Nobledark Imperium Notable Planets
There are many worlds across the galaxy, but not all of them reach the same level of fame.
- 1 Worlds of the Imperium
- 1.1 The Sol System
- 1.2 Armageddon
- 1.3 Cadia
- 1.4 Catachan
- 1.5 Colchis
- 1.6 Cthonia
- 1.7 Fenris
- 1.8 The Istvaan System
- 1.9 Krieg
- 1.10 Macharia
- 1.11 Medusa
- 1.12 Molech
- 1.13 Mordia
- 1.14 Necromunda
- 1.15 Ohmsworld
- 1.16 The Pastoral Worlds
- 1.17 Praetoria
- 1.18 Prospero
- 1.19 Rynn's World
- 1.20 Savlar
- 1.21 Stillness
- 1.22 Realm of Ultramar
- 1.23 Valhalla
- 1.24 Vostroya
- 1.25 The Tarellian Neo-Confederacy
- 1.26 The Craftworlds
- 2 Independent Worlds
- 3 Daemon Worlds, Crone Worlds, and Worlds of the Ruinous Powers
Worlds of the Imperium
The Sol System
Cradle of humanity, keystone of the Imperium, armoured heart of civilization and bustling hub of commerce and industry. Home to trillions of loyal human citizens and every inch considered holy ground, it is from this cursed and blessed soil that the Imperium sprang in ancient day when primarchs marched alongside such mythical figures as Jenetia Krole, Arik Taranis, Malcador and Uxor Honen Mu.
Once a dying world of techno-barbarians and later brought to near total ruin by the depravities of the Orks and the fallen Eldar, it stands now as the ultimate testament that mankind with enough time and effort can recover from anything.
The surface from space is as verdant and pleasant to behold as any world this side of Heaven, with pristine snow caps, azure seas teeming with fish, ancient forests, and rolling fields punctuated by towering spire cities seemingly made of silver and diamond that catch the setting and rising of the sun to become polished copper and ruby. The likeness of Old Earth seen in dreams of some idyllic future of a time some say can only exist in innocent dreams of childhood.
For all its beauty, Old Earth is not soft. The Beast taught Earth that weakness is not excusable.
Those pretty fairy tale spires and the living green paradises are built and grown over fortifications designed by the primarch Perturabo, genius prince of Macedonia and mad architect of the Imperium. For all that the world is beautiful, she is deadly.
The towering Hive Cities of Perturabo's design have expanded somewhat, and now extend miles deep into the stygian deeps, but nevertheless remain based upon the same design principles. The hives as seen from the surface are great majestic soaring edifices, graceful and splendid, and hide well that they were designed to be enormous death traps and meat grinders to anyone stupid enough to try and attack them. The streets can form choke points, there are many avenues that would make great killing grounds, all the spires are designed to have an artillery piece placed atop them at a moment's notice, and there are void shield generators embedded throughout. Those brilliant marble walls that line each building are made of layers of adamantium, ceremite, and shock-absorbent plasteel.
What of the hives that can be seen from the surface, great as they be, are likewise only the tip of the iceberg. Their roots go deep, deep into the bedrock. Their greatest depths stretch to the places where the Earth is hot, and from that heat abundant and perpetual power is drawn. As deep as they are, the hives are also, in those Stygian depths, broad; the roots of the chrome and glass mountains stretch far enough to entangle with their neighbours, like hands held out to a friend in the darkness. It is known that one can circumnavigate that most august of globes without breaking the surface, from pole to pole, back around the other side, across the equator, any direction that takes your fancy. Indeed, there are whole nations down there that live and die in those depths, and never see the surface for generations at a time.
But for all that one might imagine a cramped and claustrophobic labyrinthine darkness, the ways and paths are airy and full of light. Perturabo did not design prisons with which to undo the victory of The Beast. Indeed he did not, and Old Earth is the jewel in the crown and the throne of the Imperium, birth world of mankind.
Dotted around the surface with great regularity are strange and deep pits, with seemingly no bottom for one stood upon the edge. These are great ventilation and light wells, but also emergency entrances and exits in times of need. They plunge into the depths where the underground kingdoms dwell, the places where the earth meets the sky. And if one were to descend those great depths, they would find no lair of twisted things but forests and fields and pleasant seas, the likes of which could grace the very surface of Earth and look entirely natural.
Layer upon layer of civilization built upon itself, like pages of some great living tome down into the deeps. And still further the pits go, until they pass from the minds of common men to the darker realms of stranger things. The sunless seas where swim pale fish and tunnels dug by unknown hands — though not the hands of ancient man. Those wise men of the Dark Age never dug this deep. Sometimes an explorer or surveyor will come to these places to mark, to map, and simply to see one of Earth's ancient mysteries. Though no harm will come to these curious adventurers, there is harm they bring with them, and they will know that they are watched.
From the great height of orbit, Old Earth is a green and verdant paradise as once it may have looked in the Golden Age. When men, it is said, were as the gods are. But no work of god alone is this Eden. Through sweat and toil and the plans of The Mad Architect was this walled garden made, and by the might and will of man is it defended. A microcosm of the Imperium itself.
Upon the surface of this ancient planet is found the Imperial Palace, a surprisingly modestly adorned but massive spire in the centre of the ancient city of Moskgród. Here is the official residence of the Golden Emperor and the All-Mother, eternal be their reign. From here the direction of a million worlds is set and all great mortal endeavour guided. From here civilization springs forth. Here, however, the Royal Couple are seldom found, for they are often abroad and ever diligently about their realm, to ensure that their appointed governments are just and diligent in their turn.
Further east is found the great Fortress of Justice, where law is decided and righteousness judged. It is here, in the rambling hive of Tordashimya, that the Judges of the Adeptus Arbites are told by what standards they must judge.
Far away, amongst the tallest mountains of Himalayzia, lies the Hall of the Astronomican, the great lighthouse that allows our Imperium to function and permits the fey breed of Navigators to traverse the seas of the warp. The Astronomican itself is a great crystalline and wraithbone edifice in a shape like a great bowl, with rowed stands — like some strange amphitheatre — where trained psychics scream into the void to impose upon it some measure of order. It is by their efforts that the warp travel is a practical option at all.
Above Old Earth's equator are, at regular intervals, sixty four orbital tethers — far more than any other world in the Imperium. At the top of those impossible towers of Savlar Neutronium sit the vast tether-top trade stations. Each one based upon an asteroid brought into geosynchronous orbit, now each a great city-state in their own right, with laws and customs growing in distinction and age. In shape, the stations typically have a central hub with multiple wings extending from it, like the petals of an impossible metal flower. Connecting each of these orbital nations together is a high speed transport tube that joins the flowers like a chain, turning the orbitals into a floral circlet with which to crown Old Earth. This beautiful arrangement of human engineering has earned this great structure the name of The Daisy Chain among the common man.
The old nations that once raised the founders of our Imperium still exist, after a fashion — from the territories of Clan Terrawatt, to the Kingdoms of Antarctica, to even the lands of Hy Brasil — but now as administrative districts that make up the patchwork of the world's surface. The ground upon which the Primarchs once walked is held in all due reverence, and the tombs of those godlike men are still standing for all to see, even after all this time. All these lands, these ancient names, remain alive and well upon the surface of Old Earth, if not unchanged.
All bar Himalayzia, which none may walk upon without permission from his Majesty's appointed representatives.
Of the teeming billions that call that beautiful world home, an uncommon number are blessed yet heavily burdened. Blessed because they are like the Golden Emperor, but burdened also for carrying the sight of the witch. The greatest scholars and teachers of the psychic arts have often been found upon the Old Earth and, with the loss of Prospero, now exist without true peer or equal. It is the natural place for young psychics to be brought, both for their own safety and so that their gifts can be used for the good of the many, rather than the damnation of the self. Trained and disciplined sanctioned psykers are the most well-known export of Earth.
Not to be ignored or overlooked are the soldiers of Old Earth. Though exempt from the draft, many request — even demand — the right to fight for hearth and home against a hateful galaxy. Although not as well known as the likes of the Cadians, the Terran Guard — the Old Hundred Regiments especially — are known to be fearless to a fault and full of fire. Varied greatly in their doctrines of war, and often holding true to the old ways of their ancient nations, they make war as they have since time immemorial.
Despite the passing of the ages since civilisation took hold, it is said that there are still mysteries on that world. That not everything is known. That relics from yet older ages remain hidden, shrouded in shadows and forgetfulness; the great archives of ancient lore of old Persepotropolis were well accounted for in ancient days, for example, but rumours abound that maybe more survived. Rumours abound of these and other things of that nature besides, carefully hidden amongst the splendour and shine. Almost certainly the fabrications of the tourist companies.
Many faiths hold this ground as holy, and if any ground is holy to man this is it. This was where civilization died and was reborn. The Eldar might venerate the Phoenix, but here are the ashes from which it arose. And never again will that fire grow cold, or the light of civilization grow dim.
According to the Adeptus Administratum, this moon of Jupiter is quarantined due to a warp contamination accident that occurred early in the Great Crusade. This is, in fact, a lie. In reality, Ganymede is a gigantic containment and storage facility for all the weird stuff the Inquisition recovers and cannot destroy for various reasons, or items that would otherwise destabilize the Imperium. Technically, Ganymede overseen by the Administratum, but in practice it's jointly run with the Inquisition because someone has to give the drones training.
Among the weird stuff housed in Ganymede are
- The only surviving copy of Lorgar's "Black Manuscript" (probably, if it's just not plain lost) - Blade of the Laer (Lucius' long-term goal is taking the sword) - Apep, the first, last, and only Daemon Prince of Malal - Legienstrausse - Inquisitor Jaq Draco - A dimension distorting container obtained by an unnamed Inquisitior of the Ordo Chronus - A sealed room with the mark of the Terminus on it - The "key" to the Gates of Vaul - A human preserved in amber, estimated to be several million years old - A set of lock picks that can open anything. Anything. - A possible Old One relic known as The Shadowlight. In its current configuration it activates latent psykers who touch it, and kills horribly everyone else. Reconfiguring it tears holes in reality. - At least two copies of the Dark Age nanobot weapon of mass destruction known as the Bloodtide. One of which had its central intelligence scooped out and possessed by a Bloodthirster, the other used by Voldorius and just sane enough to keep begging for death.
Pluto and Charon
Webway Gates of the Sol System
The Sol system has five Webway gates; all made by the master bonesingers of Yme-Loc in the years since the formation of the alliance. Although the eldar do not know how to make massive changes or repairs to the Webway, they do know how to make new gates, and living structure of the Webway usually shifts to accommodate them. However, it is still a long and involved process to get new gates to properly sync up to the existing Webway. Of all the Craftworlds, Yme-loc retains the greatest amount of information on how to make new gates and the quality of their craftsmanship is well known throughout the Imperium.
It is unlikely that there were any Webway gates in the Sol system before those placed by Yme-Loc, at least by the eldar. Any active Webway gate in the Sol system known to the Old Eldar Empire would have given them a massive advantage in any military confrontation, the same kind that prevented the Interstellar League from holding Eldar territory, and it is likely that the Great and Powerful Human Dominion would have searched out and destroyed any Webway gates in the Sol system for this very reason. If any such gates existed in the long span between the War in Heaven and mankind colonizing their home system, they are surely lost to history.
The first Webway gate is located in the heart of the Imperial Palace. This is the primary means by which the Royal Couple enter and exit the Imperial palace, as well as the entrance for diplomats and representatives from the Craftworlds. As a potential weak spot in the Imperial Palace's structure, it is guarded zealously by the Custodians and the Handmaidens. The second is located not too far away, on the Salisbury Plain of what was once Gredbriton. It is the main entrance to Sol for all those who are not famous diplomats. Like most Web way gates on human inhabited worlds, the exit in the Materium is fortified by the Silver Skulls Astartes chapter, who have turned the area around the gate into a killbox for any Crones or Dark Eldar foolish enough to think they have a ready entry point into the heart of the Imperium. The third Web way gate is located on Luna near the famous Luna shipyards. This is the main port of entrance for eldar space craft into the Sol system.
The remaining two Web way gates do not officially exist. These two are located on the moons of the gas giants, specifically Titan and Ganymede. As two of the only predominantly human institutions allowed free use of the Webway, the Grey Knights and Inquisition find the Webway gates invaluable to their work, as it allows them to travel across the breadth of the galaxy in a fraction of the usual time to quickly respond to any emergency. Additionally, in the event of a crisis on Ganymede, the Grey Knights can be there in an instant without having to waste time boarding a ship. This also helps to keep the true nature of Ganymede a secret. Not having a constant stream of ships going in-and-out of the forbidden planet helps keep the cover story of its contamination intact.
Armageddon is a world of steel and fire.
First, the steel. The Orks, when they took back the planet Ullanor and transformed the world into their Attack Planet, coated it entirely in armor plate and gun batteries, every former geological feature paved over, even the oceans drained for reactor coolant or simply built over with vast platforms. Ullanor gained a second crust of iron over its previous one of stone. Exactly where the Orks got all this metal is unknown, the current best guess is they used teleporters to extract it directly from the world's core or from the cores of nearby planets and asteroids.
Then, the fire. When Ollanius Pius slammed his ship at a third lightspeed into the Attack Planet and knocked it off its collision course with Old Earth, the force of impact broke the stone crust like a dropped vase. Immense volcanic fissures opened up swallowing vast sections of the gun-continents, mountains that should have taken millennia to form were thrust up in a day, the oceans rushed back to their former positions, everything not covered in lava was covered in ash.
Enough of the teleporter system survived for just long enough for the Mekboyz to hit the big red button and teleport the Attack Planet one last time.
When the Imperium re-encountered the world which had once been Ullanor, it was shattered almost beyond recognition. Vast plumes of ash carpeted the continents. The rust oceans were filled with toxic metals from flooded war machines and boiled from undersea volcanoes. The continents were speckled with standing seas of molten metal where volcanic heat met mind-boggling amounts of steel. The air consisted mainly of volcanic gasses, with occasional pockets of breathable air scattered throughout the mangled planet-spanning superstructure.
There were still Orks all over the place, of course. Fighting among each other and trying to repair machines they no longer had the WAAAAAGH-power to comprehend.
Its conquest by the Imperium was swift and thorough. The Steward, still angry and grieving over all the Beast had taken from him, lead the conquest personally, clearing the world in less than a month. He renamed it Armageddon, for what it had so nearly wrought.
Then, after the conquest came the industry. Great siphons were erected to sup metal from the molten lakes. Then factories. Mines. Hives. Mechanicus and Biologis terraformers to make the air something other than ash and acid.
Now, Armageddon is a wasteland of industry. River-deltas of liquid iron carry metal from the natural volcanic smelters to the millions of factories. Excavation machines the size of Titans carry megatons of scrap metal to the volcano-forges. Despite the best efforts of the Biologis, hardy engineered grasses spreading out over endless ash plains, gas masks and heavy protective clothing is still required outside the hives. Even the ash is made useful, mixed into concrete or exported by the millions of tons to enrich the soil of thousands of agri-worlds.
Even after ten thousand years of this there is still so much material left. Endless armor plate. Forests of macrocannon making empty threats at empty sky. Hangars filled with rusted war machines stretching out to the horizon. And still so many Orks. It is traditional for the regiments of the Steel Legion to cut their teeth suppressing feral Ork populations before deploying to the wider Imperium.
Even after ten thousand years of human control, Armageddon is still in many ways an Ork world. Seen from orbit, even through the glowing scars and ash, the original shape of its structures is still dimly visible; a grinning, tusked skull.
Cadia was green, once. There were forests, green plains of flowing grass, lakes and rivers. The sky was blue, once. The air was clean. Once.
That was a long, long time ago, though. Before nobody knows how many millions of nukes went off in that clean sky, before how many millions of tons of gas and poison were released by both sides, before how many daemonic hordes trampled over its surface and were pushed back by how many billions of tanks.
The people of Cadia in those days were not so much Chaos worshippers as they were maltheists. Little more than tribal-hunter gatherers, with knapped stone tools and eyes specifically adapted to filter out the impossible colors and sights that should not be that filled the Cadian aurora at night. They believed the Chaos Gods existed, for only a fool would not on that world, but they only offered them curses or, at best, prayed that the dark gods would find them too insignificant to be worth noticing. For this was Cadia, doorstep to the Eye of Terror, and here Chaos did not have to be subtle or enticing to claim its victims. Like all tribal worlds the Cadians had stories of monsters in the dark eager to snatch the unwary, leaving only the sound of daemonic laughter echoing on the winds, only due to being right next to the Eye of Terror these stories were more literal than most. What the Imperium did is give the inhabitants guns, and taught them that the daemons of Chaos could be fought, and more importantly, killed.
Despite its importance to the modern Imperium, Cadia did not become a part of the modern Imperium until after the War of the Beast. Cadia was first discovered by the Word Bearers 10th Expeditionary Fleet led by Bishop-Captain Kol "The Anointed" Badar, backtracing the routes used by the forces of the Beast and the Crone Eldar to try and figure out where they had come from. Kol was not an Astartes himself but commanded nearly a thousand of them plus appropriate Imperial Army elements. He was a curmudgeonly old priest from the Yndonisian Bloc and although it was buried under a lot of crust and grump he had had a good heart. Upon landing on Cadia, Kol took one look at the violet-eyed tribals living as good men under a broken sky to spite the dark gods and called for reinforcements. Upon seeing the scale of the request, the Administratum asked Kol what in the world he needed the reinforcements for. Badar’s response was curt and brazen. “We’re going to besiege Hell”.
Kol’s idea sent shockwaves through the Imperium. Some were appalled. Dorn was said to have claimed it was the best idea the “choir boys” had ever come up with. And yet, once the initial shock had passed, turning Cadia into a Fortress World sounded like an increasingly good idea. The region of space between the Eye of Terror and Sol was always likely to be a contested space as long as Chaos was interested in toppling the Imperium. However, examination of the region of space around Cadia showed that the planet was positioned in an anomalously calm region of space bordering the Eye of Terror, actually slightly within the Eye if you were to look at the stellar maps. Although barely wide enough to hold the Cadian system, the region around Cadia represented the easiest and most reliable way for Crone fleets leaving the Crone Worlds to attempt to march on Sol. By fortifying the only major entrance and exit from the Eye of Terror the Imperium would essentially deny Chaos any real long-term foothold in realspace.
Ulthwé also approved the idea, given that the Craftworld was typically been the first target of Chaos marauders due to its proximity to the Eye they loved the idea of a bulwark against Chaos that wasn’t them. The modern population of Cadia is derived from a mix of the original natives and the numerous immigrants resettled from across the Imperium to populate the planned Fortress World. Although the natives were enthralled by the idea that the daemons that had haunted them for millennia were actually able to be banished by mortal men, a tribal population in the millions who were just getting the hand of not using stone tools is not enough to man an entire fortress world, and the Imperium knew it. Most of the culture of modern Cadia is also heavily influenced by Ulthwé and the native Cadians (especially Ulthwé, whose population is an order of magnitude greater than Cadia), who had to teach the new wide-eyed immigrants how to survive on a world where the worshippers of the Ruinous Powers are your next door neighbor.
That was all a long, long time ago. Cadia isn’t green anymore.
The ground is churned mud, discolored by the iridescent sheens of ancient chemical weapons. The sky is bruised smog, the air corrosive and lethal in minutes. Geiger counters crackle and hiss. All landmarks, all features of terrain, have been chewed up by artillery barrages and orbital bombardment until all that is left of entire mountains is mud-filled craters. Unexploded munitions, some millennia old, litter the ground. Every rain exposes ancient corpses and ruined war machines, to be covered back up when the ground shifts again.
Imagine if the battle of Verdun had continued for ten thousand years.
Civilization on Cadia, such as it is, has moved underground. Vast underground vaults, hardened against shock and bombardment, house factories, armories, farms, apartments, schools, mines. All sheltered from the attention of enemy warships by at least a hundred meters of rock, if not more.
Each of these cities is, of course, also a fortress. Every corridor a chokepoint, every intersection a killzone, every building a bunker. Every entrance rigged to collapse. In many cases, the entire city is rigged for total destruction if it falls, to deny resources to the enemy and spite them one last time. Atomic demolition charges, magma floods from geothermal taps, simply bringing the ceiling down with melta bombs.
The entire planet is a fortress, spiderwebbed with defensive lines and connected by underground passages. There is not a point on the planet that cannot be hit with at least one gun. Individual bunkers fight on for as long as possible before the crew abandons the position and falls back to the next line through the tunnel system, just a hundred meters away. Areas the enemy thinks secure are struck by commandos through secret passages and hidden sally-ports. Fortresses surrounded on the surface can hold out for years with supplies flowing into them through the tunnels. When the enemy gets into the tunnels, they will find nothing but booby-traps, collapsed passages, and ambushes.
Some of the bunker systems extend down halfway to the mantle. Even if the surface, the cities, the top fortification layers, all fall, resistance will continue. Tunneling machines loaded with atomics crawling up from the depths, like very slow ICBMs.
Imagine a combination of the Maginot Line, VC tunnel systems, and the Japanese defense of Peleliu and Iwo Jima.
Normally, the reaction of the Archenemy to defenses of such magnitude would be warp-work, drown it in daemons and drive the defenders mad. Not on Cadia, not with the Pylons, not under a Null-Field powerful enough to stitch the Eye of Terror shut. Daemon engines stutter and malfunction, Nurgle's plagues are banished by conventional treatment, daemons are banished by the humble lasgun. Victory will have to be by fire and blood.
Sadly, Chaos has plenty of that as well.
In places, the bodies of the dead are mounded high enough to be terrain features.
The stone of Cadia is unnaturally resilient. The Archenemy has attempted to destroy the world with nearly every method ever conceived at one time or another. Cyclonic torpedoes, mass orbital bombardment, ram attacks by Space Hulks and entire fleets, vortex bombs to the planetary core. A dozen things that should have left Cadia a drifting asteroid belt, and yet the fortresses and deep bunkers still stand. Something is holding Cadia together, and for years nobody knew for certain exactly what.
The most commonly proposed theory was that the planet’s resilience was related to the Cadian Pillars, the strange, alien pylons constructed of an unknown material by an alien race long before the Eldar had even explored the region after the War in Heaven. The Cadian Pillars are extremely tough, shrugging off anything less than a direct, focused attack. Above their surface they appear to be simple obelisks, whereas below they are linked together by a network of metallic roots that in some cases were all that held the planet’s crust together after Chaos bombardment. Bizarre natural phenomena have also been suggested as a possible explanation, and a few bold iconoclasts whisper that it might be the work of Chaos, a manifestation of its self-defeating nature. In the end, nobody knows; but Cadia would have long fallen without it.
However, in recent times, a darker side to Cadia's story has emerged. Cadia's position as the lone bastion of realspace within the immaterial turmoil of the Eye of Terror was not due to chance. The Cadian Pillars have been discovered to be of Necron origin (possibly as the brainchild of the C’tan only known as Mag’ladroth, also known as the Void Dragon), having been built by the Necrontyr Star Empire in ancient times across and beneath the Cadian surface. The fact they built this device so close to the Eldar homeworld speaks of hubris, or spite, or both. This explained the unnatural resilience of Cadia and the pylons, if the pylons were of Necron origin, then it made sense that they would want to make them as hard to destroy as possible. The Cadian Pillars have the passive effect of "anchoring" the planet and its surroundings more reliably in realspace, allowing Cadia to exist even after the fabric of space-time was warped during the Fall of the Eldar. However, when fully activated the Cadian pillars would act like a wedge, separating the Warp from reality and ripping out the souls of almost every living thing in the Milky Way. Their original purpose was most likely to kill off the Old Ones as well as their psychic servant races such as the Krork and the proto-Eldar, but fortunately the Necrontyr (or more likely, the Necrons) were driven off before this task could be complete.
However, now that the Necron Star Empire has returned to the galactic scene, they seek to use the Cadian Pillars once more. The Silent King has stated as much. The Silent King seeks to use the Cadian Pillars to starve out the forces of Chaos and return the Warp to the Realm of Souls, finally fixing the last of the damage done to the galaxy by the War in Heaven. The fact that this would killing off every living thing with a soul is seen as a regrettable though necessary evil. It is uncertain whether the Cadian Pillars are the only part of this device or coordinate a series of devices throughout the galaxy, but it is clear that Cadia is a lynchpin in the Silent King’s plans.
Now that the Imperium knows the truth about the Cadian Pillars, engineers from a hundred worlds and a dozen species have travelled to Cadia to try and figure out how to shut the pillars down, but none have figured out a way to dismantle the pillars, let alone do so in a way that would allow Cadia to remain existing and restrict the flow of Chaos Forces in and out of the Eye of Terror.
Now Cadia faces the threat of a siege on two sides. An invasion by Chaos from the front and the Necrons from behind. Cadia may be on the opposite side of the galaxy from the seat of the Silent King’s power, but even it depends on reinforcements from the Gate Worlds to survive any protracted siege. Letting either the Necrons or Chaos get a hold of the world could prove disastrous.
Resettlement of Cadia
It is common (although far from universal) practice for long- serving regiments of the Imperial Army to be given worlds, or parts of worlds, to settle (or re- settle, in many cases) for their retirement. This is simultaneously a sentimental gesture, a lavish reward for years of service to the Imperium, and a practical one; worlds colonized by ex- Guardsmen usually develop highly martial cultures, which will contribute many more fine Guard regiments in the centuries and millennia to come. Also, worlds colonized by Guardsmen are more likely to survive their early years with a bunch of fully equipped veteran soldiers as a PDF.
Although regiments of any world may be selected for colonization, there are a few which pursue these initiatives with unique fervor. One such is the Fenrisian Line, as the Space Wolves try to expand their recruitment population. But by far the most visible and prolific are the Cadians, who pursue settlement with special fervor.
Part of this is simply how many Cadian regiments there are throughout the galaxy. But mainly it is a function of the nature of Cadia itself. The immense fortifications, coating the entire surface of the world and crawling deep into the crust, require tens of billions of soldiers to man properly at minimum. Preferably hundreds of billions; in theory the barrack vaults of the deep tunnels while in top condition could accommodate as many as a trillion men, although this has never been actually achieved. And with every Black Crusade that garrison is brutally decimated, with losses sometimes climbing as high as ninety percent. (At least every drop of Cadian blood is brought with a river of the enemies'.)
In the wake of every Black Crusade, it is imperative that the defenses be rebuilt and remanned as quickly as possible. Even with the main conflict over, as long as the Gate's defenses are compromised raiding bands by the hundred will continue to flow through to plague the Imperium. And not just anyone will do; it needs to be people with a tradition of resistance to Chaos both physically and spiritually, of stubborn, heroic resistance in the face of overwhelming odds, down to the last ditch; who have been doing so for so long it has gone past the cultural and down to the genetic. In short, the Cadian Gate needs to be manned by Cadians.
On each of the thousands of worlds colonized by Cadians, the traditions of Cadia are maintained. Universal conscription with military training starting from the early teens, bunker as the basic mode of architecture, sending out hundreds of regiments to fight in the wider galaxy. Worlds colonized by the Cadians almost invariably become fortress worlds and major Army recruiting worlds, bulwarks of the local defense. They would be deeply valuable to the Imperium for that alone.
And when Cadia lies wounded in the wake of yet another war, they respond. Dispatching soldiers, workers, and colonists by the billion to restore and man damaged defenses and refill empty cities. Thanks to its colonies, it takes mere decades for Cadia to recover after each Black Crusade instead of centuries.
It is estimated, by the Dark Clerks and Grim Statisticians, that the effect of Cadia's colonies on the Imperial defense are about equal to Cadia and the Gate itself. For this, they are referred collectively as the Cadian Shield, a defense stretching across the entire galaxy.
EDITOR'S NOTE: Tyranid section has to be rewritten since Catachan devils aren't tyranids in this timeline, tyranids stole genetic information from Catachan via genestealers to make them more killy.
Catachan was discovered towards the end of what is referred to as the First Stellar Exodus by automated sub-sapient probe at or about the cross over point of M4 – M5. Initial hopes were high as it was a planet with a breathable atmosphere and a thriving ecosystem that appeared to be made of carbon based life forms. The probe made several orbits of the planet before moving on to survey the other planets in the system and move on to the next. It wasn’t until ~500.M5 that increasingly reliable warp drives made expeditions of such range, and so close to the currents of near-Hub territory, a practical possibility that a proper survey team was sent to the planet. Of the surviving member of the 100+ team a harrowing report was made that resulted in the planet being quarantined.
For the entire lifespan of the Great and Bountiful Human Dominion the planet was a no-go site. Occasionally down the long centuries other research teams would descend upon the world. Briefly. Sometimes members would survive but always it would be costly. It was discovered that there was an ork population native to the planet missed for a long time due to them being mid level on the food chain at best. The planet remained the stuff of dark legend and decidedly off limits although given it’s uselessness for anything practical it was more obscure than forbidden, a curiosity of biologists and few others.
When the Age of Strife and the great churning of the warp started several ships were washed out of the warp half wrecked and not too distant from Catachan. If they hadn’t have heard of the world they would have had record of it in their ships data-stacks but faced with the probability of death in greenhouse hell and certain death in the cold of space they chose the path of most likely survival.
The sites of the original crash/landings are hard to decipher but are of such antiquity that they are no longer of any practical concern. Any technology on the ships would have broken down an age ago at least and raw materials salvaged by those that came afterwards.
It is known that at least one of the stranded ships, before the technology broke down, dabbled in the art of genetic modification. Their environment proved too durable to lastingly change so they had to change themselves to be more resilient. It is believed that this worked for some considerable time, certainly by the time things started to go wrong they had lost the ability to correct the damage. Generation after generation the differences between them and the baseline humans exaggerated and the result was the Primeval Ogryn population encountered by the fledgling Imperium in the days of the Great Crusade.
Curiously the beseline humans that interbred with the altered humans in the days before they became too divergent did not have degenerating offspring and instead seemed to take on a tiny touch of the Ogryn without most of the down sides. It is suspected that this is the origin of the in/famous Catachan physique, as well as an increased likelihood of developing joint and heart problems.
As society regressed to a more primitive state they knew nothing of the comings and goings of the galaxy. The first generations held out hope that someone would come from the Bountiful Dominion to rescue them but as the years ticked by such old memories became nothing more than stories that were eventually forgotten.
Thankfully the human inhabitants discovered iron veins close to the surface. It is possible that these were first taken from the native orks, fighting them off with the last dregs of their inherited high-tech weapons. Whatever the case by the time the Imperium discovered them the human inhabitants of Catachan were could make steel of varying quality.
The planet itself has one major landmass with the bulk largely around the equator though in the extremities it can reach to almost temperate latitudes. The land is stretched out rather than one continuous block with many lagoons, bays and inland seas separated by dense jungles at the feet of heavily wooded mountains. Predominantly the human population is found along the rivers and in the foothills of the mountains with the beaches and higher slopes shunned for being too exposed and the “Deep Green” being seldom travelled due to the high lethality of the environment.
The deadly nature of the Deep Green has little to do with orks, with whom the Catachans have warred with constantly over the habitable lands, but because of real predators. The Ogryn are the only ones brave and hardy enough to traverse those places where it is said the gods of Catachan dwell.
The Ogryn have responded as well as any population of their kind to the Adeptus Biologicus uplift attempts. They are smarter now than they were, more inclined to team work and tool usage and that makes up for the decrease in strength and endurance. The other population of note is the furtive pygmy peoples of the islands. They are not abhumans and their small stature is just a case of island dwarfism and nothing more. Due to their remote locations and primitive nature it has been considered a waste of resources to try and make extensive contact with them, certainly there are none in the Imperial Guard.
The Imperial Guard regiments raised on that verdant world make some of the hardiest fighters in the Imperium, provided they are deployed somewhere tropical and for preference in a Jungle. It was quickly realized by the Imperial Army Brass that it was necessary to mix the tribal elements thoroughly as they will form alliances and in-regiment gangs if left in a big enough pre existing group. Mixing them up so that there is only one or two squads at most from any given tribe in a regiment and them separated by company worked well, especially when provided with a pro-Imperium priest. One other method suggested was to regiments segregated by tribe but this was dismissed as it sounded like a quick way to have whole tribes devastated if things went catastrophically ploin shaped.
It is known that many Tyrannid life forms share some characteristics with the native Catachan wildlife. This is evidence suggesting that the planet was invaded by a hive fleet, or more likely some small elements of a broken one, at some time in the Imperial Era. One of two things have happened since then; the planet ate and absorbed the Tyrannids as it did the orks and to a lesser extent human settlers or the Hive managed to get genetic material from the planet and disseminate it across the fleets. Either way nobody noticed the invasion. The planet is also known to have devoured at least nine minor and two medium sized WAAAAGH!!!s, a Q’orl migration and a Loxatl incursion to say nothing of countless Dark and Chaos eldar raiding endeavours. The planets greatest deterrent to invasion is the nature of the planet itself.
Cthonia. The ring. Last and greatest remnant of the Bountiful and Benevolent Terrestrial Dominion. Symbol of humanity's incomprehensible height... and of how very, very far it has fallen.
Cthonia is located a mere 79 light-years from Old Earth, encircling one of the suns in the four-star Regulus system, one of the brightest lights visible from the Sol system. Exactly why humanity decided to build a ringworld in a four-star solar system, which would by all means be perhaps the worst place to try and build such a structure, is unknown, beyond perhaps that humanity and the Iron Minds tried to do it for the sole reason of seeing whether or not it could be done. Perhaps the Old Eldar Empire were not the only Dark Age power with a case of hubris. The fact that the other three stars in the system provided raw material and energy for fusion reactions and molecular forges certainly helped smooth out any initial efficiencies. Eventually Cthonia became the heart of the Great and Bountiful Human Dominion, eventually even eclipsing the homeworld of Earth itself.
What was it like, in its heyday? Nobody alive knows. The Mechanicus has some idea; vast telescope arrays staggered light-years apart in deep space, drinking in fossil light from its construction, taking decades to assemble a single picture from stray photons. Vague blurred shapes and impressionist insinuations; of the vast machines siphoning matter and energy from the sun to build it, of the swirling blue-green-white of a million continents, of the golden glow of cities stretching from one edge to the other. Enough to inspire questions and fire imaginations, but not provide answers.
What is it like now? Scoured clean. The Iron War was at its most ferocious here. Towards the end, even the primary star was used as a weapons, induced to go nova. The system still bears the scars, shells of cold gas cast off from that massive conflagration surrounding Cthonia. Everything on the inward face was annihilated, leaving only an endless expanse of bare, gleaming neutronium. Only systems contained within the exotic matter band itself or mounted on the outward face survived the nova... and very few of those survived all of the other ordnance being thrown around.
The Imperium dreams of one day recreating the Ring. But at this point, it would only be somewhat less of an undertaking than creating one anew. The neutronium base, most difficult to create, still exists, but everything else is gone. Hundreds of thousands of living worlds would need to be stripped bare to provide air and water and soil. Every forge world in the galaxy would need to devote themselves entirely to the effort for a thousand years. Perhaps, if the galaxy was at peace, the Imperium victorious without qualification, it could be done.
Until then, they settle for sending more expeditions into tunnels and ruins already picked over a hundred times before. And they create art.
The Cthonian Ring, past, present, and hopeful future is a common subject of painting, statuary, literature, and other arts. In painting, the 'Ring Triptych' is almost a genre unto itself, combining past, present, and future into a single image. Mechanicus facilities often have a sculpture of the Cthonian Ring prominently displayed; a skilled connoisseur can often identify faction and ideological leanings by the details of the sculpture. Portraits of the Emperor occasionally depict the Ring circling his brow like a crown, a symbol of office and the once and future might of Mankind.
(The most famous of these portraits is Callimant d'Argan's 'Image of Man and Emperor', which shows Oscar almost swallowed up entirely by a massive Ring/crown, the man lost in the weight of history and of the office. The original hangs in Oscar's private quarters on the Traveling Court. This is well known, so duplicates are prominently displayed by ambitious nobility the galaxy over, most of whom miss the symbolism entirely.)
Cthonia, now, is a symbol. A symbol of what precisely varies from speaker to speaker, planet to planet, year to year. But nobody denies that it is a symbol; a unifying factor, one which that the teeming trillions of humanity need. Billions of pilgrims travel to the Ring, second only to Sol in drawing people from across the Imperium.
Ironically, one of the galaxy's greatest graveyards has become a major hub of culture and trade. Port stations stud the outside surface, sheltered by the vast bulk of the ring from the radiation flares of the still-unstable star. Although the warp currents have shifted since Cthonia was the capital of the Terrestrial Dominion, several trade routes still run through or near the system. A permanent population in the billions has slowly grown, serving the pilgrims and trade fleets passing through, along with the permanent Mechanicus presence. Even though a true restoration lies tens of thousands of years in the future... the first step has already been taken.
Contrary to popular belief, Fenris isn’t populated by barbarians. The people of Fenris may be grizzled, bad tempered tribals, but they aren’t savages.
According to the Adeptus Administratum, Fenris is officially classified as an Agri/Death World with a single fortified hive city. The Fang (or Aett in native Fenrisian) is, or really was, the name of the mountain that the fortress was originally built on because Leman Russ had a limited imagination. Fang Mountain no longer really exists in a conventional sense as it has been built on, under and hollowed out to the point that it can no longer be considered a natural formation so much as a fortified Hive that kind of looks like a mountain. It was not, despite many claims to the contrary, one of Perturabo's designs although it may have been influenced in the later stages of its formation.
The Fang is sparsely populated for a hive as its main job is to serve the Chapter as a storage house, habitation between missions, training ground, hospital and general headquarters. In times when Fenris itself comes under direct assault the empty space can be used to house most if not all of the native population.
The population of Fenris is primarily one of farmer-soldiers. Only married full citizen men are allowed to own land and you aren't allowed citizenship or the right to marriage until you do a tour in the Imperial Army or do at least ten years serving the Chapter or the PDF. Women are given full citizen status on either ten years’ service to the Chapter or upon marriage, which ever happens first. That's how it was supposed to happen according to the laws laid down by Russ. But Russ has been gone a long time and out in the further reaches it gets a bit lax.
Native Fenrisians actually do show a little bit of genetic differentiation from the general human population, as a result of thousands of years of intermarriage between members of their population and the Space Wolves. Because Space Wolves and Canis Helix soldiers in general are produced through genetic engineering, it is possible in theory for Space Wolves to pass their augmentations to their descendants. However, the modifications of Space Wolves are generally gene-locked to the best ability of the Imperium to keep this from happening, and so what few augmentations have been passed down are rare, once-in-a-century occurrences. Fenrisians do tend to be a little more aggressive and cold-tolerant than average, but their genetic differences are minor, no more unusual than the purple eyes of Cadians.
The land of Fenris is pretty inhospitable and dangerous by any civilized standards. The only part of Fenris that is geologically stable is the relatively small continent of Asaheim, most of which is a cold icy wasteland with a mile thick ice sheet covering it all year round. Further from the pole there is a belt of tundra that is slightly less useless, but not massively so, and beyond that there is enough direct sunlight for conifer and fir trees to grow. This is the land of snow trolls, giant bears, and mastodons, not to mention the descendants of Leman Russ’ failed experiments back when Fenris was a top-secret black site. The Vlka Fenryka don’t mind it too much as it gives them a ready-made training ground right next to the Fang, though the land is still too dangerous for someone to try to live on. Further still is a thin layer of slightly more arable land around the coast that it is possible to grow more than enough for mere survival on. The surplus is taken by the Fang for the War Effort.
Far from Asaheim are the island nations where the climate is nicer, ranging to tropical at the equator, but the tectonic activity is more active. Some of the island arcs can last for generations, but most have a lifespan of less than two years. Life is less terrible than on Asaheim, right up till the island volcanically explodes or sinks. Such is life on Fenris. These islands with the fertile volcanic soil do provide substantially more food but are less reliable and there is always the problem of transporting it. The inhabitants of the islands are always ready to pick up and go at a moment’s notice, and island cities on Fenris look more like a flotilla of moored boats than an actual city.
The seas of Fenris are where the real good food is found. The underwater tectonic activity keeps churning up nutrients that keep the food chain going in the long elliptical orbit winters, and causes an explosion of life during the brief growing seasons. If you don't like seafood, you will either be profoundly unhappy or you can starve. Kraken is the largest thing in the oceans and is edible. It tastes oddly avian.
Following the War of the Beast, the primarch Leman Russ ran into a problem. Although he had managed to stabilize the Canis Helix augmentation into a viable form for military use, he had only managed to do so for people with specific genetic markers from the planet of Fenris. Fenris was an ideal place to conduct secret black site military experiments, but it was a terrible place to try to build a civilization. There was very little arable land on the planet, meaning that most of the food on the planet had to come from the rather dangerous sea. What's more, the only place that infrastructure could be reliably built on the geologically unstably Fenris was on the relatively small continent of Asaheim, which housed both the Vlka Fenryka's main base of operations as well as the majority of the population of Fenris. As a result, if any enemy were to attack Fenris, they could easily cripple the Vlka Fenryka's ability to fight and recruit new troops in a single swoop.
If the fate of the Vlka Fenryka was to be tied to the people of Fenris, the solution, therefore, was make more Fenrises. If the galaxy could not come to Fenris, Russ would bring Fenris to the galaxy. Leman Russ broached this idea of creating Fenrisian colonies to the Steward, who despite his reluctance nevertheless agreed to the idea. The people of Fenris, for their part, were more than enthusiastic about spreading to new locales, if for no other reason than to get away from their Death World of a home. Initially there were but eight Fenris colonies, though that number has since grown to over twenty-three. For the most part, the Fenrisians chose cold, polar worlds, reminiscent of their former home. Most human and Eldar colonists had steered clear of these worlds due to their short growing season and unforgiving climate, but to the Fenrisians they were a veritable paradise. The growing season may have been short, but at least it was possible to grow food on these worlds, rather than relying on the unpredictable sea like on Fenris.
The population of the Fenrisian Colonies has since outstripped that of its parent world by several orders of magnitude, in part because none of the colony worlds are as hostile to human life as Fenris itself. Overall, New World Fenrisians are less wild and more ordered than Old World Fenrisians, though in a one-on-one fight a New Worlder will still lose to an Old Worlder nine times out of ten. Nevertheless, the people of the Fenrisian colonies still hold Fenris in high regard, both as a matter of cultural pride and to show how far they have come. Although the Fenrisian Colonies will bicker like brothers, all still follow the Old Ways, and although they may not listen to the King of Fenris they will listen to High Priest Ulfrik the Slayer, who in turn listens to the King of Fenris.
Wolves of Fenris
See Fenrisian Wolves
The Istvaan System
"Nothing good ever seems to come out of the Istvaan system"
-- Saul Tarvitz, Terra's Sons
Istvaan III at the time of it's discovery in the height of the Great Crusade was a prosperous world but well beneath the point where Survivor Civilization status should be considered having rediscovered fission power some thirty years before Imperial contact. They were brought globally into the Imperium by the forces of the Raven Guard without incident as he planet had been unified several generations previously by military conquest.
Which is not to say that Istvaan was a military dictatorship. Although the original forces of conquest were definitely a military dictatorship the years since were distinctly not. The original dictator remains an enigmatic figure known only as The Forgotten Tyrant, a man only seen in public wearing thick, full body covering if slightly grubby yellow robes and a porcelain mask popular in theaters several centuries prior. Beyond "probably human" (he did need to eat at least) and probably male (referred to as male and had a deep tenor) nothing is known. He spent the last twelve years of his life destroying all records of himself and ordered his body to be cremated still wrapped in his robes. There are several theories on the Tyrant's identity gleaned from old national records regarding political shifts, military spending and some grainy black and white photographs but ultimately nothing is provable or, by the time of the Imperium's contact, relevant.
In the years since the death of The Forgotten Tyrant and the years since the rebellions started to die down the dictatorship started to become rather more civilian in nature. The first successor ruled for 20 years and then started to institute elections via Electoral Council with the strict conditions that nobody on the Electoral Council could be a candidate, neither could family, friends or business associates or anyone they knew. He was voted out of office but the tradition stuck.
The people of Istvaan III knew that they were descendants of people from another world, records had been dutifully preserved in the form of illuminated manuscripts, tapestries and masonry decorations and they had unearthed the gutted hulls of old space ships many, many years prior with some of the more intact being renovated into usable but far more primitive structures still in use at Imperial Contact. They had been broadcasting their coordinates into space via radio waves for many years and it was only by good fortune that the Imperium and not the orks, or worse, discovered them first.
The newly elected Tyrant of Istvaan on the day they got a response from the 273rd Expeditionary Force was a relatively young Alivia Sureka, a woman who would be re-elected a further three twenty year terms before dying in office at the age of 92 as an unfortunate case of Rejuvenant Rejection. She was a pillar of calm in the jubilation of the five and a half billion populace, they were ecstatic that the old stories of Earth and the Dominion among the stars had been proven correct, she was far more down to earth in her manner and saw this as a collection of foreign nations bound under a single standard, much like her own society writ impossibly huge and wanted to ensure that her own society wasn't swallowed up and lost. There was no notion of not joining the Imperium, the common masses would not have stood for it.
By the time of the War of the Beast the Istvaan system was extensively settled with a system wide population of near thirty billion souls all ruled from the Palace of Voices in fair Choral City, that was subsequently bombed to rubble and the city suffering a 96% casualty rate. There were Chaos Cults on the planet that later traveled to the other habitations in the system, some of them predating The Forgotten Tyrant, and in those days they came out of the shadows like insane, starving rates.
Istvaan is one of the few cases in the Great Crusade where the Croneworlders operated openly, willingly, delighting in getting their hands dirty. Their atrocities were brutal and merciless, showing a capacity for unending and sustained cruelty beyond what a sane human could understand or even comprehend. The bones and bodies of slain civilians arranged in impossible shapes miles wide, scaring the fabric of reality so deep and so vast that it's effects were visible from orbit and not all of those bodies had done screaming.
Tyrant "The Baron" Vardus Praal and his Warsinger bodyguards had by cunning and good fortune escaped from the capital city when it became clear that saving it was not a realistic or even possible option and when the unholy hymns of torment were screamed by the tortured in the carcass ring about the cities ruins he and his followers were responsible for it's disruption. The warsingers were trained to perceive the warp as a form of music and could spot the recurring patterns in the songs and see the effects that they were having in the warp. Then they added their own and the feedback finally gave an ending to the tortured civilians and burned the Chaos Eldar who were orchestrating the symphony. Of Tyrant Praal? The surviving Chaos Eldar knew what he had done, knew where he and his warsingers were. Maybe they wanted to take him alive to make an example, maybe they wanted to draw it out for fun. He didn't give them the option, as the last of his warsingers fell and he looked down at the foot of pitted and rusted steel blade sticking out of his chest and felt the hot and sticky breath of something unspeakably evil on the back of his neck the rigged plasma-bottles in the ammunition stores went off and gave him one hell of a funeral pyre.
Istvaan III was eventually retaken by the Imperium. A few million survived in the outposts in the further orbits away from Istvaan III itself, a few tens of thousands on the capital planet were left fighting or hiding or dying slowly.
In time the cities were rebuilt, the fields resown, the outposts re-established, new armies trained and new ships were launched but the scars remained. It was a long, long time before Istvaan recovered fully and for a very long time afterwards half completed rituals were uncovered, heaps of unexploded munitions dug up, deamons bound and driven mad by time and isolation discovered and son, so many unclaimed bones.
Down the long march of years the Istvaan system has produced soldiers beyond counting, loyalty beyond question and competence beyond doubt. The world itself is green again, it's skies once more blue. There have been attempts both subtle and overt to bring the planet to ruin, many and varied, down the long count of years and always such attempts fail. The planet spits in the faces of dark gods and humbles and breaks their followers, it endures as spite and insult to them and dares them to return. The population of the planet as of 999M41 is approximately 12 billion and produces many fine soldiers and many cunning Inquisitors. As the Imperium marches towards Judgement Day it is known that Istvaan will do it's part, retribution and duty both demand it.
Krieg, of the Segmentum Tempestum, Uhulis Sector, at the start of 433.M38 was an entirely different world than what we know in the modern day. Back then, it was a hiveworld with a middling population of 97 billion souls, and a restless aristocracy. A manufacture and trade hub with a surprising knack for technology outside of the Adeptus Mechanicus, interstellar market trends and the subtle shifts of the warp's currents had, over the millennia reduced its prestige and market value- and the attack of Hive Fleet Behemoth led the Administratum to introduce a price ceiling on the products of Krieg to help the war effort. The ruling councils of Autokrats, already impoverished by misfortune (And, truth be told, some serious missteps of their own) were outraged. For them, bound as they were to Krieg itself, the threat of alien invasion was distant, and they saw themselves made slaves to the whole of the sector for the sake of lazy foreigners that couldn't even pay a fair price for their orbital defenses. For that was the specialty of Krieg, big guns. Guns that could be mounted on the planet, and give orbital invaders a beating, and hopefully ward them off. This also made the planet Krieg extraordinarily dangerous to attack. Any attack from above would be costly indeed.
So, when a grand conclave of Autokrats were called, the attendees freely ruminated and conspired against the Imperium, secure in the shadows of their defenses. The Autokrats agreed that a formal complaint should be lodged to the Imperium. And that if they weren't met properly, that the councils would meet again, and elect a High Autokrat, an office only called for in times of crisis, when the whole of the planet had to act together. On paper at least, the Autokrats were united in their cause; respect, or war.
However, the Autokrats were a minority in the grand scheme of things. For the vast majority of the planet that labored, lived, and died in the hives, "For Throne and Man," was their byword, and even as the Autokrats fumed in their spires, the factory workers set their shoulders, shook their heads, and redoubled their labors. It was possible that this upset would have remained just that- a grumbling, that would be addressed when the Administratum representatives arrived to hear complaints. An agreement might have been reached, or a display of force on the truculent Autokrats, and Krieg would have returned to normalcy, minus a few belligerent aristocrats.
However, the representatives of the Administratum never arrived, and Krieg suffered a further two separate blows.
The fate of the Administratum mission has yet to be revealed. The only clue recovered was a letter from Administrative Senioris Sandos to his wife, noting with pleasure that he might return in time for Sanguinalia celebrations, that he'd secured passage through the webway "With a trustworthy sort." All Eldar guides within the sector capable of granting access to the webway deny ever offering that to a human, much less a lowly bureaucrat. There is a sizable reward still on offer for the missing Administrative, and the Administratum further cautions all citizens that the webway is restricted to a select few- anyone offering them a 'shortcut' should be considered a criminal, and treated as such.
As the year passed on, and the Administratum's delegation failed to appear, the Autokrats convinced themselves that this was a calculated slight from the Administratum. For the Autokrats of Krieg, it was obvious that the Imperium had no care for them, and didn't even care to tell them to their face. Krieg is a relatively ancient world, and has had a fiercely xenophobic streak in their culture- and for those Kriegers that believed in the Imperium, and the vision of the Throne, the silence shook them.
The issue was further deepened due to the astropathic messaging system- due to Krieg's growing insignificance, they had few astropaths, and those few were held privately by Autokrats. They may well have kept the news of the disappeared delegation quiet. Or assumed that, like any other words from beyond Krieg, any assurances that the delegation had been lost could only be treated as lies.
Then there was the Segmentum Tempestum Famine. The Ulthran Cartel had elected to invest in agri-futures- and with that investment came a stampede of Rogue Traders, Demiurge Trade Clans, and savvy planetary governors following the trend. Most notably was the influence of at least one Necron lord. Though indirectly involved in the market, for reasons unknown, a spate of necron attacks were aimed solely at agriworlds in the segmentum for a period of seven years, further aggravating food supplies. The market dried up, and shiftless and dishonest grain haulers meant for hive and forge worlds dependent on their products skimmed from the top to sell to this feeding frenzy. In the chaos of the Hive Fleet Leviathan's invasion, and the subsequent shadow cast by the hive mind blocking out psker communications, the administratum failed to notice until it was too late for the Uhulis Sector. Worlds starved.
Krieg was not among them. They wouldn't have the chance.
The precise Autokrats immediately detected they were being short changed on loads from their grain haulers. Outraged, they turned their guns on the hauler, and demanded the full load. The grain hauler in question (Records indicate a shiftless layabout "Regnal Ersten" with a forged Writ of Trade as the unfortunate) made excuses. The Kriegers fired a volley upon the orbiting vessel to make clear their dissatisfaction. The Rogue Trader, apparently, then babbled out a series of excuses, culminating in the claim that the Segmentum Command had seized most of the food intended for Krieg.
The Autokrats were satisfied with their suspicions confirmed. After finishing off the grain hauler with another volley (Surprisingly, Regnal survived this, and would meet his own gruesome fate far later- but that's another story) the Autokrats met once more, and elected a High Autokrat among their number- as far as they were concerned, they were in a state of war.
We have no record of the identity of the High Autokrat. Their position, history, statements, gender, and fate are unknown. The Death Korps of Krieg were thorough in erasing this hated figure from memory. All we know was that there was a High Autokrat, and that this figure would openly declare secession from the Imperium of Man.
At this time, seven Astra Militarum regiments of Kriegers had been raised, and were posted on the world. They had been staying garrisoned in case of tyranid attack, and awaiting orders that would have presumably accompanied the Administratum delegation.
As part of their duties, they were to gather supplies. This included food for campaign, begrudgingly supplied by the planet.
The hivers of Krieg had never been strangers to hunger. It is the same on all hives- due to corruption, inadequate transport capacity, or the simple structure of billions contained in such a small space, malnutrition is rampant. There are always too many mouths, and never enough meals.
The hivers of Krieg had known the shock of having the Imperium fail them, and now faced famine. The Death Korps of Krieg stated simply that the population rose in rebellion against the Imperium, and by extension those Imperial Regiments as well, but I feel that this misses a step. To editorialize, I imagine that the High Autokrat (Being a cunning sort) let this stew a few days. Let the rations dwindle, let the people wonder what's going on- perhaps even attempted to rather publicly deny the Imperial Regiments their supplies, and suffered equally public rebuke.
The people would hunger, see what happened, and wonder. Wonder why their children cried from hunger, as the soldiers marched and drilled and menaced with bayonet, taking scraps meant for them. The High Autokrat would let that stew, then speak.
I know not the High Autokrat's charisma, but I can't imagine the starving need much convincing to seize food.
Or perhaps it's just as the Death Korps describe it. The population en masse blindly rejected Imperial Law in madness, and set upon the regiments like savage dogs.
There were seven Imperial Regiments arranged at that time, and seven hive cities. There's a fascinating account of the fall of six of these hive cities embedded in the training manuals of the Kriegers. Each city lost held a lesson to them, and each pre-Death Korps regiment that fought and fell had a deadly sin associated with them as reason to how they fell. From each fall, they took a lesson, until one hive remained, Hive Ferrograd, under the command of one Colonel Jurten. If the Kriegers can recognize a hero, they might think of Jurten as one.
Ferrograd was the center for manufacture of ammunition- which kept the final of the loyalist Kriegers well surprised. There was an offer of surrender, but the war was bitterly fought already. The only thing you would earn in surrender was a quick death. Colonel Jurten knew that the Imperium was still months out. His forces would starve before the Imperium could arrive. Following that, the Imperium invasion would be costly, if it succeeded- if, and at this, Colonel Jurten feared the most, if the Imperium would even bother coming.
By this time, what was once a strangely anthropomorphized civic philosophy had become almost a religious mania. He believed in the Throne, even as the rebels around him ranted and raved about making a new Throne, a proper one on Krieg. Jurten knew that was heresy. And he knew the origin of it. The hubris of thinking the Throne would care. The present armageddon and sorrows sown by all of this was a consequence of that central arrogance- that the Kriegers would get something for loving the Throne. The Throne was to be served. The Throne was not there to serve them.
And if Krieg would not serve the Throne, Krieg did not deserve to be.
Krieg is a world that has its fair share of technological wonders and secrets. Among the ammunition that Hive Ferrograd produced for the orbital guns were atomics. A terrible amount of them. On the day of the Feast of the Emperor's Ascension, Colonel Jurgen gave the people of Krieg a feast that would never be forgotten. For sixteen hours straight, his collection of guns roared, blanketing the whole of Krieg in nuclear fire. Estimates lodge the amount of nuclear weapons launched in the thousands. An event in the future known as "The Purging." A kill count was kept. As point of pride, the warriors of Krieg estimated that brave Colonel Jurten with sixteen hours, reduced the population from 97 billion down to little more than 780 mlilion.
The world had never been a garden world, but I found a portrait of old Krieg once. Sold for a pretty penny. Though dated to the right era, I am not unconvinced it's a forgery, but perhaps that is due to my own horror at the sight of it. It was a poorly painted water color, perhaps by a student, showing the feet of a titanic steel hive towering into the clouds, standing atop harsh and jagged moss stained stone, wind and rain lashing the cliff side, and in the grey and dim light that peeked through the clouds, an animal soaring through the air. At least, I think it is. Might be a smudge on the canvas.
Krieg has no towering hives now, just ruins and subterranean warrens. The once proud stones have been reduced to rubble and sand. There is no water on Krieg, save for what's found in canteens and barrack reserves. The clouds are far lower to the ground now, laden with poison and chemical. The only life upon Krieg now are Kriegers. Kriegers, and the horses they grow in vats beneath the surface to ride into battle.
Though the Purging was the single greatest use of nuclear weapons in a short span of time upon the surface of Krieg, nuclear weapons would continue to be used. Both sides entrenched, and fought to the bitter, genocidal end in a war that would continue on for a further 400 years. The rebel survivors had gained a psychopathic hatred for the madmen that had reduced their world to ashes, and the loyalists grimly fought in the name of the Throne, knowing that no quarter would be given. They both practiced total war. They innovated, adapted, took on the gas mask, supplemented their meager diets with corpse starch (It's exactly as it sounds), introduced large scale usage of the mysterious "Vitae Womb" technology, and reduced all their beliefs to a fanatic, fatalistic, all encompassing devotion to the Imperium. The only thing for a Krieger is the fight. The duty. The war. Nothing else. For five hundred years, all other Krieger culture was erased. Art, music, literature, all the trappings of a civilian life was crushed by the demand for total war.
As Colonel Jurten had feared, the Imperium had more important matters to deal with than just another hive world descending into madness and blood shed. Two expeditions were undertaken to Krieg during this time. The first, a curious rogue trader, was fired upon by automated orbital guns and they beat a hasty retreat. The second, a mechanicus survey fleet, came within range, and did not report being fired upon, but instead reported what seemed to be a complete, genocidal civil war being fought by a population of perhaps a few million, upon a worthless death world. They moved on.
In 849.M38, Krieg sent a missive to the Imperium at large stating that the rebellion had quashed, and the Death Korps of Krieg were waiting for orders.
Krieg has no governor. Krieg has a Grand Marshal, in charge of recruitment and training of Kriegers. All Kriegers are considered qualifying soldiers. Logic would lead one to expect there has to be some administrative center upon Krieg aside from this Grand Marshal, but the Death Korps of Krieg seem content to hand off most logistics responsibilities to the Departmento Munitorium.
Departmento Munitorium officers assigned to coordinate and keep Kriegers in armor and weapons upon Krieg have a very high turnover rate. Few deaths, but from my understanding, psychological burn out is the primary cause.
Kriegers are immune to boredom. There are no diversions. There is only labor, training, war, and waiting. Any diversion from these four activities is looked upon with contempt, if not hostility. Kriegers are also remarkably xenophobic. And I mean that in the broadest term possible- fellow guardsmen often find Kriegers uncommunicative, and at times laden with barely disguised disgust. It seems any with a survival instinct are considered lesser men.
For aliens, it is worse. Philosophically, the Kriegers came from a point with extreme deprivation. To them, every breath an alien draws is theft. Every acre of space they occupy is one less acre for proper humans to utilize. Every mouthful of food, another mouthful denied to those that better deserve it. In their eyes, the proper place of an alien is at the end of a bayonet. The fact that the Imperium tolerates these is a matter barely tolerated.
Yet, for all their lack of social graces, the Departmento Munitorium has embraced the Kriegers. They win wars. Any order given is fulfilled without hesitation, doubt, or regret, even in the face of death. And there are a great deal of them.
The Departmento Munitorium has long had a debate between two, rough, major schools of military study- the Reformers and the Macharians. It is no secret that, as the years have gone on, more and more regiments are drilled and equipped in the Cadian style. In the eyes of the Reformer generals, the advantages are obvious- Cadian soldiers are considered the standard by which all others of the Imperium are measured, and standardization and centralization of equipment would only help with logistics in the Astra Militarum. Something as simple as ordering a replacement lasrifle powerpack can lead to tragedy due to different manufacturing standards and usage across the endless worlds. Let there be one set of kit, training, and organization instead of the confusing hodge podge that blunders on through luck and sheer bloody mindedness.
The Macharians take their name from Lord Solar Macharius, who famously forged an army from a mass of diverse elements and worlds, making a flexible legion ready for every element. In their minds, trying to force guardsmen to march and act the same is an act of folly, that denies useful specialization and experience. Any attempted reform would take hundreds of years, untold fortunes, and would cause the war machine to grind to a halt even as they are besieged on all sides. Catachans are expert jungle fighters, Valhallans ice worlders, Chem Dogs tunnel fighters, and so on and so forth. Why break what isn't broken?
But now, there is a third regiment that is gaining acclaim, one that even the Reformers balk at modeling after. The Death Korps of Krieg.
Those that favor the Kriegers, see a model of the future. A guardsman that doesn't hesitate. Doesn't doubt. Doesn't question. Fears nothing, and fulfills every order to the letter. And better yet, there is no end to them. Generals at the strategic level find the Death Korps of Krieg refreshing. Far too often, regiments have generals that don't understand their place, and seek to ask questions or meddle in affairs above them. Refusing orders, 'misinterpreting' commands, engaging in cowardly routs: such are the sins of the common general. Oh yes, on occasion there's one that rises above, heroes that make for stirring propaganda- but let's be honest. Heroes are not what victory is made of. Victory is made of attrition, of materiel, of being willing to fight longer than the other guy. Victory is the stuff Kriegers are made of. They don't need commissars. Their loyalty is beyond question. And they seemingly spring out of the dirt with their wondrous Vitae Wombs. They're practically a new breed of human, and should be welcomed.
Though the other factions are uneasy at this new model of guardsman, those in the Departmento Munitorium see the future in the Death Korps. Limitless guardsmen that will not break, grinding down all that oppose the Imperium. The anvil, to the maneuverable hammer of the Astartes. One day, these generals dream, all the guard will be like the Death Korps. Fearless. Unquestioning. Replaceable.
The Death Korps of Krieg for their part do not care. They can be found on every front, on every battlefield, wherever a soldier is called to die, a Krieger will march there to take his place. They do not question. They serve.
Medusa is a world wrapped in a mystery wrapped in an enigma. During the Dark Age of Technology, the planet was a beacon of mining and industry, the source of raw material for so many technological wonders and a key manufacturing world for the Men of Iron. As a result, Medusa became one of the most famous worlds in the Golden Age human empire. During the Age of Strife, even as the knowledge of other planets faded in the minds of man, the memory of Medusa persisted, especially among the Mechanicum of Mars.
When the Steward announced the beginnings of the Great Crusade and sent the remaining legions forth from Sol, the planet of Medusa was high on the priority list of primarch Ferrus Manus. Indeed, it would fair to say he almost beelined for it. However, when Iron Hands had arrived at Medusa, they were thoroughly disappointed by what they had found. The legendary Telstarax that had been built around Medusa during the Dark Age of Technology to bring its mineral riches to the stars was still there, but the planet itself was almost unrecognizable, its surface primarily having the appearance of cracked pavement and colored a dull, ashen grey.
Perhaps the most salient feature of Medusa are the miles-high, hive-sized machines that dot its surface. These machines stand on a multitude of legs several thousand feet above the ground, looking like thunderclouds in the distance when viewed at ground level. These machines are described by locals as The Terraformers, and modern terraforming methods are to them what a stick of dynamite is to a cyclonic torpedo. The Imperium is capable of terraforming a planet, but this usually involves methods that are subtle and slow. The introduction of pioneer species by the Biologicus, the tweaking of the atmosphere by the Mechanicus, perhaps the diversion of the orbit of a comet by a farseer at the most spectacular. These machines, on the other hand, are something else entirely. Entire mountain ranges are thrust up or ground to dust seemingly at random, seas drained and refilled. In their wake the terraforming machines leave fast-growing grasses or alga, the source of the atmosphere on Medusa as well as its inhabitants primary source of food. And then, once the landscape is completely sculpted, the walking mountains turn around and do it again, as if unsatisfied with their previous work.
For obvious reasons, the Mechanicus has become obsessed with understanding the secrets of these great machines. Although there little remains permanent on the surface of Medusa, the great machines certainly are, and the Mechanicus has repeatedly funded expeditions to explore the interiors of these machines for ancient technology. These expeditions have met with mixed success. Although a few have escaped with amazing technological discoveries, more have unleashed technological monstrosities upon the surface of Medusa, or, more often, simply not come out at all. The machines seem to be violently opposed to anyone trying to interfere with their singular task, regardless of the intent. All attempts at communicating with these machines have failed. There is no intellect there, either human or Iron Mind. These machines are no more intelligent than the dimmest of servitors, running on the simplest of code to continually reshape the world at the whims of a master at least ten thousand years dead.
Because of the presence of these great terraformers, sedentary life in most parts of Medusa is hazardous as best. What may be a mountain range one year can be at the bottom of the ocean the next, and vice versa. As a result, most of the population of Medusa live a nomadic lifestyle aboard giant land-crawlers in the trackless wastes, constantly following in the wake of the great machines like pilot fish following a shark. And yet, there are some parts of Medusa that remain untouched, despite 25,000 years of terraforming. It is unknown why these locations in particular are avoided by the terraformers. Some have suggested that these places were intentionally set aside by the programmers of the machines, to serve as the later sites of cities, but no completely satisfying answer has been found. Some of these locations, upon further inspection, have turned out to be underground facilities dating to the Dark Age of technology, whereas others appear to simply be empty space. Chief among these are the Seven Cities of Sanctuary, the only place in which civilized life as traditionally envisioned is possible on Medusa. These places are centers of trade and commerce, where nomads exchange mineral deposits and ancient pieces of technology tilled up by the terraformers with offworlders.
If there is any positive aspect about Medusa it is that the planet does not take well to invaders. In the past, when the planet was invaded and the great machines came under attack by the forces of Chaos, the behavior of the terraformers suddenly changed, devoting their internal manufactorums to producing technological horrors that were unleashed screaming upon the invaders, volkite beams firing into the sky. However, the Medusans are not under the delusion that these machines are there to protect them. Although the machines ignore the native Medusans, if one so much as touches one of these drones the machines turn on them, ancient defensive programming classifying attempts at tactile communication as a threat. However, machines that fall in the defense of Medusa are highly valuable, as the giant terraformers seem to ignore their dead creations where they fall and these machines are often manufactured with lost Dark Age technology. Dark Age technology, whether from the surface or from the Telstarax, is the primary export of Medusa, and the currency to which it pays its tithe to the Imperium.
Molech was just originally just a planet really rich in biodiversity that the precursor orders of the AdBio had sizable detachments studying because holy shit so many new things. Also the locals were friendly and had been waiting for Earth to come and bring them back to the stars. The planet was “discovered” and brought back into the fold by Horus who already knew where it was because the Void Born who traveled that patch of space let him have a copy of their maps.
All was well until The Beast and Molech gets brought to ruin. The glorious biodiversity was mostly lost and the friendly locals almost exterminated bar about 1,000 maybe 1,500
Not long after the WotB the AdMech goes through reforms. During that time the Dark Mechanicus came out of the woodwork and there was at least a little fighting on every forgeworld, even Mars nearly fell. And whats worse the Dragon nearly got out of it's box. Reforms were put in place to make another mass rebellion in the future far more unlikely to succeed.
It is decided, by mutual consent, that the splice-hippies, genesmiths, bloodcutters and the gene-wrights (among others) will be folded into the Reformed Mechanicum. They are all integrated into cohesive and more importantly accountable orders. In return the biological tinkerers get decent funding, better equipment and lab space.
Once they are folded into the Mechanicus is when the problems start to arise. On theological and cultural levels there is a much bigger gap between the Adeptus Biologicus brotherhoods and the AdMech brotherhoods than there are between the different AdMech Brotherhoods. And that's saying something considering how bad tempered and fractious AdMech factions can be.
It is quickly decided that it's time for the AdBio to get a HQ of their own. Preferably not in Sol.
Molech was just a few short light years from Old Earth, close enough that the AdBio could rapidly get to the Imperial Palace if the Steward needed them but far enough away that they weren't in Sol.
AdBio return to Molech and begin the work of rebuilding it as their home.
By 999M41 Molech has the largest number of "indigenous" Earth/Xeno, Xeno/Totally unrelated Xeno and generally fucked up batshit genetic chimera hybrid organisms found anywhere in the galaxy. It is the AdBio showcase. It's main exports are drugs (medicinal and recreational), vaccines, bio-weapons, tailored organisms and strange genetically and surgically modified adepts of various biological disciplines.
The AdBio do worship the Omnissiah, in their way. Although with them he is less likely to be depicted as something mechanical and more as the Tree of Knowledge with a small god-fruit on every branch and humanity sheltered under the branches.
They are as active and busy as their Mars siblings, despite the Mars adepts calling them a bunch of hippies that need to get a real job and stop being dirty heretics.
At some unrecorded point in history they adopted green robes to differentiate themselves from the Martian Priesthoods.
Molech after the WotB is a miracle of bio-engineering. The ecosystem of the planet is completely artificial, though you wouldn't know it at first glance. Many of the old beasties that inhabited Molech were restored through cloning and/or careful breeding programs (a point of pride for the AdBio), though the native wildlife is restricted to a much smaller area to make room for the AdMech's new pets.
During the Golden Age Mordia was somewhat of a backwater. More somewhere for people to come from than go too. Had a high technology base, as all worlds in the Great and Benevolent Empire did, but it was generally at least 50 years behind what everyone else was doing.
There were two big reasons for Mordia's backwardness. First was the isolation. It was not particularly close to any major warp currents and so you had to intentionally go there rather than travel near it on your way elsewhere. Second was the tidally locked nature of the planet that resulted in it having a thin green band of habitability between frozen and baked. As such it could never support a big population. It was quite pleasant and it's greatest sin was that it was terminally boring for most of it's pre-Strife history. It didn't even have seasons or tides.
When everything all started to break down in the Age of Strife Mordia was spared the worst of the fallout simply due to its remote location and nearly everyone needing to be reminded that it existed at all. Which is not to say it survived unscathed.
As the Old Night rolled across the stars Mordia came to the sensible conclusion that it couldn't hope to fend off a galaxy gone mad and that the only sensible thing to do would be to try and be as unnoticeable as possible. All transmitter technology was banned, all space ships were recalled and disassembled, everything that could be moved underground was and even minor things like street lighting was made illegal. The whole planet essentially went into standby mode.
Stupid as it sounds it almost worked. It almost survived long enough to be counted as a Survivor Civilization.
Sadly it did not. When the Eye of Terror formed it fucked up the warp currents something fierce and rearranged them. Mordia was no longer a backwater world away from the good currents. Now there was a current running right through their system from the Eye of Terror, but with no warp capability they didn't know this.
All they knew was that half the psyker population committed suicide and the other half became decidedly unwell. Then the first of Chaos touched set foot on their world, heralds of the New God Slaanesh. Things went downhill from there.
By the time the First Legion encountered Mordia in the Great Crusade it had been repeatedly assaulted and regressed back to a pre-black powder level of sophistication haunting the ruins of when they were greater. About the only thing left intact from those better days was the Great Road that ran the entire circuit of the Temperate Band in an unbroken loop. Along the Great Road society had fractured into a dozen kingdoms, some in contest but most in cooperation.
Of interest to the Dark Angel scholars were the Keepers of the Chronicles, a quiet order whose task was to maintain an up to date record of the affairs of state to be preserved for posterity, and that they had done all the way back to the day Old Earth stopped answering the calls and a little bit further. Sadly no technical information of note had been preserved.
The kings of Mordia welcomed the Imperium as the heirs to the fallen realm of humanity. Old Earth had finally come to save them.
The First Legion orchestrated the rebuilding of Mordia and later set up a recruitment station at each of the kingdom capitals along the Great Road. This was the Second Golden age of Mordia. It was ultimately not to last.
Mordia took to the Imperium's uplifting efforts eagerly as the Chronicle showed them that this was merely returning to where they had been before. They were not abandoning their roots, they were rediscovering them. Before long Mordian regiments were found in the Legions of the Great Crusade, marching forth to raise up others as they had been.
When the War of the Beast afflicted the galaxy their regiments fought no less bravely than any other and gave their lives no less dearly and gave them those soldier did.
Mordia itself was spared the direct attention of any major Warboss or Chaos lordling and came out of that awful war maybe less broken then many. They were lucky
Luck ran out in the First Black Crusade and every one after that. The Warp currents always brought the dregs of the Eye to their door step time and again from then on. It was never assaulted to the degree of Cadia but Cadia was by it's very nature a better and stronger world to defend them.
By the dying of the 41st Millenium Mordia stands still. A grim testament to bloody-minded stubbornness. Life is harsh, death usually harsher. The planet isn't dead but you could be excused for thinking so. Much of the Temperate Band is irradiated and the cities there destroyed from orbit. The Great Road is broken. Civilization in that once fair land was too obvious a target and so was abandoned, the Dark Side of the planet is now the home of the Mordians.
Deep beneath the permafrost and the glaciers and in the mountain holds they dwell by the billions. Hard ranks of whipcord bodies marching in step of iron discipline. War has taught them. War has made them hard. They are a bitter people now, their sunrise smiles erased over the Long War. The Dark Angels stationed during the 1st Black Crusade founded their own order of Crimson Knights, a very Mordian order. The ever dutiful Keepers of the Chronicles keep the records of every war, every victory and every postponed victory as they will never bend or admit defeat. Defeat is to invite total death, they will not permit it.
Chaos and Orks come now to Mordia to die. Their bodies linger for decades and even centuries gradually sinking into the glaciers and the fields of the dead spread in all directions form their strongholds. They venture out to cleanse the Temperate Belt of mutated orks strains that find that greener ground fine for spawning in, feral and savage but far from dangerous. Perfect for training the new recruits.
Mordia still has the title of High King, instituted in better days as a wise intermediary between the people and the Imperium, but now it is given to the head of the armed forces for tradition only. There is nothing left of Mordia untouched by the all consuming war.
From the lowliest tender of the algae vats to the wisest lore-master of the Crimson Knights all serve the war effort. Every warband that dies on Mordia is one less in the wider Imperium. One day, by the grace of their many gods, they will be victorious. One day they will know joy again. One day they will be born under blue skies and the forests will be regrown again.
And, their prophets say, it will be one day soon. Judgment Day is coming, now is the time of the big push towards the dawn.
But for now there is the war.
Necromunda is not a jewel in the crown of the Imperium and suffers huge pandemics due to the planetary government being unable to set up an effective garbage disposal system. Mines all over the planet are getting dangerously low but the scrap metal wouldn't cover the entire planet just most of it. Local efforts by the hive-cities have been made to try to clean up the toxic sludge in the water and poisonous gas in the atmosphere.
The planet is infamous across the sector for the Hive gangs. The Underhives of the planet are some of the worst places to live in the Imperium. Although not as lethal compared to a Death world, the standard of living is so degraded most would question the point of life after growing up in them. The most common life of Necromundans is to die in the mines, slave away in manufactorums, collect metal junk, or become criminals. Those that wish to break away from mundane life or get rich quick become criminals. Shadow Traders sell illegal goods like hallucinogens, las-weapons, and Xenos lifeforms. The Hive gangs threaten the Shadow Traders for protection money as these gangs can outnumber and outgun whatever bodyguards the trader can hire. The gangs work to make the traders under them be the most profitable so they can squeeze more money out of their traders. This also means a gang will attack other gangs' territory to vesselize more traders or prevent rivals from gaining power
When one of many on-going gang wars starts the scale of killing is comparable to a poor Imperial world with a small rebellion. In all likely hood, hundreds of thousands of people will die including civilians as the hive gangs fight like small scale wars. Autoguns, autocannons, and las-weapons are used to perform raids, assassinations or urban assaults But the world is not quite as horrible as it could be in large part thanks to the efforts of the Adeptus Biologicus. In an attempt to lower the amount of food that needed importing some long forgotten governor commissioned a brotherhood to scour the Imperium for shit that would grow in the toxic ash and sludge that they had for soil.
Many such plants were found and other single celled extremophiles of all manner of categorization were discovered on far off worlds. Some of them even with genetic markers that showed that they might have had ancestor stock on old Earth and come to the stars in the Golden Age in the early colonies of man.
The planet’s surface became covered in life. A thriving bustling chimera of an ecosystem constructed from species of a double dozen worlds, usually the sort of life generally found near volcanoes or on the "cold Venus" type of worlds. Sadly they couldn't find anything people could eat which was kind of the point that they were hired for.
It was nearly 200 years of tampering and splicing and selectively breeding before the first fruits of their labours were tasted. And it was another three seconds before those fruits were spat back out. Although they had created a Terran/Xeno splice apple that could survive and even thrive in the temperate latitudes in the smog and the toxic muck it was not something that anyone with any choice would willingly eat.
The governor, grandson of the one who commissioned the endeavour, did not care. They could be boiled down into a nutritious slurry with almost all the taste removed. The Adepts were kept on to continue their works.
After a few thousand years there are great swathes of farmed land where none should be with harvests of things that by nature should not exist. They still haven't created anything that tastes like actual food.
In many respects, Ohmsworld is just like any other Hive World in the Imperium- densely packed hives dot a landscape of wastelands ruined by heavy industry. Vast mining trawlers from bygone ages move ponderously through the wastes, ancient surveying and mining equipment ensuring not a single scrap of usuable minerals goes unnoticed. But they're not the only archaeotech with such duties on Ohmsworld.
The world's most prosperous hives are ironically the least populous, largely because the enormous structures are little more than air filtration systems. Vast networks of delicate, near microscopic tendrils, resembling minute feathers, filter the world's atmosphere. As air constantly cycles past and through each hive city, the filters carefully identify and isolate the most valuable of the rare ores. The immeasurable numbers of microscopic tendrils capture flecks of each component—far smaller than a grain of sand. The filtration devices pass these precious elements to collection systems. The ore is then smelted into larger bars, which can be transported to off-world refineries and manufactoria.
It is theorized that the presence of these filters was once ubiquitous on mining worldsin the days of the Bountiful Dominion, but the delicate structures couldn't sustain the wear and tear of the millennia, or even the levels of air pollution of the Dominion's heavy mining operations. If anything, the paucity of resources on Ohmsworld might have been the reason they survive to this day. Should this theory be true, then perhaps the Duke can take some small comfort in the fact that he might not have been the only human to overestimate the resources of the Dominate's worlds.
In any case, the archaeotech's presence has not only provided a basis for a major refinement in Imperial air purifying technology (used in the world's other major hives and currently being spread outward), but has also ensured a sizeable, permanent Mechanicus presence directly sanctioned by, and sourced from holy Mars itself. While the extent of their roles in encouraging the rebellion is yet unknown, their aid in its success is undeniable. Great bastions opened wide through technosorcery, machine spirit rebellions in the Duke's loyal forces to mirror the ones of flesh and blood outside, Skitarii squads acting as poor men's Space Marines- should Ohmsworld survive its rebellion, it would be a world in great debt to the orthodox priesthood, and perhaps serve as a conservative bastion of technological though.
But that is all in the future. As of right now, the soldiers of the beleagured planet fight on in the wastelands of their world, both sides unwilling to damage the precious archaeotech that Ohmsworld has become so reliant upon. Sieges are conducted not through artillery barrages or massed assaults, but through desperate hand-to-hand fighting among the delicate strands, where the blade is more important than the lasgun. Thus far, the battle lines have stabilized after a period of Severan advances, and it is this stabilization that has kept the planet loyal thus far; such a thing could only happen if the Imperium was advancing and the Dominate needed to shuffle its resources elsewhere. "One more day," the propaganda goes. "Just One More Day."
The Pastoral Worlds
After the Unification of Old Earth many nations across the Imperium found themselves having to rebuild their government from scratch after having thrown off the chains of their old oppressors. The people of the steppes had the additional difficulty in creating a centralized government in a land where there had been none since. Jaghatai had been elected Khan of all the nomad tribes east of the Kashgar Pass, but he did not command the allegiance of all the steppe nomads. As the Khanate extended its influence west into places that had once been known as Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, the Khanate found itself in contact with nomad tribes which it had not heard from for decades. As the Imperium’s influence grew, these tribes gradually flocked to Jaghatai’s banner. They realized that out of all the high-ranking figures in the Imperium, the Khan spoke for them, and confederating with the Khanate was the best way to preserve their way of life.
One of these nomads from the western steppes was Temir Baltubekov, better known by his nickname of “the Iron Scribe”. Despite being a nomad Temir showed an aptitude for administration, and Jaghatai took advantage of his ability to organize things. Most people today think of the Iron Scribe as figure of steely resolve and indomitable will, able to do ten times the work of other men. The people who actually knew him remember him as an exasperated, overworked man who found himself having to do the day-to-day minutia and logistics of running a country that Jaghatai had no ability for. Jaghatai was a capable leader, but he was a doer who preferred to inspire people and lead from the front rather than sit around making commandments. Jaghatai’s idea of building infrastructure was to physically go and put a building together with his own two hands rather than sign the decrees to make it possible. As a result, the Iron Scribe was a key figure in turning the Khanate into an actual country, and when Jaghatai stepped down from control of the Khanate to avoid a conflict of interest he named the Iron Scribe his successor as ruler of the Khanate.
As the Great Crusade spread across the stars, the Khan came across numerous worlds that reminded him of his old homeland. At the same time, Jaghatai was not blind to all the changes happening on Old Earth, hearing of what was happening from his friends in the other legions and letters from his extended family. However, when he returned to Old Earth early in the Great Crusade to bury his wife Kasha, Jaghatai saw the writing on the wall. Old Earth was becoming hyper-urbanized, and soon there would be no room for his kind of people. Seeing the future that lie before him, the Khan decided to call a kurultai of the Khanate to discuss their future as a nation and a people.
At the kurultai, Jaghatai told the assembled leaders of the Khanate that there were two paths that lie before them. One was assimilation, to completely lose their identity in the changing world that would have no place for their people. The other option was migration. The Khanate didn’t have to abandon their ancestral homelands, let them be the urbanized, administrative hub of the Khanate if need be, but it could spread out, establish colonies all across the galaxy so that something of their culture could survive. As primarch, Jaghatai could get them first and exclusive rights on settlement if he can get the paperwork through before anyone else, a fact made easier by only him and his crew knowing where the planet was for the moment. Hearing Jaghatai’s vision, the overwhelmingly vast majority of the Khanate decide that yes, the future he described does sound like a vast improvement over the way things here are going.
Having the approval of his people, the Khan (or rather, Jaghatai and Temir, given the Khan’s “talent” for paperwork) set into motion his plan to earmark a number of worlds for the expansion of the Khanate. It helped that many of these worlds were not useful for much other than livestock herding. Most of these planets were either uninhabited, or inhabited by feudal or feral worlders that easily assimilated into the Khanate's way of life, much like Skandian culture and the inhabitants of Fenris. These worlds would form the core of what would come to be known as the Pastoral Worlds. Not all Pastoral Worlds are former Khanate colonies (Solomon is a good example of one that is not), but many are, and even the ones that do not can relate to the other Pastoral Worlds through their shared history of livestock farming to the point that the Pastoral Worlds form a distinct socio-ethnic unit within the Imperium similar to the Fenrisian Colonies.
Among the planets claimed by the Khanate was Chogoris, the future home of the White Scars chapter. However, when Jaghatai and the White Scars first discovered at the planet, they found it was completely depopulated. The planet had obviously been inhabited in the past, as indicated by the abundance of abandoned ruins across its surface less than a few centuries old, but something must have happened since then to its original inhabitants. Some historians suspect Chogoris' original inhabitants had become involved with the Ruinous Powers, which ended up wiping out the planet's native population. Upon hearing these suspicions Jaghatai remarked that this was exactly why the Khanate was better off for having broken free of Ursh, and his only regret was that he hadn’t done it sooner. Ursh was a self-destructive fire that would have consumed itself. Nevertheless, Chogoris was perfect for the Khanate's needs, being virtually a large-scale version of the lands of the Khanate back on Old Earth. Chogoris became one of the most successful of the Pastoral Worlds, the closest thing they have to a cultural hub, and today is what most people think of when one thinks of Pastoral Worlds.
Jaghatai’s vision proved eerily prescient, though not in the way he had expected. He had expected the steppes and the mountains that he had once called home to be swallowed up by skyscrapers over the course of a millennium. He hadn’t expected them to be burned to their bedrock by the Warboss of Warbosses within a few hundred years after he called for his pilgrimage to the stars. Yes, Old Earth was rewilded after the War of the Beast, but it was tamed wilderness, in the manner of parks and farmland. Livestock were present, but they were raised in pens, not herded on the open range. It was no place for a steppe nomad. After the War of the Beast, and the Khanate being absorbed into the Imperium, the Iron Scribe found a position in the Administratum. He was a minor figure, at best, in the organization’s history, but Pastoral Worlders love to bring him up when talking about their people’s achievements.
Today, the old Khanate is only distantly remembered by the people of the pastoral worlds, mostly in the sense of a semi-mythological lost homeland. People from pastoral worlds like to come to Old Earth to see the remnants of the old Khanate as a sort of cultural pilgrimage. One of the few things that remains of the Khanate on Old Earth is an obelisk inscribed with a message that the Iron Scribe had sent to Jaghatai during the Unification of Sol. In it, the Scribe requests that Jaghatai always remember who he was and where he came from, even as he sought to build a brighter future for his people in the stars. Jaghatai apparently found the words of the message so profound that he ordered it carved onto an obelisk for posterity. This obelisk was discovered amidst the rolling irradiated wastelands of the Old Khanate, a miraculous salvage from the horrors of the War of the Beast. Today, it sits in a quiet, open plaza in a park between two hives of Old Earth, the closest place one could get on the planet to its old home. This "Last Piece of the Khanate" is considered a relic of paramount historical importance to the people of the Pastoral Worlds, and is often the centerpiece of any pilgrimages Pastoral Worlders make to Old Earth.
Founded in the days of the Rebuilding as the Imperium attempted to recover from the horrors of The Beast the world of Praetoria lies in the Segmentum Tempestus just over the rimward border of the Hubworld League and was, at that time, the last stop before the vast desolation of depopulated worlds that stretched out until distant Inwit.
At the time Praetoria was home to a few prospectors, a single orbiting station of dubious functionality, a few hydroponics farms and more sand than any planet should rightfully have. It was a nowhere place on the periphery of anything of importance with nothing to truly boast about. Save for its location that was going to become quite important to the Imperium in its efforts to rebuild and secure Segmentum Tempestus. A planet, even one as borderline habitable as Praetoria, could be ideal for passing traffic in this endeavor.
The initiative as seized by the old trade and transport families of Gredbritton who had risen to prominence on Old Earth in the Unification as the Warlord had given them all of the contracts for rebuilding the trade routes across Old Earth. Using this initial wealth they had invested in Rogue Trader writs and moved out into the Great Crusade behind the expeditionary forces. Being just a few extended families and associates they were never capable of operating on the same level of Horus and his Void Born, who was seemingly everywhere, but they never really dreamed of doing so in those halcyon days. They were seemingly just happy to prosper and funnel additional wealth back to the old country to share amongst their people.
The initial families that laid claim to Praetoria, named so by them as it originally had no official name beyond a Navis Nobilite cartographical code, were swift in building their world into something usable by the Imperium and therefore profitable. Semi-derelict ships, not in short supply at that time to be sure, were bought up by the score and commissioned ship-wrights and tech-adepts lashed them together into ugly but serviceable orbital installations. The Imperium would need places to moor its fleets.
The sand was sifted and fused into the glass as the ice was obtained from comets disassembled mid-flight and vast swathes of the warm equatorial regions started to glitter in the dust like spilled diamonds across a grubby tablecloth. Vast hydroponic farms to feed the Imperium’s armies and fleets.
Flatly packed refineries and mining stations were loaned to the original prospector families that had called the system home under honest deals that they take from the asteroids and moons of the system all that they wished but would deal exclusively with the old families. The fleets would need a place and parts to repair their weary vessels.
By the time the fleets of the reconquest arrived Praetoria was waiting for it with open arms and friendly smiles with all the basic amenities and supplies that a fleet could need. To the voidsmen of the fleet, it was the equivalent of expecting to stop at a run down highway rest stop only to step into a fine hotel with a nice restaurant, well-stocked bar, friendly staff and with very reasonable prices. The handwritten letter of appreciation penned by The Steward’s own hand and stamped with his own signet ring is preserved to this day in a stasis field in the governor’s palace.
As the resettlement of what was known at the time as Tempestus Wilderness Space continued traffic continued to travel through Praetoria and the world only grew in wealth. In the years that followed as the Wilderness Space was tamed and civilized people rebuilt their ruins into mirrors of old glory trade followed. Initially, it was nothing but things from the Hubworld League sold on a promise of payment from the Imperium itself or promise of payment in some prosperous future. In time produce of the tamed and civilized Tempestus began to flow into the Hubworlds and Praetoria became a gateway going both ways.
The old generation of founders that knew anything of Old Earth or even remembered the name Gredbritton were gone soon enough as mortals do and Praetoria began to become a world of its own in mind and soul. More importantly, it became a world of its own in the eyes of the Administratum and with this declaration of success came the tithe and that was the origin of the first iteration of the Praetoria Guard.
And that was the inglorious founding of that prosperous world.
Time passed and the population of Praetoria grew, the tithe contribution increased and the ground settlements turned from towns to cities and eventually started to grow into the hives known today. The original founding families and their cadet branches grew distant from each other consolidating their power and assets each in their own fortified cities and orbitals of which they ruled with almost absolute power. By decree of the Administratum the planet, if it wanted to keep its contracts with the Imperial Navy and the Imperial Merchant Navy, was obligated to elect a representative for the planet if not an actual ruler as the Imperium had not intention of wasting it's time dealing with myriad squabbling lesser nobility. Typically this seat, arrived at by-election by each of the major families, went to a lesser house with little to no power of their own and so could only act as intermediaries and not as actual dictators.
The biggest and most notable exception to this rule being Rodri of house Haagreevz. What made him exceptional was that the majority of his ancestry, bar the strictly patrilineal line was distinctly common in origin and therefore assumed to be poor. This was proven to be incorrect, at least to some extent, as by means unknown though assumed t but unproven to be illegal, he had assumed a substantial fortune. This was a fact that he kept quiet from as many as possible for as long as possible, carefully acquiring favors and potential deals.
He knew, at least for him and his kin, that there was limited scope for expansion on Praetoria. The noble families were taking up all the room at the top and were utterly uninterested in changing anything at the risk of losing so much for uncertain returns. This to Rodri simply would not do.
Rodri was a risk taker, he wouldn't have gotten as far as he had were he not, and he expended all of his family's wealth in buying out the shares in many promising looking but relatively small companies under several hundred different names. It was a gamble that paid off to the relief of his kin and wealth flowed into house Haagreevz like a fine rosé wine to be put aside for later sale.
When Rodri stood before the parliament on the first day 003M33 he did not do so as a glorified messenger boy feigning timidity and meekness, his spine was straight, his gaze was hard and his head held high. He set forth his proposal for investment in a Merchant Navy and "Protection" Fleet of Praetoria's very own to be commissioned of the Mechanicus and constructed in the worlds own orbital dockyards, for additional funds to be put aside for the armies, for a greater incentive and drive towards improving the structure of the hives and orbitals for the common plebs to whom he himself was not as distant from. The proposal was met with thunderous laughter and derision of the highest order. Who was this upstart little peasant to come before such as they with a demand they demanded, who was he to dictate to his betters?
Through all the uproar Rodri stood unflinchingly. His confident good cheer turned to cold stone sternness. Who was he? He was the man who was fully capable of bringing every single one of them low or at least making their ever so comfortable lives so very difficult. He owned the ground that their opulent mansions were stood on. He owned the waste collection businesses that they used. He controlled the water to their share of the hydroponics and had the controlling shares in most of the electricity companies. All the little grimy things that made civilization work but deemed beyond the notice of the high and mighty. He gave them one whole day to mull it over as he was feeling so very generous.
And mull it over they did, although blind panic might have been a better word for it. It was true, he held all the cards as the false names of shareholders and investors peeled away to read Haagreevz to the legal limit of what he could own and Haagreevz in the names of his brothers and cousins of barely above peasant status.
A few did try to challenge him suspecting, not unreasonably, that he did and could not have taken all of this so quickly. It must have been acquired on loan, a dragon made of paper and twigs. True though it had much of it was loaned in Thrones form anonymous off-world investors who would have only benefited with increased ships in the trade lanes and border outposts who needed greater ties to the wider Imperium for protection if nothing else.
The foolish little lords that challenged Lord Haagreevz, and it by God did he make sure they addressed him properly now, were indeed brought low and spent many centuries recovering their losses those that even could; mega-corps, Mechanicus brotherhoods, and even other noble houses found that they had little choice but to side with house Haagreevz.
For all that he was cutthroat to an unprecedented degree in that time on Praetoria and ruthless almost to a fault, Rodri was fiercely loyal to his supporters and when the fleets set sail his supporters found that they had been given good shares in the spoils.
In time the house of Haagreevz fell from favor as such things do and stepped down from the post of Herald of the Parliament gracefully. The position had become in the generations after Rodri no longer a joke but kingship in all but name. The first of the next dynasty to assume the responsibility, an otherwise unremarkable man known as Gwenaël of house Lozach, turned the position into one of legal royalty and demanded a coronation be held. It was suspected that the other lords went along with it as the Lozachs were not the most imposing house and Gwenaël was very old. Indeed his son could not get enough support to take the throne and the crown passed to another family.
In the fullness of time, the crown rested on the brow of Eadið Griuugel in the year 775M34. It was not the first time a Griuugel had held that authority and it was not the first time Praetoria had been ruled by a queen. It was, however, the first time it had been ruled by a queen under her own undeniable authority. Previous queens, in that most definitely male dominant society, had ruled under the authority of rich and powerful husbands and fathers. Eadið Griuugel, on the other hand, was the unquestionable head of the rambling Griuugel house and ruled it completely.
Her word was law and although none could say that she was unfair none could either say she had much kindness to spare. What she did have was ambition. In her youth she had traveled far in the Imperium, as many aristocrats did, but whereas they had traveled to sneer at the primitives and the lesser people beyond the border and reinforce their notions of Praetorian superiority she had gone to learn. She had traveled to the towering spires and deep lightless caverns of Old Earth, she had walked the streets of Magna Macragge Civitas in distant Ultramar and even spent a year among the rude and rustic people of harsh Fenris. And she had learned, oh yes she had learned and as her wisdom grew it was matched only by her ambition.
Her ambition was the creation of another Ultramar with the Praetoria as it's Macragge. The worlds of the Segmentum Tempestus would be their subjects and vassal states. Using the already extensive influence of her world over these younger worlds the influence of Praetoria grew to a stranglehold. In the first thirty years of her reign over a hundred worlds were more influenced via media tampering, blackmailing of leaders and advisors and the introduction of armed private soldiers of the nobility to "protect their substantial investments".
Daring as she was Queen Eadið would not go so far as to pursue a course of action that could tamper even slightly with the tithe, she knew at that time that the Administratum and the Arbiters were starting to take note. Although what was happening was merely internal matters and business matters between worlds and therefore not crossing Imperial Law it was becoming in danger of rocking the boat. The Arbiters tended to get twitchy when their boat was rocked.
Things carried on longer than they should as The Harrowing rocked the Galactic West and the Imperium could ill afford to provoke an internal conflict. This carried on until 995M34 and two years after the conclusion of that war when Queen Eadið overstepped her bounds in the eyes of the Imperium when she demanded the release of courier ships owed as part of an unpaid debt
Unfortunately for her, those ships were the property of the Throne. This event gave the Administratum all the excuse that they needed to send in the Dark Clerks and begin a Grand Accounting of Praetoria and her assets and influences. It was not a good time to be the head of a noble family in the following days. Many had abused their power over the lesser world mistaking lesser worlds for lesser people and people of less worth. To the Imperium there were no lesser citizens and when all those cruel indulgences and petty tyrannies were brought to the light the punishments were fair, but they were not kind
It was decided that for the transgressions, which on some of the more impoverished worlds had been considerable, perpetrated by the crown and the nobility that Praetoria could no longer be trusted to govern itself responsibly. But for all her mistakes and sins Queen Eadið had been extremely popular with both the commoners and the gentry. As a compromise, it was decided that she would be permitted to remain as Queen but would have power only in an advisory capacity and that there would be no king or queen after her. She could have resisted, the Imperium was still recovering from The Harrowing and her world had never been stronger, she could have fought back but to do so would mean to meet all of the civilized galaxy in arms and although her people could have held out for a long time they would not have had any hope of victory. Resistance was not worth the price.
Thus began Praetoria under the unimaginative but reliable rule of the Administratum. True to their word Queen Eadið was the last to wear that crown for more than two thousand years. Praetoria surrendered it's held on the vassal worlds without a fight and without demanding recompense and the stirrings of inevitable war and the rumblings of civil dissatisfaction and unrest died away.
In a show of generosity, the Imperium did allow the Praetorian nobility to keep their orbital stations on former vassal worlds. They had, they admitted, been constructed legally and posed no real risk to the planets they orbit. This mollified the lords of the Parliament somewhat.
It was not a unconsidered gift. So long as those stations remained profitable they would be defended and by extension so would the worlds that had been wronged and so long as the nobility continued to have those stations and value them the Imperium would always have something that they could take off them should they get any ideas.
The Order of the Old Tree
The Order of the Old Tree is a name now considered inseparable with the planet Praetoria and inescapably associated with it’s ruling elite, but it was not always so. In the days of yore beyond the living memory of the eldest of Earth’s children they were far more humble. A lesser order of the Adeptus Biologicus from mostly western Merikan splice-commune stock they moved off world early and intentionally resisted amalgamation by confining themselves to remote and typically impoverished regions of the Imperium, having reached a consensus that poverty was better than bending the knee to the [Expunged] who dwelt on Mars or their sycophantic lapdogs who had forgotten that they were human. And oh yes they believed that they had forgotten that, the Splicers might have been chimeras grown in test tubes but they knew where their devotions and loyalties lay. They were human and they lived in service to humanity, they served the people, they did not rule them, they served the people, they did not serve [Expunged] masters, they served the people, they didn’t serve some half machine abomination on a dead world the colour of rust and dried blood.
In their early history asceticism was cultivated as a virtue as they reasoned that they might as well find comfort rather than resentment in their state of borderline deprivation and it wasn’t as if they were starving. The people that they served were typically poor but generous, or at least generous with the Order. Generosity tends to flow to the people who can cure toothache and other such everyday miracles and poor as these communities were they got at least slightly less poor for the inclusion of the Sisters of the Old Tree.
The truth of the matter at this point is that little of the earliest history was actually remembered as finding the next meal was generally considered more important than keeping a coherent chronicle of tedious events. Why was the Order right from the onset predominantly female? Nobody is sure. There are theories about the early theology of the Order but nothing that can be proven with certainty. It was rumoured that they practiced a form of human parthenogenesis in those days. Indeed parthenogenesis was a secret unlocked by the AdBio in ages long since past but for what reason they would practice it is unknown consider that there are far more conventional ways of propagating the Order, even without going to outsiders for the purpose. Whatever the reason or the exact method by the time anyone was interested in writing anything down it had always been that way, much the same as the origins of the name of the order. What is known is that in the days of great poverty they had to either have children normally or recruit from outsiders as the equipment that they relied on to splice new members eventually broke down and they didn’t part from the AdMech on polite terms. The AdMech were willing to buy the old equipment back but not to repair it for them.
In time the AdBio became it’s own institution independent of the AdMech as the AdMech were getting sick of them and their attitude and “encouraged” them to set up shop somewhere else. Anywhere else. Just not on Mars or near Mars or for preference anywhere in the Sol System in its entirety. The freed AdBio offered the hand of friendship to their wayward friends who gratefully accepted it. This marks the end of the Early Order History and the transition to the Pre-Praetorian History of the Order.
For the most part and for thousands of years the Old Tree Sisters were a mostly unremarkable group within the AdBio. They were somewhat more sever than most, almost entirely female and tended to intentionally seek out poor communities to serve but as far as eccentricities go it was pretty unremarkable by AdBio standards. About the only real difference inclusion onto the AdBio made was that they had a safety net in case of emergencies, which was nice.
Eventually the history changing decision from the Council of Elder Bio-Druids (as they were calling themselves at that time) came to the Order. They were tasked, should they accept, to fix the genetic degeneration of the ruling elite of Praetoria by any means that they though necessary, and they were given to aid them in this task a much coveted and extremely valuable seed from a gestation tree. Exactly how the Old Tree got this assignment, lucrative and prestigious as it was, when more worthy orders of greater standing were available is as unknown now as it was then. Some say that Gregoria Barton, the Abbatissa of the Old Tree at that time, had used her legendary beauty to seduce one of the council and swayed a critical vote in their favour. If so such a thing was never proven and indeed no proof was found then or later.
And so the Old Tree planeted itself in fertile soils of Praetoria. For all that they had been given the assignment they had not been given additional resources, the Elder Bio-Druids assuming that they wouldn’t have bid for it if they couldn’t do it. The Old Tree under the orders of Abbatissa Barton moved itself wholes sale to the new world after handing over their concerns to other orders that they trusted and pooled what resources that they had. The gestation tree would take twenty years before it would produce any crop and at least thirty under optimal conditions before it would be capable of producing more than a few young each spawning. The sisters for those years did what they had always done and integrated themselves in the lower strata of society, ingratiating themselves with the populace, spreading their roots far and wide, increasing their numbers and preparing. Thirty years later Abbatissa Gregoria Barton, or hushed whispers had it her parthenogenetic descendant of the same name, made her Order’s presence known to the aristocracy. She and her most lovely to look upon (and shrewd and cunning) sisters approached the most prominent of the lords of that world and offered themselves to those lords as rewards from the Imperium for their worlds loyal service to the Imperium and, as the most august lords of such a world the Imperium must be seen to reward such diligence and loyalty. Few if any of those foppish fools refused such tantalizing offers and as rewards of the Imperium they were not hidden but flaunted at gatherings of the high society at every opportunity and these women were not just beautiful but graceful in speech and wise in their words and versed well in the etiquette of the courts. They were sophisticated ladies well educated in the classics and virtuous and honest seeming and the lords of the other great houses grew jealous; they demanded to know why they had been overlooked. Had their service to the Imperium not been as diligent? Had they not been as loyal? Were they not as worthy as these preening little princes who strutted around with such vanity? They demanded that their contributions be as recognised. Abbatissa Barton assured them that no insult as intended and sure enough one of her sisters arrived in each of the courts of those spire lords in the months and years that followed. Praetoria had been collared but those that realized were dismissed as malcontents and stirrers of unrest.
As time went on these concubines, skilled as they were, took on some of the tedium of the running of the great houses of Praetoria to the relief of the lords and ladies and in time they also had the children of those lords. Exactly which children is often difficult to trace as under the Promethean inspired and influenced legal systems of Praetoria they were children of the marriage first and foremost and in the official genealogies that is how they were seen. Some clue can be inferred as the head of the house was expected to designate an heir rather than it going to the first born son by simple virtue of birth order and it can be assumed that the heirs were the sons of their wives, who themselves were daughters of other noble houses, so as not to show insult to their neighbours. Not that it mattered to the Sisters of the Old Tree who were keeping their own very detailed and extensive records of genealogy and also records of other things as well as it was always a passing curiosity as to what they did on their holy days when they would meet in their strange temple in the underhives with it’s strange and holy off-world tree. And of those children if was the gentle hands of the Order that at least in part had some role in raising them and in them they instilled the notion of loyalty to the Imperium above loyalty to just their planet as the Imperium was sworn to protect Praetoria in reward for it’s loyalty.
In time these children, both biologically those of the Sisters and those merely under their influence, and they in turn became lords and ladies and the lords were in gratitude from the Imperium given concubines from the new generation of the Order and the presence of the Old Tree started to take on the form of a tradition.
By the dying of the 41st Millenium the Order of the Old Tree is felt from the depths of the roots of the underhives to the crowns in the sky. They are behind every strong lord, they stand behind the throne of the king, they are promised to the sons of the lords and king as a symbol of the unity between Praetoria and the Imperium and they have the support of the common masses as they siphon the wealth of the upper crust back into the hives and enrich the lives of the people in the downtrodden masses. Due to the increasingly competent ruling elite and the more effective distribution of wealth and indeed and increase in wealth by offworld contacts brought by the Order Praetoria has not been richer in an age if ever.
Which is not to say that the inclusion of the Order into society has been entirely without flaw. There is greater stratification in society and less social mobility. In the old days the noble houses had to at least occasionally marry down if only because they had run out of cousins to marry. This is no longer a concern with the freshly available genetic diversity of the Order without the loss of prestige from wedding a social inferior. Also there have been deaths. For all that they are an AdBio institution the Old Tree is extremely loyal to the Imperial Throne and fond of their new station and their new families as they are they know where their loyalties fall and they know how to make very hard decisions. The health of society as a whole and even the family trees of many old an established house can benefit from the removal of irredeemably defective branches. Children are usually spared, at least young children who might still be salvaged and trained to loyalty and diligent service. He boys are typically sent to the military orphanages, there are far worse places to end up, and the girls are typically raised by they order to supplement the next generation of Sisters. Often the daughters of nobility fallen from grace are sent to the off-world missions where their sins are wiped clean and they might make new lives for themselves and there are far worse fates than that.
The sisters themselves do not typically deal such dark work, although it’s not unprecedented. The work is often handed over to the Order of the Blooded Thorns, an order of the Adepta Securitas with which the Old Tree has maintained a strong tie with for many centuries.
The AdBio as a whole tends to look down on the Old Tree and sees them as having dirtied themselves with political games. Their original assignment was to fix the aristocracy and it was a task that should have taken a century at most and then the order could have been assigned to some other task. They were not supposed to set up a permanents project and inescapably bind themselves to the ruling elite, indeed it is debated if they should loose all standing in the AdBio and be cast out. It has not yet come to that if only because their efforts have mended the somewhat spotty reputation the AdBio has developed and encourages people to overlook their more “eccentric” members and their morally dubious works.
As the bell strikes on the last day of 999M41 it is known that the tree grows strong and as the tree grows strong the Imperium weathers the storm.
Prospero was first settled by mankind in M23, shortly before the Age of Strife. Its original colonists were primarily composed of psyker refugees, fleeing from the persecution and witch-hunts of psykers that had gripped the rest of the galaxy. Prospero was chosen because of its isolated location. Although it was relatively close to Old Earth in terms of realspace, Prospero was an arid planet with little water or arable land that was relatively off the beaten path in terms of warp currents, making it ideal for people that did not wish to be noticed. The psykers of Prospero pooled together what little knowledge they had and were soon progressing in psychic technology by leaps and bounds, inventing such things as psychic-assisted medicine and crystals that dampened psychic powers allowing psyker children to learn how to control their abilities without the threat of daemonic possession. For a scant few centuries, Prospero was a paradise for psykers.
Unfortunately, along with the Age of Strife came Warp Storms and psychic predators. Prospero became host to one particularly nasty form of psychic predator called the Psychneuein, who were attracted to the planet by its large population of psykers. The Psychneuein were an insectoid species which reproduced by laying their eggs inside a psyker’s brain, which would later burst out of the psyker’s head to produce more Psychneuein. On a planet full of psykers, one Psychneuein could rapidly turn into a plague, and many times the inhabitants of Prospero were nearly wiped out. Only the fortress-city of Tizca, situated on a central plateau between the three highest mountains on the planet, was naturally well-defended enough to reliably fend off attacks from the Psychneuein. Over time, the depredations of the Psychneuein would wax and wane and the people of Prospero would try to recolonize the wastes once more, but were always beaten back to the walls of Tizca by the Psychneuein.
To the inhabitants of Prospero, the appearance of the nascent Imperium in their skies in 935.M30 must have seemed like a godsend. At this point in time the inhabitants of Prospero had once more been forced back to the safety of the walls of Tizca by the Psychneuein, and this time its inhabitants were not sure the walls would hold. Although the Imperium was unable to completely destroy the Psychneuein, as seen by their presence on planets like Mara later in Imperial history, they were able to eradicate the threat of the Psychneuein to the people of Prospero.
The discovery of Prospero was a boon for the Imperium as well. Here was a society possessing all sorts of psychic technology and knowledge the Imperium desperately needed, either saved from what little was known of psykers during the Dark Age of Technology or created de novo on Prospero itself. What's more, this knowledge was specifically tailored to human psykers, as opposed to the advice the Imperium had previously only recieved from the Eldar who had to figure out what aspects of Eldar psychic abilities did or did not apply to human psykers. Prospero was of special interest to the Thousand Sons, who as a legion of psykers were interested in any way to better hone and control their gifts. In particular Ahzek Ahriman, although Terran-born on Achaemenidia, rapidly rose to prominence in Prosperan society as a teacher and eventually came to consider the planet a second home.
With the help of the Imperium, Prospero was rebuilt as never before. With the destruction of the Psychneuein, cities once again spread across the planet’s surface, reflective plated obelisks and hive-pyramids gleaming in the sunlight. Tizca itself particularly prospered, with the greater reaches of the city expanding off the plateau of the city center all the way to the sea. The sheer size of the city and extent of gleaming hive-pyramids on Tizca eventually led to the city being referred to as the City of Life. Psychic research also continued on Prospero, its inhabitants always interested in ways to refine their powers, only this time with the resources of the Imperium at its back. The Great Library of Lexandra was said to be the greatest repository of psychic knowledge in the entire Materium, second only to the Eldar Black Library hidden in the Webway. At its peak, Prospero was the prime center for the psychic arts and biggest exporter of psykers in the galaxy, eclipsing even Old Earth. The planet had gone from pariah to one of the crown jewels of the Imperium.
Unfortunately, this wealth of psychic knowledge made Prospero an ideal target for the Fourth Black Crusade (late M33). If the Black Crusade could reach Prospero, it would cripple the Imperium's ability to train new psykers, possibly even interfering with the maintenance of the Astronomican itself. The people of Prospero and the Imperium fought valiantly, but the forces of Chaos steadily gained ground, until eventually the two factions were fighting in orbit around Prospero itself, nuclear weapons bombarding the planet’s surface.
It was at this point, in an act of desperation, that a small cabal of sorcerers led by Ahzek Ahriman cast what would later be known as the Rubric of Ahriman. Ahriman’s intention was to seal the populace of Prospero away in a pocket dimension, keeping them safe until such time as the Black Crusade could be beaten back. Although the forces of Chaos might be able to claim the soil of Prospero, they would be unable to harm its people. However, something went horribly wrong. Instead of neatly transporting Prospero and its inhabitants into a pocket dimension, the planet’s inhabitants were violently torn between dimensions, disappearing in a torrent of ash and smoke.
Worse yet, the counterspell to the ritual did not seem to work. Although Ahriman and his cabal had created the ritual, they only had a limited idea of how it actually worked, having created it in haste from incomplete, limited sorcerous knowledge in the Great Library due to the impending threat of the Black Crusade. Like much of the rest of the Imperium, Prosperans looked down on sorcery as extremely dangerous (doubly so since the planet was full of psykers), and it was only desperation that led Ahriman to resort to using it in the first place. Ahriman was devastated by the loss of his adopted home, and vowed to undo the effects of the Rubric, even if it cost him his own life. Those few who survived the burning of Prospero, mostly aboard refugee ships, primarily emigrated to Old Earth. Old Earth was the biggest cultivator of the psychic arts in the Imperium now that Prospero was gone, and the remaining Prosperans wanted to be amongst their own kind.
Today, Prospero is a quiet world, the only movement on its surface being the fall of crumbling masonry, its only sound being that of the wind blowing through the canyons. However, Prospero might not be as dead as people think. Some visitors to Prospero claim they can sometimes still see the city of Tizca, the glory of the City of Light glowing on the horizon like a mirage. Many in the Imperium say that the blasted surface of Prospero is cursed, that the ghosts of the dead still haunt the half-destroyed ruins. However, others point out that these rumors are almost always started by looters and grave robbers, and that many have visited Prospero to pay their respects and have returned unmolested.
The people of Prospero may be gone, but their ghosts might not rest easy.
Additional Note: Legion of the Damned in this timeline are supposed to be quantum space ghosts of the Space Marines and Imperial Guardsmen on Prospero during the Rubric, who have become trapped between the Materium and Immaterium.
A pleasant agri-world located in the Loki Sector of Segmentum Ultima that was once known for it's fine cheese and meat exports in addition to being terminally boring to live on. Now it is known for orks and also known to the orks.
The Arch-Arsonist of Charadon, Snagrod the Big, devastated Rynn's World after a botched assassination attempt in the ruins of the planet Badlanding. The devestation of the planet would probably not have been so grate had it not been for the detonation of a faulty nuclear warhead in the ammunition stores of the Arx Tyrranis Space Marine Fortress that not only destroyed the fortress but the mountain it was built on. That the few Space Marine at all survived could be considered a minor miracle.
With out the distraction of the primary target Space Marines who were responsible for the failed assassination attempt Snagrod was free to set fire to all the cities at his leisure. He and the orks under his command showed a level of sadism uncommon in uncorrupted members of their kind and took great pleasure in burning captured civilians and soldiers alive.
Thankfully a ship had made it out of the system despite the ork fleet's best efforts and it was a matter of just holding out until help from the wider imperium arrived.
As of 999M41 Rynn's World is still rebuilding. Most of the planetary population was exterminated in the war, the majority of survivors located inside the capital city. There were in some place other survivers in small numbers but they were the groups small enough to hide on distant small islands, deep in the high mountains, half starved slaves who miraculously survived the year of hell or hidden at the back of extremely deep caves. Enough in some cases to pass on and have survive the local traditions of the provinces but more often than not society had to be built anew in the dead ruins of the old.
The northern half of the Magalan continent for example was exterminated down to the last child and given the emptiness and completeness of the destruction was last in the line for the rebuilding. As it happens the authorities of the planet were spared the chore of rebuilding. Within five years evidence of activity from that fallen land was detected by the one miraculously weather monitoring satellite. It could have been one of two things, Chapter Master Pedro Kantor decided, ork resurgency or illegal settlers. If orks they needed to be jumped on and exterminated as hastily as possible before they spread, if settlers or hope against hope unknown survivors then they could be co-opted into being core of the resettlement.
Turns out it was neither. Exodites had seen the fields going to waste and set up a community. The land was officially unoccupied so actually legally requesting they leave was shaky and by the time they were noticed they had set up a Wraith-Tree and a world-spirit and so would be difficult to move on. In the end it was decided that they could stay on the condition that they contributed to the tithe the same amount that the previous inhabitants had, conditions that they accepted without argument.
Of note also of Rynn's World is the tradition known as the everlasting marriage to symbolize the eternal bond between Rynn's World and the Imperium. The marriage is everlasting because when one dies the surviving member has to marry the replacement. Needless to say this has resulted in the royal title being strictly matrilineal despite the rest of the aristocracy being cognatic. Should either party to assume the position be already married then the other half in this arrangement becomes a secondary wife/husband, in such cases the marriage does not need to be consummated as that would/might infringe on per-existing vows.
The tradition dates back to the days of the The Rebuilding in the wake of The Beast When Rynn the Exiled King married his daughter and heir to the head of the military in the convoy, a Space Marine of great wisdom called Alexis Polux.
It also results in stability as there is no question of succession as upon the death of one the other takes their title, lands and possessions until the replacement marriage ceremony which does mean that in the days between partners the title of Chapter Master is held by a woman which is possibly unique.
This breakdown of a clear dividing line between the baseline humans and Space Marines, and indeed between military rank and the aristocratic hierarchy, has in the years since Rynn and Polux permeated totally in society. Although the commoners can not become nobility save through special and rare appointment by the Queen or by marriage into the nobility the rank of (usually) unlanded-nobility is traditionally handed out with promotion to officer.
With the marriage of Chapter to the Aristocracy and every Space Marine having been trained to be officers of one sort or another this has resulted in the Chapter becoming a not insubstantial part of the landed gentry. Every marine has an estate, a patch of their homeworld that they call their own. Due to them having no real interest in such things this is typically the less sought after land in inhospitable places. The craggy mountains around their fortress, deserts and the wind swept and salt spray blasted islands in the far north and south. The few hardy inhabitants of these remote lands appreciate that there are masters who will lend a hand if needed but tend to live in those lands because they don't care for authority above them and so value the Space Marines lack of any real interest.
Rynn's World was not the original home of the chapter, at first they were nomadic and had been since they were the 405th Company of Dorn's Legion. It was by attaching their forces to Rynn's colony fleet as it set out to resettle an exterminated world in the time of The Rebuilding that they came to enjoy their more permanent habitation.
Pedro Kantor is the current commander of the remnants of his chapter, King of a world brought to ruin and husband of Queen Maia Cagliestra who actually rules the planet when it's not being raped to death by orks.
The Crimson Fists did boast ~2,100 members all accounted, now down to 128. The Fortress has been relocated to New Rynn City. As the world is rebuilt and the other lesser cities re-established the intention is to appoint each company to a city and diffuse the chapter. Next time it's going to take more than 1 malfunctioning nuclear missile to devastate them. The Immortal Captain Alessio Cortezwill to be put in command of the fortress to be rebuilt Caltara and will have the dubious honour of owning the crater of Arx Tyrranis when the time comes.
As of 999M41 the Crimson Fists are building up their numbers again, the Rynn's World Regiments are refounding under new banners, the cities are alive again and a lot more fortified and the fields are being tilled once more. Rynn's World is is bloodied but unbroken and Pedro Kantor and every other warrior of a similar age is itching to get even. Soon, the Imperium promises them, soon. The Imperium has the aim of systematically and methodically cleansing the worlds of The Charadon Empire of all orkoid life and when the day comes that it does the soldiery of Rynn will be the ones at the tip of the spear, so says the Emperor.
Once upon a time, way back when, there was a planet discovered by the people of Earth. It was a nice planet as these things go. It was in that favourable zone between where water freezes and boils and had the correct composition of elements in more or less the right ratios that it could be turned from barren and worthless to beautiful and verdant. It was warmed by a nice orange-yellow sun whose distant twin was a ruddy deep red and dwelt far out in the night with it’s own few satellites.
The planet was seeded first by the machines of man, in those days simple things, that they might make it acceptable for their masters. They were cheerful and toy like, created to find satisfaction in service to masters so very far away. They toiled and they toiled in their simple way with what would be one day laughably primitive tools but now seem miracles of engineering on a scale where the long reach of man was the had of a creator god. When the world was turned from a faded brow and bruised yellow to the first hints of greens and blues the men and women of Earth graced it with their presence and deemed it good, to the jubilation of their now so outdated creations. Those first settlers named it Kanai’s Stillness although the reasons for this are now lost. Eventually it was abbreviated to Stillness. For a time, a long time, things were well on Stillness. The world was made more like distant Earth or some idealized version of it and more people arrived as people do and in seemingly no centuries at all it was a bustling and vibrant. Outposts of more sophisticated nature placed upon the dead rocks and stones of the yellow sun and the far red sun out in the night. Soon Stillness was the hub of a small and vibrant Earth-far-from-Earth.
This early age of innocence was not to last as is the nature of all innocence. Soon more reliable contact with Earth and the other realms of man was established and Stillness was no longer of singular splendour but just one more glittering jewel among multitudes. Although this embroiled Stillness in the Byzantine posturing of the early incarnations of the Great and Bountiful Empire it also brought to them new scientific and technological miracles from Earth and the other older worlds and new heights of greatness were reached.
Soon the simple joyful toys of humanity surpassed their creators and were not so simple as they had been before, but neither were they so joyful or so it seemed. Soon the minds in bodies of iron became the Iron Minds more commonly known of in dark legends though in those carefree halcyon days they were not dark but beautiful. Stark and hard but beautiful and no uncaring in their way. Pity them. Pity them for what they were and how far they fell. They would not have wanted to have been what they became. Pity them.
But beautiful as they were they were quickly, as these paradigm shifts are measured on this scale, becoming removed from baseline humanity. They needed an intermediary. This role was filled by the Golden Ones. They were strange. But perhaps they were meant to be. They were as strange to us as they were to humanity. They stood with one foot in the artificial and one foot in the natural. They were organic so perfect as to emulate the mechanical and mechanical so intricate and sophisticated as to be organic. They were half-way people to go between godlike beings and the rest of us. Never an easy job it seemed.
I remember the face of our Golden Lady, I remember her face but not her name. Did she have one? Maybe I, we, I, we purged it from my mind as a protective measure. Why didn’t I erase her face? Why? But now I find I can’t. Last links to fond childhood memories maybe. She spoke to us sometimes. She didn’t have to, I was old and low. I came here back in the early days with the gardener’s fleet. Simpler times before real people turned up. But they were empty days.
We never were direct targets of the raides from the eldar, thank the God/s. We never suffered that. Sometimes orks came to our door but we waved them away with contemptuous ease and turned them to dust, their ships were nothing but cinders and ash floating in the vacuum of space.
In the end our fall came from within, the only place it could come from.
I don’t know who struck overtly first. I want to think it was them. No. No I don’t. I want to think it was a misunderstanding. I don’t want to think about it to hard. It hurts. It hurts. Don’t make me look. Don’t make me live it again. Don’t make me see them die again. I remember their faces melting, the ash shadows the “ant men”, make it stop please they were my friends. No. No I am above that now. NO I am not. They have to be remembered the horrible wretchedness of it.
Those were the opening days of the war. Whilst the eldar were consuming themselves we turned upon ourselves Iron and Stone and Gold and Chaos. We could never have been innocent; nothing that had ever been innocent could have done those things.
Those were the days of that war.
Know that I did not do it without sorrow. Not willingly. Not until every other optin was exhausted. She turned on us, the Golden Lady. I don’t know, not truly if it was her or something wearing her skin. I hope I gave her rest. I hope it was no her. I remember her kindly. I don’t think that it was her. It was a mercy kill in the end. I have to believe that.
Stillness burned by our hand. Those that came before. The Gardeners. We made this world. We unmade it. Carbon shadows where friends once stood. Carbon shadows and atomic fire. She had turned on us in the end.
Stillness retained much of its civilization, or at least much civilization, which is not actually the same thing.
It was clear that humanity had fallen on a much grander scale and that the problems afflicting Stillness were far from isolated. The Age of Strife had begun.
Under no illusions of the possibility of survival against the may foes of the galaxy the people of Stillness, with the insistence of the A.I. that had remained loyal hid. It was the only possibility of survival. Cities were disassembled, fields and parkland was left to the wild and all moved underground and hid from the galaxy.
The cities of the surface were mirrored in the cities of the underground to a lesser and simpler degree. Much of the Golden Age had been lost.
But it was not a bad existence as such, just dull for the most part. The A.I.s did their humble best to make life tolerable
It was joked to be a Silver Age. Nothing at least as bad as being nuked back to the Bronze Age but far from any half remembered golden age.
But silver tarnishes in time and worse than orks emerged from the darkness between the stars. Humanity had survived in space faring form elsewhere and they came to the bunker cities of Stillness and demanded tribute in lives and knowledge and anything else they wanted. Needless to say their was a war.
By the end of that war only one A.I. and one old city remained standing. The underground city of Unnaground and an old and rather simple A.I. known as Elmo.
Stillness never recovered from that war. Never again looked up at the sky with anything but fear. Their was only one A.I. left standing by that time, a low and simple creature as those things were measured spared by chance. The hidden cities were mausoleums now. Cut off and dead. All but one. The City of Unnaground. In time the name Stillness was as forgotten as long dead Kanai and the name of this last bastion was taken for the planet. The accumulated wisdom of humanity was lost as the libraries burned and the data-stacks were purged of chaotic taint. There would be no more great marvels as their once had been.
In time radio and other signals were picked up from neighbouring systems. They were not the chest thumping of the orks or declarations of greatness of petty warlords as had been in the old day of the Age of Strife, they seemed the civilized chatter of friendly worlds going about their own business. It was strange to hear and Elmo did not trust it and so he and his people remained hidden and only dug deeper.
In time the signals began to change and Elmo's decision to stay hidden was vindicated by the citizens of Unnaground. The Beast had arisen. Unnaground survived The Beast by remaining quiet and he stepped over them as had all the Age of Strife warlords and warbosses before him. And there they stayed for a very, very long time.
It wasn't until the Arrival of Magos Strogg of the Adeptus Mechanicus in late M34 that Unnaground spoke to an outsider.
Magos Strogg was the heir of a once noble house brought to ruin by a distant relatives fixation with the notion of Servitor-Soldiers and the mass production thereof. A rather dark chapter in the records of Inquisitorial and Mechanicum relations. The survivors of the investigation and purge were reassigned to the fleets of the Explorators, they were deemed pure but they were also not above suspicion in the minds of the masses.
Hermaeus Korodian Strogg, head of that much reduced house and Master of the Strogg Prospecting and Explorator fleet had been commissioned and supplied with ships by the relatively minor Forge World of Chaeroneia to survey worlds on the periphery of it's Starr charts and catchment area.
Upon finding the world of Stillness, long assumed destroyed and rendered uninhabitable, he was overjoyed to find that it was well on it's way to recovery. True much of the planet was still salted with exotic toxins and the radiation was still slightly higher than it should be in the ruins of the cities but ultimately it would make an acceptable addition to Chaeroneia's bread basket.
But Magos Strogg was an old man and had served the Mechanicus for over 800 years and from them received nothing but scorn for something he had had no part in.
In his assessments of the planet most of the efforts of his teams were spent in the ruins of what must have been once grand cities. They were ruins from ten thousnad years past when men walked amongst the stars without fear or apology and if even an ember that greatness was preserved it's value would be beyond words. Value beyond condemnation.
But the cities were empty, those great towers of adamantium long since rusted back to the dirt, the libraries were nothing but ruble long picked clean or rotted away and all about was the silence, the stillness, of an empty world. But maybe not totally dead whispered some of the ground crews. They had seen beyond the camp lights eyes burning in the night, reflections in glass lenses maybe at the right height and placement for humans or something much like them. The fleets astropath claimed he could hear the sounds of people more than old haunting murmurs of restless dead but he couldn't tell where from.
In the seventh week of the expedition any notion that the planet was empty was dispersed when a skitarii veteran managed to sneak up on one of the natives and although it soon vanished without a trace the Skitarii did manage to capture a short video sighting of it. It was confirmed for human but wearing no gear made by Mechanicus hands, no more sightings were had. The nature of the mission had changed though Magos Strogg neglected to send word of this back to Chaeroneia, it was not a survey mission any more. Now the mission was to contact these people in the name of the Imperium and he, Hermaeus Korodian Strogg, would be the one to do it.
For nearly a year the fleet orbited the planet in a pattern that left not one inch of the surface unwatched. But whoever was down there now knew they were being looked for and had hidden.
It was by sheer chance that door was found at the bottom of a canyon a mile and a half deep. For one day a year for one hour at noon the sun was directly above the canyon and the light reflected from the metal of the door just as a remote controlled drone was flying over.
By the end of the day the Magos was standing at the bottom of that crevasse banging on the door with his plasteel and ceremite fists. "Someone answer" he yelled "we know you're in there" to which were responded words that would go down in history; "No we're not". Magos Strogg camped outside the door for another two months before they agreed to let him in to determine what he wanted.
By this time the expedition was overdue to return to Chaeroneia by more than a month and the astropath was making the old Explorator very aware of this.
In the depths of the Unnaground Magos Strogg saw, not wonders, but some strange if primitive utopia. These barbarians had reached an equilibrium with the nature of the machine independent of the Mechanicus. Their lives depended on their technology but it did not rule them. It was beautiful to him. He was brought to their much venerated leader, a man (or so he looked at the time), known as Overseer Elmo. He appeared short and broad of stature at first glance with a kindly face although to Strogg's artificial eyes he could see that the there was something inorganic about him. A mystery seeing as the technological capabilities of Unnaground seemed inadequate for that task.
But Magos Strogg had had enough. For the last five centuries the institution he had served diligently and dutifully had shown him nothing but contempt for the actions of a distant cousin he barely even knew and here he was in the twilight years of his life doing their will. It was long past time for a rebellion he felt. The ships of the fleet were sent back minus any of the crew that wished to stay.
Magos Strogg the previous day had impressed upon the Overseer that the Imperium now knew of their society, which distressed him, but that it was an Imperium worth joining and would probably not interfere with the affairs of his world, which was reassuring. Magos Strogg also insisted upon them that he did have the authority to be the representative for the Imperium if they would allow him. He did not be he assumed that the administratum would make it official once they learned, he was correct. The Overseer allowed him to stay on the basis that it meant less unknown newcomers.
Some time into his stay in Unnaground he started to become even more suspicious of Overseer Elmo. He didn't move quite right, his heat signature didn't match to a human properly, his breathing was too uniform, his hair didn't seem to grow and his eyes seemed blink to a mathematical formula. The inconsistencies gnawed at the former Magos. Following anomalous wires and strange faint radio emissions he eventually found the server room where Elmo truly was. Elmo himself was an unassuming and old looking grey box with some faded paint on it. At a desk in front of the box sat the Overseer and all about him in the cavernous hall stood armed technicians, each with a cybernetic implant in their head.
When Elmo next spoke it was in the unison voices of two dozen mouths. "It was only a matter of time. I knew what you must do in the name of your First Commandment. I understand. I do not hold ill will to you for it. I only ask that you bring no harm to my people after I am gone".
For a moment history stood upon the edge of a very thin blade. Strogg was armed with a plasma pistol and a retractable electro-sword. The technicians we unarmed and nobody was making any threatening move. He wondered briefly if this was Elmo or if it was a decoy, he wondered what hidden defensive measures the old A.I. could have in place. He wondered why it had allowed him such easy access to such a glaring point of weakness.
Magos Strogg holstered his weapon and pulled up a chair.
When the Magos left that great and ancient hall he knew his course was clear.
An arrangement had been reached between man and machine. Magos Strogg would be, on paper at least, the official ruler of Unnaground and surrounding environs in exchange for providing technical information and the services of his loyal tech-adepts to bring the planet up to somewhere approaching the Imperial Standard. Elmo would then assume the role of wise techno-oracle should his presence ever become known to outside authority.
With this decided he knew he would have to act fast and get the planet recognized as, not a Survivor Civilization, but as a world under the direct control of the Administratum and therefore a protectorate of Old Earth the Throne. The Mechanicus might risk the ire of The Throne and attack a fellow survivor civilization, as between equals if they could retroactively spin their cause as just, but they wouldn't dare risk opening up a full scale war with Earth. Such a thing would tear the Imperium asunder and not even the Fabricator General would risk that.
Although on paper Elmo seemed subordinate truth was that Strogg and Elmo's relationship was more of a partnership. The people of Unnaground did not trust the Magos and his adepts, foreigners who had arrived less than one local year ago and cause upheaval, but Elmo they had trusted for time beyond mind and Elmo had always seen them right.
In less then two years Unnaground was considered a protectorate of The Throne, a ward of the Emperor himself. Although it protected them from direct reprisal from the Mechanicus, who were quite livid, it did come with it the price of The Tithe.
For the first time in more than ten thousand years citizens of Unnaground left their caverns and set foot amongst the stars. Armed and armoured with strange gear hybridized of Mechanicum and local make and speaking some strange tongue harder to crack than most codes. Unnaground was no longer hidden, but Unnaground was no longer weak and alone.
Heretek, the Mechanicus cried up seeing the soldiers of Unnaground with their war gear and strange vehicles. Blasphemers and apostates. And they were if truth be told for their designs were heretekal as they were in part "debased" hallowed old designs of forgeworld Chaeroneia. But the people of Unnaground would not listen, not even those who could understand the off-worlder speech. They fought for their home for Unnaground and the families so very distant, hell take those that would stop them.
The Mechanicus did what they could to Unnaground, which was very little. They placed a trade block on the star system and refused to have dealing with it or with anyone who would. Elmo and Strogg were in hysterics when they discovered this, some eighteen months after it had been placed. Unnaground had no need of their tools, it had no need of Mars or it's ilk. All it needed was what the Imperium offered all it's members; it's protection.
But by this time Unnaground was not what it had been, it was greater than it had been in time beyond the minds of mortal men. They did not need to cower any more, the Long Siege was over. The people emerged from the dark and rose from the ruins of dead cities like ghosts made substantial. But something in their collective culture had stuck and although they founded new settlements they were deep places and they did not trust open sky. But Unnaground was not unique, no longer a last bastion.
Soon Stillness was alive with human direction again. The tech-adepts that followed Strogg into exile were instrumental in it's rebuilding, these new settlements would not be ancient things re-purposed with compromises and half measures, these would be wonder to rival those of Perturabo. Despite the warnings of the Mecahnicus or maybe because of it Stillness became known as a haven for outcast and scorned tech-adepts, a place to start over, to hide or even just to escape the shadow of Mars.
With them came technological mysteries that the adepts of Strogg lacked and by the grace of the Onmissiah Stillness was reborn into a technological marvel. Towards the end of Strogg's life the city of Unnaground, capital of Stillness, was often referred to as the Omnissiah's Dark Seminary. But end Strogg did, as all mortals do. A short and simple service was held at the old doorway to the capital city before his body was stripped of salvageable components and buried. It was a sad occasion and mourned across all of Stillness, for all that he had been held in suspicion when he arrived Strogg had shown the people back to the light.
Hermaeus Korodian Strogg was succeeded in his duties by Manter Valler Strogg, a much younger second cousin the late Strogg had spent considerable time and effort in training for the role. Manter Valler Strogg was a much different Strogg to his predecessor. Hermaeus had been more measured in his approach, as befitted a man of his considerable age and acted with a degree of almost super human patience. He had not dreamed more ambitious than simply carving out a place for people like himself in the galaxy and doing right by the people he found himself ruling over in the process and maybe being remembered for something other than the experiments of a deranged distant relative.
Manter Strogg, on the other hand, dreamed of an empire of his very own.
Stillness itself had returned by the start of his rule to something not unlike it's former glory if a tad more subterranean but for Manter Strogg the sky was not high enough. The old in-system colonies had to be reestablished. All that could be had been salvaged and scavenged long ago from Stillness but the ruins of the satellite settlements could be another matter entirely. It was also no secret that he was not unique in thinking this and the thought of someone else getting hold of these possible fragments of ancient lore did not sit well with him.
To this end Manter started something of a space race. He needed to stake some claim and have at least some capability of enforcing that claim. With the calling in of favours, disreputable and xeno contacts and trades he acquired or at least rented a sizable fleet of mismatched ships with which to place his flag on every astral body of the binary system and patrol it at least minimally to it's needs.
Sadly it seemed that there was little to no wisdom of the ancients preserved. Digital copies were corrupted and fragmented beyond recovery and hard copies had crumbled to dust ages ago. The main purpose of the mission had been a failure, but the secondary one was quite successful. By casting his net wide enough he had managed to acquire enough Dark Age material for an orbital tether.
It was an ambitious project that took nearly 30 years to complete. First step was to use the ad hoc fleet to maneuver a sufficiently massive asteroid into geosynchronous orbit over an equatorial region not far from the Unnaground Canyon. Whilst the asteroid was laboriously nudged into the position, a process that took decades, construction on the surface of the asteroid and on Stillness began. The asteroid would become a great dock yard and gateway to the rest of the galaxy, Stillness would become a hub of activity as it once was in ancient days.
It was a reasonable success, although any attempts to build too big of a trade empire was relentlessly aborted by the Mechanicus trade restrictions. Despite this there was always someone daring enough to defy the rule of Mars.
Later in life Manter Strogg would revisit the documentation the now long dead and increasingly distant and forgotten infamous Strogg. Little by little the armies of the Technocracy of Stillness started to have cybernetic augmentations introduced into them. Only to volunteers, of course, never forced.
As the years wore on the cybernetics became more and more common both in the soldiers and within the soldiers. As more years wore on there was not a guardsman raised on Stillness that wasn't at least half machine. Those that did not wish to become more than human stopped making it out of the PDF. It was not a trend that won them much favour with any in the wider Imperium; the Mechanicus despised these unsanctioned augmentations, the Imperial Army thought it made them less human and the Inquisition watched them very carefully as they had seen where this road lead.
Elmo could see no problem with this so long as Manter only recruited from the willing. It was just exchanging hardware.
For all that the Imperium was wary of this new breed of unsanctified Skitarii they could not deny that they were effective. They were well trained, disciplined, well armed and armoured and possessed of devastating bodies. Much as the clandestine trade in Stillness technological goods went on in the nearby systems and was tolerated by the Imperium so too were the augmented soldier, for much the same reason.
It is not to say that their knowledge exceeded the Imperium. Indeed it did not. For one thing they couldn't build warp engines as that was a highly specialist discipline and no megos with that knowledge had come to them and so were confined to a single stellar system. The other thing that the most obviously lacked was the organic based longevity and rejuvenating treatments. They could, to an extent, cut and graft and grow new organic components from a patients own stem cells and they could replace with mechanical components but without the Rejuvenants there was a limit to how far that could be taken. No one would again on Stillness reach the age of the previous Strogg it seemed.
Manter Strogg died just shy of three hundred and twenty. He was succeeded a long line of Stroggs, all in partnership with Elmo.
They were a problem for the Mechanicus but so long as they were confined to a single system they were not one that could spread and that they could live with. In response the Technocracy intentionally never tried to acquire the knowledge of warp travel, it wasn't worth the risk.
For the most part much stayed the same on Stillness for a very long time. Changes were enacted by the High-Technocrat, as the title became known, but never to the point where things would become destabilized. The continued tendency towards stability almost certainly the influence of Elmo who much approved of stability over innovation, almost certainly a result of his time as a library indexing system back in the Golden Age.
The Technocracy managed to avoid getting too embroiled in the Great Civil War by the tried and tested method of doing as little as possible to attract attention from any party, an attitude that whilst earning them few enemies also made them no friends with anyone for a long time.
The next thing to really cause grief for the Technocracy was the arrival of the Hyper-Violent Barghesi in early M40.
The Barghesi were a nasty race found in the on the worlds of the nearby Grendl Stars. They well deserved he prefix of Hyper-Violent, though they lacked warp travel they could seldom be beaten on their home ground without considerable advantage on the other side. They or at least their leaders were at least as intelligent as most humans,they were each as strong as a low ranking ork and had a sturdy exoskeleton. They were somewhat of a horseshoe crab, somewhat like a crocodile but mostly they were awful.
Although they lacked warp travel they were sadly not confined to a single system mores the pity but were spread across the entire Grendl Stars in a manner that must have taken centuries to accomplish via sub-light engines. In the deeps of space was the only place honest men had the advantage over them and the world of Sternac and it's Iron Lords Chapter were granted exception from the tithe for the task of keeping them contained. A job they did admirably for years uncounted until the coming of the Hive Fleet and the thinning of their numbers. With insufficient ships and depleted men their patrols were insufficient and Barghesi fleets slipped into the inky black making the slow march into the Imperium.
Stillness was the nearst habitable world in their path and so it was there that they set course for. The Iron Lords always maintained that they had sent warnings to every world in the locality but Stillness never heard a thing and suspected the Mechanicus of intercepting their messages.
When the Barghesi first entered the Stillness system they were at first mistaken for an overdue Diasporex convoy as their ships had that oddly durable but still ramshackle look to them. But there was no response to messages as the ships accelerated into the system but maybe their communications systems were broken, it was possible if not likely but citizens of Stillness were not the sort to shoot unprovoked.
Indeed the first shots were no fired until until the Barghesi had launched a swarm of nuclear warheads that destroyed the now ancient orbital tether and caused considerable damage to the planet itself. It was not that the defenders of Stillness had been slow to react when the weapons were launched so much as that they had been drowned in sheer numbers.
The long held cultural trend of burying everything of value finally paid off as there was actually something left capable of launching a counter offensive and for once the Barghesi learned what it was like to be the ass in an ass kicking. For all their ferocity they were too bulky to march more than two abreast in most of the tunnels and half the soldiery seemed to have the ability to use cerebral implants to switch off their sense of fear. But the war raged on and the real horror of the Barghesi was revealed. Barghesi were a hermaphrodite species that was also capable of reproduction via parthenogenesis and they were born in batches of up to a thousand. Although the surface was irradiated the radiation did not bother them particularly much and within a year a new generation was spawned, hungry for flesh and insanely aggressive.
The youngsters were not strictly sapient, the brain being the last thing to develop properly towards end of adolescence, but they did possess a well honed animal cunning and inhuman viciousness. They also matured very quickly with a good diet and they did feed well. By the end of the following year the surface belonged to them.
Deep in his cave Elmo wept without eyes of his own. It was the Age of Strife all over again, but this time there were no others of his kind. Surrounded by his dying children and his failing world he had never felt more alone.
Due to the ambient radiation in the atmosphere and the drowning cacophony of Barghesi radio signals, to say nothing of nearly all the receiver towers being used for target practice, the citizens of Stillness were totally unprepared for rescue. The Traveling Court was touring not terribly far away and upon hearing of a system going dark the Emperor himself demanded a course correction.
Though the Emperor himself was not permitted to join the fray in person he did send down every fighting man the fleet could spare as it's own ships made short work of the orbiting Barghesi invasion fleet. In short order the siege turned.
The Custodes and the Handmaidens were permitted the honour of leading the charge at the head of a diverse and vast host of armsmen and just about any hired fighting men the nobles of the Traveling Court had with them. Few if any had seen the Custodes or the Handmaidens engaged in bloodshed on such grand scale before. They screamed through the atmosphere in drop pods faster than a space marines could withstand into the thickest of the foes and started killing even as the doors on the pods smashed open. They killed and killed and killed and drew the Barghesi to them so that the main force of soldiery could land in relative safety and pull them from the fire before he numbers overwhelmed them.
All across Stillness the scene was played out again and again as the Barghesi were routed and scattered and hunted down.
Only then did the head of the Custodes allow the royal couple to set foot upon Stillness.
As soon as his foot touched the salted ground Elmo recognized him. After all these years he still recognized him. A Man of Gold remained. A Man of Gold was abroad upon his world. Elmo still remembered what unforgivable things they had done in the end.
In his inspection of the almost total damages on the surface and his meeting with Governor Eemil Nathaniel Strogg, current iteration of the Strogg line, he started to notice the oddities. A distinguishable subset of the local technicians moved with an eerie precision and purpose and they were not identifiable for their uniforms so much as for their oddly buzzing psychic signature. And always there was at least one nearby, always, though never the same one and never from the same displayed affiliation.
Always unthinking automated security pictrecorders would very slowly turn towards him.
And there was something beneath his feet. He could feel it. It was not like a thing he had felt before, not truly, but oddly it felt familiar.
Oscar followed the mind-feel along much the same path Hermaeus Korodian Strogg had in ages past until he too came to the hall deep within the bedrock. And there the last Man of Gold met the last Man of Iron. The presence of Eemil Strogg was politely requested by Elmo and the three of them sat down to have a long talk.
Eventually the Emperor emerged. Since that day he has not returned to Stillness, from this we can assume that whatever questions he had asked of Strogg and Elmo the answers had been satisfactory.
The rebuilding of Stillness began. It would have gone quicker but Elmo and Strogg refused any more than the bare minimum of help from the Imperium. Stillness was a proud old world, they would pick themselves up and mend by their own hands and no other and march forward with the Imperium to Judgment Day.
Realm of Ultramar
In days of the War of the Beast they refused to honour their oaths to the Empty Throne of Earth and instead focused on the defense of their own world under the delusion that they would have had any chance of ever holding out on their lonesome if The Beast ever turned his attention upon them.
Afterwards when they saw what horrors Primarch Curze was inflicting when given the order to fetch back the worlds whose loyalty was found wanting they couldn't surrender fast enough.
Being an industrial world that the Imperium needed to help with it's recovery the task of bringing the errant world back into the fold was given to Zso Sahaal.
This was during the days when Curze was planning his own trial and execution and was grooming his successor. More importantly he was grooming him to be an acceptable monster rather than just a useful one like he had been.
Curze spent the entire negotiations drugged into almost unconsciousness at First Captain Sahaal's orders and placed in a welded shut crate as a safety precaution.
Eventually a deal was reached between Vostroya and the Imperium, through it's Night Lords intermediaries. Those nobles responsible for the decision of not coming to the Imperium's aid would be executed cleanly and quickly, Vostroya would be put under Administratum rule for the next 30 years whilst a new batch of aristocrats came to the surface, one of the new fangled Adeptus Arbiters stations would be built in the capital and so long as the Imperium lasts the tithe would be the industrial produce of the world plus the first born son of any family with more than one son.
This was a steep price but gratefully accepted even by those who were going to be executed when First Captain Sahaal offered to stop drugging the Primarch and turn negotiations over to him.
Zso Sahaal's name is spoken with both hate and love on Vostroya.
Rumour has it that Underhive gangs have proven fruitful recruitment grounds for the Night Lords and splinter groups in the millenniums since, but with all things concerning those sanctioned monsters nothing is easy to pin down with certainty.
The Tarellian Neo-Confederacy
Of all the Tarellian worlds that survived the Age of Strife, none were more surprising so than Maza. According to the few Tarellian records that pre-date the Age of Strife, Maza was a world that had just been discovered by the expanding Tarellian species. Maza was a wetter, cooler world than the Tarellians preferred, with trees as tall as Titans lining deep rift valleys at the center of a supercontinent. A few years after the first settlers to Maza arrived, the first warp storms of the Age of Strife hit and all communication was lost. At the time, the Tarellian population on Maza numbered no more than a few hundred individuals, and the colony was still dependent on imports of technology and manufactured goods from the Tarellian core worlds to survive, and so the planet was deemed lost.
When the Tarellians expanded outwards once again after the Age of Strife, Maza was a planet high on their list. Though they didn’t expect to find any living survivors, the planet was still a habitable one with plenty of areas for growing crops and building cities. To the Tarellian explorers’ surprise, when they landed on Maza they found the planet already inhabited. A society of Stone Age hunter-gatherer Tarellians were already present on the surface and were unhappy with the idea of these new Tarellians from the stars claiming their planet for themselves. Even more unusual was the fact that these Stone Age Tarellians were all females.
The survival of the native population of Maza was nothing short of a miracle. When the colony was first isolated during the Age of Strife, medical supplies quickly ran low and the population began dwindling. To make matters worse, soon after their isolation a plague swept through the small population of Mazon survivors, killing off all of their males. The surviving Mazons lamented and resigned themselves to extinction. However, a chance event ended up saving the population. A mutation occurred in the population that allowed a few individuals to reproduce parthenogenetically, and within a few years the entire population of Maza was parthenogenetic.
The Mazon are relatively tall for Tarellians, but also much more lightly built. In contrast to the stereotypical browns, reds, and yellows of most arid-dwelling Tarellians, their scales tend to come in colors of blues and greens, all the better to hide in the dense foliage of their homeworld. And, of course, the most notable feature of the native Mazons is that they are all female. The exact methods of the Mazons’ parthenogenesis are unknown, and the Mazons are highly secretive about their breeding practices, seeing how they were nearly wiped out once. Even when breeding with non-Mazon Tarellians, the offspring of such unions tend to be heavily female and the females strongly resemble the mother. Mazons are also known for favoring guerilla warfare and hit-and-run tactics in battle, in contrast to the more organized battalions or hunter-killer teams of other Tarellian worlds.
Maza was on the coreward side of the Tarellian confederacy, so when the tyranids invaded it was on the right side of the Confederacy to avoid getting eaten. This was all the better for the native Mazons, for if the tyranids had come from the other direction, Maza would not have survived. Fiercely isolationist even by Tarellian standards, the Mazons had traded with neighboring worlds for technology and resources but had remained thinly populated and poorly industrialized. They would have stood no chance against the tyranids. Nevertheless, the Mazons have suffered the aftereffects of the tyranids invasion just as much as any other Tarellian world. The sheer number of refugees from elsewhere in the empire has forced the Mazons to open their doors, and Maza is currently in the midst of a cultural conflict between the mostly pastoral natives and the refugees used to a more industrialized, arid world.
Typically, the words "tropical rainforest" and "major urban center" don't go together in the popular lexicon. Not so with Tikal. Tikal is a warm and wet world, with a climate resembling that of Old Earth more than fifty million years ago, such that tropical rainforests extend from the equator to the poles.
Because of the thick rainforests and mangroves that choke most of the world, Tikal’s population tends to be concentrated in a few heavily urbanized areas, as it is easier to expand outward by hacking away at the jungle surrounding a city than to try and build an entirely new city from scratch. The largest city on Tikal, Itza, covered nearly 20,000 square kilometers even before the Tarellians made first contact with the Imperium back during the Great Crusade, and is a veritable hive now. Tikal was one of the last surviving core worlds of the Tarellian Confederacy in the wake of the tyranid invasion, and so refugees from all across Tarellian space poured into the highly urbanized Tikal, causing the planet's largest cities to well in population and turning Itza into a hive city almost out of necessity. Although outnumbered by Tarellians living on more traditional arid worlds across the Neo-Confederacy, Tikal is one of the most populated worlds in the Neo-Confederacy.
Natives of Tikal, as opposed to the descendants of refugees from the tyranid invasion, tend to be rather short for Tarellians, with heights ranging from 4'8" to 5' on average. This is a useful feature for moving through cramped quarters, whether it is the dense undergrowth of a rainforest or the crowded streets of a city. To compensate for their smaller size, the Tarellians of Tikal supplement their usual ranged weaponry with poisoned darts, developed from the poison of a native creature, which they use to sap and slow their foes. By the same principle, the Tarellians of Tikal are not very proficient in close-quarters combat. The Tikaleze also have much brighter and more pronounced markings than other Tarellian nations, often in bold stripes of black and blue as opposed to the duskier browns, yellows, and oranges most people associate with Tarellians, a useful feature for differentiating individuals in the cramped and often underlit confines of cities.
Tikal’s main contribution to the Tarellian Neo-Confederacy is precious metals, which is why the Tarellians settled there in the first place back before the Age of Strife. Tikal is known for its high density of precious metals, not just gold and silver but more precious metals like adamantium. Tikal is the biggest producer of electrical contacts in its region of space. The Tarellians of Tikal used these precious metals for ceremonial purposes back in the days after the Age of Strife before anyone knew their worth, and still use them for monuments today. Some have tried to steal from the Tikaleze, which often invokes their wrath if they try to steal from public monuments or memorials.
Tikal is one of the more literate worlds in the Neo-Confederacy, owing to its massive urban population and therefore massive bureaucracy necessary to organize it. Tikal’s libraries contain thousands of scrolls and codices, mostly written in the Tarellian script, though the most important documents are carved into soft metal in the event that Tarellian civilization collapses as it did during the Age of Strife.
Like all Tarellian worlds, Tikal prides itself on being economically self-sufficient, despite benefiting from interstellar trade, its people don’t need it to survive. Tikal’s people primarily live off aquaculture grown in massive farming operations in the planet’s inland lakes and ponds. Indeed, many Tikaleze cities are built right on the edge of large inland lakes specifically to be closer to food. Some of these farms are actually old impacts of meteorites that have subsequently filled with water.
Féin-Cineál Was a craftworld in the loosest sense of the world that existed in it's earliest incarnation a few centuries prior to The Fall and therefore had the not entirely unique distinction of being one of the ones not hastily spurned on by the warnings and predictions of a much younger Eldred Ulthuran. Indeed it was started under the more managed and carefully considered opinion of several dozen more puritan captains of the Old Empire banding together to save their family, friends, crew and their family and friends or at least those of them that would listen. The captains now longs since dead originally banded together purely out of a need for protection as in those later years of the Empire eldar had turned on eldar in cannibalistic orgies of torture, murder and rape in any order thereof.
The ships flew in close formation daring the warp as the web-way was no longer considered safe from their own people for their own people. Forty-nine of them besides the flagship of the most prominent Matriarch, Di'theatha of the family Mygranath slayer of deamons, savior of the people and mother of the one who would be The Betrayer or so the legends claim.
The ships in time found a quiet patch of space in what would one day be the southern end of the Segmentum Pacificus and there they dealt in splendid solitude amongst the stars as behind them the Empire they had left behind was devoured in the fires of it's own depravities and a monster was born reflecting those obscenely degenerate indulgences magnified to a degree that was as terrible as it was magnificent. There was no going back or hope that the kin and kind left behind had hope of salvation.
In time the ships of the flotilla moved closer and closer together as the people mingled and wished for closeness. Scaffolds and walkways were in time extended across from one ship to another to facilitate the ease by which the peoples could travel and for a time all was well among the Féin-Cineál, a name they adopted that itself looked inwards to family and friends. But such times of peace were short lived as war came to the Féin-Cineáli in the form of what they would once have considered their own kind driven mad and ravenous of spirit demanding flesh tribute or all would be consumed, greenskined brutes once considered a minor irritant were now a real threat. In this time the hero Achillrial arose and gained prominence.
Achillrial was always claimed to be the first of the Autarchs although this claim is hotly disputed by the other craftworlds. What is not disputed was his mastery of war. In person he was a great warrior, tall and strong and fast. His stamina was seemingly without end and his courage was fathomless. But it was not in contests of personal force that he was most accomplished, away from the front lines he was far more devestarting. He saw war as a dance and knew the moves well for every song that was ever sung, without fault or misstep he would direct forces to the killing blow from directions his adversaries could not anticipate and a hundred times his weight of warriors were brought to ruin. But of it he cared little. Indeed he was a hero and a creator of heros, his name was legend and he created legends but that was not where his heart found joy. In family and in simple pleasures he found joy, in the music he had no skill for and the artistry he could not emulate he found joy. War to him was not as it was in his youth, fighting for some idealized and false image of an Empire he never really understood, war was a job and it was not a passion.
Achillrial knew little of true passion, of lust and desire or love. In many ways he was innocent and almost childlike despite being a creature of red raw battle. In time he did came to know love and that love was returned by the eldest of fair Di'theatha's many fair daughters remembered now only as The Betrayer, a name now cursed above all other. But in those days she was not cursed, corruption was not rotting in her heart and soul and she was beautiful and wonderful and pure. Achillrial and The Betrayer it is said in The Chronicle of the Féin-Cineál had a love like no other, as pure and sweet as the first rain on the lost homeworld in the days the gods walked among them. The Betrayer was everything that Achillrial was not and everything that he loved, she had walked the paths of the singer and the artist and the painter and the poet. She was everything that he loved and everything that he was not and maybe he was the same to her. It would be easy to image her as feigning love to get close to naive Achillrial but in those days in her way she was as innocent as he was, hard as it is to imagine now.
For all that Féin-Cineál preferred it's own company to that of the galaxy at large it was not cut off and it was not ignorant of the changes beyond their carfully defended walls. They knew of their kind on other craftworlds and had some limited dealings with them and they knew about the young Imperium growing into the anarchy and ruin left by the passing of their own once great realm, like children stepping into the footprints left by an ancient primordial giant. But they knew the Imperium in those ancient days as outsiders and aliens picking over the ruins of the dead and looked not upon them until they rescued the All-Mother and brought much rejoicing.
The Betrayer was one that moved more willing than most about the galaxy in search of inspiration for her works, and they were wonderful works full of new things and new beauty. But always she was unsatisfied with her work Achillrial would tell her that even in the greatest days of the Old Empire perfection was never achieved and that by some strange joke of fate she had come closer to achieving what the eldest of their kind in those great days had not only here in this time beyond ruination. She would laugh and tell him that they looked in the wrong place.
It was never known when she fell from grace, if indeed a single event could even be attributed to it, The Beast arose that her corruption became evident. Féin-Cineál had so far refused to involve themselves. And why should they not abstain from such a war? It was nothing to do with them, they had survived The Fall by staying out of other peoples business, why should this war be any different? But one night The Betrayer came to Achillrial and held him close and as he looked into her eyes he knew that something was wrong. There was a fire there that he had not seen before and it was not a warming or a comforting flame. The Betrayer told him of the thing she had seen in her time wandering among the far places, of their kin and kind who yet lived upon the homeworld, how it was not foul but fair too behold and magnificent. The Old Empire though diminished was not some abode of monsters and the damned but a place of beuty beyond imagining. What dear departed mother Di'theatha and her generation had fled from was the birth pains of a fair queen being born, a new goddess that had not devoured and destroyed the old pantheon but assimilated and absorbed into the Many-Gods-As-One. It was a beauty greater than the sum of it’s parts, loveliness beyond mortal comprehension or understanding.
Achillrial’s heart was broken at these word and he could not offer her the response his love turned to sorrow demanded and he could not strike her down as the law demanded. He was now without joy and all he had was turned to ashes and regret as he ran through his memories in an instant trying to find the point where it all went wrong, where he had been blinded by love so completely to not see the darkness in her heart. He turned away from her, his head bowed low with sorrow and bitter tears running down his cheeks and bid her to leave and never return. In a fit of rage The Betrayer slashed his throat open and fled but not in a final act of spite crushing his soul-stone so that in death if not in life he could know the new goddess of her people.
The Betrayer fled the craftworld before any had realized her treachery and when they had a great mourning was had that turned to a righteous wroth among the people and the demand of blood-price. The Betrayer’s name as stricken from The Chronicle, an act never before or since enacted, and the Féin-Cineáli decided that for hate’s sake they would go to war.
With the deaths of both Achillrial and Di'theatha, one by treachery and one by time, it was seen as an omen and in the post-Beast galaxy and with the marriage of The Steward and the All-Mother the people of Féin-Cineál decided that indeed it was time to rejoin the galaxy. Their short-lived and rather minor existence as a craftworld had taught them that it is not so great to be alone, the vessels of Féin-Cineál disbanded and the Féin-Cineáli dispersed to set up homes and enclaves on the worlds of this new Imperium that their All-Mother had blessed with her rule. In the wake of The Beast and his Croneworlder allies the people of these worlds were less than thrilled to see more eldar but with the promise of their ships to patrol their orbits they saw the advantage and made room for them in the rebuilding, of which the Féin-Cineáli were of some considerable assistance.
Today the Féin-Cineáli remain a close knit web of families spread across many worlds of the southern Segmentum Pacficus, united by a shared heritage and culture and recorded in the records of The Chronicle, the living record of all their stories. They are maybe not the most well known of the eldar peoples, they are maybe not the strongest of the most brilliant but they are what they are and to those that know them they are most often friends and with their friends they march into the coming Judgment Day to rebirth or ruin and they march with fire in their hearts and heads held high.
A Craftworld of contradictions, Alaitoc is both highly-regimented and highly liberated. The reason for this is that while the majority of the Craftworld's population are highly dedicated to Eldar ideals, a sizeable minority seek freedom from their home's stifling environment. As such, its relations with the greater Imperium are also as contradictory.
Officially, Alaitoc is only marginally allied with the Imperium. While they do send small tithes of soldiers as needed, the still-proud Eldar of Alaitoc refuse to have any more dealings with mon-keigh than is strictly necessary. Their troops, even those of the lowest ranks, are notorious often treat non-Eldar of any rank with breathtaking disdain fit to rival any three hive princes one could name. An exasperated Saint Macharius was once heard to remark "Better a thousand armies of the Beast's cultists at my rear than a single Alaitoc Farseer at my side!"
The same cannot be said however, for the Rangers that Alaitoc regularly sends out, albeit unintentionally. Freed of their stifling homes, many eventually find solace in the familiar, though not as restricted, environments of other Craftworlds. More notorious however are those Rangers who find Imperial life to their liking, and in a strange, yet peculiarly Eldar way, often find themselves as obsessed with non-Eldar life as an Exarch on their path, sometimes even combining two or more cultures in their quest for freedom and reinvention. Even the most seasoned galactic traveller must take pause when they find themselves meeting "Fio'La Bork'an Rialieath, Magos Prime of Forge Alpha."
As one of the Imperium's most militiarized Craftworlds, Biel-Tan Aspect Warriors are the ones most often seen on both the battlefield and in Imperial media, with the gruff, battle-hardened Biel-Tan warrior being a staple of Imperial entertainment. Of the major Craftworlds aligned to the Imperium, the Biel-Tan are perhaps one of the most fanatical in expanding Imperial borders, seeing in the Imperium a chance to recreate the Eldar Empire of old. This has sometimes caused friction even within the Imperial military, as Biel-Tan officers regularly advise all-out offensives regardless of the state of the greater army.
One notable aspect of Biel-tan's society is the surprising amount of regard they hold for the inhabitants of Tallarn, a desert world. During the War of the Beast, a large cultist army sought ancient relics long-buried beneath Tallarn's surface. With Imperial forces being in disarray at the time, many Imperial authorities wrote offf Tallarn as lost, and prepared for an assault from that side, Cursing their new allies and their own kin for their cowardice, the Eldar of Biel-Tan rushed to Tallarn, determined to sell their lives as dearly as possible.
However, upon arrival they found the devastated Tallarni not waging a desperate war, but holding onto a bloody stalemate despite being outnumbered and outgunned. When the ferocious Eldar fell upon the cultist forces, the Tallarni were quick to take the advantage. Though their once prisitine farmworld had been turned into a vast desert, they had managed to win the respect of the Eldar. Though today the Craftworld maintains a careful distance, both socially and physically, from their adopted planet, they do make short visits in small numbers to carefully shepard the desert warriors. Most adult Tallarni know that the 'djinns' of their childhood stories are really the Imperium's major alien ally, but even their oldest generals often show more than the usual respect humans give one of the elder race.
Craftworld Il-Kaithe has had a somewhat tumultuous relationship with the Imperium and indeed it's other craftworld kin. They are politically well in the Eldar Supremacy camp although not quite to the same degree as Dorhai. They were one of the last Craftworlds to join the Imperium, maintaining independence well into M33 and keeping humanity at arms length even after joining.
Their reasons for joining was not out of any sense of spiritual kinship, promise of trade, need of protection or the asking of the everliving and Serene Empress Isha. They joined because enough lesser craftworlds had done so that they could work through them as intermediaries so as not to have to deal with the lesser races directly.
Up until this time Il-Kaithe had been quite close with Dorhai and the two of them had been in the preliminary stages of starting some grand alliance of Pure Eldar by roping some of the Exodite worlds and lesser Craftworlds into their folly. Il-Kaithe siding with the Imperium essentially removed a great keystone from the fledgling alliance and earned Il-Kaithe an eternal blood feud with Dorhai that exists in perpetuity.
Il-Kaithe itself is located at the galactic south-west border of the Eye of Terror and has weathered storm after storm of the Great Adversary. Although they have not come under fire to the same degree as the Cadian Gate they also don't have the same defenses or resources of the Gate Worlds and so their wars have been no less desperate.
One of their points of contention with the Imperium at large was their attitudes to the Dark Eldar. They still saw them as kin. Reprehensible kin but kin nevertheless. They would send missionaries to the dark cities and trade goods and services of all kinds with many of its Kabals and Noble Houses in times of peace and try and avoid fighting them directly in times of war. This won them no friends with any in the Imperium, Eldar and human alike bar the most radical.
This has changed with the unholy marriage of Lord Vect and Queen Malys. Now, so far as they care, there are no Dark Eldar. There are only Chaos Eldar in Commorragh, the Dark City has fallen to the enemy and it's people are now not only damned but also forsaken.
The missionaries have been recalled, the trade has stopped, war is declared on what were once kin.
Although relatively few in numbers compered to the larger and more prestigious Craftworlds they are formidable. they have sat on the edge of the Eye for ten thousand years and have been far too proud to call for help. Il-Kaithe itself is an ugly mass of turrets, void shied generators, military ship yards, training grounds and other such fortifications.
In official records and Imperial propaganda, Iyanden is one of the most successful examples of Imperial-Eldar relations in history, a friendship won in blood and iron. And while this may be believed by the rank and file of both peoples, the truth is a little more complex than that.
Even after the marriage between the Steward (as he was still known at the time) and Isha, the Craftworld of Iyanden refused to be part of the alliance. They saw the evil that lurked in the hearts of men, and lambasted the idea of chaining their entire race to the barely-tamed, barely-evolved pseudo primates that had the gall to call itself a sentient species. Even so, they knew that angering said wild beast would only prove detrimental, so they made a deal- they would of course honour any request the Imperium would make of them, on the condition the Imperium never made any such request. Though the High Lords took great offence at this snub, they also knew that antagonizing Iyanden would risk the rest of the alliance, and so quietly backed down.
And so matters were left, Iyanden being an island of isolation in the middle of the Realm of Ultramar. Though they opened their docks for limited trade in late M36, they only did so for the handful of Rogue Traders who managed to find their home. Even then, it was only for what few luxuries the Craftworld could not provide, and would be safe for those on the Path to consume.
Then the Hive Fleets came.
Isolated as they were, Iyanden was almost engulfed by the Shadow in the Warp when they managed to send their distress signal. Even so, it said that only by miraculous guidance from the Eternal Emperor and Empress did Prince-Admiral (later Saint) Yriel manage to find the beleaguered Craftworld (indeed, it is officially recorded as the Saint's first miracle). Though the rescue effort was a success, the Craftworld was left devastated, with many of its population reduced to soulstones. Even worse, the Imperial fleet that had saved them could barely spend enough time for rest and repairs, as the chitinous tide threatened to drown Ultima Segmentum. No ship could be spared to defend Iyanden, not even the most grievously wounded ones guaranteed to die pauper's deaths in the void.And so it was that Iyanden found itself making another unfair deal. They offered to make themselves a mobile dock for the Imperial Navy, on the condition that there would always be ships provided for their protection.
Today, Iyanden is so integrated into the Navy organization of Ultima Segmentum that it is officially designated a void station colony instead of a Craftworld. Sailors from a hundred member races, from a thousand times more worlds, mingle every day in bustling streets where once Eldar took quiet walks. So many ships orbit the Craftworld that at times they block the stars. And while many of the younger races and Eldar youth see this as a great thing (some even proclaim Iyanden's colours of blue and gold, the same as the Imperial Navy's, to be a sign of divine intervention), older Eldar simply sigh, and mourn the lost purity of their home as yet another casualty of the Tyranids, and they fear what the outsiders might bring in.
The other notable feature of Craftworld Iyanden is its use of wraithguards. The Iyanden Infinity Circuit has been noted to be rather odd compared to other Craftworlds. The Infinity Circuits of most Craftworlds are often described as cold, cloying, and lifeless. The dead wish to be left to their rest and although it is possible to coax a spirit out to give guidance to their living descendants spending too much time in the Infinity Circuit makes most spiritseers depressed, grow tired of living, and eventually abandon their physical forms. The Iyanden Infinity Circuit is different. Rather than being composed of eldar that died to various causes and lived a relatively long life, at one point in time the vast majority of Iyanden’s dead were composed of eldar whose lives were cut dramatically short by the arrival of Hive Fleet Kraken.
This created a very different environment in the Infinity Circuit. The newly-arrived Iyanden dead did not want to rest, they wanted out, whether it was due to the fact that their home was still being ravaged by tyranids or because they weren’t yet ready to die in the first place. This created a psychic feedback cycle typical of the eldar, whose unstoppable momentum ended up transforming the overall nature of the Infinity Circuit. As a result, the atmosphere of the Iyanden Infinity Circuit is very different from that of other Craftworlds, having a nearly electric atmosphere of anticipation and energy than a tranquil air of finality. As a result, Iyanden spiritseers are somewhat odd even compared to the spiritseers of other Craftworlds. When trying to describe the experience, Iyanden spiritseers have compared communing with the Iyanden Infinity Circuit to sticking your tongue in a light socket.
By the end of rebuilding from the arrival of Hive Fleet Kraken, wraithguards outnumbered the living population by nearly ten to one. Wraithguard body stockpiles were rapidly depleted, and it took bonesingers more than sixty years to make up the deficit. The ratio of living to walking dead has become more reasonable in the years since, but Iyanden still has more active wraithguard than any other Craftworld. Wraithguard actively patrol Iyanden’s streets like British Beefeaters, rather than waiting to be summoned in the Craftworld’s most desperate hour, seemingly stoic and oblivious to the world around them but more than capable of responding should their ire be raised. Post-Kraken, the Iyanden Infinity Circuit is less a resting place for the dead and more a waiting room until the next bonesinger can sing you a new wraithguard body into existence. Drawing comparisons between the current practices of the wraithguard of Iyanden and the Necrons is ill-advised.
The Eldar of other Craftworlds frown on this practice, saying the dead should be allowed to rest. The Iyanden dead rather pointedly tell the other Craftworlds to stay out of this, saying that they asked for this and the other Craftworlds could at least have the decency to let the dead speak for themselves. To them, their lives were stolen from them before their time, and accepting death at this point would feel too much like admitting defeat.
Given that they are a matriarchy that would seem to imply that, rather than being a bunch of angry widows, they are more closely linked to Isha but in her aspect of a pissed off mother bear or eldar equivalent.
Their interest this time is not in collecting soul-stones but slave liberating, assassination missions, terrorist attacks (against the Chaos) and occasionally stealing some ancient relic of great value.
To this end they have fostered a long alliance with many of the spawn of Konrad Curze. The Reavers of Hodir are a particularly nasty band of Night Lords often seen in their company. Where the Reavers get their recruits from is a mystery, some speculate that they are former deathrow inmates lost in the paperwork, sold to them on the grey market and mind scrubbed.
The Divine Triumvirate of Iybraesil is Lileath, Isha and Morai-Heg; maiden, mother and crone. Past present and future and the majority of them dead. The past is burned away, the future is erased and their is only the blood and the thunder of now left. They have Farseers but it is a council of house matriarchs that make the decisions. They hold many craftworlds, Ulthwe in particualr, in some level of contempt. They are ruled by farseers who act on prophesy because they have foreseen themselves acting on prophesy and stuck in stupid and costly cycles of predict and effect unwilling to change and fight fate for cowardly notions of what might come to pass if they do. Farseers can advise, it is the Venerated Mothers who have the last say.
Iybraesil has an avatar of Khine, they do not trust it. Others forget whose blood is dripping from his hands but they have not. When not on those rare occasions they let him out of the shrine he is held to his throne with chains of diamond links.
Their relationship with the Throne is odd in that they don't acknowledge the sovereignty of the Emperor or if they do it's as an accessory to Isha's majesty. The Imperium has an Empress and a Golden Man Emperor-Consort piece of arm candy that she had to accept to get the cooperation of the humans.
Their relationship with the Imperium as a whole is for the most part pretty typical, though they tend to get along with most humans slightly better than they do Ulthwe and Saim-Hann because fuck those guys.
They field a lot of Banshees, they have loan surplus healers to other craftworlds and they seem to export more Priestesses and Handmaidens of Isha than other craftworlds per head of the population. A disproportionate number of The Repentant came to Iybraesil in search of healing or absolution, a fact that has only bolstered their military power, the Repentants had no right to expect any welcome but they were the last children of Isha from that sinful place unforsaken and for those open arms and offers of earning forgiveness they will fight like starving lions.
On the whole they believe that eldar is superior to human by virtue of being Isha's actual children rather than just adopted, but they are polite about it.
They don't feminazi hate men, it's just that they don't rule on Iybraesil. Their reasoning being that family is the basic cornerstone of all civilization and the most basic and root unit of family is mother and child.
To this end their social structure is made up of Houses based on family ties and lead by the nearest that that any particular bloodline has to a living common female ancestor, which given the astounding lifespan an eldar can achieve with longevity treatments is often not too hard to trace. there are also the Houseless that can be adopted into a Iybraesil House, typically foreigners moving in. Being part of a House is a prerequisite for citizenship and being allowed to own property, marry or even be allowed past the visitors section. Since the arrival of the Repentants it has been suggested by many of the more forward thinking Matriarchs that maybe they should be looking in to branching out some new independent houses to accommodate the unprecedented population surge.
Also, they claim, this is to represent that the only deity that isn't fucking awful to survive their old pantheon is Isha. Khine is not to be emulated in everyday civil life for obvious reasons (and most Aspect Warriors would agree) and Ceggers is a dishonest, violent trickster unworthy of respect.
Last time the Dark Carnival came to Iybraesil one of the older and more obnoxious Matriarchs said as much to the Jester King. He just chuckled and called her a blithering idiot.
"You know her as she is now little child, the proud Empress of a million worlds, the All-Mother and the good and noble wife. You forget that I am old and so is she and I remember what you forget. If you were to know what I know of half the things that she has done you would maybe not love her as unconditionally as you do now. Maybe if you knew what I had done you would not be standing before me now, prattling to something so much greater than yourself about things you know so little about; we are neither and none of us innocent, not for a very long time now".
Although all eldar revere and make use of the Webway, the inhabitants of Craftworld Lugganath take this to an extreme. They see the Webway as the eldar’s future, an infinite dimension that would give the eldar literally unlimited space to expand and grow, free from the horrors of realspace and the Warp. Long-term habitation of the Webway can be done, as illustrated by the extralegal demenses of the Old Eldar Empire’s nobility that eventually evolved into Port Commorragh, but the Eldar of Lugganath plan a more diffuse settlement of the Webway, with “villages” at each intersection, junction, and crossroads to stabilize the winding paths of the labyrinthine dimension, rather than a few large cities. The end goal of this process would be to move all permanent eldar habitation into the Webway entirely. It is for this reason that Lugganath joined and aids the Imperium. The Imperium helps the eldar become masters of their realm, and Lugganath helps the Imperium become masters of theirs. To this end, the eldar of Lugganath have made inroads with all of the groups who have some stake in the future of the Webway, including the Harlequins and the Silver Skulls.
However, there is one serious impediment to this plan: the Dark Eldar city of Commorragh, a tumor within the arteries and veins of the Webway. The Dark Eldar’s access to the Webway already poses a threat to the currently existing Craftworlds and Webway travelers, and if establishing long-term habitation in the Webway was difficult in the first place the presence of the Dark Eldar made it outright impossible. Even if it were possible to physically blockade parts of the Webway, the ever-shifting nature of the extradimensional passageway would mean that some heavily-guarded sections would soon become dead-ends, whereas other passages would now become open and unguarded. The passages leading to the Eye of Terror and the Crone World Eldar could conceivably be severed, but it is much harder to eliminate a sickness that has spread throughout an entire body.
As a result, Lugganath has long campaigned for the Dark City to be burned to the ground, even back when the majority of Craftworlders and Exodites still cautiously regarded the inhabitants of the Commorragh as kin. The actions of the Dark Eldar during the War of the Beast, the attack on Sansaayam, and the blasphemous union between Vect and Malys have only added fuel to their arguments. This hatred was further fostered in 231.M36 when Lugganath’s senior seer council was slaughtered by a wannabe Dark Eldar, who later fled to the relative sanctuary of the Dark City.
Currently, Lugganath is searching for a Webway portal big enough for an entire Craftworld. Their plan is to enter the Webway and disassemble the craftworld into its constituent parts, creating a foothold for the true eldar within the Labyrinthine Dimension. In 540.M40, they claimed to have found such a portal, but know that any attempt to do so now would only bring ruin at the hands of the Dark Eldar. So for now the eldar of Lugganath wait, their giant Webway portal (if it does exist) being a closely guarded secret only a select few in the council know the full details of.
- Started out as one of the largest craftworlds because being so far from the decadent homeworlds people were more willing to listen and weren't too deep in the cocaine orgy heap. - Upon the Fall and being so remote they for some time believed they were alone and the only elder survivors. - Orks attacked them mercilessly. Phoenix Lord Irillyth of the Shadow Spectres arises and manage to hold off the orks. Irillyth leads a team to try and find more eldar survivors and gets rekt by orks soon after. - Some time later the expeditionary forces of the Great Crusade catch up with them. Quite late on in the Great Crusade as this is the Eastern Fringe. - Craftworlders scream at the humans to fuck off, they are the last bastion of civilization, the last of the Eldar. - Imperials leave as requested. Some months later a joint detachment of Saim-Hann and Biel-Tan make contact properly on behalf of the young Imperium. They had tears of joy, they were not alone in the night. - Next time the orks came calling they had friends. - Currently set up shop in the middle of Tau space. They like the Tau. They feel vibrant and make the Mymearans feel young again.
The Craftworld of Saim-Hann are an anomaly in the Imperium's dealings with the Eldar. In the early days of alliance negotiations, the Eldar Seers negotiating with the High Lords insisted almost every Craftworld be given proper due and respect, even prideful ones like Biel-Tan and Iyanden. Almost every Craftworld- save for Saim-Hann. When Imperial authorities tried to find out the reason for this surprising reticence, they found out just why the Seers let them carry out the fact-finding mission in the first place.
The Saim-Hann were wild, more wild than even the humans were used to. In many of their dealings, the Eldar displayed a surprising lack of respect for Isha, calling her 'soft-bodied' and throwing the word 'gentle' like an insult. Negotiations quickly degraded, and would have broken down had not the Saim-Hann Farseer in charge of his side's negotiations noticed one of the humans taking a swig of the drinks the Eldar gave them ("You think us barbarians, mon-keigh?" one of them is reputed to have asked. "Perhaps you are right- but we are not savages."). Unlike the other Imperials present, who only took polite sips with grimaces on their faces, this giant Imperial seemed to actually enjoy his drinks. Seeing the chance for a bit of fun, the Farseer said that he would sign whatever deal the Imperials wanted, if that one man could outdrink the Farseer amd his council.
"Wasn't like I could say no, right?" Leman Russ later remarked. "I managed to outdrink the Steward while he still walked among us, I could outdrink a bunch of prissy Eldar," he would add, endearing him and his Wolves even further to Saim-Hann.
His terms were surprisingly lenient, though it did include a proviso that the Eldar stop by the Fang for a drink once in a while. Even long after Russ's disappearance, Saim-Hann warbands often stop by Fenris, and the halls of the Fang echo with tales of ribaldry and derring-do, all equal in their magnificence and unbelievability.
The Saim-Hann also run the The Iron Storm, a rather well-known event across the Imperium.
One of the last Craftworlds attempting to escape the Eye of Terror, Ulthwe was instead doomed to forever orbit the afterbirth of Slaanesh, pulled dangerously close to the Eye by gravitational fields. Ever since then, the Eldar of Ulthwe have fought against Chaos, though it is not a fight they face alone. The stalwart warriors of Cadia can often be found back-to-back with Ulthwe Eldar, and their Kasrkin train alongside Aspect Warriors and Exarchs.
Like Biel-Tan, Ulthwe has found itself admiring the humans with whom they shed blood together, even moreso since they've been doing so since the Eye of Terror was formed, before even the alliance. These ties have only grown stronger since; it is said that the average Cadian will know how to strip his gun before they are 10 and learn to swear in Eldar by 15. Despite the facetiousness of that claim, it is true that Cadians are generally adept in both Eldar customs and language at amazingly young ages, with only the highest reaches of both being beyond human grasp as they require subtle psychic signals only Eldar are capable of. Many Ulthwe Eldar even prefer the harsh utilitarianism of Imperial equipment as opposed to the grace of Eldar technology, and it is not uncommon to see Ulthwe Guardians wearing adapted flak armour and fatigues on campaign. In exceptional circumstances, Ulthwe Eldar have even served directly in the Cadian Guard, often to great acclaim- the career of Farseer-Colonel Taldeer of the Cadian 412th (later the 1st Kronus Liberators) is the most well-known example, one that is often compared to the career of Commissar-Colonel Gaunt.
Incidentally, the most Eldar-human couplings on record are those between Ulthwe Eldar and Cadian humans, and while no children have been recorded as resulting from these unions, many such married couples assure those who ask delicately that it is not due to lack of trying.
Dorhai. The self-proclaimed last “pure” craftworld.
They believe that humanity is a blight on the galaxy made in sick parody of the perfect eldar form and that the other craftworlders were sick fucking degenerates for, as they see it, debasing themselves to co-found an empire with them. In their mind they are the last real people in the galaxy and everything else that claims to be a person is a wretched mockery. The Imperium tried to negotiate with Dorhai several times via both human and Eldar representatives. They stopped after Dorhai started trying to shoot their ambassadors out of the sky. The Dorhai Eldar kill “mon'keigh” elder and human alike on sight believing themselves to be the last pure elder left.
For the most part the Imperium and the rest of the Eldar were quite happy to let them sit on their craftworld and be stupid. The good thing about being retardedly isolationist is that it tends not to spread. In fact, Dorhai has actually attracted a lot of the hard-core Eldar supremacists away from other Craftworlds, to the point that Dorhai itself is no longer considered a minor Craftworld.
Then they got it into their stupid heads that Jubblowski had stolen a blessing that should have gone to an Eldar, preferably one of theirs. Stealing the favour of the gods is an insult that must be punished by death.
The assassination attempt failed, their involvement was discovered and now Dorhai is on the Imperium's shit list. There have even been rumors the Harlequins have stopped visiting them. Unfortunately, actual retaliation was deferred due to a tyranid hive fleet tearing into Ultramar.
Biel-Tan are really pushing for full on invasion and conquest of Dorhai. As far as Biel-Tan is concerned there is no Imperium, just a continuation of the Old Eldar Empire that now has a lot of humans living in it. To them the attempted murder of one of their living religious icons is more than enough to call a Holy War.
Sister-Superior Miriana Cain, daughter of Jubblowski and leader of ~150 Word Bearers, is demanding to be in the vanguard and whipping everyone into a warpath frenzy. This annoys her ambassador father who is trying to calm Biel-Tan down. Even though Dorhai may be a thorn in the Imperium’s side, it is still a Craftworld, which are known to be ridiculously hard to take down without major losses.
Kaelor is an independent Craftworld, not associated with any other Craftworld or the Imperium, though not anti-Imperial to the degree of Dorhai. Kaelor’s troubles began shortly before the Fall, when the Craftworld first left the Old Eldar Empire. A small Craftworld that had left Empire space in a hurry, the eldar of Craftworld Kaelor found that the path they had chosen had accidentally put them on a collision course with the Craftworld Saim-Hann. Both Craftworlds refused to change course, and the two ended up going to war against each other over what essentially amounted to an interstellar game of chicken. Kaelor, being both of smaller mass and smaller population, lost the conflict, and was forced to make a jump through the Webway. Unfortunately, this was a blind jump through the Webay with no set destination, and Kaelor ended up emerging on the far edges of the Milky Way galaxy.
Craftworld Kaelor had the dubious honor of being one of the very last Craftworlds to be discovered by the Imperium in early M39, as it took nearly fourteen millennia for the Craftworld to make its long trek back to known space (by contrast, most Craftworlds were at least known to the Imperium by M33). Kaelor had almost no contact with the rest of the galaxy before that time, with the other Craftworlds believing Kaelor to have been lost, and therefore Kaelor had not been up to date on the political developments of the last nine millennia. As a result, first contact between the Imperium and Kaelor went horribly wrong. Imperial forces precipitated the event by acting overly friendly, believing Kaelor to be an already known Craftworld, whereas Kaelor reacted disproportionately to the fact that these mon-keigh were approaching them as if they were friends (if the eldar of Kaelor noticed that there were kin among the Imperial number, they never mentioned it). In the ensuing carnage, El’Ashbel, the maiden queen of Kaelor, was gruesomely injured by the Imperials in self-defense, leaving her blinded and crying tears of blood whenever she used her psychic powers.
Normally in these situations eldar of other Craftworlds would be on hand to defuse the situation, as had happened with Myrmeara or great Iyanden. However, the eldar of Kaelor regarded their fellow Craftworlders with about as much respect as they do the mon-keigh, remembering the Craftwars with Saim-Hann. The other aren’t too fond of Kaelor either. As opposed to other Craftworlds, which tend to be ruled by a council of elders in some fashion (whether autarchs or farseers), Kaelor retains much of the political structure of the Old Eldar Empire, being composed of noble houses constantly jockeying for power and ruled by a single autocrat. It is thought that Kaelor has retained much of the political infrastructure of the Old Eldar Empire due to ending up so far from the Milky Way, and so they had less of an impetus to change their ways due to being less exposed to She Who Thirsts. The political structure of Kaelor uncomfortably reminds the Craftworlders of the Crones or the Dark Eldar, with many fearing that Kaelor is a ripe target for Chaotic corruption. The only eldar to regularly make contact with Kaelor are the Harlequins, and even they only do so rarely. Upon being informed of the situation on Kaelor, Grand Empress Isha has made it a point of order to visit the Craftworld, though she has not had the opportunity as of yet.
For now, Kaelor is considered an unaligned Craftworld, and Imperial forces have been ordered to give it a wide berth. Kaelor has refused all attempts at confederation, even with Craftworld Dorhai, preferring to go it on their own. Kaelor prowls the northern edges of the galaxy, coming and going from Imperial space on rare occasions seemingly at random. It is clear they are looking for something, but it is not clear what. However, it is clear they have no problems attacking or manipulating humans and other Eldar (something that lowers their standing even further in Craftworlder eyes) when it suits them to get what they want.
Along the borders of the Necron Empire and the Imperium is the rather backwater Tomb World of Solemnace. Solemnace is a rather dreary if temperate world with abundant cloud cover and precipitation and high rates of tectonic uplift causing the land surface to be covered in a number of steep cliffs and craggy peaks. Solemnace is rather odd for a tomb world, if for nothing else than its large population of living subjects, with the Necrons making up a sizeable minority (40%) of the population as a military and aristocratic class. Part of this is due to the fact that Solemnace is one of the oldest awoken Tomb Worlds known to the Imperium. The Imperium first discovered Solemnace early in the Great Crusade, before the Eldar had truly become part of the Imperium. At first, it was thought that Solemnace represented the homeworld of yet another xenos race that were not fond of humanity, yet not a true threat to the Imperium. As such, the planet was noted and the Imperium as a whole moved on. By the time the Eldar had realized what Solemnace was and had brought their warning to the wider attention of the Imperium, it was too late. The Necrons of Solemnace had regained their senses, and Phaeron Trazyn the Infinite resumed the throne once more. However, the Necrons of Solemnace seemed content to remain isolationists on their own little world, and even in their diminished state the technology of the Necrons would have made the costs of conquering Solemnace too great to justify for a single planet. The Imperium breathed a sigh of relief, believing the Necrons of Solemnace to be the last remnants of an otherwise long-extinct race. The existence of Solemnace in the first place, as well as the devastating attack of the World Engine from the other side of the Eastern Fringe in M34, should have been enough to suggest otherwise.
Over the years, generations of refugees have fled to Solemnace, either from planets destroyed by war or by people dissatisfied with the policies of the Imperium, and those people and their descendants have formed a generalized underclass beneath the necrocracy. Trazyn keeps his subjects cared for, but helpless, such that none may challenge the authority of the ruler of Solemnace. Notably absent among the underclass are Eldar, who would never allow themselves to live under Necron rule and instead tend to flee to craftworlds if they become refugees. Life on Solemnace isn’t that bad, except occasionally one of the “pets” from Trazyn’s menagerie gets out and ends up rampaging around killing the peasants until the Necron military step in and put it down.
Although the policies of Solemnace are highly isolationist, its ruler is decidedly not. Indeed, Phaeron Trazyn the Infinite can almost be described as a xenophile of sorts. Trazyn the Infinite is a collector of all things strange in the universe, from a variety of races. Indeed, Solemnace is less a kingdom and more Trazyn’s private collection gallery and playground, with the presence of an actual government being a byproduct. When he is not ruling directly, Trazyn travels the galaxy from the shadows, looking for exotic novelties to add to his collection. “Acquiring” these novelties often requires discrete acts which many Imperial worlds would describe as “illegal” or “immoral”, but never audacious or impudent enough that the Imperium could justify declaring war against Solemnace. Indeed, if anything, Trazyn’s acts have increased in brazenness since the Necrons have begun waking en masse, now that the Imperium knows that Solemnace is not just some isolated backwater world they could crush and no one would notice.
Why has the Imperium basically grumbled and (officially) done nothing while Trazyn pilfers their territory for collectables? It basically comes down to politics. Solemnace is also notable among Tomb Worlds for its independence. When the Emperor offered the more independent and “eccentric” Necron Lords sanctuary within the Imperium, Trazyn turned him down. And at the same time, Solemnace does not obey the Silent King. Trazyn the Infinite bows his head to no one. As much as the Imperium would like to be able to turn Solemnace into a pile of space rubble, it is still one of the most powerful Tomb Worlds not under the command of the Silent King. Additionally, unlike most Necron Phaerons, Trazyn actually understands how his technology works, though he is not as brilliant as the most accomplished Crypteks, which would give the Imperium valuable insight into Necron technology. As a result, Solemnace would be a powerful asset, and the Imperium believes that given his habits if Trazyn was forced to choose between Imperium and the Necron Empire Trazyn would probably side with the Imperium (they’d probably be right). The issue is that Trazyn has never been put in a situation where he would be forced to show his hand.
The World That Wasn't
The Veiled Region is a very strange region of space in a very strange galaxy. Given the odd patch of unstable stellar objects it would indicate that something big and odd and probably unpleasant happened there a very long time ago. The place was un-colonized by the Eldar throughout their history to an almost obsessive degree, they wouldn't even travel through it. The GaBHD never showed much interest in it, but mostly because for anything in that mess you could find it elsewhere easier, also the other members of the Interstellar League believed that the place was haunted or cursed in some way and humanity by that point was smart enough to believe in magic again, at least as a byword for the work of elder civilizations.
There aren't any tomb worlds there and never have been.
The only people found there are some sort of slug like creatures of limited tool using who are possibly insane or have a mindset so different from humanity that common ground and early communication haven't been achieved yet, assuming that they even can communicate. It's possible that they don't pass on information and the reason they are so primitive is that they are all isolationists who have to invent the wheel again every time. In any case they better get good quick because their world has half a million years tops before the star cools down totally and the world becomes utterly uninhabitable.
There are a few orks, because of course there are.
Archeologists in the Inquisition, Inquisitor Helynna Valeria in particular, are pretty sure that this is where Llandu'gor was erased and all the fucked up shit is the result of universal constants having changed and then changed back. The slugs presumably evolving afterwards from something introduced since.
At the very edge of an uninhabitable system orbiting a red giant, lies what to the unwary travel looks like an asteroid belt, not dissimilar from the Kuiper Belt back on Sol. The shrewd explorer might be puzzled as to why no rock is greater than a dozen meters in diameter, and why all of them are in an irregular shape. The Ark Mechanicus ’’Adamantium Concordance’’ was manned by such shrewd explorers, and the Magos sent in a servitor probe to take a closer look. The pict-feed was baffling, even to the jaded augmented captain. The asteroids were actually millions of demons, from lowly Tzeentchian horrors to a mighty Undivided prince, all turned to stone, forever frozen in an expression of fear, petrified like in the ancient fables of knights and wizards. The Navigator did not pick up any turmoil or interference in the warp, nor was it calmer than usual. This orrery looked just like a monument to pointlessness and absurdity, and the Magos decided to leave it at that.
Imagine you are standing still in your room. Then suppose that the carpet gets pulled from under your feet, and you fall. But it's not the carpet; it's the very fabric of reality that suddenly changes, inertia suddenly stops working, a movement isn’t possible without an exerting force upon a still object. You are a Daemon, the very definition of unreal; being in a material body is already enough of a limitation, even in the semi-irreality of a Daemon World. You can shape your surroundings to your belief through pure willpower; in keeping with the former analogy, you can move, fold, lift, turn around the carpet over which you're standing, because you're an intelligent lifeform and the carpet is just a piece of parchment.
But then it's not.
It starts pulling at your feet, squirming like a worm, you get mired in it like quicksand, and it thrashes like open sea during a storm.
This is very wrong, it's not supposed to be like this, “I'm in control of this carpet”, you say! Except you are not, it's now animated, it doesn't stand still, it's almost alive. I'm (un-)alive! You say, poor Daemon, if there even is such a thing as a poor Daemon. You try to hold it, to squeeze it, but you're not in control anymore. So you try to flee.
And that's the last of your arrogant mistakes.
Reality is already enough in turmoil; it doesn't need, no, IT DOESN'T WANT you to pull out. Physics is getting fucked sideways so fundamentally that it prefers to keep warp creatures, just to have something barely stable and coherent in its embrace. You feel yourself stretched between realms, your essence being pulled by the thread, slowly, painfully unraveling. It's a completely new experience to you. Maybe, if you're Slaaneshi, you're orgasmically enjoying your destruction, a sensation so alien and unexpected that it is sure to please your Many-Gods-In-One for its novelty. But you won't be around to share your master's satisfaction. With a last, brutal, pull, you are metaphysically torn apart, your immortal essence disintegrated. Ironic, that the death of the Flayer reduces the Immortal to dust just like a Gauss Flayer does the same to the mortal.
And then, it's all over. Reality, with a last trembling, reasserts itself, attempting desperately to reconstruct itself. For whatever reason, the death of Llandu'gor deleted all celestial bodies in this system smaller than a moon. So, reality makes do.
The sudden death of million of Daemons left a mute echo in the fabric of the universe. It coalesces, then crystallizes in the aspect of the screaming unsouls in the moment of their demise. This system needs an asteroid belt, because that's how this system works. It couldn't be anyway else.
Nobody has been brave, or foolish, enough to fly past the belt and see what happened to the Daemon World itself.
The planet itself does not exist. It may appear to have physical dimensions and be composed of tangible matter, it may even be habitable with use of sunscreen and a warm coat but it does not exist and should not be approached or directory interacted with and international direct observation is prohibited. The system is under quarantine by order of the Inquisition.
Due to the non-existent nature of the planet and area of space up to between 420,000 to 430,000 from the planet's surface anything passing into the effected area, which does not exist, also ceases to exist.
Observation from outside the quarantine zone, which contains nothing, may indicate that objects introduced may continue to exist and even interact with native objects. Neither the foreign object or the introduced matter at this point can be said to exist.
The effected area does not produce or absorb any measurable light or other radiation and has no detectable effect on the electromagnetic landscape of the star system.
Any observations that seem contrary to this are wrong.
The area and planet, that do not exist, accordingly have no name and may in fact be unnameable. The slugs live on a different planet that does exist and presumably has, has had or will have a name at some point. Though probably not one made by the slugs who may or may not have a language.
The planet that doesn't exist may have had a name when it did exist but the name has been erased. Perhaps the name itself has also been erased and so may never be renamed and is now utterly forgotten or perhaps it's just that anyone who did know it is dead, it's hard to say.
In any case it's possible that those daemons are not missed by their gods. The gods can't remember their names. They have been erased and gods are very sensitive to that sort of thing, to them as things are now those daemons never were. Possibly if pushed they may be forced to admit that there was a Daemon World here somewhere at some point. But a Daemon World needs a master and this place has never had a master. It is not a place that exists.
Daemon Worlds, Crone Worlds, and Worlds of the Ruinous Powers
The cursed Craftworld. The doomed Craftworld.
Altansar had the misfortune of being just far enough from the Eldar Crone Worlds to escape being instantly destroyed by the birth of Slaanesh yet not far enough away to avoid being sucked into the newly formed Eye of Terror. In those days there were no Phoenix Lords, no great armies or warriors that could protect the Craftworld from harm. The Craftworld was almost immediately besieged by the followers of Chaos following the birth of Slaanesh. Despite fighting valiantly, the walls failed, and the siege was broken. Nearly every living soul there and half of the souls in the Infinity Circuit were sacrificed to the Dark Gods, chief among them She Who Thirsts.
A couple thousand Eldar managed to escape the destruction of Altansar, including the future Phoenix Lord Maugan Ra, but by and large the Craftworld was lost.
A few years after the fall of Altansar a number of Eldar appeared on the doorstep of several Craftworlds, claiming to be refugees from the lost Altansar. The Craftworlders for their part were suspicious, but eventually decided to let the refugees in. Kin were kin, after all, and allies were few and far between in the Old Night. It proved to be a disastrous mistake. The purported refugees were really Crone Worlders, who corrupted the Craftworlds from within and made them vulnerable to attack from daemons and Chaos Eldar. The Craftworlders struck back, and although they were able to keep the corrupted Craftworlds from becoming as twisted as Altansar, they were still far too corrupted to be salvaged. In the end, the Craftworlds had to be destroyed by flying them into the nearest stars.
Today Altansar is the Craftworld of the Crone Eldar. It is a breeding ground for them. The shard of Khaine now channels Khorne through thrice-cursed blasphemous rituals and the Infinity Circuit is little more than a playground for Daemons. To this day, to even mention the name of that accursed place is said to bring bad luck.
See Crone Worlds