Amongst the Unforgiven, the Sword Bearers can be considered unique in the location of their deployment. Based in the furthest outskirts of the Eastern Fringe, the Chapter is geographically isolated from both their parent chapter and the Imperium itself. Historians believe that Mire, the Chapter's adopted home world, lies within the region once known as Thramas, an obscure sector with a troubled and violent past. During the dark days of the Horus Heresy, Thramas was the site of a prolonged campaign between the loyalist Dark Angel Legion and the rebellious forces of the Night Lords. Although the First Legion eventually achieved a devastating victory over their former brothers, the duration of the conflict ensured that they were unable to return in time to join the defence of the Imperial Palace.
The Mire System is located at the most extreme edge of the galaxy's eastern spiral arm. From this distant position, it is actually quicker to enter the inter-galactic void than it is to return to Holy Terra. The System itself consists of six planets and fourteen moons, orbiting a G type main sequence star. Only three of these worlds are within the habitable envelope, and only the closest of these, Mire, is known to support life. The next nearest inhabited system is approximately two weeks warp travel away, while a journey to the closest Forge world can take up to six months.
Mire itself is a particularly grim and inhospitable world. Although similar in size, density and atmospheric composition to planets such as Chiros and Iax, it's surface is bleak and almost constantly rain sodden. In one standard week, Mire can experience as much rainfall as a productive agri-world will receive in a year. For some reason, Mire's water cycle appears to be in a perpetual state of over drive. Seasonal changes bring little temperature variation and it appears that the climate is somehow locked in this pattern. Magos Explorator investigators have theorised that this highly unusual environment is not a natural phenomenon, and that therefore the planet must have been deliberately engineered to reach this strange equilibrium. However the method (and indeed the rationale) for such a feat is indiscernible, and there are no signs of pre-Imperial civilisation anywhere within the Mire system.
When the rain does sporadically abate, mist and fog spring up almost instantly, covering everything in a shroud of darkness and moisture vapour. The result is a world bathed in water; a world of cold, stormy seas and grey, sunless skies. What land exists is a permanent quagmire of marshes, fens and swamps, while higher ground consists of barren, rocky hills and mist wreathed moorland. However, despite these oppressive conditions, Mire is far from lifeless. Both flora and fauna have evolved to survive in this waterlogged environment, including a number of large, amphibious predators that prowl the wetlands in search of prey.
Perhaps incredibly, humanity maintains a foothold on Mire, enduring the relentless rain and depressing lack of sunlight. Two distinct societies have emerged since Mire was first colonised: Marsh-dwellers and Highlanders. The Marsh-folk live exclusively in the planet's wetlands and have retained an impressive level of knowledge and technology. Their ancient settlements are built upon steel-reinforced stilts above the fens and bogs they call home, their communities based upon fishing and cultivating hydroponic crops. Any Marsh-dweller is instantly recognisable by their Second Skin, a moisture repellent body suit worn at all times to protect against constant water exposure. This synthetic, waterproof membrane is vat grown using local materials and forms the basis of their economy. Marsh-folk are aware of the universe beyond their home world, and while they lack space faring craft of any kind, they are regularly visited by ships from neighbouring systems, allowing them to trade for goods and materials that would otherwise be unobtainable. Despite their grasp of technology, life in the wetlands is a constant struggle for survival, a battle not just against the elements but also the vicious predators that lurk unseen within the marshes. The most fearsome of these is perhaps the Mirewyrm, a carnivorous invertebrate that grows to over three metres in length.
Highlanders, in contrast, have reverted to a primitive, almost feral state. From their scattered hill forts, the highland tribes eke out a difficult existence in the harsh conditions. Surviving mainly as hunter-gatherers, they roam across the moors as both predators and prey, tracking the small herds of native herbivores while avoiding or fighting off the large carnivores that share their domain. Life in the hills is hard, brutal and frequently very short, with only twenty five per cent of infants surviving to adulthood and very few Highlanders living past their thirtieth year. Disease and deformity are rife amongst the tribes, malnutrition and constant exposure to Mire's climate causing a host of physiological problems and illnesses. Warfare between neighbouring tribes is also common, as each settlement competes for the scant resources available to them. Those Highlanders that do survive are a strong, resilient people, proud of their ability to survive and inherently disdainful of outsiders.
Despite the immense cultural differences between the two societies, conflict between them is surprisingly rare. Both Marsh-dwellers and Highlanders are aware of the other's existence, but neither make any attempt to contact the other or intrude upon their territory. For the Marsh-folk, the hills and moorland above are a savage, primeval place, and those that dwell there are equally primitive and barbaric. For the Highlanders, the fens and swamps below are a truly alien environment, a haunted world where death strikes from beneath without warning. With each community singularly adapted to their own needs, communication between them is both unnecessary and unwanted. Indeed there are only two occasions when Marsh-folk and Highlanders come into contact with each other. The first is the arrival of the trading ships, which have to land on the very edge of the marshes and therefore draw curious attention from the tribes above. Such meetings are usually peaceful, as the Highlanders, although primitive, still recognise the opportunity to trade goods and information.
The second occasion only happens once every ten years, in an event known to both Marsh-dweller and Highlander alike as the Calling. This is the only time when the Space Marines of the Sword Bearers walk openly amongst the peoples of their adopted home world. The time when the next generation are selected to join the Emperor's Angels, leaving their homes and families for a new existence, far from the perpetual rain and fog of Mire, in the stars so rarely seen through the clouded sky.
Extract taken from the Mythos Angelica Mortis, Appendix 3a: 'Homeworlds of the Astartes', M36 (Low Gothic Translation, 864.M40)
Edited by Spaced Hulk, 11 March 2013 - 06:31 PM.