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Caliban re-imagined


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Imagine for a moment a brutal death world, dominated by black forests.  The once advanced peoples living there have been stranded for untold millennia, barely surviving.  In the sky above, both at day and at night, the Evil Eye burns.  The nature of the Eye is not fully understood.  So-called wisemen and priests sometimes claim it was the very sins of humanity which caused the Eye to appear in the heavens - but most have little time to listen to such nonsense.  It is said, in those eons ago, when the world was first settled, Caliban was lush and green, a veritable paradise.  The Eye was but a speck back then.  But then the Eye opened, growing larger, and cast its baleful gaze on gentle Caliban.  And, in the decades that followed, everything changed.

With the passage of time, the vegetation on this world has become unnaturally aggressive in its growth – only structures built with foundations and walls of stone and mortar can resist the press of roots, trunks, and branches for more than a few years.  Malign monsters stalk the woods as well, once mundane animals which have been twisted by the Eye's malevolent influence.  At night they hunt, and few of those caught outside after dark are never safe.  Even the very rays of the sun are effected; the light which filters through does not lend proper charge to solar batteries.  The implements which enable the settlers to survive now, those which do not depend on the energies of old, are preserved by wandering technologists, artificers whose special skills have been passed from father to son.  Yet even these men can only do so much; lacking factories and great machinery to aid them in their labors, they must craft everything by hand.  Armor-plates are hammered out from the wreckage of ancient starships, servos painstakingly wired with what gold and other precious metals can be salvaged, fusion cores sealed with special solder before ignition (lest the unseen emissions sicken and kill the user), explosive bolts individually cast from more common metals and then manually scored and packed.  It is a fortunate few who are so armed and armoured, the elite knights of Caliban, riding mighty destriers where the roots will allow, wielding alloyed blades and whirling chainswords, weapons driven by the very energy cores powering their armour.  Lesser men must survive by other means – poorer noblemen who fight with bolt pistol from horseback without the benefit of power armor (or perhaps even without any armor at all), common footmen totting bolt weapons prone to catastrophic failure, hunters and yeomen armed with knotted bow and poisoned arrow, laborers hefting the mauls and axes used in their daily chores, all the way down to the lowly peasant-conscript who has nothing more than a single-use hunting lance with which to protect himself.

A simple cottage of wood and sod might withstand the trees for a few weeks; but any beast of Caliban would take only a few hours to open such simple shelters and devour those within.  Thus, the people are forced to depend on the great fortresses of Caliban for their protection, erected and carved from stone in ages past.  And each fortress is controlled by an Order, a band of knights lead by a hereditary lord or king.  The Orders vary widely in their nature – some, such as the Order of Lupus and the Order of the Golden Gorger, are named after the more savage creatures of the forest, and are of a savage character in turn.  Others, such as the Order of the Raven's Wing and the Order of the Night Watcher, are named after more benevolent creatures from Caliban’s mythology, and take a more enlightened path.  And others still, such as the Order of Hammerfall and the Order of Aldurukh, are simply named after their fortress homes.
The Order of Aldurukh is said to be different from the rest; it is said they take in anyone by their merit, regardless of birth.  Other Orders scoff at this – surely, if a man is sired by persons of lesser quality, he himself would lack in ability as well, yes?  But the Order of Aldurukh swells more quickly than any of these Orders might anticipate.  They do not exclude men of lesser birth who could fight with discipline and honour, nor do they keep nobles who have proven craven or weak.  And as men of strength and courage swell the ranks of Aldurukh, those other Orders bloat with blood which has turned to a lesser quality.
The Orders don’t only fight the beasts – they also fight each other.  But the Order of Aldurukh is becoming stronger than them all.  And, one day in the future, perhaps even in the day of Sar Luther, still young yet already heir-apparent to that Order's current Master, there will be only one land, one king, one Order on Caliban.

Note: This is not intended to match exactly with the HH books, only to see if certain shortfalls I noted could be addressed.  I felt certain critical items missing from the first book - in particular, the characterization of Caliban as a death world (as opposed to a place with forests and weird monsters), the existence of knightly orders outside the Order-proper (aside from just the Ravenwing and the knights of Lupus), the existence and role of non-knights on Caliban, the role of mounted warfare in Caliban, and finally the state of technology on Caliban and how it was maintained.  Given that I just made up a lot of this, I aimed for something that wasn't the grimdark superstition of 40K or the high-mined science of 30K.  You be the judge if I accomplished my goals or not.
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Excellent read mate! smile.png One of the things which I've always found fascinating about the Dark Angels homeworld is it's mixture of medieval mythology and futuristic technology (eg: mounted knights in powered armour with bolt pistols/chainsword), and how it forms a strangely evocative combination of sci-fi and dark fairy tale. You've really captured the essense of Caliban, and added to it, so personally I'd say you've accomplished what you set out to thumbsup.gif

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I think the armor of old on Caliban was powered down so to speak. They hadnt preserved the technology to do otherwise.

And I cant remember the veins been able to crush buildings, even simple ones. The danger was mostly from the monsters me thinks.


Anyhow, my personal views aside this is a great read and puts Caliban into a far worse place than other deathworlds. Please do continue it.

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