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"Fire cannot purge those who are of the fire."

—Nil'kan, battle-brother of the Salamanders, seconded to the Deathwatch

Klaha is a volcanic world found within the Jericho Reach. According to Rogue Trader Covington Arcadius in 987.816.M41, research into old survey information indicates that this planet within the Klaha System still presents an extraordinary treasure trove of resources.

Classified as a Dead World by Imperial charts, some argue that Klaha has not yet begun to live. The planet is extremely active from a geological perspective. In addition to the frequent quakes, Klaha's surface is littered with active volcanoes, which spew steady streams of ash and sulphur into the atmosphere as they unleash lava upon its surface.

This combination suggests that the planet is relatively young, or it might be a consequence of an unusual combination of minerals inherent in its nature. The high level of venting gasses and geothermal activities also pushes the planet's ambient temperature well beyond the range that is acceptable for an unprotected Human.

Only the world's substantial mineral resources have drawn any significant attention. Were it not for those resources, the world might well have been completely ignored.

History

Even during the height of the Jericho Sector's golden age, there were more worlds suited for colonisation than there were people to send.

Of all the teeming masses, only a subset is willing to leave the comforts of an established Imperial world and venture forth to an unknown wilderness. Of those who might choose such a life, only a smaller group has the necessary training and physical stamina to be effective in such a role.

It comes as no surprise, then, that only the most likely worlds for colonisation ever saw serious efforts. Nevertheless, in spite of its significant natural resources, there are no records of any serious Imperial efforts to colonise Klaha. This is also in spite of numerous recorded exploratory missions and dozens of reports concerning its mineral wealth.

It is clear that, at some time or another, there were multiple organisations interested in identifying some way to extract Klaha's natural resources. According to the aforementioned records, this included at least three mercantile houses, a group affiliated with the Adeptus Mechanicus, and agents of the Adeptus Administratum.

Clearly, all of these organisations sought an effective means to extract the world's vast mineral wealth through some technique that had a manageable cost. Certainly, the exploratory missions were successful, as several offer insights into the beautiful phenomena associated with an eruption of the world's heavy-metal laden volcanoes.

However, there is no evidence that any group succeeded at actually establishing a settlement. The world's toxic atmosphere in conjunction with its geologic instability clearly made the task overwhelming for any Imperial assets.

Of course, given those same dangers, it is possible -- albeit unlikely -- that some group might have established a perilous foothold which vanished over the intervening millennia.

Certainly, the world's environment is more than capable of destroying any evidence, but even given the fragmentary nature of the Jericho Sector's records, it seems improbable that such a massive feat of engineering could be completely forgotten.

Collapse

Over the millennia since the ancient Jericho Sector's collapse, the world has seen more habitation than it ever did in known history. However, that habitation is not a product of the Imperium's efforts. Another organisation has successfully begun mining operations on this hostile world.

Their success is due, in large part, to the fact that they are capable of using a technological base distinct from that of the Imperium. Heretek forces successfully established a mining outpost and manufactorum atop one of the world's most active volcanoes, which they have named "Mount Pride."

Only through their ties to the Immaterium and its tools have they been able to begin to effectively exploit this unforgiving world.

Deathwatch records indicate that this enormous manufacturing fortress has been in place at least as long as the world's watch station. That lone Imperial structure in this accursed system is located on one of Klaha's many moons.

The facility uses passive scanning capabilities and carefully regulates its power consumption, as part of the designer's efforts to keep it from being noticed by those devoted to the Ruinous Powers.

There are no records of it having come under assault by Chaos forces, but, on at least two occasions, vessels sent to recover data from it ran afoul of the blasphemers. It is unclear if Watch Station Klaha was placed in the system specifically to observe the facility at Mount Pride or if there may have been additional reasons for selecting this location.

Given Klaha's extreme conditions, it is hardly surprising that much of its surface is barren. In spite of this fact, other forces have shown a distinct interest in the world. Watch Station Klaha has recorded vessels of unknown xenos origin intruding into the system at least twice since its activation.

In both instances, forces originating from the Heretek facility engaged and repelled the intruders during actions on the world's surface. Due to necessary limitations on the watch station's scanning capacity, little additional information is available about these conflicts.

The 41st Millennium

In 809.M41, Watch Station Klaha detected the first of a series of massive energy fluctuations from deep beneath the world's surface. A second, similar surge came two standard years later. Nineteen additional surges of varying magnitude, but increasing frequency, have been noted since that time.

Each of these fluctuations has been associated with significant seismic and volcanic activity. This includes the reactivation of nine volcanic ranges, which had been inert through the entirety of Imperial records in the system.

Since the second spike, the Hereteks and their allies have begun the construction of a facility in geosynchronous orbit directly over Mount Pride. The capabilities and purpose of this satellite remain unknown, but Inquisitorial requests for additional information have been filed.

It is likely that the ground-based facilities have suffered some damage during this time of geological instability, although there is no hard evidence to corroborate this theory.

Shortly before the watch station identified the orbital construction, it also detected evidence of additional surface activities. Due to the nature of the energy types, magnitude of the flow, and planetary location, it is unlikely that this activity was directly affiliated with the Mount Pride facility.

Rather, analysts have begun to conclude that this activity must be affiliated with another group -- most likely one of xenos origin or exploiting technology inconsistent with that of the Imperium or known Heretek techniques.

It has been more than three Terran centuries since Watch Station Klaha last detected any unknown xenos vessels within the system. While possible, it is unlikely that any colonists have dwelt upon the hostile surface without detection for that length of time.

This suggests that this is the work of a xenos force capable of interplanetary transit without the use of voidcraft, or that there is something that has lain dormant beneath Klaha's surface for a very long time.

Environment

By standard Imperial protocols, Klaha just barely falls within the range of habitable systems. Its location is well within the temperate range for its star type, the atmosphere contains enough oxygen to be breathable, and surface gravity is well within tolerance range for Human civilisation.

The toxicity of its atmosphere and geology, the scarcity of water, and the extreme weather patterns due to its constant geological activity scarcely factor into that analysis. The world's mineral wealth more than offsets the challenges imposed by the environmental issues.

Establishing more than a foothold, however, could be extremely challenging for any potential colonists. The toxic nature of the atmosphere would require any Humans who lived on Klaha to constantly wear rebreathers or remain within an environmentally-controlled space.

More than eighty percent of the planet's surface is covered by dunes made up of sand and light-weight volcanic ash, which are poorly suited to large construction efforts. Water is a precious commodity; what little surface water exists is heavily contaminated by heavy metals that are toxic to Humans.

Most of the remaining surface is made up of mountainous regions, which also require careful planning and construction for any large-scale habitats.

Clearly, Humanity is not the only species that has found the planet's environment challenging. There are few indicators of any native life on the planet. The earliest surveys of the system found only trace evidence of single-celled organisms.

Even this evidence was initially inconclusive, and suggested that Klaha might simply be too dangerous for life as we know it to survive its environs.

Later research, also dating to the Jericho Sector's golden age, showed evidence that more complex forms of life might have been present in the past and suggested that some might yet remain. Notably, all conclusions were inferences made based upon secondary data.

No complex life forms were ever identified or recovered. Much more recently, Watch Station Klaha has observed movement patterns upon the planet's surface. A number of these observations are in locations distant from the Mount Pride complex.

This data is far more suggestive of a large group of herd creatures moving across the world's surface than of simple life forms. It is improbable that such a large group of creatures could spontaneously develop, but these recordings are the earliest evidence of surface life.

More precise information could offer far greater details and might present a credible explanation for this. However, due to Klaha's volatile atmospheric conditions, these observations would need to be made by agents sent to the planet's surface. The Heretek presence also represents too significant a threat for this to be a viable option at this time.

A previously unknown life-form, particularly present in substantial numbers, most strongly suggests the presence of a sentient species intruding upon Klaha. Among known xenos, a Tyranid assault might be the most likely explanation for such movement, but Watch Station Klaha has recorded no evidence of any Tyranid biocraft within the system.

Alternatively, it is possible that some native organisms might have hibernated beneath the planet's surface for thousands of standard years. If this is the case, it could be a survivor from an ancient and very different geological age.

Alternatively still, it might be that the specimens maintain an unusual developmental cycle that requires an extended period of isolation.

In any case, the presence of life could be an indicator that Klaha might have untapped organic mineral resources in addition to the known heavy metal ones.

Such precious commodities would only enhance the world's value for mining and manufacturing purposes. Should this information reach the Achilus Crusade, some of its hierarchy might be interested in establishing a fortification on the world.

As Deathwatch members prefer to keep the locations of their Watch Stations secret from the greater Imperium, attempts to study the system might be opposed by Kill-teams.

Culture

Klaha Planetside

The Heretek fortress Fury's Kiln on the surface of Klaha.

The only confirmed sentient life upon Klaha is the Heretek complex known as "Fury's Kiln." The fortification is centred atop Mount Pride, an active volcano whose crater lip is located more than eight kilometres above the planet's typical surface level. The thin atmosphere is super-heated by the volcano's constant action and made toxic by the steadily venting noxious gasses.

Mount Pride's constant stream of lava serves as the primary source of energy and raw materials for the blasphemous manufactoria of the complex known as the "Weave of Fire." This enormous complex extends across the pool of molten lava and over the crater's lip.

The gasses that emerge from the magma are captured so that trace components -- which would normally contribute to the world's toxic atmosphere -- are isolated for use in production. Other rare minerals are extracted directly from the lava, which is piped directly through the complex's enormous refinery systems.

Imperial sources have not confirmed the precise make-up of the refinery's staff. Imagery and intercepted communications obtained from Watch Station Klaha indicate that it includes several dark magi, an indeterminate number of servitors, and numerous Daemon Engines -- including numerous Defilers and at least two Soul Grinders.

A few Inquisitorial analysts believe that a number of the communiqués make reference to daemons that assist with the facility as well, but that conclusion remains controversial.

Transports visit the station several times over the course of each standard year. These are believed to deliver necessary supplies for the facility and to accept delivery of materials for use by the forces of the Stigmartus.

The exact nature of these munitions is unclear, but -- based upon atmospheric sampling data -- they are likely to include a number of key components for plasma weaponry, as well as several varieties of armour.

If that is correct, eliminating this facility would play a significant role in reducing the overall combat effectiveness of cultist forces near the Hadex Anomaly.

The orbital station, currently under construction, does not appear to be capable of adequately defending itself at this time. Reports indicate that several Wolfpack Raiders are kept in the system at all times to provide void-based protection to the satellite as it completes construction.

Further analysis is necessary to determine the nature of this structure. It is likely intended to serve as both a defensive outpost and as a transit point so that transports can more swiftly transfer cargoes from the world. Eliminating such a station prior to its completion could strike a meaningful blow against the forces of the Ruinous Powers.

On two recent occasions, the Raiders committed a significant number of shuttles to action upon the planet's surface, far from the refinery. Watch Station Klaha detected the launches, and the return of those shuttles, but was unable to resolve the nature of any conflict upon the world's surface.

Based upon the transit times and direction, it is likely that they travelled to a location at which the prospective xenos life forms are most active. This suggests, but does not confirm, that the dark magi of Klaha are concerned about the identity and nature of the xenos threat.

Sources

  • Deathwatch: The Outer Reach (RPG), pp. 76-79
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