Unknown, likely M30
Artahka the Great Protector, Krom Vri'va (formerly)
Various bio-mechanical beings
|Organisations||Will of Artahka (disbanded), Krom Brotherhood, League of Five Kingdoms (destroyed), Servator, the Masked, Arai, Nynrah Ghosts, Custodians|
|Current Status||In civil war|
|Worlds||Artahka, Xia, Nynrah, Odina, Cordak, Valmai, Stelt, Karzalnaum, Ao-Krom, Ryëlth, Protodax, Alrodax, Ao-Mahri, Ao-Matra, Ao-Birkil, Unknown southern world, Unknown eastern world, Zakaz, Bomunga, Ao-Mata, Ao-Ngrau, Iosevikk.|
The Artahkan Lands (or Sikalom Cluster to Imperial Charts) is the zone of space beyond Segmentum Tempestus under the dominance of strange bio-mechanical Xenos. Ruled by Artahka, this region has been strife ridden and isolated since the time of the Great Crusade.
Surviving only through it's insignificance and isolation, the cluster embroils itself in various conflicts as it staves off complete collapse. The inhabitants of this cluster tend to their own struggles, unaffected by the events of the galaxy at large.
The first inhabitants and creators of the many beings now inhabiting the Artahkan Lands are unknown, but it is known that they were not native to these lands, and at one point were in conflict with the original inhabitants. Perhaps these were their creators, or maybe an invading or contesting force. Regardless, the first of the two Artahkans were Ahtahka himself and his brother, Krom Vri'va. Artahka was responsible for the protection and governance of his people, while Vri'va would create them.
Several organisations were formed at this time to assist Artahka in watching over his worlds. The Will of Artahka was created to maintain order and peace in the region, was a collective race of heroes, bearing their name with with pride. They had fought and won the worlds they were destined for. The Krom Brotherhood was created at roughly the same time, to assist Vri'va in creating and bettering Artahka's Lands. During this time, the first "races" of the cluster were born. Each race would hold their own world, to which they were "born from" and independently governed. All of this was directly overseen by Artahka.
At this point, the Lands were in relative peace. The Will of Artahka finally secured the bounds of their worlds, before returning to their position as internal peacekeepers. The Krom Brotherhood withdrew from the worlds they built, becoming practitioners of science and experimentation. At some point in this period, the secret society known as the Nynrah Ghosts were formed. A division of warriors known as the Arai would man the frost bitten world Stelt at the edge of their universe, drawn originally from the Will of Artahka. While they lay there forgotten, defending the worlds from external threats, strife began to emerge inside the Empire.
The First War
Five warlords from individual worlds had met in secret, forging an alliance in order to further their conquests. These warlords created the League of Five Kingdoms, eventually expanding that five to include the majority of the worlds in Artahka's dominion. The Will of Artahka were initially stunned, who would dare attempt to destroy their peace? They were few, but all distinguished heroes. However, heroic honour ultimately falls short to ruthlessness and power, and their own strength was gone after years of peace and victory. Despite their efforts, the Will of Artahka was scattered and defeated by the sheer numbers of the League. It was at the Battle of Valmai were the last of the Will were defeated, with only a handful of survivors from the bloody conflict. Unopposed, the warlords controlled over two thirds of the Cluster from their capital of Xia by the final years of their campaign, besieging Artahka's throne and the last few loyal worlds.
The Krom Brotherhood, backed by their own creations, struck back against the League. Emerging from their secluded home of Ao-Krom, the insular beings became beacons of furious retribution. Each of the Warlords was quickly losing ground as they were routed from world after world. While the Will was burdened by their honour, the Brotherhood felt no such conviction. As such the methods of the Brotherhood were brutal and ruthless. The commander of this army, Krom Mutrad, utterly decimated Xia, razing it to the ground as punishment for the warlord's sins. So it was that the five warlords faced their execution by Mutrad, when a mysterious being named Tarakel teleported them away. When questioned by a furious Mutrad, Tarakel simply stated "He desires it" before vanishing. Mutrad would go on to ponder the event, assuming that this was the work of Artahka. He would become obsessed about his leader and what he desired for the universe.
In the aftermath of this First War, the Will of Artahka was disbanded. Their arrogance and glory seeking ways had failed their liege, and so their organisation was replaced with something more suited to this new age. Their new, darker replacements were the Servator. This new band of sentinels had not fully established themselves in their Lands, leaving the Krom Brotherhood as the only visible power while they waited. The Brotherhood themselves became heroes, heavily invested in the future of the Lands. Eventually however, their power began to turn them. Krom Mutrad, disillusioned with the state of Artahka's dominion, conspired to overthrow him. At this time a trusted lieutenant to Vri'va and largely considered the greatest of the Brotherhood, Mutrad's ways became progressively more insidious. This culminated with the response to a violent dispute on Ao-Matra, were Mutrad locked the two conflicting factions of workers in the Great Archives with a variety of deadly creatures. This event became known as the Archives Massacre, and greatly damaged the Brotherhood's reputation.
The Great Cataclysm:
To further spread discord in the Artahkan Lands, a furious Warp Storm came to affect the cluster. The various planets all suffered from these cruel tides, which were in fact to have been brought about by Mutrad. While this storm did not only damage the connectivity of the planets, it gave Mutrad the time he needed to seize control of the Krom Brotherhood.
The revolt was swift and absolute, with the vast majority of the organisation believing Vri'va was unfit to command them. Mutrad had poisoned their hearts with a lust for power and taste for fear. Vri'va was not dormant through this however, and struck back against the Usurper with all his remaining allies. The War of the Brotherhood lasted for 18 months, but despite every effort made by Artahka's loyal brother, Mutrad's forces had his outnumbered and outmatched. In a final desperate attempt to defeat his foe, Vri'va challenged him to single combat upon the Black Spire of Ao-Krom. But Mutrad was too strong, and Vri'va too weary from his long service. The first Krom was pierced through the heart by the Usurper's onyx spear, and tossed from the heights of the spire. The storm cleared soon afterwards, allowing Vri'va's supporters to escape. They would eventually find themselves in the ranks of the Nynrah Ghosts, safe from Mutrad's wrath.
Elsewhere in the Lands, the Brotherhood moved to take power. Long range operatives assassinated key targets and annexed entire worlds under the cover of the boiling Warp. During this time, the mercenary group known as The Masked emerged, performing any service needed by the populace, for the right price. Even with their new competition, the Brotherhood was still unstoppable in their thirst for power. By the time the warp storms subsided, large swathes of the Artahkan Lands were under the dominance of the Krom Brotherhood. It was then Artahka himself brought down his wrath and judgement upon his foes, in the form of the newly revealed Servator.
The Second War
The Servator, after waiting patiently since their inception in the wake of the First War, finally stepped from the shadows after their long campaign of deep infiltration. With agents even inside Ao-Krom, this new power was swift and brutal in their vengeful actions. Striking forces of Servator fought the Brotherhood for every bloody inch of every single world. In addition, the conflict with the Masked had continued in the form of hit and run, sabotage, theft and assassination. Fighting a war on all fronts, the Krom Brotherhood were initially severely outmatched. However, Mutrad's forces were possessed with immense power, and struck back against their foes. Furious and remorseless, the Brotherhood struck hard against their liquid foe, with every world of Artahka caught in the crossfire.
Battles would rage for centuries, with the tides of war flowing back and forth unto themselves to a point where the very fabric of reality would strain. The Servator struck with lightning fluidity, now free to directly confront their foes. The Masked slunk in the shadows, acting only when they were certain of their own success. However, the Krom would continue their war, remorseless and indestructible as the shadows themselves.
Artahka himself watched. From his throne he observed every assault, defeat, betrayal, murder and atrocity committed. Yet, he also gave portions of his shackled power to those who fight for the greater protection of his realm, empowering justice and vengeance against the rebellious and vile. Unable to act without risking his subjects, he would guide the lowliest of citizens to gain power to become heroes. While the Servator were the Great Protector's cold wrath, these were his shining icons of hope. Tempered by their morality, but not so foolish as the Will, these few Custodians would act as the martial elite. With the help of these heroes, the Servator were able to cripple The Masked and match the awesome power wielded by the Krom Brotherhood.
The Second Great War still rages across the Cluster, with both remaining sides seemingly grounded in a stalemate. Each power in the region is desperate to break this deadlock and finish the war once and for all. However, while these great powers fight for control over their worlds, threats from beyond their small cluster come to destroy everything that Artahka and his people's have built.
Organisations and Societies
The Will of Artahka:
The Will were a force of honourable and courageous warriors who were the first peacekeepers chosen by Artahka and granted the honour the bear his name. While they were successful in claiming the worlds of the Artahkan Lands, they were bound by their excessive codes of honour, arrogance and a desire for glory. The Will of Artahka answered directly to the Great Protector himself, and were led by a singular avatar of His power. In reality, this centralised command structure doomed them, as this avatar was to fall in battle. In addition, the Will would be ultimately unprepared for the ruthlessness of the League of Five Kingdoms, as tempered by peace as they were. As such, there honour destroyed them when they were set upon by the League. The Will of Artahka was completely decimated during their conflict, with the remaining survivors being integrated into either the newly formed Servator, replacing them as guardians, or the secretive Nynrah Ghosts. These survivors are bitter remnants of a long dead age, few and aged.
The Krom Brotherhood:
The Krom Brotherhood has transformed from a group of insular but benevolent beings, powerful and curious. Now they are a cabal of corrupted, power hungry and ruthless singularities of pure power. While the Krom themselves are immensely powerful, they command armies of monsters and artificial soldiers created in their laboratories. Commanded by Krom Mutrad, who rules with an iron fist, the Brotherhood wages war against their foes for the domination of all 22 worlds in the Lands. In reality, it is probable the Brotherhood will self destruct as each member scrambles for this ultimate power. As such, Currently, the Krom's plans for domination are being hindered by both Artahka's chosen warriors and the mercenaries of the Masked.
The Masked are an oddity in the Artahkan Dominion, as they are an organisation formed with no central ideology or goal but further profit of the organisation. A collection of killers, thieves, criminals and exiles, the Masked are a force of hired mercenaries who have remained largely neutral until the events of the Second War. The organisational structure of The Masked is largely unknown, as their paranoia is stronger than that of the Krom Brotherhood. Without the arrogance brought with nigh invulnerability, The Masked rely on subterfuge and trickery to survive the immense sledgehammer of power that their foes possess. Whispers from Brotherhood and Servator spies tell of a being known as "Tyrant", leading the organisation. However, reports also tell of leaders known as "Ancient", "Darkness", "Conjurer" and others.
With the defeat of the Will and the rising of the Krom Brotherhood, Artahka realised he would need a new force to not just protect the Lands, but to utterly crush his enemies. These warriors would not be heroes, they would be soldiers. Cold, hardened and efficient, many believed these new Servator to be implacable in their earliest active days. These warriors would come to rely on outmanoeuvring their foes in order to apply immense force to their weakest position. Servator operators were not above using near dishonourable tactics, or sacrificing lives to eliminate their foes. In terms of organisational structure, the Servator rely on independent commanders overseen by a Supreme Commander. While the Will were defeated when their leader fell, the Servator are not so foolish. Their decentralised structure allows for fluid and tactical application of pressure upon a foe, no matter the casualties. Adaptability is supreme, and the Servator use it to great effect.
While the Servator are immensely effective soldiers, they lack the emotional depth to effectively fight for the Artahkan peoples. The Custodians are warriors drawn from the masses by the Great Protector and imbued with a portion of his power. During this process, the Custodians gain immense martial skill and strangely specialised psychic abilities, relating to their origins. Being drawn from the populace, the Custodians still maintain their sense of morality that the Servator lack. As such, they become idolised by the populace, and further unwittingly encourage support for Artahka's rule. The Custodians themselves are often compelled by "destiny", and operate in teams of six to thirteen. Their spirituality allows them some level of connection to the Great Protector, who guides their hands and their blades.
A society steeped in mystery, superstition and contradiction, the Nynrah Ghosts are a collection of powerful beings dedicated to the furthering of their own agenda's and goals. While their operatives have reportedly admitted their allegiance to be with the Great Protector, their actions are both deliberately concealed and often detract from Artahkan goals. Both Mutrad and Artahka count the Ghosts as a wild card, a force uncontrollable and unknowable. On rare occasions Nynrah Ghosts are seen, their operatives strike quickly. Targets are eliminated, abducted, or disappear entirely along with the Ghosts themselves.
A band of exiles, soldiers, mercenaries and scum. The Arai man the Ice World of Stelt and protect the Lands from the dangers beyond. Long forgotten and isolated from the rest of Artahka's dominion, the Arai use what little resources they have to stave off unspeakable threats. Desperately defending old and crumbling fortresses with fewer than 10 000 bodies, the Arai are always close to breaking. These ragtag defenders are kept in line by the iron will of their commanders, who themselves doubt their own survival.
The political and spiritual centre of the the Cluster, the planet of Artahka was named after the Great Protector and can be considered the origin point for the cluster spanning dominion seen today. The planet Artahka can be considered the equivalent of an under-developed Hive World, with 85% of it's surface covered in city blocks. The remaining 15% consists of a mix between planetary defence complexes and ancient religious sites that double as historical archives. Artahka's palace is also located on this planet, with the Great Protector bound to that locale by the duties of governance. The planet has been under siege only once, during the First War.
Xia is a world with a turbulent history. The origin point of the League of Five Kingdoms, Xia was once a thriving industrial planet and a centre of mechanical production. During the First War, Xia became a staging ground for the League's initial offensive, then morphed into the capital of the new Kingdoms, governed by the League collectively. With the defeat of the League by the Krom Brotherhood came the destruction of Xia. Orbital bombardments tore apart the great cities and factories that were once staple to the planet's power. A full scale invasion routed the League from their capital city shortly after. To this day, Xia is a devastated world, devolved into a dumping ground for criminals. The planet has long since been blockaded to prevent escape, and the criminals inhabiting it have turned into planetary warlords, fighting for control over the planet's dwindling resources.
The supposed home of the Nynrah Ghosts, the planet is one shrouded in heavy fog to a point where almost all light is absent on the planet's surface. Below its thick atmosphere, Nynrah is home to exotic and lush wildlife with strange fluorescent glows, a trait evolved seemingly due to the lack of sunlight. Nynrah is a mysterious and largely untouched planet, with most who land there disappearing entirely after a few short days. In addition to this, Nynrah maintains planetary defences using technology foreign to all others in the Artahkan Lands, ensuring the planet's isolation.
Odina is a planet with a reputation for scientific discovery and immense learning. The great cities of the planet are sleek and almost crystalline in nature, with craft constantly flying between the tall buildings. While the planet does not maintain a strong Industrial capacity, it is the origin of most technological developments and the designs of new inventions. As such, Odina is a prized world by the Artahkan supporters, and has been fought over several times.
Cordak is a planet in a state of constant turmoil. Hosting the legendary Shipyards of Aroc-Zul, based on ancient technologies predating the planets inhabitants, Cordak has become the site of some of the bloodiest battles of both the First and Second Great Wars. As a result, the inhabitants of the planet have developed an extreme resilience and acceptance of hardship, taking blows to both their living standards and their working pride.
A volcanic planet and former lynchpin in the early trade network of the Artahkan Lands, Valmai is now a world with a limited but hardy populace. The central significance of the planet is of historical nature. On the continent Greater Valmai, at the slopes of a now dormant volcano, lies a shrine dedicated to the last stand of the Will of Artahka. Five hundred swords lie embedded in the rocky slope leading up to the central shrine, a memorial to the sacrifice of Artahka's first warriors.
Positioned at the furthest borders of the Artahkan Lands, Stelt is an icy world with a significance long forgotten. Stelt served and continues to serve as a bulwark against the threats beyond the Artahkan Lands, where the Arai warriors fight a desperate stand against foes much more powerful than themselves. It is testament to the crumbling planetary defence networks that the Arai have survived thus far, with the rest of the planet being nothing but icy plains.
The "game reserve" of Artahka's dominion, Karzalnaum is home to some of the strangest and deadliest wildlife known to the Cluster. Naturally this challenge attracts many warriors and hunters, seeking trophies and glory. The Servator use Karzalnaum as a training ground, which makes the planet a target for the Krom Brotherhood. However, the Krom also desire the creatures from this planet, aiming to use them as templates for new armies.
The home planet of the Krom Brotherhood, Ao-Krom is a heavily defended world with both the industrial capacity and scientific power to rival much of the Artahkan Lands. Feared for the common practice of twisted science, the mad experiments of Ao-Krom create more and more strange fusions of flesh and metal to serve in their armies. At the heart of Ao-Krom is the Krom Fortress, an imposing structure towering above all other buildings. At it's height, Mutrad broods and plots over the fate of the Artahkan Lands.
An aquatic world with very little solid land, Ryëlth is a prison world housing the most dangerous criminals in the Cluster. Managed by the Wardens, powerful beings prioritising only the security of their planet and their charges incarceration, Ryëlth is renowned for being one of the most secure locations within Artahka's dominion. Due to its populace's potential usefulness, the Krom Brotherhood is invested in a constant siege on the planet. It is thanks to the combined efforts of the Warden's and Artahka's armies that the prison stays secure.
Along with it's sattelite body Alrodax, Protodax is a supplier of much of the raw materials used throughout the Cluster. As a result, these two worlds are the lynchpin in a vast trading network desired by both sides of the ongoing Second War. While the two worlds themselves have been untouched by war due to their importance, many of their trade caravans are subject to piracy and raiding by Artahka's rivals.
These three planets are all the population centres of the Artahkan Lands. Spread around the planet Artahka, these cities are well defended but still in a position of major conflict. Due to their positioning, these planets serve as a bulwark against threats aiming to attack Artahka itself. Currently, only Ao-Mahri is under the total control of the Krom Brotherhood, with Ao-Mata being partially controlled by both sides. Ao-Matra is controlled by the Servator.
Ao-Birkil is a population centre on the borders of Artahka's main system, situated as a joining point between the Central System and both secondary systems. As a result of this position, it is a planet divided. The continents and cities controlled by either faction of the Second War is in constant flux. Currently, this planet marks the centre of the Krom offensive, with the aim to breach into the civilian and military star lanes branching from this world.
Disregarding Stelt, Zakaz is the planet most removed from the Artahkan fold. The jungle world is a lawless place, home to savages and mercenary holdouts where the scum of the cluster can find refuge. Zakaz has been left untouched throughout most of Artahkan history, with most of it's involvement in outsider wars limited to paid contracts of a handful of mercenaries. Regardless, both sides vie for the support of the crime syndicates and mercenary companies this planet holds.
Bomunga is the only truly neutral planet in the cluster, inhabited by tribes of philosophical pacifists and isolationists who refuse to engage in the petty dealings of the outside worlds. While their pacifism would assumedly lead to their subjugation, the planet is protected by an ancient automated space station that predates even the earliest settlers. Nigh invulnerable, the station is prone to random and fierce bombardments of any and all vessels to enter a close proximity. The fear of this station alone is enough to dissuade even the most fanatical of conquerers.
Ao-Ngrau is an anomaly, the blasted ruin covered in towering structures but empty of inhabitants. All god fearing inhabitants of the Cluster refuse to even enter orbit, afraid of the spirits of the dead and the demons the planet apparently holds.
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Economy and Society
The economy of the Artahkan region is heavily centralised around key planets in the cluster. At the zenith of the regions peaceful era, planets such as Valmai and the central planets Odina and Artahka itself were the hub of commercial activity. However due to the immense strains of near constant war, the base for a reliable and predictable economic flow has been torn asunder. While Valmai and Xia were at one point key hubs for a unified, cluster wide economy, the emergence of new factions has driven the centres for commercial activity to varied locales. The constant state of flux born by the conflict in the cluster has bred a generation of citizens who have become used to the constant change and violence in their environment, and have seen changes to their livelihood on a constant level.
The nature of a planets governing and social systems vary consistently depending on the region of space and it's owners. The Krom regions operate in a system that rewards the powerful leaders of the Krom Brotherhood. Mutrad lords over his territories as the sole ruler, while granting positions of power and large dominions to less poweful members of his brotherhood in return for fealty and tithe. Mutrad's system is built up on rivalry however, as his subjects below him are only able to gain power through conflict or favouritism by their lord. As such the state of their internal structure is often turbulent. Political backstabbing and cutthroat actions keep many members of the Krom Brotherhood in an unstable postion. As such, Mutrad utilises his system to assert his own supreme dominance through deconstructing his organisations ability to function as a cohesive whole.
On the opposite side of the conflict, the Artahkan dominion operates as a more cohesive body. This is largely achieved by the deity like status of its leader. As such the Artahkan regions utilise a more theocratic structure and control their planets under individual regional governments, which in turn serve the Great Protector directly. However while the Krom Brotherhood relies on rivalry, Artahka utilises a unifying structure of faith. The Custodians also allow Artahka to further his dominance, through encouraging the larger populace to support the ruling organisations.