionally igniting the planet's gasses and turning the entire planet into a raging inferno bright enough to illuminate every vessel within several hundred kilometers. Some stories tell of transmissions being kept on and forcing them to listen to the screams of the dying, others tell of complete silence as they watched their home burn. As none who witnessed the event survived to be liberated, the accuracy of this tale cannot be verified. What came next, however, is all too observably true.
Flesh-crafting must have been a hobby for the Nameless, as they turned it on the Helith with unspeakable glee. The gas-people were already of a delicate biology by the standards of other races; the Nameless broke them and twisted their bodies into something grotesque, organs vital to their survival made dependent upon mechanical implants to continue functioning, if not replaced entirely. Their genetic code was altered, curled around the finger of their masters before a yank snapped it in twain, ensuring that their children would be born broken and deformed. While the exact method has been lost and forgotten, the consequences paint a grim picture of how the Nameless Foe violated them. Where once the Helith would have used their gas-sacks to float through the sky, now they require thrusters to compensate for the weight of their mechanical augmentations. The thrusters were added by the Ulmeathic; apparently the Nameless took great amusement in watching the Helith be forced to drag themselves along the ground. Several organs simply do not form for them anymore; when a new Helith is born, the delivery doubles as a surgery to install their first mechanical parts before the newborn's body dies. Without a healthy specimen to determine the makup of these organs, or what they once were, replacing them is all but impossible.
When the Ulmeathics first found the Helith, they did not immediately recognize them as sentient beings, thinking them some form of twisted fleshy design to amuse the Nameless, though whether this is a reflection on a propensity for flesh-crafting as their main technology or simply indicative of their personal tastes can only be speculated at. Upon discovering that the bloated blobs dragging themselves upon the ground were not only sapient, but fully aware of their condition, it was debated on whether the greater kindness would be to simply put them out of their misery. The Ulmeathic were not cruel, but it was late into their campaign; their renowned endurance was wearing thin, their soldiers growing weary and their ranks tattered by their ceaseless advance. The resources simply could not be spared to care for those who could not lift a weapon or constuct fortifications when their own forces were beginning to wear thin.
It was when members of the Helith were brought to Ulmeathic medical wards in order to better study their physical state that their propensity for medicine was discovered. The Helith would seek out any injured they could reach, at first by dragging themselves through the halls, then carted along by nurses once their intentions became clear. Using the multiple fibrous cilia that are their analogue to fingers, they could delve deeper into wounds than fingers could dare go, stitching veins and tissues with a precision most would require tools to achieve. Shattered bones were reassembled and properly aligned, and soldiers thought to have been put out of action for good were able to stand and take up arms once more. While they were not miracle workers and could not save those beyond saving, the Ulmeathics were quick to flood their hospitals and regimental medical staff with their newfound workers. When the Nameless counterattacked, they found the forces that should have been breaking bolstered by troops thought eliminated, and resistance stiff enough to hold out for reinforcements instead cracking from the pressure. In thanks for ensuring their campaign could continue, and seeing them through to the end, the Ulmeathics and Passeri did all that they could to help improve the Helith's lot, and restored them to at least some semblance of a normal existence.
The Helith appear to have grown kind from their suffering; their entire race knows basic medicine as a necessity for their condition, and have become known as gentle and caring healers, treating each patient as precious as family. They are meek, yet when first the Ulmeathic found them, they wasted no time in seeking to treat the wounds of their liberators, enabling those initially deemed combat-ineffective able to return to the fight. They became the League's respected doctors and flesh-weavers, growing renowned for their compassion, gentle nature, and skill at the mending of injuries. Yet for all their knowledge and skill, there was always a quiet melancholy for the Helith, for they could not find a way to fix themselves.
Considering their subservient, empathetic natures, it is shocking to note that these passive, amicable xenos were also the source of the greatest diplomatic incident between the races of the Ulmeathic League and the Imperium.
The Admech officially arrived soon after the refugees from the League were accepted into the Imperium, eager to convince their new clients of the superiority of Mars-approved designs, especially when it came to their downright-primitive augments. For a time, all went well; the Helith were well aware of their augment's failings, having started from the worst possible designs and working their way backwards towards pure functionality. Admech's insights into the craft was already revealing flaws they had not realized needing fixing, and the techpriests were pleased to have such a rapt audience willing to accept their teachings without question- or at least, without contest; the questions were many, but in pursuit of elaboration, and there are few topics as appealling for a techpriest to discuss as the virtues and details of mechanical augmentations. The relationship was shaping up to be very pleasant and amicable.
Then one of the techpriests made the mistake of replacing his own biological arm with the servo-limb he'd been preparing, to give a demonstration.
The Helith were utterly horrified. They had thought the techpriests a race like their own, twisted by others or necessity into reliance on augments, or the injured and sickly of humanity who sought to overcome their sacrifices. That they removed their own flesh willingly to replace it with wires and welding, that they SMILED as they brandished the twisting of their form into something of oil and steel instead of flesh and bone... It was an insult, a slap in the face, a dismissal of the suffering of their race, the pain they had to endure, the sense of being 'wrong' that they still felt every time the thrusters did not respond as quickly as inflating their sacks would have, the itch in their flesh from atmosphere missing something that had been abundant on their homeworld, when flight that should have made them feel free instead made them feel the downward tug of the metal within them dragging them away from the sky that was their home. Why, they asked frantically, desperately, searching for something, anything to explain why these beings hurt themselves so, Why do you do these things to yourselves when the flesh is still good?
"The flesh is weak," said the befuddled techpriests, unsure why such a normal thing had disturbed their new clients so, "and thus we forge ourselves anew, that we may be better." For surely these beings who also sought the strength of the machine, who could not have traveled the stars if not for the augments within their flesh, surely they understood the importance of improving yourself by excising the limitations of your flesh?
("Your flesh is weak," said the cackling horde that dragged them from their clouds and strapped them to tables, "and thus you are nothing. but rejoice," their hushed taunts carrying over the whirring of saws that smelled so strongly of wrong. "For we shall forge you anew- to better suit your stature.")
The main reason no Mechanicus died on that day is because the Helith are utterly unsuited for violence. Weapons drag them to the ground, and they cannot compete the swing of a blade or handle the recoil of a gun. All they had was the grip of their tentacles, knowledge of the workings of the body, and a furious, hysterical rage. The cogpriests lost many of their parts, including the offending arm, before managing to lock themselves within a room the Helith could not enter. Intervention was slow in coming; it took several hours of argument, transmittion of shaky holovid recordings, and a relating of the sequence of events from one of the clearer-headed techpriests before any authority could be convinced that the Helith, of all people, were rioting.
When it was finally accepted that the Helith were on the warpath, Nakaidos' response was swift and brutal; the Ulmeathic may not be unkind, but they have little tolerance for rebellion or disorder, even from a race such as the Helith. This did much to soothe the Mechanicum's ruffled feathers, as did the ban placed on Helith access to Imperium technology for several year's time. That this was done in part to prevent further contact between the Helith and Admech goes unspoken by those in power, both in the Ulmeathic League who wish to protect their fellow member-race, and by those in Imperial governance who recognize that the Mechanicum is at least partly at fault for skimming over the details of exactly how the Helith came to their current state. As for the Helith, their care is now handled by the Adbio, with whom their relationship has proved much less turbulent.