Project Steel Caste was a sub division of the Ty'tan Program. The Tau attempted to create their own breed of supersoldiers, specifically an attempt to create warriors to combat the Space Marines.
However the project was eventually abandoned and the Shar'd Cadre was disbanded.
The first steps were taken at the beginning of 930.M41. Years of research and study and resulted in an experimental augmention procedure where the subject was surgically alterated and enhanced. Their first attempts would utilize experimental drugs and chemical enhancements to augment the subject's body. However for all the Tau's technological prowess, their strength came from technology and mechanics, not biological manipulation. Effectively they were grasping at straws.
They recruited 100 of the best Fire Warriors as volunteers, these warriors were offered the chance for their loyalty, courage, and genes. First these warriors were put through a hellish training regime to physically toughen them up and to increase their effectiveness. Extensive genetic screening suggested that these chosen few were best suited to accept the process. The result was a complete failure, the process was plagued by problems and complications. Physical rejection, trauma, chemical imbalance, over development and deterioration was common place. Some subjects degenerated into insane abominations. The first generation of Shar'd was a disaster. Rumours circulate that one Shar'd did infact survive and would serve as a template for future generations.
Several times they would learn from their mistakes and try again, but repeatedly their funding was diverted to different projects. Steel Caste was eventually shelved until further research yielded results.
With the failure of Project Thorn and the Tor'kar Rebellion, funding was re-allocated back to Project Steel Caste. In 960.M41, Project Steel Caste was once again revived. This time a whole new approach was taken, instead of full grown Fire Warriors, young Shas'saal were recruited instead. It was discovered that younger bodies were far more recentive of the augmentation and had a higher chance of success. Once more these young recruits were put through a brutal training regime and forge them anew.
They tried with a refined augmentation process. Lengthy surgical procedures worked to enhance the soldiers. Also there was not one operation but many as the recruit grew. Their training also helped them to control their new abilities. Thanks to refine methods, a much higher percentage of volunteers survived than in previous generations. The resulting warriors were taller than tau or gue'la, usually standing over six feet at least. Each one was very heavily muscled, faster, and with quicker reaction. There was one strange side effect were the Shar'd possessed a far darker skin tone than normal. Apparantly the biochemical changes brought about this.
Initial combat tests hailed them as a success. Though individually they were no match for a space marine, the Shar'd Cadre were still dreadfully effective in combat and as a unit they could take on space marines unsupported. They were to be the first of a new breed of warriors and for years they served with distinction.
However years later revealed alarming flaws. Members of the Shar'd Cadre began contracting terrible illness and debilitating conditions. Initial tests discovered that all the warriors were suffering from severe cellular deterioration. Their enhancments made them powerful, but at the same time it put severe stress on their bodies. In exchange for strength their lives were seriously shortened. With no way to cure their condition, none of the Shar'd lived more than thirty years. More bad news came when the Blaze Ravens attacked Ty'ros and ransacked the facility there and captured fragments of data pertaining to the Program. Commander Shadowthorn was captured in the process.
After these twin disasters, the project was once again shelved and it's funding was cut and redirected elsewhere.
The final result and polished product of Project Steel Caste. After the destruction of Project Custodes at the hands of the Cypher Chapter, Project Steel Caste became the Program's last remaining sub-division and final hope.
By the end of 996.M41 the Tau were on the offensive again and were bringing more worlds into the fold of the Greater Good. This time the Earth-Caste scientists relied on all previous experience to achieve success. Once again, young Shas'saal were genetically screened and tested before being inducted into Project Steel Caste. The project now used a perfected augmentation process to enhances the warrior's physiology.
First only basic chemical enhancments were given and at a slow pace, allowing the subject's body time to adjust and be monitored. Gradually they will recieve more enhancements from surgical augmentations to hyno therapy. At the same time the future Shar'd were undergoing a brutal training regime that not only fortified their bodies and minds, it also taught the soldiers to control their new bodies. The whole process took almost a year.
Nevertheless, with their lessons learned, almost all three hundred trainees graduated into full fledged Shar'd. The result was spectacular. The resulting Shar'd were stable and even bigger and stronger than the previous generation with enhanced reflexes.
The Cadre was formed too late for effectively join the 3rd Sphere Expansion, but proved wonderfully effective at counter insurgency and covert operations. With their recent success, tau commanders wanted to send them into far off assassinations to take out space marine commanders. Doing so would cripple the primary threats to tau expansion.
Sadly for the Project, that would never happen. Over the course of the project they had suffered multiple delays, setbacks and budget overuns. Research and development was costly enough but now came the sustained maintainence of the unit, it was too much. For the researchers and scientists of Steel Caste, word finally came that their budget had been cut and reallocated and that the Cadre was to be disbanded.
Steel Caste was once again shut down and members of the Cadre were redeployed individually across the Empire.
Like most sub-factions of the Kais'Shas Program, research sites and bases of operation were spread out over the Empire.
- Ty'ros Research Facility -
- Fal'shia Research Facility -
- Kor'ra Station -
- Fio'O Bor'kan Basra - Basra was the primary researcher of the projecr for many years. His research resulted in some of the project's greatest success and best Shar'd generations.
- Commander Shadowthorn -
The Shar'd are supersoldiers created by advanced physical, surgical, and chemical augmentations. Many different procedures and treatments are used in the creation of the Shar'd Cadre.
Here are listed some of the enhancments used by the recent generations.
- Muscular Enhancments-
- Ocular Capillary Enhancments-
- Cermatic Ossification-
- Cardiovascular Enhancments-