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Catachan

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"One of the most dangerous and perilous ordeals known to Mankind."

— The World of Catachan.[3]

Catachan is the most infamous Death World in the galaxy. It is located in the Ultima Segmentum[3a] and is covered in dense jungle. The planet's entire ecosystem seems consciously hostile to all foreign life. Each and every element of the native flora and fauna of the planet represents a real danger to any human, even Space Marines are said to avoid this hellish place. Catachan is home to the single deadliest creature in the galaxy, with some of its native wildlife even being released on other worlds to dissuade invasion. Catachan's only valuable resource is its people, who by virtue of being born on the harshest world in the Imperium, are invariably tough and cunning. It is the homeworld of the hulking and fearsome Catachan Jungle Fighters of the Imperial Guard, for the death world’s finest, Humanity’s wars present no greater hardship than they face daily, so they proudly answer the Emperor's call to arms.[1][16][17]

Map Basic Data Planetary Image
px Name: Catachan Catachan.jpg
Segmentum: Ultima
Sector: Unknown
Subsector: Unknown
System: Catachan
Population: 12,000,000[5]
Affiliation: Imperium
Class: Death World, Jungle World
Tithe Grade: Solutio Primus[5]

History

Catachan

Catachan was colonized by humans longer than Imperial records can remember. When the first probes arrived, the planet was a deceptive, calm green orb from orbit but when the colony ships crash-landed and the colonists had no way to escape, they awoke to find themselves on one of the harshest planets in the galaxy. The colonists only barely survived, holed up in their spacecraft against a living, besieging jungle, a battle for survival in which many undoubtedly died.[1]

Current conditions

Currently, the few settlements which can hold back the jungle forces are giant fortresses surrounded by vast plains which have been cleared to give improved lines-of-fire. Building on Catachan is difficult as vines and lichen take hold anywhere and poisons melt the mortar and vines can crush bunkers and tanks. Buildings must constantly be rebuilt; it seems that wherever they build, the jungle redoubles its efforts to destroy them. As well as the jungle, the native wildlife gather to repel the human invaders and eventually the numbers grow enough to push the humans out of their settlement so they must resettle elsewhere.[1]

In such dangerous surroundings, children are quick to learn survival tactics and only those who are fast and have a good natural aim survive to adulthood. Children often learn to shoot before they walk, and must be deadly fighters in their own right by the time most normal humans learn to spell.[1][15]

During the Thirteenth Black Crusade the Death World found itself in the path of both a wounded Void Whale and a Waaagh! led by the Freebooter Kaptain Badrukk. However due to interference caused by the Warp Storm Bas Infernia, the Imperium was unable to warn the Catachans of the threats heading towards them.[10] During the formation of the Great Rift, Catachan was caught within the malignant rift and exposed to Daemonic invasion. However when Guilliman's Indomitus Crusade arrived, they found that the local Catachan regiments had already dealt with the threat.[11]

Flora and fauna

All of the animals and plants on Catachan are geared in some way to destroy humans and any other invaders. Every plant is poisonous, making foraging impossible. Some plants secrete pollen into the air which is poisonous and destroys air-filters. Others secrete sticky liquid to capture passing animals and slowly dissolve them. Other plants poison the ground and turn the immediate area around them into boggy wasteland to trap invaders. In the jungle, even the slightest scratch can prove fatal as necrotic bacteria swarm in to putrefy it. The native animals are as deadly to humanity as the plant life, the Catachan Devil with jaws as big as a tank is a major threat to human living centres. The giant Shambling Mamorphs of the volcanic regions are also a considered to be a major threat.[1][15][18]

Flora

  • The Brainleaf, a vegetative carnivore, is a small tree, not particularly conspicuous on Catachan, but is able to attach its tendrils to the spine and brain of a person, taking control over their body. This creature may be an offshoot of the Tyranid Cortex Leech, a creature with similar abilities.[18]
  • The Spiker, another deadly plant, fires its spikes into its victims' bodies, which then releases a mutative chemical which literally turns the person into another spiker.[18]
  • The Venus Mantrap is a giant carnivorous plant common to jungle Deathworlds. It resembles the Terran Venus Flytrap for which it is named, but is far larger, and unlike the flytrap, it is able to move its leaves to attack and consume its prey. The Mantrap consists of a number of mobile leaves attached to a single immobile stem.[18]
  • The Spore Tree, the branches of this plant hold dangling flowers which launch a cloud of spores when they detect something moving close by, to carry their seeds to other fertile areas. The spore cloud is so dense, the creature which disturbed the tree often chokes and dies. This is also useful for the spore tree as its victim's decaying body will enrich the ground around its roots.[19]
  • The Strangleplant, these plants prefer shady spots to grow in, where their distinctive tube-like trunks are hidden from view. When they detect the disturbance caused by a passing animal, their long, highly adhesive stamen uncoil, wrapping themselves around their prey and dragging them back to die of dehydration.[19]
  • The Canak Floater, these bizarre and deadly plants are filled with lighter-than-air gases, and drift across the planet with the vagaries of the wind. They have sensitive feeler tentacles, which detect warmth and moisture above the normal local levels. This is usually to detect streams, hot springs and other sources of water, but unfortunately is also sensitive enough to detect the temperature of and moisture changes caused by humans. When it finds such a place, the floater explodes, scattering its seed pods over a wide area. These seed pods have a diamond-hard outer casing with razor sharp edges, and will scythe through anything within range.[19]
  • The Miral Catcher, is a ground-hugging vegetation which has roots that are extremely sensitive to vibrations in the ground, such as might be caused by an animal wandering past. It looks innocuous enough when dormant, but when it attacks, huge tentacles whip from its many frilled maws and lash out. They carry a paralysing toxin, which acts almost instantaneously.[19]
  • The Sucker Tree, is a plant that is fairly innocuous looking to the untrained eye; it is simply a fungal-like growth on top of a seemingly normal trunk. However, the trunk can twist and turn when it detects prey, bending over to drop its suckers on top of the heads of its victims. It quickly drains them of their life fluids and then flings the corpse away, to ensure that future victims are not made suspicious by a pile of bodies.[19]
  • The Spitting Cactus, is a deadly form of jungle cacti, it is able to fire toxin-coated spines directly at nearby prey.[19]
  • The Catachan Mantrap, is a plant which, while having a similar name to the Venus Mantrap, uses a much more aggressive hunting technique. It can move its leaves around, actively searching out prey and clamping its jaw-like leaves around its victims.[19]

Fauna

  • Catachan Devils are voracious predators, looking somewhat like many-limbed scorpions. They can be as long as a land train but are very bulky and slow moving, meaning that escape is possible.
  • Catachan Face-Eater[18]
  • Wild Grox: although originally native to the Solomon system[2b], the animals are prized for their highly nutritious and tasty meat, and have been introduced to many worlds throughout the galaxy, so that the Grox is now the most ubiquitous livestock animal in the Imperium. Grox, however, are extremely ornery and virtually impossible to keep under control without some form of brain-implants or lobotomy - on Catachan they have become wild, and are deadly predators.[18]
  • Shambling Mamorphs of the volcano lands are tough fighters and put up a good fight even against the Catachan Devil.[18]
  • There are also many types of poisonous serpents on Catachan, including the Flying Swamp Mamba, the Coiling Death Cobra the Catachan Black Viper and the giant Blackback Viper, all are all deadly to most living beings. Some can kill in under 30 heartbeats.[15][18]
  • Catachan Barking Toads: although appearing benign and harmless, the Great Barking Toads are arguably Catachan's deadliest animals: the creatures are easily startled and, whenever they feel threatened, explode in a cloud of toxins which kills and liquefies anything within a one kilometer radius, including the Barking Toad itself. The toxin is virulent enough that even respirators and sealed suits such as power armour offer no protection. They are known as the most toxic creatures in the galaxy.[17][4] There are two type of Barking Toads:
    • Great Barking Toad[4]
    • Lesser Barking Toad[2a]
  • Blood Wasps are swarms of small, deadly insects that are known to eat their prey alive, stripping them to the bone in under an hour.[20]
  • Heretic-Ants are named on the account that they always attack their prey's feet (or "Soles") first. One bite from these insects will put a fully grown man in the infirmary for a month, two bites will give them around a day to find treatment before dying, and three will simply kill them outright.[20]
  • Vein Worms secrete an ooze that numbs their prey when they bite, so that they cannot feel a thing. The Worms then dig their way under their prey's skin and into the bloodstream to lay their eggs. The eggs will spread all around the host's body, and when the larvae hatch they will eat their way through the host's brain, heart and bones. There is no known cure for Vein Worms once they have entered the bloodstream.[20]
  • Death Flies[20]
  • Catachan Water-drake[8a]
  • Catachan Bloodfly[8b]
  • Catachan Pusworm[9]

Disease

The threat of disease is also a constant hazard on Catachan, as there are many kinds of poxes and fevers that can kill a man within a few hours. There are swamps where a single breath of the fog will burn a persons lungs out, causing a long and agonising death. Foot Rot can occur after a few weeks within the jungle, where the rotten feet will detach from the legs, producing a vomit-inducing stench.[20]

People

The people of Catachan are not only hardy, but pragmatic, with an easy grasp of realities and an uncomplicated attitude towards danger.[6] They are also somewhat disdainful towards people from other worlds, believing - with good reason - that few others in the galaxy have had an upbringing as dangerous as their own.[3b][7]

Catachans are known for being both physically and mentally resilient on a level that normal humans simply cannot match. Due to their heavily muscled physiques, they are often nicknamed "Baby Ogryns" by other Guardsmen, although never to their faces, as it often results in serious injury.[12][13][14]

See also

Sources

Uncited