Archaeological evidence indicates that Saka was settled by Humans during the Stellar Exodus preceding the Age of the Technology. The Ancients were apparently attracted to the planet by its mineral wealth - long since exhausted - and built their cities in the valleys and plateaus of the great massifs near to their mine workings. Like other human worlds Saka's ancient civilization collapsed under under the stresses of Old Night, the last of her once glorious cities crumbling to ruin some time in the 29th Millenia. But humanity itself survived. The former inhabitants of the cities turned feral and drifted down to the plains to prey upon the agri-colonies along the rivers and lakes gradually evolving into warlike tribes of nomadic pastoralists roaming the 'sea of grass' mounted on Terran descended equines, herding ovines and bovines and hunting the native megafauna.
Saka remained undisturbed while the galaxy shaking events of the Great Crusade and Horus Heresy thundered around it and even the first Hell Crusade left the planet untouched as the fighting centered on the more advanced worlds of the Thermopylae sub-sector. This immunity ended abruptly c, 200.M36 when Saka was chosen as the homeworld for the Lightning Chapter of the Adeptus Astartes.
The Lightning And The Saka
Far from being overwhelmed or overawed by the descent of godlike warriors from heaven the Saka tribes reacted with fierce hostility - possibly rooted in ancestral memories of occasional raids by Traitor Warbands. The Saka were also, of course, pagans worshipping a feminine deity known as Our Lady of Animals.
The Saka TribesThere are fourteen major tribes each with its traditional territory and tribal forst or capital where the Queen and War-leader winter surrounded by the clan forsts of the tribe.
While tribes vary somewhat in dress and customs certain basics are common to them all. The basic social unit is the matrilineal extended family three or four generations deep and usually comprising between ten and twenty persons. This unit, headed by the senior woman, occupies its own tent compound on the plain and forst longhouse in the winter. Sixty or seventy such extended families band together to form a clan, all claiming descent from a common ancestress between eight and eleven generations back. A tribe is an aggregate of five to ten such clans and can number up to ten thousand people. The tribe is a political structure held together - barely - by common history and customs. Individuals, families, even entire clans change tribes at will. The tribal forst is occupied by representatives from all the member clans as well as ambitious individuals seeking a place in the entourage of the Tribal Queen or the War-Leader's warrior band.
Saka ForestClans winter in spiral fortified structures generally located in the foothills of the mountain massifs or sometimes in the ranges of low hills fringing the Great Plain. Depending on the materials at hand they may be built of logs and rammed earth or drystone covered with turf. Individual long houses are wedge shaped with the narrow end fronting on the circular street leading up to the round central plaza. They are aisled halls between fifty and seventy feet long, the middle zone lit by skylights that can be covered in bad weather by shutters on rollers.
The side aisles are partitioned off into private rooms by lattice screens covered with woven or felted hangings. The far end of the hall is also partitioned off for use as kitchen and bakery with stove and oven and a log chimney to vent the smoke. The long house is also equipped with a well and a long, low counter down the center of the hall providing a convenient work surface. Interspersed among the long houses are founderies and smithies where the artificers smelt ore into ingots and work them into weapons and tools.
The MigrationCome Spring the clan abandons their forst to heading out into the grasslands in a caravan of wagons, pack animals, riders and their herds. Some clans, especially the larger ones, have a set itinerary they follow with almost clockwork precision every year. Other, usually smaller clans, range over their traditional territory at will guided by omens and the quality of pasturage. A month or two peregrination brings the Clan to their summer pasture where they pitch their tents until the change of seasons. These temporary structures consist of lattice walls and domes of light bent ribs fastened to a wheel shaped crown which forms a smoke hole. This framework is covered with layers of felt, haircloth, grass matting, leather or some combination of any two or three. Tents range from three meters in diameter to six. They customarily house a single nuclear family; a woman, her husband and her young children. Smaller sized tents generally belong to young women who have not yet formed a family. Tents are furnished with felt ground cloths or grass matting covered with layers of woven carpets and animal skins, their walls lined with colorful hangings. Generally there is a fire or a metal stove in the center of the tent venting its smoke through the crown wheel. The painted and carved boxes and chests in which all these textiles, cooking gear and personal possessions are packed during the move become seats, cupboards and beds when unpacked.
Saka is a world of vast plains, veritable seas of grass ranging from half-frozen steppes to sun baked savannahs. Massive mountain massifs dominate a third of the globe with a large land locked sea in the south of the eastern hemisphere and a smaller icelocked one in the far north, along with a scattering of freshwater lakes big enough to be called seas and vast rivers systems draining the great and lesser plains.
The native Human population inhabit the plains and riverside, the former being the range of Nomadic hunters and herdsmen who trade with and prey upon the settled agriculturalists of river, fen and lakeside. The canyons and caves of the mountain massif and the ruins of the ancient cities are the lurking grounds of bands of mutants. Three major Mechanicus settlements have been established on Saka, in the Ferrea Mountains, the Celsae Mountains and the Lorica Mountains, to exploit the riches of archaeotech to be found in the ancient cities. The fortress monastery of The Lightning Chapter, Fulminis Instar, stands on an eminence overlooking the broad Valle Fulgoris.
Saka was clearly completely terra-formed in ancient times. Today the only traces of her original eco-sphere are the occasional fossils. All known species animals and plants have evolved from introduced terran biota.