It became a Tau Third Sphere Expansion colony following the Tau Empire's exploitation of the Imperium of Man's distraction with the onset of the 13th Black Crusade when large numbers of Imperial forces were diverted from the Eastern Fringes of the Segmentum Ultima to the defence of Cadia and the Imperial space surrounding the Eye of Terror from the forces of Chaos.
Imperial records do not detail the early colonisation of Taros. It is most likely that the planet was discovered by humans during the early years of the Dark Age of Technology. No records specifically refer to the system, but it is known that many star systems on the Eastern Fringes of the galaxy were first being explored at this time. On first discovery Taros must have been a dead world, bereft of any life, a hot desert planet of sand and rock with an unbreathable atmosphere of reducing gases. If life ever tried to evolve on Taros, it never progressed beyond the level of microorganisms. The planet had no liquid ground water and very little atmospheric moisture. The atmosphere was not breathable for humans and the environment was too harsh to foster life.
But early human explorers must have noted that although lifeless now, the planet's ecosystem was not far from being life-sustaining. Temperatures were high (in the deep deserts very high) but not to the point of making the world uninhabitable. There was some atmospheric moisture and better still, the planet was extremely rich in strategic metals. Huge quantities of useful ores were present and much of it was close to the surface and easily accessible to strip-mining techniques. There was a stable atmosphere which could be manipulated. Taros was not beyond hope for human colonisation. The lure of the ore deposits made the planet a viable prospect for terraforming.
During the Dark Age of Technology, Mankind had both the advanced technology and knowledge required to alter planetary atmospheres and ecosystems to create a habitat conducive to human life. The transformation did not have to be extensive, only creating a climate where a colonist could survive without an environmental suit and dig a mine. Aided by long-forgotten advanced technology, these human explorers set about terraforming the lifeless Desert World into something humanity could survive upon.
It did not happen overnight. It may well have taken as long as 5,000 Terran years of hard work, but liquid water was eventually introduced to the planet's surface in the form of artificial seas. Genetically engineered plants and algae were also introduced to the Taronian ecosystem, creating a breathable oxygen atmosphere in time. Careful management and nurturing slowly changed the atmosphere.
How this was done is a mystery in the less technically sophisticated Age of the Imperium, but some life now exists on Taros. The first mention of Taros in Imperial records is in the 30th Millennium, just after the end of the Age of Strife. The planet was rediscovered by the armies of the newborn Imperium's Great Crusade as they spread out from Earth, reconquering the Milky Way Galaxy for Mankind and reuniting the scattered human colony worlds that had long been sundered from one another by Warp Storms and wars. Humanity had barely survived on Taros, degenerating into a savage, Stone Age tribal existence. The population, probably never large, had dwindled to less than one million people. In another thousand years, human life on the planet would have been extinct.
Rediscovery of the planet's mineral wealth resulted in the Imperium deciding to recolonise Taros. The regressed and now hostile colonists were exterminated by one of the Great Crusade's Expeditionary Fleets and new Imperial colonists moved in, establishing mining stations and a spaceport. Over the next 10,000 years of the Imperium's rule, Taros' population steadily grew to its current level of approximately 12 million people. One major city, Tarokeen, developed around the spaceport. Metal ore mining remained the planet's main value to the Imperium.
Departmento Munitorum records indicate that in the entire history of the Imperium, Taros raised only 8 Imperial Guard regiments. The Taronian 1st Regiment was annihilated during the 3rd Black Crusade. The Taronian 2nd and 3rd served as part of the Saint Saen Crusade and were eventually disbanded, with their survivors being folded into another Imperial Guard unit. The fate of the Taronian 4th and 5th are unknown. The Taronian 6th was engaged against the Orks during WAAAGH! Badun and also was later disbanded, with the remaining manpower transferred to the Cadian 15th Regiment as replacements. The Taronian 7th Regiment was lost as part of Rogue Trader Foulway Tor's third expedition into the Eastern Fringes. The Taronian 8th Regiment is currently active as part of the Imperial garrison force of the world of Hellion IV.
The Taros Campaign pitched Imperial forces against the Taros Planetary Defence Force, the Tau, and their Gue'vesa and Kroot mercenary allies in a series of battles across the surface of the desert mining planet of Taros (T'ros). Prior to the campaign, the Imperial Planetary Governor Lord Uphir Aulis, the head of the Taros planetary govenment, developed friendly trading relations with the Tau who desired Taros' strategic metals to build up their war machine. Ultimately the governor sought to defect with Taros to the Tau Empire with the support of much of the planetary population once his illegal trading with the xenos was discovered by a team sent by the Adeptus Administratum. The Administratum sought to determine if the planet's tithe of ore could be increased to meet the growing demands of the Imperial Guard for materiel to prepare for the expected 13th Black Crusade of Abaddon the Despoiler. When his treachery was unveiled, a full company of Avenging Sons Space Marines were dispatched to kill him, but they failed in their assignment after being intercepted by Tau bodyguards who had been secretly assigned to the world to protect the governor. Following the assassination attempt, the Tau officially annexed Taros while the Imperium gathered an army made up of several regiments of the Imperial Guard to recapture the planet. A large-scale invasion of the world followed, ending in the defeat of the 4621st Imperial Guard Army and elements of the 3rd and 6th Companies of the Raptors Space Marine Chapter. This defeat is partially credited to the defection of a large percentage of the human population of Taros to the Tau, including the Taros Planetary Defence Forces. Taros then became T'ros, a Sept of the Tau Empire's Third Sphere Expansion and its people are now considered Gue'vesa citizens and T'ros' ores go to serve the Fire Caste's military.
Climate and Environment
Taros' climate could be described in a single word: hot. The coolest climates were in the highly mountainous polar regions, although they were never cold enough for water ice to form and it was hottest in the deep deserts. The nights on Taros are extremely cold, with little cloud cover. The major proportion of the evaporated water condenses and returns to the surface during the night. There is minimal recorded precipitation, less than 1 millimeter per annum. Taros was divided into four principle climatic regions; Mountains, Arid Deserts, Semi-Arid Deserts and Seas. Shifting sands and bare rock covered 95% of the planet's surface. The largest region is the mountains. Low mountainous highlands cover 40% of the planet's surface. Ancient and heavily eroded by the desert sands, they are not tall, but are extremely rugged. There are no major routes through the mountain regions and no known settlements. They remain an unexplored desert wilderness.
The second largest region of the planet are the arid deserts. The Great Sand Seas are uninhabitable by humans or Tau and whilst there may be vast mineral resources buried beneath the sands the logistics of working in such a hostile environment with very high temperatures, no water supply, high winds and the threat of large sandstorms make it impractical. Most of the deserts also remain unexplored wildernesses Semi-arid regions, concentrated around the coasts are mostly barren, rocky badlands. At ground level, strong, sand-filled winds are commonplace. The few seas help to mediate Taros' (T'ros') extreme temperatures. Surrounding the small seas are the inhabited areas of semi-arid desert. These regions are home to the planet's hydro-farmers. There are two main seas on Taros called the Ak-Sai and the Em-Sai. These small, landbound seas are Taros' only source of surface water and were probably artificially created as part of the planet's terraforming by humanity during the Dark Age of Technology. Today the seas are highly alkaline, but provide two-thirds of the population's water supply from hydro-processing.
Hot air rising from the deep Tarosian deserts collides with the cooler air from over the polar highlands' mountainous regions. The pressure difference causes a high-speed river of air in the planet's upper atmosphere. This air stream can reach incredible speeds, up to 400 mph. This pressure system dominates the climate of Taros. As the small amount of water in the air condenses to form the wispy clouds common to the skies of Taros, in the hottest areas these begin to form localised storm clouds, heavily laden with water vapour. The storm clouds rise on hot thermals. If they meet one of the fast-moving air streams, the top of the cloud begins to rotate in the fast-moving wind. This spinning force radiates down through the cloud, spinning faster and faster to form a hurricane. These hurricanes can be huge and blow for days on the surface of Taros. Sucking up huge amounts of sand, these become the sandstorms called Sand Devils by the local population. Most blow themselves out in the deep deserts, but occasionally Sand Devils destroy water farms or mining facilities.
Once, in the distant past before the Age of the Imperium, Taros was a dead world. Uninhabitable by humans, it was a bare, scorched desert wilderness. In the Dark Age of Technology, after the discovery of its rich mineral wealth, it was terraformed by the introduction of liquid water and genetically-engineered flora to produce an oxygenated atmosphere. This has managed to create an environment that a small population of humans can survive in.
Flora and Fauna
There is no flora native to Taros. Genetically-engineered flora was imported to the world millennia ago and survives in the semi-arid zones as scrub and cactus-like plants. The seas contain toxic algae, which generates most of the planet's breathable oxygen. There is no recorded native fauna.
Economy and Society
Almost 12 million people inhabit Taros, mostly in and around Taros City (Tarokeen) and the semi-arid regions surrounding the small seas. Taros City is situated in the Aestus region, where several small landbound seas are Taros' only surface water. The water is highly alkaline, but hydro-processing plants situated on the shores turn it into potable, fresh water. This process is aided by the scattered water-farms, which gather ambient moisture from the air. Water farmers sell their produce to the Planetary Governor through exclusive contracts. The Governor and his officials control all water distribution on Taros and therefore all life. Tarokeen is the single largest urban area with the planet's only spaceport facility. Most Taronian workers are miners, working long hours at the strip mines and quarries out in the desert. Other major industries include water-processing and hydro-farming. Hydroponics workers grow food in atmospheric-controlled hydroponic plants. Ore transportation is another large Taronian industry, moving raw ore from the desert mines to collection points in Tarokeen before transportation off-world. Short distance transportation uses physical manpower (literally labourers carrying a sack of ore each) or tractors towing trains of ore carts. Long-distance transportation uses large cargo aircraft.
In the 38th Millennium, as part of the then-Planetary Governor's drive to improve Taronian productivity, he requested an order from the Adeptus Administratum to import off-world labour in the form of Ogryn colonies of Jopall. Several thousand of the big Abhumans were shipped en masse to Taros to work in the mines in the most inhospitable desert areas. Very strong and hardy, the Ogryns are still used by many Taronian mines as part of their workforce. The last census carried out by the Adeptus Administratum, in the mid-41st Millennium, estimated a population of 10,000 Ogryn scattered across the planet.
The rest of the Taronian population is made up mostly of poor mineworkers and labourers operating in work gangs. A high level of technology is maintained, with many tasks automated because of the difficult environment and the importance of Taros' minerals to the Imperium's war machine. The Ecclesiarchy's Missionaria Galaxia missionaries report that there is little evidence of genetic mutation or psychic abilities among the Taronians.
Dur to the extreme aridity of the planet water is the primary resource on Taros. Hydro-farming is an important industry, as is hydro-processing from the alkaline seas. Sea water is processed to make it fit for human consumption. All water trade is centrally-controlled by the Planetary Governor through his official "water-agents." Processing plants are situated on the coast and purify the water via a three-stage process. Hydro-farms are widely scattered across the Aestus region.
The world's primary exports, first to the Imperium and currently to the Tau Empire are mineral ores for ferro-alloys, including lead, vanadium, rhenium, cobalt and manganese. Vanadium is a toxic, silvery-white metallic element, occurring in vanadinite which is a red/yellow/brownish mineral formed by the weathering of lead ores in desert climates. It is used in steel alloys to provide extra hardness and as a catalyst in other military-grade alloys. Rhenium is a dense, silvery-white metallic element with a high melting point that occurs in gadolinite and molybdenite. It is used in alloy with tungsten in high-temperature thermocouples. Manganese is a brittle, greyish-white metallic element that occurs in manganite,a black mineral consisting of a form of manganese oxide. It is used in some steel and other ferromagnetic alloys. Manganese steel is a very hard form of steel containing 11-14% manganese by volume to produce hard-wearing tools such as rock crushers, heavy pistons and gun barrels with high-tensile properties. Lead is a heavy toxic blue-white metallic element that occurs in galaena (a blue-black mineral that consists of lead sulphides). It is highly malleable, and it is used in alloys for accumulators, cable sheathing and radiation shielding. Cobalt is a brittle, hard, metallic element that is a ferromagnetic metal and occurs in cobaltite, and it is used in steel alloys to help resist corrosion. Taros' principle imports are food and fresh water.
Taros' native food supply is largely grown under cover in large, atmospheric-controlled hydroponic plants. Many Taronian buildings have their own hydroponic plants, but the largest are situated around Tarokeen and in the coastal regions. This provides the population with 80% of their food supply, the other 20% being imported from surrounding worlds. Taros' principle crops are variants of the millet and sorghum plants, both members of the grass family, providing highly nutritious grain. Groundnuts, related to the soya bean, are a growing source of protein and provide many varied foodstuffs. Some exotic off-world fruits are grown. All Taronian crops have evolved to survive on a minimal water supply, which is heavily recycled by the hydroponic plants to prevent any wastage. Other sources of vitamins and protein come from algae and marine microorganisms harvested from the seas and chemically processed to make an edible gruel called "Kreml" by the natives. This is the staple diet of the Taronian miners and workers. Other foodstuffs, meats, dairy products and luxury items must be imported and are the preserve of the top level of the Taronian social order, planetary government officials, mine owners, etc.
Only one major city exists on Taros, Taros City (Tarokeen), which has a population of approximately 4,000,000 people. It acts as an ore collection point, the centre of the planet's political administration, the distribution centre for water and food supplies and other smaller industries. The surrounding hinterland has the highest density of hydro-farms and water processing plants and mines, but there are very few other large settlements. Those that do exist are towns built up around the largest strip-mining and quarrying operations.
- The Aestus - The hinterland of Tarokeen and the populated area around the Taronian seas is called "The Aestus" and is home to approximately 6,000,000 of Taros' population. Living on scattered hydro-farms and temporary mining settlements around the mining facilties such as Tungusta Station, Fornax, Tyndaris, Gaidamark, Sarych Station, Deucalion and Erebus. This area has the most temperate climate on the planet, due to the proximity of the seas and the prevailing wind conditions and as a result, the majority of the world's population lives here.
- Iracunda Isthmus - The strip of land between the Ak-sai and the Em-sai seas on which the city of Tarokeen is situated. It is part of the hinterland of Tarokeen and the most densely populated area outside of the city itself.
- The Great Sand Sea - The vast empty deserts of Taros. The Great Sand Sea is uninhabited and there are no roads. It is empty except for rolling sand dunes. Huge mineral deposits may still remain undiscovered here, yet to be exploited.
- The Furnace - An area of desert surrounded on all sides by mountains. It is accessible only by aircraft. The highest temperatures on Taros occur within this heat trap.
- The Phyyra Heights - An area of rocky badlands and low hills with a reputation for banditry but also very lucrative mineral deposits.
- Imperial Armour Volume Three - The Taros Campaign