|Por orden de su Santísima Majestad, el Dios-Emperador de Terra. La Sagrada Inquisición declara este artículo En Construcción por Adeptus Hispanus. Si encuentra algún problema o falta de devoción por su parte, notifíquelo, un acólito del Ordo Hereticus estará encantado de investigarlo.|
|Robagenes, mascota del Gran Devorador, patrocina este espacio hasta que la Mente Enjambre lo convierta en biomasa. Pulsa sobre él y te guiará a la categoría Tiránidos.
El Enjambre también se alimenta de tus visitas...
|El Sargento Guillermito, mascota de los Marines Espaciales, tiene el honor de patrocinar este espacio por orden del Capellán Cassius de los Ultramarines. ¡Pulsa sobre él y te acompañará a una Cruzada épica!
¡Lee más! ¡Sin piedad, sin remordimientos, sin miedo!
In a region of space known for the numerous derelicts fl oating between the stars, there is one space hulk known even to the people of primitive worlds that have never travelled beyond their own system. It is the dark form that blots out local suns, causing civilizations to fall into barbarism or new religions to sprout like weeds. Under hundreds of names it is the blight on the void, the bane of Warp travel, and the ruination of innumerable ships from its catastrophically sudden appearances. In their secret language, Navigators call it The Doom that Awaits. Deathwatch Librarians officially record it as Warp Artefact Aleph-Omicron-002. For most in the Jericho Reach (and particularly in the Orpheus Salient) it is known as the Mortis Thule—Death From Beyond the Horizon—the largest space hulk known to exist in the region, and very possibly the most dangerous.
Space hulks are not an uncommon occurrence in areas of space with advanced interstellar travel. These massive conglomerations of discarded hulls and space debris are legendary across the galaxy, famous both for the lurking dangers they host as well as the possible treasures hidden inside. Though each is unique, Mortis Thule stands out not only for its enormous size but also for its long history in the Reach, dating back to before the arrival of the Imperial Expeditionary Fleets of the Great Crusade. Most hulks either fall apart given time (or sufficient massed firepower), or disappear back into the Warp never to be seen again. The Mortis Thule seems older and than many such space hulks encountered before however; its curious longevity and increasing mass possibly tied to that other mysterious artefact of the Reach, the Warp Gate.
A lineage of doom Editar
The sighting of a space hulk is a significant one for any void travellers, sure to be logged and studied for possible plunder and hazards to Warp travel. Thus it is not unusual for fairly detailed records to exist of such a vessel, especially one as exceptional as Mortis Thule. The Inquisition and the Deathwatch are believed to have the most numerous and complete records extant, but even these contain much apocryphal and contradictory information. Such is the nature of the hulk however, that even the most factual of sightings become spun into legend after only a few short tellings.
The earliest suggestions of the hulk’s appearance were uncovered on Shinno, an otherwise unremarkable planet rimward of the Slinnar Drift, its native civilisation routinely eradicated during the Crusade. Xenos-archaeologists of the 427th Expeditionary Fleet uncovered what appeared to be ancient pictograms dating roughly twelve thousand years before the Great Crusade, indicating a dark shadow in the sky and tales of earthquakes, meteor showers, and invasions of terrible, unnatural beasts.
There are few other records until the coming of the Great Crusade itself to Jericho, but its arrival and the subsequent increase in Warp traffic seemed to trigger further contacts. Throughout the millennia before the Fall, the Mortis Thule appeared sporadically across the sector and was the subject of many hundreds of boarding actions. It was one such attempt to conquer the Mortis Thule on the empty shoals near Phonos that gave rise to its common name.
Death of a House, Birth of a Name Editar
It was these legends and more that drew Rogue Trader Hyrus Tarrant to this Space Hulk, which would later be cursed with the named Death from Beyond the Horizon, or Mortis Thule, millennia ago in M33. He had explored the Reach and beyond, conquering hundreds of worlds and reaping incredible fortunes. Saddened that there was nothing left to discover, he decided that defeating the infamous Mortis Thule would be his crowing glory. For this mission, Tarrant called on his longtime compatriot in exploration, Magos Mitsfian Delphos. The two had become as close to friends as a human and a Tech-Priest could be, having campaigned together for many decades. Delphos also wished to claim the Space Hulk for study. His own adepts had worked out a possible way to predict its appearances. It was a group of Xenos-Archeotechnologists, denounced as Malatek and driven from their forge worlds, who offered the most useful information in this effort.
These Tech-Priests had studied the Space Hulk for long years, especially the rock growths, and put forth the hypothesis that these were not the result of natural phenomena, but instead due to the works of an impossibly ancient race, utterly inimical to Mankind. Their civilisations were long dead, yet their remnants live on to harm humanity on locations across the stars. The sciences of this race were more diseased art than proper science, and beyond the knowledge of humans.
These Tech-Priests advanced the theory that one of their foul artefacts rests at the centre of the vast assemblage, the cause of the unnatural growth and peculiar movement across the region. They posited that it was extruding the extra mass whilst in the Warp, where the material behaved more as foam than solid, and the vessels within could flow and move with the tides within the Immaterium. They also tied the appearances of the Space Hulk, to later be named Mortis Thule, to other Warp activities, and theorised that greater disturbances would lead to more frequent appearances.
Delphos’s other adepts scoffed in binary rejection at these claims, especially the most disturbing theory: that an entity at the centre of the Space Hulk was growing its mass to reach a critical state of Warp-signature large enough to activate a gestation phase and bring forth some new horror into realspace. They could not argue, though, with the accuracy of predicted appearances against actual recordings of the Space Hulk, and Delphos chose to use their recommendations for its next appearance. He readied his own mission elements of Acuitor Mech-Assassins, elite Crimson Guard, and others including a delegation of Lathes Factors. That agents of the Lords Dragon were amongst them was understood but never spoken openly.
Tarrant’s Astropath Maxima had a divination that his actions would be forever remembered, and that his family’s name would be attached to the rock forever. He left on the mission with hearty spirits, believing the Emperor must surely be watching over his fortunes. Little did he know it would be his daughter who would be the true namer, and it would be a family curse, and not the family honour, that would be given.
Arch-Militant Minerva Tarrant had been away pacifying one of the family’s many holdings and could not be at her father’s side, leading her house’s military forces as she had so often in the past. She could only read the fragmented reports from the survivors, writhing with anger at the horrors that stole her father and liege, believing that if only she had been with her father’s forces, nothing could have stood against them.
Soon after her famous curse that named the Space Hulk, she gathered all her father’s data on the rock and retreated for years with her savants. Then, she abruptly retired from the region, withdrawing all of her house’s forces with her and nearly collapsing the economy of the region. Some claim she led attacks on unfamiliar targets on the other side of the Warp Gate, mostly in the Koronus Expanse, with no discernible pattern to the often uninhabited planets. Most were reduced to smoking cinders or worse. She expended the remains of her vast fortune in these attacks, but legend says she returned to Jericho and a final reckoning with Mortis Thule. A small clipper sporting the Tarrant colours of crimson and charcoal was sighted in early M34 running a picket line around the Space Hulk, which had been set up to warn off traffic whilst a Ministorum deputation attempted to exorcise the foul vessel. The clipper made a soft landing near one of the larger craters that mark the exterior.
Minerva Tarrant was never seen again, and it is possible she still roams the depths of Mortis Thule in search of vengeance. Of Delphos there was no sign.
Terrors and Treasures Editar
The Deathwatch itself leads numerous, though less well known, actions against the Mortis Thule as well. As is their wont, through the centuries Ork raiders have often established bases on the many ships contained in the assemblage, using these as springboards for marauding operations. Deathwatch Kill-teams were called in on occasion when the raids became especially threatening to Imperial systems, but for the most part acted to eradicate the specific menace and (perhaps wisely) did not attempt to infiltrate the rest of the Mortis Thule. There were also at least 37 recorded incursions at the specific request of the Inquisition, including five to rescue or recover valued Imperial agents trapped on the Mortis Thule for unrevealed reasons and one to destroy an interred vessel broadcasting unfathomable Warp-beacon transmissions to parties unknown. Not all have been successful; there are multiple shrines in Erioch to those who never returned from the space hulk, where those of their chapters may hold private ceremonies in their memory and swear anew their oaths of vengeance.
During the Fall and the Age of Shadows, the records become less precise; amidst the collapse of the sector, few seemed interested in recording the appearance of even this ominous craft. Those that did investigate it, such as the adepts of Samech before they were lost to tech-heresy, left no history behind of what they found. As Warp storms increased and sightings diminished, it seemed that perhaps the Mortis Thule was even lost to the Empyrean forever.
The re-emergence of the Imperium through the Warp Gate into Jericho also saw the return of Mortis Thule as it began to be detected with greater frequency especially in the Orpheus Salient. This of course could be attributed to the increased number of Imperial vessels and their travel in the Reach. Some faction-cants in the Adeptus Mechanicus who also study the enigmatic Warp Gate insist that there could more than coincidence here and strive for greater research on the space hulk’s unnaturally growing size. There have certainly been more Deathwatch missions assigned against it in recent years. On manifold occasions Kill-teams have been sent to mitigate the predations the Mortis Thule brings to a system or travel route, acting to keep pockets of the Salient from collapsing. With the arrival of Dagon, Tyranid infestations on the space hulk have grown and more missions have been purely to burn away growths that would have become new mycetic spores otherwise. Some operations have been purely to map out as much data as possible on its vast interior and the cluster of hulls melded inside, while others have simply been to visit empty space to see if the newest predictions based on history, divinations, and aetheric soundings for arrival are accurate. Several have been logged purely as “Omega Vault Decree” with no other data recorded. Information is Power, and the Inquisition and the Deathwatch seem to be very eager to gain as much of both concerning the Mortis Thule for reasons they have not shared with any other Imperial agencies as of yet.
The dead hulls Editar
Mortis Thule is quite simply one of the largest artificial objects found in Jericho space, easily outmassing even Bastion-class space stations. Like all space hulks it appears out of the Warp at seemingly random times, ejecting into real space with a roaring thunder of psychic energies such that Navigators across the region are alerted. Its violent appearance disgorges a trail of debris, as megatonnes of metal and rock crack away from the harsh arrival. This loss is more than made up for by new additions of void debris and those unfortunate vessels that find themselves melded into the Mortis Thule’s conglomerate mass by powerful Warp tidal forces or worse.
From the outside, the Mortis Thule is roughly flattened and ovoid in shape with large jagged spikes of torn rock and broken prows. The surface is pockmarked with craters from impacts and explosions, some so ancient that other bonded hulls obscure their shape. Not only Imperial vessels make up its body, for the ruins of numerous xenos ships are also littered across the surface and undoubtedly are located inside as well. Elegant Eldar wraithbone structures, crude Ork plating, and even fleshy Tyranid bioships can be seen strewn in the synthesis that makes up the space hulk, along with xenos vessels of unknown origin and archeotech ships predating the Imperium. Inside the Mortis Thule are the remains of countless more dead ships, each a story of uncaring fate or grave accident. Some are nearly intact, caught in sudden eddies while sailing the Empyrean’s powerful seas and fused into the space hulk as both emerge into real space. Others are broken hulls, ships dashed against the rock and sunken deep along with other Warp fl otsam. Many have become connected together through random internal collision or artificial actions. All seem to contain artefacts of such exquisite value that despite the dangers there have been no shortages of those seeking to plunder the Mortis Thule. The items recovered range from ancient archeotech relics still being deciphered to baneful xenos weapons declared heretical by joint Ordos decrees, as well as modern devices left behind by failed boarding parties. The sheer weight of treasures estimated aboard the Mortis Thule are one of the main reasons that the massive joint efforts needed to destroy or break up the space hulk have failed to coalesce long enough to perform the deed. For every one agency or power base that would wish it gone, there are a dozen more eager to plunder its secrets for their own benefit.
Attempts to create a definitive map to guide future explorations have been doomed to failure however; each sighting reveals new arrangements of the melded assemblage with new ships appearing and older ones broken away. Pulse-mapping transponders buried deep via burrowing torpedoes have proven somewhat useful, but these invariably fail after only weeks of operation due to the stray radiation that permeates the Mortis Thule and even through internal sabotage. The latter is certainly a disquieting thought but not one unexpected given the nature of what lives inside. The space hulk is certainly a dangerous environment due its shifting construction—sections break away or settle deeper into the core with each Warp passage or close orbit to a demanding star—but it is those that still live amidst the dead hulls that make the Mortis Thule a truly terrifyingly place.
The Dwellers Within Editar
Like most space hulks, there are numerous creatures infesting the dark hulls buried in the rock. Some ships still retain furtive power, fl ickering and undependable as it may be. The Mortis Thule hosts a multitude of races striving to survive in the artificial carcass. Each new hull added to the Mortis Thule often also brings new occupants, some advanced enough to maintain some semblance of their culture but most descending into barbarism or worse as each Warp immersion leads them forever into deeper darkness.
The most common denizens of the Mortis Thule are that most widespread of Tyranid species, the Genestealer, a presence even greater now that Dagon has spread its tendrils across the Salient. Genestealers are perhaps perfectly suited to existing on space hulks. They are extraordinarily tough, with reinforced circulatory systems and leathery protective skin; even their weakest surface membranes are able to withstand complete vacuum exposure for extended durations. Their flesh and their genetic material itself is resistant to most mutating or debilitating radiation, and they seem to have no fear of unprotected Warp travel. They are very long lived and able to shut down their metabolism for long periods of time when there is no prey to be had. Their agility and multiple clawed limbs allow them to easily manoeuvre in the hazardous ruins of wrecked gangways, collapsed decks, and areas with failed grav plating. Their eyes can penetrate total blackness or obscuring smoke, and their senses can detect the smallest twitch or droplet of blood. Unlike most other Tyranid organisms, they are able to operate effectively when unconnected to the Hive Mind that related species need to act above mere instinctual behaviour.
Add to this their preternatural strength, ferocity in combat, and talons that can rip through even Terminator Armour, and the Genestealer would already be one of the most dominant threats of any space hulk. It is their means of reproduction that changes them from dangerous predator to an extreme threat to the Imperium itself.
Genestealers reproduce through implanting their viral genetic material into a host organism, often when the unwilling host is unconscious or subdued through a psychically induced hypnotic state. This material corrupts the parent DNA, causing any offspring to be born an unnatural mixture of the parent and Genestealer. The host is mentally conditioned to care for these twisted progeny, each of which is also able to quickly mature and infect others through the same genetic implantation. Future generations lead to new Genestealers of a nearly pure strain, unrecognizable from the original species but now carrying partial physiological reminders of the host morphology. In this way the creature extends its infl uence across populations and has become the bane of the Ordo Xenos; entire planets have been put to the torch to conclusively prevent their spread. In the Mortis Thule, there are numerous Genestealer controlled hulls and even more overrun by their hideous offspring. Any vessels that depart the space hulk and are not willing to submit to extensive examinations of both ship and personnel, have been utterly destroyed by their colleagues lest they possibly spread the infection to others. With the Genestealer there can be no half measures; even one creature can lead to the downfall of an entire world.
While the presence of such Tyranid creatures in the Mortis Thule is somewhat to be expected, it is the existence of Enslavers on the space hulk that makes it even more hazardous. Most explorers do not encounter them, or at least never return having done so. Early Deathwatch squads only reported remains of the grotesque organic flesh-arches that serve as their gateways into reality, but fresh ones have been sighted more recently. Each of these portals was once a psyker, but their unguarded minds have allowed these threats to menace not only the Imperium but every living being in the galaxy, as they once did untold millennia ago. Even the merest threat of an Enslaver outbreak has brought numerous Deathwatch teams to a planet, ready to obliterate their danger. Entire hives have been razed rather than leave any possible Warp portals remaining, and forces sent to the Mortis Thule are on a constant vigil to destroy them on sight, no matter what their original mission might entail. The Mortis Thule contains many nascent psykers though, almost none with the necessary defences to ward off the dominating alien mentalities. It is the presence of the Genestealers which paradoxically provides such a rich feeding ground for this menace from times before humanity descended from trees.
All Genestealers share a psychic connection that allows them to function as an independent brood. This extends to their offspring; indeed Genestealers will actively seek out psykers as hosts to strengthen this link and their own Tyranid psychic powers. However, these psychically attuned offspring shine in the Warp as a near irresistible beacon to the Enslavers who follow the vessel as it dances between the Empyrean and real space. The broods have become themselves prey, as subjugated brethren have turned on their alien parents at the command of their new masters. Some Genestealers have sought the sanctuary of stasis tubes within heavily reinforced cargo vaults, their still-loyal children sealing the vault from the inside and committing suicide as a desperate measure against Enslaver-dominated forces. Ferocious battles between the horrific Tyranid predators and the ghastly Enslavers are nightmare tales of legend. The rending claws of the Genestealers rip through hordes of bound puppet-races to reach their enemies’ floating bulbous bodies. Tendrils writhe beneath Enslavers over the blood-soaked decks as they command their slaves to die for their protection.
The Beast of Thule Editar
This creature, similar to a Lictor in most respects but far larger and more cunning, is the dominant Tyranid organism on Mortis Thule, and it is likely that all of the Tyranids on board are bolstered by its presence. This is, in fact, the Beast of Thule. None can possibly know how long this creature has lurked in the passageways of Mortis Thule, but given the dense lattice of scars traced into its chitinous armour, it might be centuries or more. Ordo Xenos archives relate numerous reports of contacts with what is now believed to be the same organism, a beast that has surely slaughtered countless loyal servants of the Emperor and drawn countless Tyranid creatures to Mortis Thule with its powerful pheromone markers. Xenos savants believe the creature’s repeated and prolonged exposure to the Warp each time Mortis Thule is pulled back into the Sea of Souls must have invested it with some as-yet-undetermined taint, a fact that has resulted in its high ranking amongst targets of opportunity.
Waaagh! Throttleklaw Editar
Unknown to the Chamber of Vigilance and to the command echelons of the Achilus Crusade, Mortis Thule is host to an Ork Waaagh! The Orks in question began their voyage many centuries ago as such things are reckoned in the material universe, but times flows strangely in the Immaterium, and besides, Orks only notice its passage when they run out of things to kill. To the Orks themselves, an indeterminate amount of time has passed, during which the Boyz have entertained themselves in fighting and building ever-bigger guns with which to slay their foes when eventually they arrive at a world they can invade.
The invasion began when the Warlord Geargut ThrottleKlaw rose to power amongst the primitive tribes that had sprung into existence on a barren world. The Orks of this unnamed planet had no knowledge of their own place in the universe, for they were the result of the strange means by which the species is thought to reproduce itself. Unknown to the population, the previous generation of Orks had been wiped out in a devastating war. Yet, as ever with the barbarous greenskins, the species refuses to die entirely and where one Ork is slain, dozens more are likely to emerge years later. Thus it was that the Orks of the group that would eventually become known as Waaagh! ThrottleKlaw dragged themselves upwards from primitive barbarism, utilising the wreckage of their predecessors to build the war machines for which their species is feared across the galaxy.
For years, the Orks fought amongst themselves, a succession of ever more powerful warlords gaining control before being deposed in increasingly violent fashion until eventually, ThrottleKlaw himself took control. As if to prove that the Orks’ primitive gods had blessed his doing so, an omen appeared in the skies overhead at the very moment of his victory over his predecessor. That omen was a Space Hulk, and deep in his warlike brain, ThrottleKlaw knew that it represented his best chance of escaping the bounds of a world that seemed suddenly very small and insignificant indeed.
As is often the case with the expansions of the Ork species, the ascension of a powerful warlord triggered a series of other phenomena. The tribe’s Meks—Orks gifted with an innate talent for building the most ingenious of technologies—suddenly knew exactly how to create the means to board the Space Hulk. Setting to work, the Meks built what they called a “teleporta” from the junk and wreckage of a war none remembered, and used it to beam an advance force of greenskins into orbit. Of course, ThrottleKlaw ensured that this advance boarding party contained only those Orks most likely to challenge him for dominance over the tribe. None were particularly surprised when an inexplicable accident caused the death of the entire wave as they dematerialised not on board the Space Hulk, but in high orbit directly overhead.
The last obstacles to his complete control removed, ThrottleKlaw led his forces onto the Space Hulk, and once more, providence took a hand. The tribe’s pre-eminent “Weird Boy’—the Ork equivalent of a psyker—suddenly knew how to exert his powers on the Warp, and in an instant the Space Hulk was swept away on the tides of a mighty Warp storm. Waaagh! ThrottleKlaw was underway.
Yet, the Space Hulk that ThrottleKlaw’s tribe boarded was not Mortis Thule. Rather, it was a smaller conglomeration of stellar detritus that had not been encountered or codified by the Imperium. It would be many years before ThrottleKlaw came to occupy Mortis Thule, and then it was only by chance, or perhaps the dubious blessings of the Orks’ barbaric deities. In an unprecedented display of xenos ingenuity, the Orks of Waaagh! ThrottleKlaw affected a ship-to-ship boarding action whilst their own Space Hulk, and Mortis Thule, which they had encountered upon the tides of the Warp, were adrift in the Sea of Souls. How this was achieved may never be known, even to the Orks themselves, yet Waaagh! ThrottleKlaw somehow crossed the gulf of Warp space to board Mortis Thule, and to this day they occupy a series of holds deep within it. ThrottleKlaw’s Meks have been busy constructing the mightiest of war machines, ever ready for the day when the Space Hulk will emerge from the Warp in orbit over a world occupied by some enemy they can crush beneath their hobnailed boots. To date, the Orks of Waaagh! ThrottleKlaw have yet to encounter the Imperium or even a human, but when they do, their beady red eyes shall surely glow with the bloodlust that only an Ork that has just discovered a new and challenging enemy can know.
The Brutish Empire Editar
Geargut ThrottleKlaw’s empire is based in a series of truly vast chambers and tunnels near to the outer edge of Mortis Thule. At first glance the space claimed by the Orks might appear to have been formed naturally from void borne rock, but in reality it is formed by the interior of one the largest classes of starships ever built. The tunnels are not carved from rock, but from metal, and represent the processing conduits of a refinery the size of a moon. The chambers are not caverns, but cargo holds constructed to transport mega tonnes of refined ore. The vessel was once a Universe-class mass conveyor known as the Toil of Aedir, lost two millennia ago and still mourned by the Adeptus Mechanicus of the Dalthus yards where it was constructed at astronomical cost in blood and treasure.
The Toil of Aedir was lost before it had even entered service, caught in an unmatriculated Warp swell during its first trial jump. The swell cast the vessel upon the tides of the Sea of Souls and its skeleton crew of only ten thousand Tech-Priests, bonded voidsmen, and menials were slaughtered in short order by the predators of the Warp. Its fate unknown to its creators, the Toil of Aedir was set adrift upon the Warp, until eventually it came to that fate which so many lost vessels share—it was melded with the vast conglomerated bulk of a Space Hulk, in this case Mortis Thule.
Because the mass conveyor was lost before ever entering service, its vast processing facilities were never used and so its holds were empty when the vessel met its fate. Having become conjoined with Mortis Thule, however, the chambers and conduits did not remain so for long, for they soon became the hunting grounds of the predators, vermin, and worse that haunt the Space Hulk. What foul deeds were enacted within the silent, lightless machine systems may never be known, but now, centuries later, they are host to the first Ork Waaagh! seen to date in the Jericho Reach.
The vessel in which the Orks muster is truly vast, each of its holds the size of a hive city and interlaced by thousands of kilometres of conduits, many wide enough to allow the passage of an entire armoured company. Given over as it now is to a nation of barbarous greenskins, the interior of the Toil of Aedir bears scant resemblance to its original form. Once gleaming bulkheads are now caked in oil and dung, the deck strewn with debris and the bilges swilling with stinking filth. The numerous skull and cog icons of the Adeptus Mechanicus that adorned the vessel have all been defaced, hacked, and hewn to resemble the brutish features of Warlord Geargut ThrottleKlaw.
Within cargo holds of impossible size, Ork Meks and their thousands of slaves are constructing war machines of every possible size and shape. Huge armouries belch out countless thousands of rounds of ammunition without pause, much of which is expended with joyful exuberance by an army restless to find a worthy foe. The most awe inspiring sight in the entire region must surely be the Gargant construction chamber, an entire hold given over to the construction of ThrottleKlaw’s titan-sized engines of war. The yards take the form of tangled masses of scaffolding over which scramble many thousands of slaves. Within these towering webs of steel await the ominous forms of half constructed Gargants and Stompas, each the work of a single Big Mek in competition with his peers to create the largest, shootiest war machine in the entire Waaagh!
With such a massive concentration of Orks using Mortis Thule as a means of crossing the gulf of space, it is only a matter of time before the Weird Boyz in ThrottleKlaw’s employ detect the presence of an occupied system and utilise their insane powers to steer the Space Hulk right into it. Should that happen, the Achilus Crusade will find itself up against a foe strong enough to tip the balance against the Imperium and to set the entire Jericho Reach to the torch. Perhaps worse than the prospect of the Achilus Crusade being cast back is the notion that ThrottleKlaw could actually gain ascendancy over the region, enslaving entire planetary populations to his will.
Needless to say, should a Kill-team discover such a threat, reporting it to the Chamber of Vigilance would be a matter of urgency, for the fate of the entire crusade might be at stake.
Contact with the creatures known only as Enslavers is thankfully rare, for they are amongst the most dangerous xenos the Imperium has ever catalogued. A trio of Enslavers can condemn a dozen or more worlds to domination and destruction, it is said, though little is known about these beings for certain. Indeed, even in situations where the Enslavers have been cited as the cause, actual contact with the creatures is scarce.
A typical Enslaver infestation is believed to follow a fairly standard progression. Initially, between one and three Enslavers will usurp the soul and body of an unprotected psyker, mutating the victim’s flesh until he is transmuted into a living gate into the Warp, through which the Enslavers can pass. These Enslavers proceed to psychically dominate any intelligent creatures they come across, employing them for all forms of manual labour and defence, while dominated psykers are commonly transformed into additional living gateways. Halting an Enslaver infestation is extremely difficult once it has begun, and only the strongest-willed individuals should ever be trusted to undertake such a task, lest they be dominated as well.
The typical Enslaver is a hideous beast, a mass of leathery flesh festooned with writhing tendrils and surrounded by the malefic aura of an entity that can dwell as easily within the Warp as within reality. They exist in defiance of the natural order of the universe, floating across battlefields and bending the minds of those who would otherwise fight them.
Aboard a Space Hulk, an Enslaver can linger in hibernation with a swarm of psychically sustained slaves for years, even decades, while the Space Hulk traverses the Warp. When their psychic senses detect a populous world, they begin preparations to infest it, to spread their psychic influence across it.
Like the Orks, the Eldar are rarely encountered within the Jericho Reach. When they are, it is invariably in small numbers, but this in itself is cause for concern as it suggests to some that the pernicious aliens are seeking something that can only be of benefit to their race and a detriment to the Imperium. Unknown to many, the Eldar have interacted with Mortis Thule on a number of occasions recently, and the Ordo Xenos is actively seeking to learn more of their activities. In one instance, a lone Eldar Ranger bearing the livery of the Il-Kaithe Craftworld is said to have spent several days aboard, though to what end none can say. This individual is, in fact, the Ranger known as Syndilian the Traveller.
Syndilian Shanyr, the Traveller Editar
- "Like motes of dust in a beam of light, the lives of men are fleeting and aimless. Where the humans flounder and fail against the fates, however, the Eldar tread carefully along the crooked path, each foot fall a moment in time, each stride a step closer to the opening of the way."
- —Syndilian Shanyr, Eldar Pathfinder
The Imperium has precious little information on the presence of the Eldar in the Jericho Reach. Beyond the presence of a few corsairs and xenos pirates, such as the Black Prince of Slinnar or Qulisanna’s Blade, it is largely believed that no significant Eldar threat exists. This of course is far from the truth and the Eldar have long had eyes watching the Reach, moving in the dark and keeping vigil over its dead worlds. Among these Eldar scouts and spies is Syndilian Shanyr, also know as Syndilian the Traveller among his kin. Originally from the Il-Kaithe Craftworld located near the Eye of Terror, Syndilian and others from his people undertook the epic journey through the Warp Gate and into the Jericho Reach at the behest of their Farseers. This was a result of what would become known as the Prophecy of the Crooked Path, laid down by the Il-Kaithe Farseers hundreds of years ago, and identifying the role their people would have to play in this region of space.
It was seen by the Il-Kaithe Farseers that a time would come when the great enemy would rise in the Eastern Fringe of the galaxy. Aided by the forces of discord and destruction, it would lay claim to a gateway to the heart of the world, a gateway the humans would be powerless to defend or to close. It was a fate, however, which could be averted—if the enemies of the Eldar could be turned in upon each other and time could be won to close the gate themselves. This lofty task is why Syndilian has spent much of his life moving silently and unseen between worlds with his cadre of elite rangers. Using the wisdom of the Eldar and his own cunning, Syndilian has been subtly infl uencing events across the entire Reach, instigating battles, assassinating infl uential targets and even creating alliances between enemies—all for the purpose of prolonging confl ict. Most recently, Syndilian and his followers have been operating in the Orpheus Salient, meddling with the course of events and the advance of Hive Fleet Dagon. Before her death, Inquisitor Kalistradi of the Ordo Xenos had even uncovered some evidence of the Eldar’s presence on Avalos, though this has since been lost during the bloody course of the Tyranid invasion and her own demise at the hands of the Lordsholm Broodlord.
Syndilian Shanyr is an extremely dangerous foe with decades of training and experience in stealth and subversion. It is for this reason that only the tiniest whispers of his presence have ever reached the Imperium, and even the Inquisition has only the vaguest information on him—little more than a name and some sketchy second-hand reports of a deadly Eldar assassin. What worries the Inquisition and the Deathwatch the most about Syndilian, however, is not the lack of information on him but rather the fact that they have no clear idea of the nature of his mission. In their eyes, the Eldar seems to appear at random, killing, sabotaging, or otherwise altering events often without any clear short term effect. While the damage he has infl icted seems limited, he has still been branded as a priority target and dangerous xenos terrorist by the Deathwatch. Kill-teams dispatched to areas where he is thought to be operating often have Syndilian’s assassination given to them as a tertiary mission objective should they chance to encounter him. To date, however, Syndilian has yet to be cornered by a Kill-team, and his few brief encounters with other Imperial forces have been brief and very one-sided.
Saqueadores del Caos Editar
Chaos is ever-present in the 41st Millennium, and much of the Jericho Reach is tainted with its baleful influence and overrun by its deluded servants. The devotees of the Ruinous Powers come in many forms, one of the more dangerous of which are the wolfpack pirates who prey upon the war-torn space lanes of the Jericho Reach. Such individuals are less interested in material booty and concerned mainly for the souls they can offer up to their Daemonic masters. Over the last century alone, at least three separate groups of Chaos reavers have attempted to utilise Mortis Thule as a base of operations. Some would say such an endeavour was insane and doomed to failure from the beginning, but those dedicated to the Ruinous Powers judge some things by wildly divergent standards. The first group is confirmed to have been wiped out by the predations of the numerous Genestealers that infest the Space Hulk, while the second was purged by a joint operation between the Deathwatch and the Blood Angels Chapter. Of the third group, very is little is known.
The vast mass of Mortis Thule is made up of starships of all types, as well as space borne rock and other debris. It has long been noted that much of the wreckage of which the Space Hulk is composed is destroyed beyond any hope of the crew having survived the calamitous accidents that drew their vessel to its doom. Very occasionally, however, a ship caught up in the draw of Mortis Thule survives the impact and meld in such a state that many of its crew do too. One very rare example of this is The Emperor’s Gaze, a diplomatic vessel lost in the early days of the Achilus Crusade. The ship was struck off of the crusade’s fleet registry when it was determined that it had somehow become lost in the Warp. Of late, however, doubts as to the ultimate fate of the Emperor’s Gaze have emerged, many of them voiced by the extended kin of the Navigator that was guiding the vessel through the Warp at the time of its loss. In short, the Navigator’s peers assert that had the soul of one of their own been claimed by the denizens of the Sea of Souls, then every other Navigator within a hundred light years would instantly have known of it and shared a portion of his torment. After decades of searching, the Navigator’s family have come to believe that that vessel must still be adrift somewhere within the Jericho Reach, though beyond this they have no solid theories. The Emperor’s Gaze and several of its key crew members feature prominently in the later stages of the adventure. The names of several other ships whose fates may or may not be entwined with sightings of Mortis Thule include the Admiral Ishmael, the Wrathchild, the Armour of Contempt, and the Will of Thor.
These are but a few of the dangers and denizens to be encountered on Mortis Thule. Accounts tell of many others, such as the rapacious Voar xenos-infection, feral Kroot-beasts and their carnivorous handlers, piratical Eldar in gleaming barbed armour and dripping blades, and far more that dwell in the depths of the Mortis Thule. Each boarding reveals new occupants, eager to welcome those who dare visit their tomb of rock and metal.
Secciones conocidas Editar
The Cyclopean Armoury Editar
Finding the fabled Cyclopean has been the goal of many a Kill-team ever since a lost scout mentioned it after his extraction. His report spoke of an enormous gallery of huge weapons, surely of an unknown race over twice the size of an Adeptus Astartes. Each was of a different configuration and are still only conjectured to be weapons based on the blast signs on the hullways. The one weapon he retrieved, a massive tubular device without any discernible controls on its dense surface, has stayed inert to this day despite intense study and experimentation, except for one activation that destroyed much of the laboratory-arena as well as all those within. None of the recordings indicate why it fired, except for a stray Servitor that entered the arena at the time. Subsequent missions have never located the Cyclopean Armoury, but seismic-level events from deep within Mortis Thule may indicate that others have found it, or at least its treasures. Of its race there is still no information, leading many of the Inquisition to hope they are extinct.
Sword of MacLir Editar
Unlike the other dead wrecks, the outer hull of the Storm Warden's Strike Cruiser Sword of MacLir has remained sealed off to the rest of the hulk. This is the work of the warship’s machine spirit, which has remained functional, albeit at a vastly reduced capacity, since the vessel was lost in the Warp millennia before. While the interior of the Strike Cruiser offers a tantalising haven, any explorator must face the challenge of finding a way in before they can complete their mission. Should it wish, the destiny can develop the mysterious status of the Sword of MacLir and the seminal event in the Chapter’s history, the so-called Nemesis Incident. In brief, the Nemesis Incident saw the Storm Wardens voluntarily isolate themselves from the Imperium at large following a costly campaign against the xenos Enslavers. As it happens, this particularly vile xenos foe is present on Mortis Thule, and may be encountered.
Absolutely no trace of the warship’s crew can be found, from the lowliest servitor to the Adeptus Astartes that must have served as its command cadre. No signs of battle are discovered, nor of any sort of enemy action. It is almost as if the crew of the Sword of MacLir simply vanished, or perhaps abandoned their vessel voluntarily. Even though no crewmen are discovered at this stage, the Game Master should keep in mind that there is in fact one survivor, who is encountered in the next scene.
The Strike Cruiser does not appear to have sustained battle damage, but its structure and machine systems have been placed under such stress by their entombment within the vast mass of Mortis Thule that they are unlikely to ever function again. Unlike the Argent Crusader, the Sword of MacLir is entirely encased in rock and debris and as such most of its external components have been rendered inoperable.
Launch Decks Editar
It is likely that players will want to determine the status of the Strike Cruiser’s launch decks and any vessels they might contain. Sadly, this is all but impossible; the decks, as well as drop pod assault cradles have been wrecked by the tectonic action of the Space Hulk’s mass grinding them to ruin. Even if the launch decks had survived, or if a functional craft was to be recovered from the void hangars, the Sword of MacLir is entombed many kilometres from the Space Hulk’s outer regions, making escape using any such means impossible.
The indomitable machine spirit of the Sword of MacLir appears to live on in the form of a small, trace charge still burning at the heart of the cruiser’s reactor. While the task of restoring the reactor to anything close to full power is beyond any Killteam’s ability and recourse, that small spark might be stoked into sufficient output to activate other components.
Logic Engine Editar
The Strike Cruiser’s venerable cogitation core has sustained some manner of damage not easily ascertained, resulting in its physical systems remaining largely intact while its higher function crypto-cerebral and pseudo-synaptic machine processes have clearly been blasted to oblivion. Whatever doom befell the Sword of MacLir, the core’s once awesome processing capability has been reduced to that of a man-portable cogitation slate.
Augur Array Editar
Despite the damage wrought upon most of the Strike Cruiser’s external machine systems, one of its augur array nodes has escaped total destruction. This component can be operated from the warship’s bridge by combining the latent reactor charge with the extremely limited capacity of the vessel’s cogitation core.
Survivors of the Sword of MacLir Editar
The senior Warp Guide on board the doomed Sword of MacLir hails from the Ortellius Navigator House, a body that in recent years has suffered a dire decline in the purity of its bloodline, along with a concomitant rise in instances of gross mutation. Tarakon was shipwrecked centuries before this recent decline, but it is likely his genes carry something of the now fully manifested curse, for he is mutated out of all recognition and long before his time. Tarakon’s arms and legs have withered to little more than frail bones and sinew, his fingers and toes crooked and knobby. The flesh on the Navigator’s face has sloughed downwards, lending his features the appearance of melted wax. His shrouded Warp Eye, a cybernetic sheaf clamped tight over it, sits in the centre of his atrophied face, his conventional eyes barely visible in amongst the folds of shrivelled flesh beneath.
While the Navigator’s appearance might cause some measure of disgust in the Battle-Brothers, in itself it is far from unusual for all Navigators to eventually succumb to such extremes of mutation. While some retreat to their House’s estates and palaces, others continue to serve, locking themselves away in an armoured tabernacle or gel-filled vat from which they can guide their vessel safely through the Warp. Tarakon, however, fell prey to mutation long before his time, and as such was ill prepared for his new state. When doom came for the Sword of MacLir, it appears that Tarakon Ortellius was within his cryo-stasis chamber, suggesting that the vessel was not traversing Warp Space, or if it was, a more junior Navigator was guiding it.
The Navigator has spent untold centuries in his cryo-stasis sanctum, the system intermittently powering down in a self-maintenance cycle, ejecting the internee before allowing him back in once more. Exactly how the Navigator survived exposure to the Warp is likely never to be known and it is unlikely that a stasis field would be sufficient to protect his soul from the gibbering fiends of the Sea of Souls. Perhaps his soul is as cursed as his body, tainted to such a degree that even the predators of the Empyrean reject it.
Whatever the truth, the Navigator’s mind is totally and irrevocably shattered. He desires sanctuary from the Warp, and if that is denied him he demands he be put to death.
The Emperor’s Gaze Editar
Trapped deep within the Warp-tainted mass of Mortis Thule is the wreck of an Imperial Navy voidship named The Emperor’s Gaze. Though one of countless hulls that make up the vast Space Hulk, The Emperor’s Gaze is all but unique, for despite the fact that it was drawn onto Mortis Thule several decades ago, remnants of its crew survive yet. The crew has been delivered from the insanity and predators of the Warp by a singular blessing—the vessel’s Gellar field has miraculously remained functional despite the ruination inflicted on the remainder of the ship, a fact the pious survivors give thanks to the God-Emperor for each and every day of their continued existence.
The Emperor’s Gaze is, or rather was, a Tarask-class merchant vessel tithed into service in the Achilus Crusade at the outset of the glorious invasion of the Jericho Reach. Prior to its conscription, the vessel had served a number of trading houses holding Merchant Charters to ply the lesser Warp routes along the spinward verges of the Calixis Sector, and served its owners well for many centuries. With the coming of the Achilus Crusade, the vessel was demanded by the Warmaster’s staff, though in common with many operations relating to the crusade, its owners were given no choice in matter, never informed of their vessel’s fate, and despite promissory notes to the contrary, not remunerated for their loss...
Having joined the massing fleets of the Achilus Crusade and mustered on the Calixis end of the newly discovered Jericho-Maw Warp Gate, The Emperor’s Gaze was assigned a new crew and a new role. No longer would the vessel serve as a merchant hauler running high value, no-questions-asked cargoes along the Calixis-Scarus Warp Conduit. Instead, it would transport cadres of diplomats tasked with overseeing the integration of newly reconquered worlds of the Jericho Reach into the Imperium of Man. It would serve as messenger, ambassador, and attaché, delivering the light of the God-Emperor to the long-benighted souls of the Reach.
As history records in the annals of the Achilus Crusade, such dreams were not to be realised. Unbelievably, world after world rejected the word of the Emperor, taking up arms against the hosts of Warmaster Achilus. Total war consumed the Jericho Reach, and the ambassadors and iterators of The Emperor’s Gaze found themselves relegated to secondary roles. Adepts bred for and schooled their entire lives to fulfil their duties were assigned tasks they believed far below their highly specialised skills. They became attachés and bureaucrats, and in some cases little more than messengers. Despite the numerous military glories won in the initial phases of the crusade, the adepts of The Emperor’s Gaze knew utter despair. Shockingly, the diplomats’ thoughts turned against their masters in the crusade’s high command, and rebellion was seeded in their hearts.
The Gaze Averted Editar
It may be the case that servants of the Ruinous Powers whispered honeyed lies into the shadowed hearts of the diplomats, or even that they came under some form of xenos domination. Just as likely is the all too human sin of pride. Cast aside and without purpose, their souls rejected the ideals they had been raised from birth to propagate in the hearts of others, and some say that in response the Emperor turned his gaze away from them, withdrawing his blessings.
Whether or not they brought their curse down upon their own heads, the masters of The Emperor’s Gaze soon reaped the harvest of their rebellion. Ordered to undertake the latest in a long chain of seemingly insignificant missions that amounted to little more than routine liaison between reserve tier factotums, The Emperor’s Gaze made what would amount to its final voyage in the service of the Achilus Crusade. Its transmission was a standard status log sent from the outer system jump node at Karlack. Two hours later, The Emperor’s Gaze made Warp, and was neither seen nor heard from again.
Cast Adrift Editar
Moments after translating to the Warp and setting sail across the Sea of Souls, The Emperor’s Gaze was caught in the baleful and inexorable pull of Mortis Thule. The exact cause of the accident is likely never to be determined, but it is just as likely that the vessel’s Navigator was neglectful in his duties as some doom brought about by his own secret disloyalty caused the death of thousands of the transport’s crew. The Emperor’s Gaze was dashed upon the vast mass of Mortis Thule, the unreal energies of the Warp twisting and distorting it, melding it into the bulk of the Space Hulk until, when finally the seething energies receded, The Emperor’s Gaze came to rest deep in the bowels of Mortis Thule, nine in every ten of its crew slain, their souls devoured by the ravenous denizens of the Warp.
Of those few that survived the calamity, most were driven far beyond the point of sanity by the experience. These set about a rampage of flagellatory destruction in which hundreds more were slaughtered and numerous parts of the vessel that had survived were set to the torch. A small number of survivors, however, realised that far from being cursed, they had been delivered. They realised that the Emperor had given them a chance at salvation and kept their Gellar field functioning, albeit intermittently. If the survivors remained faithful, surviving long enough to earn the Emperor’s forgiveness, then surely they would earn their freedom. The Space Hulk would one day free them and The Emperor’s Gaze would be disgorged from the Empyrean, to serve the Imperium of Man once more.
While the view that the Emperor had granted the survivors some manner of second chance was eventually taken up by all of the former crew, opinions varied greatly as to how deliverance might be earned. Those driven mad by the initial accident roamed the companionways yet, and while they eventually relented in their wanton destruction, they remained on the very edge of madness, their eyes glinting with the strange illumination that haunts the depths of the Sea of Souls. An accord of sorts was arrived at, both factions agreeing that they had been spared that they might earn redemption for their masters’ sins.
An uneasy truce in place, the thousand or so survivors of the collision with Mortis Thule and the subsequent insanity turned their efforts to survival. With the Gellar field still miraculously functional they were able to withstand the Space Hulk’s periodic voyages through the Warp, but other, more immediate enemies threatened their survival from the very beginning. Monstrous Genestealers were drawn to the wreck, infiltrating its outer skin through wounds only they could detect. For several years, the survivors stood at the precipice of destruction, fighting a ceaseless war against the predators that stalked the dark tunnels of Mortis Thule, ever hanging on to life by the barest of threads.
Initially, the survivors lived on the ship’s supplies, for these had been intended to feed many more mouths. Yet, much had been lost and much more tainted, and soon the crew was forced to resort to highly unconventional means of feeding themselves. Most food is supplied by the cultivation of fungi in the deeper holds, vast chambers that glow with the eerie bio-luminescence of the retched harvest. More rarely, nutrition is derived from the corpses of the fallen, for the vessel was fitted with a reclamation unit able to turn a dead body into enough corpse starch to keep starvation at bay.
Almost two years after the accident, the surviving crew of The Emperor’s Gaze met its next challenge, and one that almost tore it apart. When a boarding party from the Terrozant Rogue Trader Dynasty landed a vessel in one of the cavernous exterior holds, the survivors were faced with the prospect of imminent rescue. Instead of celebrations, however, overt hostilities broke out as opinions on how to proceed split the group in two and revealed that the old wounds had not healed, but festered. One faction held that only the Emperor can bestow deliverance upon the survivors, by drawing the Space Hulk in realspace in the vicinity of an Imperial held world, allowing the crew to depart the Space Hulk with honour and take their place in the ranks of the faithful once more. The other faction held that the explorers must surely have been guided to the wreck by the will of the Emperor, and they should be contacted right away in the hope of rescue. While the debate was raging, the boarding party was slaughtered by Genestealers, and soon after Mortis Thule was plunged back into the Warp once more.
Lost in the Warp Editar
Since that first moment of potential rescue, the survivors have settled upon a course of action that appears to have secured if not deliverance, a respite of sorts. Having split themselves into numerous smaller sub-groups, the survivors have undertaken to maintain the continuous chanting of a prayer song intended to bring the Emperor’s mercy down upon them. Each of these choirs maintains its sonorous chant in a continuous cycle, so that the companionways of The Emperor’s Gaze and the tunnels of the Space Hulk beyond echo to the deep, plaintive song. Those of both factions pray with equal fervour, one that rescuers might be drawn by their display of piety, the other that the Emperor might cause Mortis Thule to disgorge them near a world on which they might settle. In the strained minds of some of the survivors, something resembling a new creed has set root. Some seek rescuers they imagine as radiant angels, while others look to a paradise world to claim. Much of the time, the disparate factions are content to set aside their differences, but should the proximity of outsiders be detected, old tensions boil up anew and bloodshed is often the end result.
Key locations of The Emperor’s Gaze Editar
The outer hull of The Emperor’s Gaze is largely invisible, being comprehensively melded into the bulk of Mortis Thule. Given the vessel’s merchantman origins, the hull bears little or no armour, making it possible to cut through at numerous weak points. The survivors have had to reinforce the hull in order to block off potential routes the ever-present Genestealer menace might utilise to infiltrate and slaughter all within. Huge plates and spurs salvaged from nearby areas have been dragged into the hull to be used as a secondary layer of metal skin, and to date this appears to have kept the predators of Mortis Thule at bay. In truth, it is more likely that the constant prayer-choirs are responsible for the survivors’ continued survival against such infiltrations, the Genestealers and other creatures seeking more easily cornered prey.
Plasma Drives Editar
The Emperor’s Gaze’s plasma drives are functional, but only at the very lowest possible state. Without a cadre of Tech-Priests, Servitors, and stokers it is unlikely the drives will ever be coaxed to full power, but in their latent cycle they produce just enough power to maintain other critical systems, albeit at a very low level indeed. The most critical of these is of course the Gellar field, and the survivors have installed countless failsafe power feeds so that, even should every other component fail, the Gellar field will remain on line and the survivors’ souls spared from eternal damnation.
Gellard Field Editar
The vessel’s Gellar field is by far its most precious asset, for without it the crew would long ago have fallen prey to the predators of the Warp that materialise around it each time the Space Hulk plunges into the Sea of Souls. While it functions, the field is not entirely uniform or predictable and does not always provide protection for the entire ship. Because of this, the survivors are forced to take refuge as close to its projection nodes as possible, often mustering amidships where the field is generally strongest. During these times, the prayer-choirs all come together, their voices singing as one as they beseech the God-Emperor of Mankind for deliverance from the Warp even as vile creatures of tooth and claw gibber and drool scant metres away, unable to cross the threshold of the Gellar field.
Void Shields Editar
The Tarask-class was built for speed far more than durability, and it was for this reason that The Emperor’s Gaze was conscripted into the Achilus Crusade to serve as a transport for the diplomatic corps. The vessel’s original void shield projector was replaced at the outset of the crusade, for it was found not to be functional and probably had not been so for over a century. The new array, of a pattern constructed in the Lathe Worlds in the Calixis sector, proved its worth on several occasions during the vessel’s service, though it has not functioned at all since the accident.
Truly ancient machine systems, the voidship’s life-sustainer systems cling to functionality despite every punishment inflicted upon them, but only just. Large parts of the vessel are barely served by working air filtration and water purification systems at all, while other areas seem unaffected.
Crew compartments Editar
The survivors number approximately a thousand souls, a number that is a small fraction of the original complement. As such, there is more than enough space to accommodate everyone, including the small number of families that have sprung up amongst the ranks. Most of the survivors choose to make their quarters amidships, where the Gellar field is most reliable in case Mortis Thule should be dragged back into the Warp without warning. Some survivors have developed a sense for an imminent Warp jump, however, and choose to exist as virtual hermits at the furthest extent of the vessel, only returning to the fold when the Gellar field is weak and the entire complement gathers together amidships to sing as one for the blessings of the Emperor.
The command deck of The Emperor’s Gaze is a cold, lifeless chamber, for despite the best efforts of its crew it has proven impossible to restore any power to its machine systems. Dozens of command terminals and pict-screens remain blank, denying the survivors a means of coordinating the functions of those systems that are still intact. Bereft of its original purpose, the bridge has taken on a new significance to the survivors. It has become the subject of numerous pilgrimages, journeys made perilous because the bridge is some distance from the sanctuary of the Gellar field nodes and reaching it is made difficult by the distortions afflicted on many passages when the vessel was melded into the bowels of Mortis Thule. Nevertheless, many regard the risk as worthwhile. Every surface of the bridge is covered with hundreds of votive candles, the melted wax running down the bulkheads as a warm golden illumination lends the chamber a deeply sacred character.
Warp Drives Editar
Following the calamity that melded The Emperor’s Gaze with Mortis Thule, the vessel’s Warp drive remained functional, yet it soon transpired that some form of mishap had befallen the arcane machine systems. The further along the access passages the survivors approached, the more they became afflicted with disorientation and mania. Those few that attempted to gain access to the drive chamber made it only as far as the main portal at the termination of the vessel’s spine, at which point they were observed from afar to drop to their knees with their hands clamped over their ears, bellowing their denial at some foe no one else could see. Needless to say, the survivors sealed off the approach to the Warp drive chamber and while it appears to remain idle even without any crew to tend it, none dare approach it to check.
In its former existence as a merchantman, The Emperor’s Gaze was blessed with very little in the way of augur arrays, its sensors limited to those needed to manoeuvre safely to dock and to detect hazardous stellar phenomena. These utilitarian systems were improved when the vessel was requisitioned to participate in the Achilus Crusade, the better to serve the mission of its diplomatic corps masters. The survivors have been unable to coax any functionality from the augur arrays, despite repeated supplications to the system’s machine spirits, and with no servants of the Omnissiah in their ranks, they are unlikely to be able to do so.
Weapons Batteries Editar
The Emperor’s Gaze was no warship, but like all vessels in the fleets of the Imperium was equipped with a rudimentary armament intended to dissuade attacks of opportunity by the numerous raiders that plague the space lanes. With the voidship entrapped in the mass of Mortis Thule, its weapons batteries are useless and almost certainly damaged beyond repair by the forces exerted on the outer hull during the collision.
As a merchantman specialising in high value, low bulk goods, the holds of The Emperor’s Gaze were never especially voluminous, and since its conscription into the diplomatic corps of the Warmaster’s staff, these were reduced as other systems were augmented. Since the vessel’s loss, the holds have been converted into culture chambers for the weird fungus that serves as the bulk foodstuff of the survivors. When correctly processed, the end result is a nutritious, but vile tasting paste most of the survivors resent eating, though they understand it has kept them alive well enough. When incorrectly processed, the end result has no nutritional value at all, but is said to taste quite pleasant. The pious survivors allow the eating of this variety only to celebrate the Feast of the Emperor’s Ascension, regarding it as a frivolous waste of scant resources.
Crew reclamation Chamber Editar
The alternative to eating the fungus cultivated in the holds is to consume the product of the vessel’s crew reclamation facility. It is perhaps a cruel twist of fate that power to the facility’s systems appears to be constant and has never ceased to function even when almost every other system has fallen silent. The facility serves to render down the corpses of dead crew into a tasteless grey gruel known as “corpse-starch.” Such facilities are common in the hive worlds of the Imperium and not unheard of on large warships and exploration vessels, especially those undertaking long or perilous missions and thus guaranteeing a steady supply of raw material. Exactly why The Emperor’s Gaze should be host to such a facility is unknown, though some amongst the survivors suspect that a previous master might have had a perverse taste for the stuff. Whatever the truth, the reclamation facility kept the survivors alive for over a year before they learned how to grow the fungus they have consumed since, though the facility stands ever ready, some would say eager, to serve if needed again.
Astropathic choir Chamber Editar
The Emperor’s Gaze’s choir chamber is another of the additions the vessel received after it was pressed into service with the crusade, and by far the largest. The ship was judged in need of such a feature because of its mission. Communication was vital to the diplomatic staff it carried, whether they were broadcasting a welcome to a newly encountered society or a request for a display of firepower to the Imperial Navy. When the crusade encountered far greater levels of resistance in the Jericho Reach than any anticipated, and the ship’s mission was relegated to messenger, this grand facility was mothballed, all but one of its staff assigned to other duties elsewhere in the fleet.
Now, the Astropathic Choir Chamber stands empty and ruined, tier upon tier of empty caskets never to serve as receptacles for the servants of the Adeptus Astra Telepathica again. The one Astropath who remained after his peers were shipped out perished in the calamity, but some of the survivors swear his shade lingers still in the shattered remains of the choir. If true, none have witnessed it, but it is undeniable that the choir chamber is noticeably colder than the rest of the vessel and that something feels extremely wrong to those that enter.
Cogitation Core Editar
The ship’s logic-engine is the heart of its machine systems, the nexus of a million different feeds, relays and conduits. Sadly for the survivors, the cogitation core is barely functional, only its lower order processes running while all higher functions were obliterated during the accident. Without such processes, it is unlikely that any major degree of functionality could ever be restored to the vessel as a whole, yet still the survivors direct continuous prayers to the mighty spirit slumbering within the cold, dull crystal stacks.
Survivors of The Emperor's Gaze Editar
When The Emperor’s Gaze fell victim to the draw of Mortis Thule, over ninety percent of its crew were slain, their bodies torn apart by marauding Warp entities or crushed by the impossible forces exerted on their vessel while their souls were devoured by the predatory denizens of the Abyss. Even when the ship settled into the tomb-like embrace of the Space Hulk the slaughter did not relent, for soon after many hundreds of frenzied men and women set about an orgy of penitent destruction that wreaked havoc amongst the ranks of those that survived.
The bloodshed unleashed by the Warp and by the survivors themselves knew no distinctions of rank, class, or role. Death was indiscriminate, coming for everyone from the captain to the lowliest plasma rat. When at last some form of order descended and the survivors were afforded an opportunity to count their losses, they found that all but a thousand of the original 18,560 listed crew had perished, including every one of the commissioned officers.
Because of the divisions within the ranks of the survivors, as well as the fact that almost all of their energies are devoted to prayer, no strictly defined chain of command now exists amongst them. Indeed, whenever any individual has attempted to take overall control, violence has flared once more. The survivors tend to organise themselves around their self-imposed duties, each a member of a prayer-choir of between twenty and a hundred penitents. While individuals within each choir tend to take on the role of community leader, no one amongst their number has any power over any other choir and most tend to shun contact with the other groups except during musters about the Gellar field nodes during especially traumatic Warp jumps.
Arno Stak Editar
Prior to the disaster that slew so many of its crew and passengers, The Emperor’s Gaze was tasked with transporting a cadre of adepts assigned to the Warmaster’s general staff. The cadre numbered approximately two hundred officials, ranging in rank from the single Sub-Designate all the way down to three-dozen lowly diplomatic envoys. It is from the ranks of the latter that the sole survivor of this cadre is drawn, an individual called Arno Stak.
The last voyage of The Emperor’s Gaze was Stak’s first. Like so many Imperial citizens, the newly appointed Arno Stak had been raised largely in ignorance of the truth of Warp travel, and when he was assigned to the crusade’s staff and joined the messenger ship at Karlack, he had listened with utter horror to the sermons of the ship’s confessor as he prepared the crew for the voyage. The confessor told tales of the fiends that gibbered and seethed in the Sea of Souls, seeking but a sliver of weakness or impurity to draw them through the protective skin of reality and devour all within. The confessor told tales of the Warp transforming into solid stone, entombing ships for all time. He ranted of slimestreaked tentacles pocked with gibbering lamprey mouths forcing their way in through poorly warded port holes to drag out Gaze, any passengers they could reach. Unsurprisingly, Stakwas terrified, so that by the time The Emperor’s Gazeset out he was all but numb with fear.
Sensing the young adept’s weakness, thevessel’s confessor determined to steelhis soul against the horrors of the Warp. But instead of soothing wordsor a stirring sermon, Stak wasconvicted to a hundred strokes ofthe neural lash, a punishmentmeted out in the hours beforethe vessel’s final translationinto the Warp.At the very momentdoom came for The Emperor’s, Arno Stak was unableto react with anything butwide-eyed insanity, for hewas confined within a pillorycage in the forward musterhall. Thus, he was forcedto watch as the confessor’sbody was torn inside out byethereal limbs emerging fromhis every orifice. He screamedhelplessly as his crew mates wereincinerated by living, Warp-bornfire. He gibbered uncontrollablyas the remainder of the diplomaticstaff turned upon one another in acannibalistic fury, possessed by thedenizens of the Empyrean, their eyeswide with helpless terror as their ownbodies enacted the vilest of deeds.
Blessedly, at some point during thecalamity, Stak plunged into a comafrom which he did not emerge foralmost a week. When he awoke he found himself swathed in a straitjacket, for he had ranted and raved uncontrollably for so long that the other survivors had bound him for his own protection and for their own sanity. During his coma, Stak’s mind had apparently convinced itself that the sights and sounds he had witnessed were but a figment of his imagination, or perhaps a vision sent by the Emperor as a warning against something he has yet to fully comprehend.
Stak is, for all intents and purposes, the most highly ranked survivor left on board The Emperor’s Gaze, though in practise this has little meaning. Stak serves as choirmaster and de facto leader of a small group of survivors who chant every waking hour, their base Starboard Mess Deck 88. Though his diplomatic training has served him well as a leader, Stak is, in fact, utterly insane, a truth he hides extremely well. His greatest secret is the fact that he blames himself for the doom of Emperor’s Gaze, utterly convinced that the words of the ship’s confessor were correct.
Chief Killick Editar
A fearsome grox of a man, his body a mass of scar tissue, devotional tattoos, and utility-grade augmetics, Chief Killick holds sway over a large number of survivors, especially those that once tended The Emperor’s Gaze’s Warp drives. Chief Killick was the petty officer in charge of discipline amongst the vessel’s plasma-stokers, one of the largest divisions of voidsmen onboard. Few stokers survive for long in the service of the Imperial Navy, for their duties are so dangerous that dozens fall victim to all manner of accidents every voyage. Even those that learn to avoid the continuous and largely uncontrolled plasma venting and other hazards generally survive only so long as their bodies can withstand the lethal radiation that floods the drive section every time the engines are brought to full power.
Chief Killick was an exception, a man so tough those under him came to view him as immortal. It was by sheer force of will that he rose from Ordinary Shipman to earn himself a place amongst the ship’s petty officer corps. It is hardly a surprise that Killick survived the doom of The Emperor’s Gaze, and in fact a number of legends have sprung up amongst the survivors about how he did so. Some claim he actually fought off a Warp devil, while others relate how even the fiends of the Warp are cowed by his formidable presence. While no doubt the product of minds stretched beyond breaking point, there is likely to be some kernel of truth to these stories, for Chief Killick is every bit as tough and stubborn as the legends suggest.
Medicae Dhunn Editar
As a relatively small vessel, and not a warship in the Warmaster’s fleets, The Emperor’s Gaze had to make do with many secondrate facilities. One such compromise was in the provision of medicae services, for all of the fully trained and accredited naval surgeons and other medicae staff were required at the front lines. As a messenger vessel, The Emperor’s Gaze had to make its own provisions in this regard, the crew either tending to the sick and injured themselves or else seeking out the services of privately practising chirurgeons on the rare occasions they were allowed to go ashore while at dock.
“Medicae” Dhunn was the sole recognised medical authority on board The Emperor’s Gaze before the calamity, and having survived the death of so many of his crew mates, he remains so after it. Dhunn has never spoken of his training, though he is undoubtedly proficient in first aid, especially the tending of severe trauma. Where Dhunn is far less proficient is in the more common fields of medical practise, knowing almost nothing of the common afflictions that all humans suffer from. The reason for this, while unknown to any amongst the survivors, is quite straightforward. Dhunn is a deserter, a former Janissary of the 212th Maccabian Regiment. His unit decimated in battle and withdrawn for punishment to a bulk-garrison at Karlack, Dhunn somehow escaped the regimental provosts. Hours later, he was caught in an Imperial Navy pressgang sweep intended to supplement the crew of the soon-to-depart Emperor’s Gaze. Realising this fate was far preferable to that he had escaped, Dhunn welcomed his new role as one voidsman amongst thousands, and his training in combat medicae soon resulted in him becoming a valued member of his division.
To this day, Dhunn has not shared the secret of his true identity with any of his fellow survivors. In truth, he dreads the day that the survivors might be rescued, for that day his secret is very likely catch up with him.
Sergeant-At-Arms Noto Corinthi Editar
Sergeant Corinthi was the highest ranked member of The Emperor’s Gaze’s armsmen corps, her role before the calamity being to enforce discipline and to maintain security. Noto enjoyed her role—some might even say too much. She was known and feared amongst the plasma-stokers and bilge-tenders as a stern disciplinarian, and many said she would make Master-at-Arms within a couple of years. Unknown to many, Sergeant Corinthi yearned for so much more than her role, spending much of her off-watch time training or developing her already formidable skills at arms. In truth, Noto yearned for action so much that she developed a paranoid belief that The Emperor’s Gaze was being trailed by xenos pirates, and so she amassed a small, private arms cache in her quarters against the time when she personally would lead the defence against rabid enemy boarders and so earn the recognition she felt she deserved.
When the enemy did come, it was not space lane reavers, but the fell denizens of the Warp that attacked her precious vessel. Faced with such creatures, Sergeant Corinthi’s mind snapped and she embarked on an armed rampage even as The Emperor’s Gaze was torn apart by the raging energies of the Empyrean. It was almost as if Sergeant-at-Arms Corinthi was one with the Daemonic entities, stalking the companionways and unleashing death and judgement upon any she encountered, whether man or fiend. How she survived is unknown to all, including herself, for she awoke in the inner sanctum of one of the vessel’s numerous utility chapels, lying upon the deck in a foetal curl, her body wrapped about a bolt gun, its magazine entirely empty and its barrel scorched black by continuous firing. Brief images of the murder she had wrought flickering across her mind’s eye were all she could recall of her rampage, but Noto Corinthi knew she had done something utterly horrific.
In the aftermath of the calamity, Noto Corinthi swore herself to a life of penitence and abstinence. Her every waking hour is spent in prayer-song and she brooks no talk of violence. Yet every now and then when she blinks, Noto Corinthi sees some fresh realisation of the horrors she enacted that day. Little wonder she keeps her bolt gun secreted beneath her bunk in her sparsely maintained quarters.
Lay-Technician Ridu Kam Editar
Not a single member of The Emperor’s Gaze’s cadre of ordained Tech-Priests survived the calamity, but these were not the only crew with some knowledge of the workings of the machine. Several hundred ratings were entrusted with some small degree of technical knowledge, men and women judged intelligent and pure enough of heart to be taught the lowermost tiers of the Omnissiah’s teachings. Such specialists are present in many organisations, for there cannot always be a Tech-Priest on hand to operate every single machine, nor can a Servitor do so in cases where some degree of autonomous thought is needed. The vessel’s “lay-technicians” were entrusted with such tasks as monitoring plasma pressure levels, replacing spent filters on air scrubbing systems, replenishing nonfunctional lumen globes, and a thousand other, equally vital tasks. Several dozen lay-technicians survived the doom of The Emperor’s Gaze, and it is well they did, for without them it is unlikely those not slain in the calamity would have survived more than a week even without the predations of the other creatures present on Mortis Thule.
Ridu Kam, is the most senior of those inducted into the workings of the machine amongst the ranks of the survivors. It is thanks to the tireless efforts of Kam and his peers that power remains online for most of the time, and that the fungal culture chambers function. Kam’s most important duty is to ensure that the Gellar field remains operational, and this he has managed to do even though he has absolutely no knowledge of the workings of power relay systems. Privately, Kam is experiencing something of an inner trial. Either the Omnissiah is working through him and guiding his hand, or the machinery is able to function quite well without the mystic ritual usually heaped upon even the most routine task. Needless to say, Kam has yet to voice his inner torment to any of his peers, fearing they will expose his doubt or renounce him.
Shattered Heart Editar
One of the routes that any Kill-team might take towards escaping Mortis Thule takes them through a region ruled by a megalomaniac outcast of the Holy Ordos of the Emperor’s Inquisition. This individual was thought lost several years ago during a mission in the vicinity of the Slinnar Drift stellar cluster and in truth very few amongst his peers mourned his supposed passing. A powerful psyker, the individual was once a senior Acolyte of an Inquisitor of the Ordo Xenos known as Thaddeus Hakk, known to hold somewhat unorthodox factional beliefs. In Hakk’s former disciple, the Battle-Brothers discover a powerful rogue psyker who intends to raise an army of outcasts and mutants and to unleash them against the Imperium. Worse still, the renegade has discovered a vessel of xenos origins deep within Mortis Thule and intends to awaken it and utilise its puissant powers to truly hideous ends. Should this come to pass, the ranks of the Inquisition in the Jericho Reach and potentially in the Calixis Sector might be consumed by one of the most destructive kinds of internal strife—an Inquisition War, where outright hostilities erupt between the different factions and entire worlds are transformed into their battlegrounds.
The Antiquarti Editar
The ranks of the Inquisition are riven by countless factional differences and doctrines, broadly defined as Puritan or Radical. In truth, these differences are the Inquisition’s greatest strength, for they ensure a constant struggle. Whether Radical or Puritan in outlook, the factions within the Inquisition define how an Inquisitor and his followers believe his mission should be undertaken. One faction, only recently come into being within the Jericho Reach, is known as the Antiquarti, and the beliefs of this as yet small group focus on the idea that the universe is regulated by underlying patterns that govern the ebb and flow of fate. If one can gain the proper perspective, or so the Antiquarti believe, one can perceive patterns spanning hundreds, thousands, or even millions of years and by doing so discern the future. The Antiquarti hold, for example, that the Tyranids have ravaged the galaxy before, and so the secret of their defeat is to be found by unlocking the secrets of the last invasion. The servants of this faction delve into the most forbidden of secrets in their quest, breaking into the tombs of long extinct xenos empires, following the most obscure strands of fate, and attempting to unlock the most impossible of formulas.
The founder of the Antiquarti faction is an Inquisitor known as Thaddeus Hakk, a man considered by many of his peers as a dangerous outcast and a Radical deserving only execution. Yet, Hakk bears the Inquisitorial Rosette, so he is able to continue in his self appointed mission, his disciples and agents moving unseen amongst the shadows of the Jericho Reach and beyond in their endless search to uncover the past. Some say that Hakk has learned of the ultimate repository of the most ancient knowledge in the galaxy—the Black Library of the Eldar—and that the masters of that forbidden archive have in return learned of him. If true, then it is likely that the Harlequins are hunting Thaddeus Hakk and his disciples even now, and surely nowhere in the entire galaxy can be safe.
Interrogator Thirl Editar
Once one of Thaddeus Hakk’s most prominent disciples, Interrogator Thirl delved into places so forbidden he did indeed draw the attentions of the Harlequins. It was during a mission to the depths of the Slinnar Drift that Thirl and his companions drew the notice of the mysterious agents of the Eldar’s vengeance, as they sought to unlock an xenos tomb uncovered beneath the shifting sands of a long dead world. The intrusion must have triggered wards as ancient as the human race, for the Harlequins were upon the Interrogator and his party before their las-cutters had breached the living metal walls of the tomb. Interrogator Thirl was the only survivor of that battle, though the means of his escape remain unrecorded.
Thirl vanished for several years and was given up as dead by his fellow Antiquarti. In truth, the Interrogator spent that time in increasingly desperate flight, the vengeful Harlequins always one step behind him or waiting just around the next turn. Becoming ever more frantic, Thirl sought refuge in the most unlikely of places, yet always the Eldar found him out and he was forced to flee their wrath. On Amenophis IV, Interrogator Thirl sought to bargain with the machine-entity known to its human worshippers as the Array, hoping he could plunder its stygian data vaults for records pre-dating the Age of Imperium.
Before he could do so he was discovered and only barely escaped with his life. On Vallia, Interrogator Thirl sought to dominate the malign intelligence that links every living cell on that death world, yet almost succumbed to the planet’s indomitable will, as did several of his pursuers. Recovering from his mental injuries deep in the wastelands of the planet Cocijo, Interrogator Thirl uncovered legends of a visitation by Mortis Thule, and a prediction that another such appearance was imminent.
Though it ran counter to all his instincts, Interrogator Thirl waited for the predicted appearance, spending far longer in one location than ever he had before. Sure enough, the prediction proved true and Mortis Thule appeared in orbit over the blasted world, bringing with it a wave of despair and madness amongst the colonists of the world’s frontier settlements. Breaking cover, Thirl made for the Space Hulk in his gun cutter before it could vanish once more, yet in so doing revealed himself to those who had been watching patiently for him. The Harlequins attacked once again, the battle continuing even as the Interrogator plunged into the haunted depths of Mortis Thule.
At that point deliverance came, and from a most unexpected source. Seeking any place he might hide from his pursuers, the Interrogator came upon a population of mutants living in the depths of the Space Hulk, and bringing every shred of his will to bear, he turned them to his service. The tables turned, the Harlequins were defeated, though a hundred mutants were slain for every Eldar life they claimed.
In the aftermath of this bloody battle, Interrogator Thirl found himself the master of a powerful, if unruly, army of mutants seething with hatred for the world outside of the dark, haunted tunnels of Mortis Thule a further discovery to be made, and one that would change Thirl’s ambitions for all time.
The Heart of Glass Editar
His pursuers finally defeated, Interrogator Thirl set about consolidating his control over his new subjects and exploring the dark realm in which they lived. He soon discovered that the mutants represented not a stable community but a refuge of dregs washed up over the decades and altered by some force peculiar to Mortis Thule. He found out that this force was exerting a powerful influence on the minds and bodies of the mutant populations, and that it was emanating from the very fabric of the haven in which they lurked. That haven was, Thirl discovered, a vessel of ancient and wholly xenos origin trapped within the bulk of the Space Hulk. The vessel was utterly unlike anything Thirl had ever witnessed before, its innards a maze of tunnels seemingly grown from black crystal that glowed dimly with some malevolent lambent force. The mutants called their refuge the Heart of Glass, and Thirl soon became convinced that the vessel was the source of the changes that had turned normal, mortal men into hideous, yet incredibly strong and long-lived mutant abominations.
Further to his astounding discovery, Interrogator Thirl found something of far deeper significance. The Heart of Glass was working on him too, yet because he was a psyker, and a powerful one at that, it was exerting an influence not on his body but on his soul. Thirl’s powers were being fed such that, within a scant few months he was able to commune with the dark spirit that lurked deep within the core of the Heart of Glass. What he found there broke his mind, tore his soul asunder, and proved how utterly right the Eldar were to seek his doom.
The Heart of Glass, Thirl discovered, was a warship of a xenos race thought long-eradicated from the galaxy and all but unknown in the regions Mortis Thule haunted. This species was the Yu’vath, a long-dead race of powerful beings whose empire stretched through the Calyx Expanse to the edge of the Halo Stars. Long before the birth of Humanity, the vile xenos had sought to master the powers of the Immaterium, and had damned themselves and countless other species in the process. To Thirl’s excitement, the presence of Yu’vath technology in the Jericho Reach, so far from their known regions in the Calixis Sector and Koronus Expanse, added weight to the teachings of Inquisitor Hakk. With each revelation he uncovered, Thirl became ever more determined that the warship must be freed from its resting place and returned to the region of its birth. In so doing, he would uncover the knowledge of the warship’s creators and realise the dreams of the Antiquarti. He would have no need to access the Black Library, for he would be able to commune with the dreaming dead, beings that had once mastered the power of the Warp and spawned countless millions of slave creatures to do their bidding. Were Thirl’s erstwhile peers within the Holy Ordos to learn of his plan, vast swathes of the Jericho Reach and potentially the Calixis Sector might be consumed in the ensuing conflict.
Now, Interrogator Thirl waits in the core of the Heart of Glass, ever watchful for an opportunity to set his army of twisted slave troops upon the galaxy and to free the ancient xenos warship from its tomb deep within the fabric of Mortis Thule. All it might take for this megalomaniacal vision to be realised is for the Space Hulk to appear from the Warp within a star system harbouring the necessary resources to free the Heart of Glass, for then the Interrogator plans to unleash his army upon that system and gain control of those resources. Only the fickle whims of the tides of the Warp, and perhaps the eternal vigilance of the Emperor upon his Golden Throne, has held such an event at bay thus far.
Otras secciones Editar
- Admiral Ishmael.
- Armour of Contempt.
- Will of Thor.
- Toil of Aedir.
- Deathwatch: The Achilus Assault (Juego de Rol). EN PROCESO
- Deathwatch: Ark of Lost Souls (Juego de Rol). EN PROCESO