How the World was Won

This rose-and-yellow orb is Paltraeth, homeworld of the kaeth.

Most think of Paltraeth the way it is today: a dry, mostly desert world baking under the fierce glare – in light, heat, and hard radiation – of its hot blue-white sun, its dust-laden atmosphere stripped thin and its oceans reduced to small alkaline puddles and sprawling potash flats.  A harsh world of temperature extremes, heavy metals (chelate regularly!), and radiation, more than suited to its equally harsh people, and somewhere that no-one else would want to live for long.

To think this is to ignore the major shaping event of its history.  Paltraeth used to be much worse.

Ancient Paltraeth was a seething jungle world, an ecology that, due to the intense radiation-bath of its sun and falling into some unfortunate local maxima, was home to more fire and claw and fury than any other dozen garden worlds you care to name.  This was the environment that shaped the ancestors of the kaeth; one in which virtually every other being on the planet was trying to kill you.  In which uncannily fast healing, strong immunities, and distributed organ systems were a necessity for survival.  In which the heavy metals that enriched the planet were seized and put to use by the evolutionary arms race to grow harder bones and natural armor.  And in which, despite their sophonce, the early kaeth were no more than midway up the food chain.

It is a truism that the eldraeic relationship with nature has always been one of intermingled love and hatred for a wild force that needed to be tamed and gardened to become a place in which sophonts might truly live.  The kaeth relationship with nature was much simpler; pure hatred for a world that seemed to exist only to break them.

In this environment, what would have been a disaster on any other world, the asteroid impact of circa -183,000 that created the distinctive, orbitally-visible astrobleme now known as Venirek’s Fist, came as a blessing to the kaeth.  While the planet was devastated by the impact – its atmosphere and oceans partially stripped away, wildfires blazing across much of its land surface, and most of the population killed in the first impacts – a minority of the sophont kaeth were able to survive, and in the aftermath of the impact ripped, tore, crushed and stomped most of the disaster-shocked ecology that had produced them and fought them daily into the muck and ash.  It’s believed by modern genetic archaeologists that only a few thousand individuals planetwide survived Fistfall and its aftermath, but in that time, modern Paltraeth was shaped.

The modern kaeth love their harsh world, it is true, but not as the world that made them; rather, as the world they seized and made their own.

– Leyness’s Worlds: Guide to the Core Worlds

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