Saka is the fourth planet of the Sarmatia system and the homeworld of the Lightning Chapter of Space marines, one of the five Hell Warder Chapters.
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 terraformed 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.
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.