Despite being hostile to human life, Kalidar IV, better known simply as Kalidar, is the only inhabited world of the Kalidar System. Officially classified as an Industrial World, Kalidar's strategic value comes from its large deposits of psycho-reactive Lorelei crystals.
Once harvested and refined, these Lorelei crystals become the conducting elements for many tools of the Scholastica Psykana such as Force Weapons or Psychic Hoods. The presence of the Lorelei is the sole reason why the Imperium of Mankind is present on Kalidar at all, for its arid climate, intense, ionising solar radiation, atmospheric disturbances and other hazards create particularly harsh conditions to live in.
In 395.M41, Kalidar came under attack by the Orks of WAAAGH! Gratzdakka, a conflict which entered the annals of the Imperium as the Kalidar War, a hard-fought war that was only won at great expense by the forces of the Astra Militarum.
Compared to other worlds of the Imperium whose history often spans tens of Terran millennia, Kalidar is a fairly young world as it was only settled in the wake of the Age of Apostasy in the 36th Millennium. However, Imperial records remain obscure as to exactly when after that era Kalidar was first colonised.
The colonisation of Kalidar was initiated in the planet's southern hemisphere where its first hive city and administrative capital, Hive Meradon, was founded. At roughly about the same time, its northern counterpart -- Hive Modulus -- was constructed, for the intense radiation of Kalidar's sun is so harmful that most human settlements on the world need to be located underground to protect their populations.
As the colonisation effort swiftly proceeded, the Adeptus Mechanicus was tasked with performing geological surveys of the Lorelei deposits in the Khalidarian deserts, mapping the location of the richest concentrations and the purity of their crystals. The Mechanicus' evaluation led the planetary government to found several new cities, each close to the most promising mining sites.
Five more hive cities were founded in quick succession and interlinked by a net of subterranean transit ways to promote trade and the exchange of resources. However, Kalidar's turbulent magnetosphere and intense, ionising solar radiation greatly hindered Vox communication across the planet's surface.
The hive cities of Kalidar were initially constructed in sandy areas where the Lorelei was mainly collected with the help of gigantic sand-crawlers, enormous vehicles that sifted through the sand in search of the precious crystals. Despite the low quality of this form of Lorelei, the industrial output of Kalidar's settlements soon made them profitable, and their production was gradually increased, eventually reaching 36 gigatons of refined lorelei per Terran year in the case of Hive Meradon.
At some point prior to the 37th Millennium, a second geological survey of Kalidar's yet untapped regions was conducted. This second survey discovered unprecedented deposits of extrenely pure Lorelei beneath the region known as the Ozymandian Basin. The construction of a new hive city -- Hive Kimeradon -- soon began, but due to the psychic resonance of the high-grade Lorelei veins, the construction teams were constantly plagued with frightening visions and other psychically-induced trauma.
Prolonged exposure to the Lorelei ultimately caused the members of the construction team to suffer psychotic breaks and attack each other, resulting in the deaths of the entire team. The infamous last transmission of the Hive Kimeradon Constructor Team gave birth to the notion of "the Ghosts of Kalidar" and their macabre fate prevented any further expansion of Lorelei mining operations into the Ozymandian Basin.
Other than the fiasco that marked the birth of Hive Kimeradon, mining operations on Kalidar proceeded unhindered until 395.M41 when the planet found itself in the path of an Ork WAAAGH!. After making planetfall in the southern hemisphere, the Greenskins quickly overran Kalidar's meager Planetary Defence Force and took possession of Hive Meradon, killing Planetary Governor Lozallio Cann in the process.
While the Orks could easily have swept aside all remaining Imperial resistance on Kalidar, inexplicably they lingered, occupying Hive Meradon for a full two Terran years before Astra Militarum reinforcements as well as a Crusade of Black Templars Space Marines could be diverted to the stricken Industrial World. By then, the Orks under "Arch-Skarlord General" Gratzdakka Wur Mekdakka had firmly entrenched themselves in and around Hive Meradon. The local population had even begun to call the fallen hive city "Orktown".
But with the arrival of the Astra Militarum and Black Templars forces, the reclamation of Kalidar could begin, unleashing what Imperial savants have named the Kalidar War.
- The Kalidar War (395.M41) - Unheralded, a massive WAAAGH! of Orks fell upon Kalidar. Led by one of their most visionary leaders, Gratzdakka Wur Mekdakka of the Blood Axes klan, the Orks landed in Kalidar's southern hemisphere and quickly took possession of Kalidar's capital, Hive Meradon. Planetary Governor Lazallio Cann was slain but the Imperial defenders kept the Orks from breaking through in the subterranean transit-ways despite heavy casualties. An astropathic distress-signal was sent to and received by the sector authorities. Having concluded their campaign against the Aeldari in the Dentares Belt, an Astra Militarum taskforce was re-routed to Kalidar. On their way to the warzone, the battlegroup was reinforced by newly-raised regiments from Paragon, but these much needed reinforcements were delayed by turbulence in the Warp. It took two Terran years for Battlegroup Kalidar to reach its destination, two years during which Kalidar had to fight the Orks alone and unsupported. Unknown to the Imperial authorities, the Greenskins had begun to exploit the local deposit of Lorelei crystals to advance their own machines and the power of their Weirdboyz. The first offensives of the Astra Militarum following their arrival ended in disaster, as the Orks now possessed the ability to foretell the Imperial forces' movements and lure them into well-planned ambushes. Harassed by guerilla tactics, booby-trapped tanks and Kommando attacks, the Imperial troops reeled under the successive blows of the Orks. One Greenskin attack nearly succeeded in slaying the battlegroup's commanders inside their own Command Leviathan. It was only then that the Imperial forces realised that the Ork possessed a powerful psyker, the Weirdboy Greeneyes, who had attained a level of mastery over his powers that allowed him to read the minds of his human foes. With this information, Captain-General Iskhandrian proceeded to send his troops out into combat with sealed orders. A special mission was conducted by elements of the 7th Paragonian Super-Heavy Tank Company and the 42nd Paragonian Tank Regiment in an attempt to take the Orks by surprise. This mission succeeded in greatly disrupting the Ork defences around Hive Meradon and destroyed the psychically-powered Gargant used by Greeneyes. With the timely arrival of the Black Templars of the Michaelus Crusade, Gratzdakka himself was soon slain, which led to the full collapse of the WAAAGH! and the ultimate salvation of Kalidar.
Geography and Culture
For human life to settle and prosper on Kalidar, it had to show remarkable adaptability. As its classification as a Desert World indicates, Kalidar is dominated by large arid regions delimited by the remains of once-proud mountain ranges that have been diminished by millennia of steady erosion by the harsh, scalding winds.
With no vegetation to break its strength, the wind continuously pounds these mountains, fueling the growth of Kalidar's deserts and their ever-changing landscape of shifting dunes. Carried by the wind, the heavy sands of Kalidar's deserts are sharp enough to lacerate a grown man's skin, especially the softer tissues of the cornea. Several testimonies have declared that being caught in a sand storm on Kalidar is akin to walking into a storm of glass shards. Stepping outside without protective googles will lead to blindness.
Yet the true danger in Kalidar's deserts are the lighter grains of sand, locally referred to as "dust." Dust poses several distinct threats, the least being the formation of pools of quickdust. Virtually indistinguishable from the firmer sand that even heavy machinery can move across, quickdust fields do not possess the required density to carry nearly any weight. Without wearing the proper equipment, a man would vanish in a matter of solar minutes, inexorably swallowed by the quickdust until crushed by the surrounding pressure or asphyxiated.
However, the airborne form of dust is far more dangerous. Too thin to be filtered by the tonsils of the human body and as sharp as its heavier counterpart, dust can enter the lungs unhindered, scorching the entire respiratory system on its way down. The affliction is known as "dustlung" and is particularly pernicious as it can manifest solar weeks or even months after the subject has been exposed to the dust that caused it.
The first symptoms are the coughing up of blood and a shortness of breath. As the dust digs deeper into the lungs, the amount of blood within increases until the subjects perishes, drowned in his own vitae. The Adeptus Mechanicus' Magos Biologis have developed a reliable treatment known as "lungwash," but the treatment is so expensive it is only reserved for higher-ranking officials. For the common man or trooper, dustlung is always fatal.
The dust fills even Kalidar's upper atmosphere, which is a boon as there it filters out much of the sun's dangerous radiation and lowers it to non-lethal levels. All inhabitants of Kalidar therefore are extremely careful to properly maintain their rebreathing units. As a side-effect, almost all atmospheric flight on Kalidar is impossible unless the aircraft are equipped with special intake filters, a measure that has been expanded to all ground vehicles deployed on the Desert World as well.
Fauna and Flora
As with most Desert Worlds colonised by the Imperium of Man, Kalidar's ecosystem has adapted to the lack of natural flora. Most of the local plants are unfit for Human consumption, and the savant Heironymous Squeam famously advised to avoid the local definition of "salad" at all costs in his Precise Guide of the Minor Industrial Worlds of the Segmentum Pacificus.
In the tough conditions of the Kalidarian deserts, only insectoid and reptiloid lifeforms have thrived. Of these, perhaps the most important beast is the sandmite, an insectoid that lives in the sand and feeds on the smallest organic particles. They are carrion-eaters as well and the local sandscum people do not shrink from using their dead as bait to draw in the sandmites, for its flesh -- both fresh and dried -- is the basis of their diet.
Sandmites also produce a natural oil which can be used to fuel ancient oil-lamps. Even in the hive cities where most of the food is imported from off-world, magnesium-seared sandmite is considered a local delicacy, even if for off-worlders it barely seems palatable.
The other native Kalidarian animal of interest is the sandpike, a large pseudo-lizard with six legs and a diamond-shaped head that has been successfully domesticated by the sandscum tribes. Thinner and longer than a Terran horse, the sandpike mostly fulfills the same role as its counterpart. It is actively used as a riding beast by the local population and their sense of direction is legendary.
On its back, each sandpike possesses a quilled vane that allows it to feel Kalidar's magnetic poles and the interference caused by the intense solar radiation that swathes the world. The sandpikes rely on this sense because their eyesight is naturally poor. A sanpike is equipped with thick flaps of flesh which shields the animal's eyes when it dives into quickdust pools, where it moves even faster than on hard-packed sand. Properly equipped with a saddle, a sandpike can carry two grown adult humans and still run faster than an Imperial Chimera APC.
When the Imperium took possession of Kalidar, it established its own people as a new ruling class, including the Planetary Governor, Administratum clerks, and factory managers. The native Kalidarians found themselves excluded from this new elite. Referring to themselves as "Pureborn," these descendants of the initial Imperial colonists occupy all positions of influence within the local economy and political structure, as well as the lower and middle ranks of the Imperial Adepta. Only the Pureborn benefit from the technological boons of the Imperium and are able to afford comfortable housing and protective gear such as dust googles. All other Kalidarians are essentially kept as conscript-workers -- slaves by any other name, a status justified by their genetic inheritance.
While the Pureborn conform to the human genetic baseline, this cannot be said for the native Kalidarians whose genetic purity has largely been compromised due to over-exposure to Kalidar's harsh sun. In truth, according to the classification of the Imperium, most native Kalidarians do not register as "Human" but are considered mutants.
While on most Imperial worlds such mutants would have been killed, on Kalidar they are kept alive as long as they do not deviate more than 14 points from the norm on on the Godolkind Index. This might seem surprising as Imperial tolerance usually requires no more than 3 points of deviation on the index laid out in the Godolkind Purebreed Guide. But this was a concession made to Kalidar's Planetary Governor, Lozallio Cann, by the Administratum to increase the size of the local workforce and thus guarantee the efficient export of the Lorelei crystals.
As such, the natives of Kalidar are emaciated beings, pallid creatures whose skin is covered in sores, a legacy of Kalidar's sun. The overwhelming majority are also blind, their eyesight stolen by the dust. In contrast, the Imperium has issued all Kalidarians with rebreathers, usually surgically implanted, which forces the workers to be fed through nutrient packs. The Kalidarian labourers all carry large, heavy cylinders on their backs which serves as their oxygen reserve.
These workers, in truth nothing more than slaves, usually work in hundred-strong chain-gangs, the chains attached to them at the neck through fixed collars. These chain gangs are employed in the crystal mines and the manufactoria. Should a worker die during his shift, he is unceremoniously cut from the chain and dumped into the dust to feed the sandmites.
These harsh conditions have led several mutants to attempt to break free and join up with one of the hidden free tribes of the world, the so-called "sandscum" of Kalidar. These sandscum prefer to live far out in the desert, preferring to face the dangers of Kalidar rather than the inhuman living conditions of the hive cities. In response, Governor Cann has ordered his work force to be chemically neutered, removed of all signs of rebellion or initiative.
As prolonged exposure to the Lorelei crustals may prompt the emergence of psychic powers, the native workers are tested three times a week for the development of psychic powers whilst the Pureborn population is tested twice weekly. Such is the effect of living in close proximity to the Lorelei that Kalidar has become a fixed stop for the Black Ships of the Adeptus Astra Telepathica on their tour through the Segmentum Pacificus.
In stark contrast to other Hive Worlds of the Imperium where a hive city starts on the world's surface before expanding vertically, on Kalidar this fundamental tenet of Imperial architecture cannot be applied. Kalidar's sand-blasted winds would quickly eat away or prevent the construction of the mountain-sized cities so typical of Imperial Architecture, whilst finding enough solid ground to bear their weight would considerably limit urban development.
Instead, Kalidarian hive cities begin as modest surface towns before growing down, eating away at the planet's core where the richest deposits of Lorelei are to be found. From close orbit or on satellite imagery, Kalidarian hive cities therefore appear as small towns erected on the precipice of a giant pit or a gigantic crater in the sand. These central shafts are often so vast that a Cruiser of the Imperial Navy could land at its bottom.
The shaft itself serves as a central open ground and possesses spiraling roads and gangways that allow for people, merchandise and ore to be transported to and from different levels. The surface town and topmost levels of the hive harbour those industries that rely on solar energy or are deemed too polluting to be located underground, while the bottom level is reserved for mining operations.
As on other Imperial worlds, the wealthy and powerful have taken the best locations of the hive city for themselves. On Kalidar, this means several levels about a third of the way down the inverted spire: high enough to benefit from an open sky, deep enough to be sheltered from Kalidar's elements and the noise and fumes of the surface town. Below these domed parks and palace-promontories the common people of Kalidar live, their own personal wealth and social status reflected by the depth of the level they inhabit. The poorest districts are located at the deepest point of the hive.
- Hive Kimeradon / Scumtown - Initially intended as Kalidar's sixth hive city, the construction of Hive Kimeradon was abandoned before its completion, the members of the construction team driven insane by over-exposure to the rich veins of Lorelei in the Ozymandian Basin. The unfinished transit tunnels and first subterranean levels were progressively claimed by the free desert tribes. The sandscum improved and extended on the initial works to turn Hive Kimeradon into their own modest city, colloquially known as "Scumtown."
- Hive Meradon / Orktown - Before the Kalidar War, Hive Meradon was the most productive of Kalidar's hive cities, its nominal industrial output being estimated at 36 megatons of refined Lorelei per Terran year. As Kalidar's most important city, Hive Meradon was also the seat of the planet's local government. At the beginning of the Ork invasion, Hive Meradon quickly fell to Gratzdakka's troops, who established their base of operations in the remains of the Governor's Palace. Having proclaimed himself "King of Hive Meradon", Gratzdakka ruled over an enslaved local population to which were added captured soldiers or local humans and mutants. This oppressed workforce was put to use both in the Lorelei mines and the construction sites where several Stompas and one towering Gargant rose over the desert sands. Before the arrival of Imperial reinforcements, the local population had begun calling the fallen hive "Orktown," a name that was kept in use until Hive Meradon's liberation in 397.M41.
- Hive Modulus - One of Kalidar's five official hive cities, Hive Modulus gained an increased importance during the dark days of the Kalidar War. Located on the frontlines of the war against the Greenskins, Hive Modulus became the staging ground for the regiments of the Astra Militarum tasked with the reclamation of Kalidar.
- Kostoval Flats - Geologically speaking, the Kostoval Flats were once the bottom of an ancient sea, the desert giving away to great salt-plains which have given the Kostoval Flats their name. At the centre of it stands the Urta Mine Complex, one of the most profitable Lorelei mines of Kalidar's equatorial region. By the time Imperial reinforcements arrived on Kalidar, the Orks had pressed nearly to the gates of Hive Modulus and were besieging the Urta Mine Complex. As commander in chief of Battlegroup Kalidar, Captain-General Iskhandrian of Atraxia marked the Urta Mine Complex as their first target and the Imperium committed the majority of their mechanised troops in a surprise attack against the Orks. Unfortunately, the attack ran into a well-prepared ambush which cost the Imperial troops dearly. The losses in what Imperial historians later called "the Kostoval Rout" included the venerable Shadowsword Lux Imperator, a vehicle Gratzdakka himself claimed and converted into his personal Battlefortress.
- Macaree's Tablelands - The Macaree's Tablelands are another part of the desert to the West of Hive Modulus. After their initial defeat, the Imperial forces broke through in the Macaree Tablelands, even lifting the siege of the Urta Mine Complex in the process. While the army was resting and celebrating their newest victory, Gratzdakka sent out Ork Kommandoz who successfully infiltrated the Imperial camp and penetrated General Iskhandrian's Command Leviathan, the Magnificence. Although the general himself was never truly at risk, several officers were killed, tanks were booby-trapped or disabled and one Enginseer was abducted, providing Gratzdakka with the knowledge required to reactivate the captured Lux Imperator and its powerful Volcano Cannon.
- Ozymandian Basin - The Ozymandian Basin harbours Kalidar's greatest and purest deposits of Lorelei crystals. The Basin owns it name to the ring of concentric mountain-ranges that borders it. These mountains were created in ancient times by the collision of a great asteroid which compressed the Lorelei veins and caused the rock to melt and solidify in its distinctive ripple pattern.
- Penumbric Badlands - The Penumbric Badlands separate Macaree's Tablelands from the Ozymandian Basin.
- Utrazi Pans - The Utrazi Pans a dangerous region of the Kalidarian deserts which borders Hive Meradon. The Pans derive their name from a great heat sink located beneath the plain which causes geysers of super-heated gas to break unpredictably through to the surface.
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