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Offline Darknight

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The History of Ophelia VII
« on: July 08, 2017, 12:58:37 AM »
I have been writing a fan history of Ophelia VII, both to give my invented Sisters of Battle Order (the Order of Our Crystal Lady) background but also to address some of the puzzling elements and inconsistencies in the Ophelia VII canon (not least of which is that the planet is variously referred to as Ophelia IV and Ophelia VII!) The history (together with other Sisters of Battle stuff) is found on my blog here but I reproduce it so the forum can see and comment! :)

This thread is one of several threads I have created specifically to organize my completed projects, work in progress, army design and background. They can be accessed here;
Completed projects plog (all armies and games)
The History of Ophelia VII (fan history of the 40K planet)

« Last Edit: July 08, 2017, 01:01:29 AM by Darknight »
Completed Projects | History of Ophelia VII

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Offline Darknight

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Re: The History of Ophelia VII
« Reply #1 on: July 08, 2017, 12:59:49 AM »
The Tale of Verity pt I: The Treaty of Mars

Following the Unification Wars of ancient Terra, the Emperor of Mankind realized - if his vision of a unified galaxy were to be achieved - he would need to ally with the vast empire of Mars. Not only could he ill-afford the awful war that would be necessary to conquer them, but their technological knowledge and manufacturing capability were essential for his planned Great Crusade. And so it was, perhaps for the first time, the Master of Mankind came in peace, landing atop the greatest mountain of the Red Planet, Olympus Mons, in a golden spaceship. Emerging with all the glory and majesty his vast psychic power could conjur, he came to treat with the Cult Mechanicus.

The Emperor's penetrating intellect, deep and wide-ranging knowledge, and seemingly-supernatural power - repairing a damaged Knight-Titan with but a touch - awed the Martians. Having expunged all mutations from their gene-stock millennia before, they had no frame of reference for the Emperor's psychic might, and so many of them came to worship him as the Omnissiah, the living incarnation of the Machine God. It was as the Omnissiah that the Emperor was presented to the masses of Mars, allowing the Treaty of Olympus Mons to be signed.

One of the first members of the Cult Mechanicus to herald the Emperor as the Omnissiah was a young tech-priestess called Verity. Ironically enough, this is likely a pseudonym, her true name having been lost over the ages. Her speciality and focus was cogitators and their logic-circuits, and she was a member of sub-cult who understood the Quest for Knowledge not only explicitly as a quest for truth, but also a quest against falsehood, deception and deceit. Those who had come before her had labored to create not only evidence-weighing and conclusion-deriving cogitators and logic-engines, but also specialized auspices capable of detecting the physiological and neurological signs of lying in an unaugmented human. She herself had refined these sensors, integrating them into her own augmented body together with sophisticated algorithms imprinted on crystalline circuits which left her unable to lie or be lied to.

In the Emperor, she saw the Omnissiah, the avatar of the Machine God, and venerated him without question. Her superior, a senior Magos of the Cult Mechanicus, was to be present during the signing of the Treaty of Mars, and she mustered the most impassioned entreaties her logic-circuits would allow her to make that she be named to his entourage. Impressed by her argument - or perhaps some fragment of humanity was swayed by the young woman's passion seeping through logic-nets - he allowed her to accompany him. In an vast chamber where a thousand vox-servitors sang the hymns of ignition beneath a hydraulically-operated crystal dome, the Emperor and the Fabricator-General signed the treaty and affixed their gene-seals to the document. Afterwards, the attendant Magi and their retinues were brought before an increasingly-uncomfortable Emperor, there to venerate him as the Omnissiah.

Verity, standing before the Master of Mankind, was the first to pledge not merely allegiance to him but offer to accompany him and his armies on the Great Crusade across the galaxy. Stired perhaps by some difference in her manner, the Emperor listened as she spoke eloquently of the virtue of truth rather than mere knowledge, and the dangers of falsehood and deceit. When her superior attempted to pull Verity away, the Emperor stayed him with a gesture and urged her to continue.

Who can understand the mind of a god? Certainly not Verity, but can it be said the Emperor understood her either? She was a devotee of the Machine God, a woman of fierce religious fervor, and he was the Emperor of Mankind, the author and enforcer of the atheistic Imperial Truth. She worshipped him as the divine avatar of her god, he denied the very idea of divinity. It was impossible what she meant by seeking truth and exposing falsehoods aligned with his understanding. Yet he not only listened to her, but smiled benevolently and nodded encouragement.

The technobility of Mars had always understood the Emperor would need more than war materiel produced by their forges, and that they would receive in return something greater than mere tolerance and the staying of the sword of the Astartes. He would need their tech-priests to accompany his armies on the Great Crusade, to tend to all the engines of war they would provide. And, in turn, the Quest for Knowledge would travel faster and further than ever before, protected by the mighty military of the nascent Imperium of Man. This had not only been understood, but part of the Treaty of Olympus Mons, and so while Verity showed temerity, her request was at least logical.

But the Emperor surprised everyone - the technobility of Mars from the Fabricator-General down to the lowliest Vice-Magos, his own entourage from Captain-General Valdor of the Custodes and Malcador the Sigilite down to the humblest scribe recording every word and gesture for posterity - by personally selecting Verity to not only accompany the Crusade, but to join his entourage. Other tech-priests would accompany the Emperor and align the Quest for Knowledge with the Great Crusade, but it was not for her technical prowess and knowledge he chose Verity to stand by his side. It was the young tech-priestess' idealism - some whispered naivete - he was interested in; a fervor to not only discover the light of the truth, but to uncover it and bring it to the galaxy at large, burning the darkness of ignorance and falsehood from the minds of humanity.

And so it was that Verity left Mars, in the company of the God-Emperor of Mankind, to embark on the Great Crusade.

She would never see her homeworld again.
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Offline Darknight

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Re: The History of Ophelia VII
« Reply #2 on: July 08, 2017, 01:06:13 AM »
The Tale of Verity pt II: The Great Crusade

The Emperor did not remain long on Mars after the signing of the eponymous treaty; the galaxy was shrouded in darkness and he knew long labor lay ahead before he could bring it to light. Trusting the Mechanicum of Mars would honor their promises, he led the Great Crusade into the endless night.

By his side as his first-lieutenant was Horus Lupercal, Primarch of the Luna Wolves, later Warmaster and even later still Archtraitor and pawn of the Ruinous Powers. It was with Horus that the Emperor conferred most frequently, often taking private counsel with his favorite son, but during the early years of the Great Crusade the Emperor was less-withdrawn, even approachable for those in his immediate entourage. One of these was the young tech-priestess Verity. The Emperor called on her often, having her within the ranks of his landing party when they made planetfall on a newly-discovered human world. He would listen to the threats, entreaties or blandishments of the local rulers, chieftains or petty tyrants and then turn to Verity, silently asking her opinion. Invariably, her answer would be the same; "He lies."

Surely, of course, the Emperor knew this himself - no cogitator or auspex, no matter how sophisticated or delicate, could hope to match the ineffable mind of the Master of Mankind. Yet he continued to ask her opinion, and hers alone - something she did not understand until Horus himself explained it to her;

"He asks you, little one, because you are not him. It suits his purpose to reveal your power to those who will be his subjects or enemies, a power they do not possess. They do not understand the Emperor, and all men lie when faced with a power they do not understand. For him to know they lie would not shock them. But for him to turn to you? It surprises them - for it elevates you and it lowers him; they think you possess a power he does not and yet you serve him. Without lying, he makes them believe a lie ... and a man who believes a lie is easy prey indeed."

For nearly three decades, a generation of men, the Emperor and Horus led the Great Crusade alone. Eventually, other Primarchs were discovered - each having risen to a position of power on their adoptive homeworld - and one by one they were brought into the fold of the Emperor's love and made aware of the great destiny and duty that awaited them as generals in his Great Crusade.

Looking back on it, the first thirty years of the Crusade were the happiest for Verity - for while she was not a favored daughter of the Emperor to be dandled on his knee (as some of the Primarchs would mock and taunt her) he had time for her and sought her counsel. But now, as more and more of his sons were reunited with their Legions, the Crusade's military might grew and the Emperor relied on her unique ability less and less. Increasingly, he spent his time with his generals, the Primarchs, and came to rely on their military solutions to problems. It was Horus, shortly before he left to lead the 63rd Expeditionary Fleet, who gave her some measure of comfort;

"The Emperor's will is fixed - it cannot change. But how he accomplishes that will - through diplomacy, or science, military force or bureaucratic politics - that can change, and should! For the galaxy is not fixed, nor do the obstacles in the path of humanity's destiny stand still. He will always have need of you - and I - little one; never forget that, even if it seems he may have done."

Yet it seemed the Emperor did not forget Verity, for although he called on her less and less frequently, he kept her close to him. As the Great Crusade splintered into separate Expeditionary Fleets led by Primarchs, Chapter Masters and Generals, she remained ever in his entourage.

Until she left his side after Pacification of Ophelia, Verity was present when the Emperor discovered each of the Primarchs (with the possible exception of Horus, whose history is veiled in not only mystery, but deliberate obfuscation following his treachery), yet most did not regard her highly, if they even acknowledged her at all. There were three exceptions - the first, of course, was Horus, whom she had known during the early years of the Great Crusade, and who recognized the value of the tech-priestess' unique gift to the Emperor and the Crusade.

The second was Sanguinius, the angel-winged Primarch of the IX Legion. At the Conclave of the Blood on Baal Secundus, after the Emperor had accepted Sanguinius' fealty, the Primarch sought out Verity and - gifted with the power of foresight - spoke a poetic prophecy;

"Though we walk with him today,
we will not do so forever,
although we will never leave the fold of his love. 

Though we will fight to defend him,
we shall fall before our foes,
although we will never leave the fold of his love.

Though we shall triumph over our enemies,
we will be marred by them,
although we will never leave the fold of his love.

Though we shall call ourselves pure,
we will carry secret shame within us,
although we will never leave the fold of his love."

Even if Verity had not been a devotee of the Omnissiah, possessed of augmented memory circuits, she would never have forgotten such a prophecy, delivered as it was by the supernatural angel-son of her god. While Sanguinius himself had been worshiped as divine by the primitive tribes of Baal and thus fervently embraced the Imperial Truth, his very presence deepened Verity's faith. To her, Sanguinius was something greater than any of the other Primarchs - he was, uniquely among them, possessed of a shard of the Emperor's divinity and nobility of soul. In him, she saw a kindred spirit; an angel devoted to the spread of truth and a driving back of ignorance, and not merely military conquest. Even when he departed to lead his Legion in the Great Crusade, Verity never wavered from her devotion.

But while Sanguinius was an object of veneration for Verity, it was one of his brothers who would give her worship shape and order, inducting her into a secret and subversive cult that would - millennia later - grow to dominate the Imperium of Man. This was the Lectitio Divinitatus and the Primarch was Lorgar.
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Offline Darknight

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Re: The History of Ophelia VII
« Reply #3 on: July 08, 2017, 01:08:18 AM »
The Tale of Verity pt III: The Lectitio Divinitatus

Like many of the Mechanicum, the Tech-priestess Verity proclaimed the Emperor as divine, the Machine-God Omnissiah, the instant he set foot on Mars. Similar beliefs were not uncommon among those conquered by the Imperial forces during the Great Crusade and even the Terran Wars of Unification.

The glory of the Emperor - his power and majesty, his psychic potency and charisma, not to mention the military might of his forces - seemed godlike to those he subjugated. So complete, so total and so swift was their defeat it was as if an angry god had conquered them. The fact he toppled icons and temples, decrying these images as false and demanding the people worship them no longer, did nothing to challenge that presumption.

It availed little for the Emperor to preach the atheistic Imperial Truth and to order no religion, no worship, no superstition; faith is endemic to the human condition and in the shattered footsteps of the Great Crusade's wake, cults sprang up venerating the Emperor and his myriad court of Primarchs, Custodians and Astartes as divine.

Within that court itself, of course, there was no public worship. Between the Master of Mankind and the Lords of Mars there was an understanding, a spiritual détente; he would not publically condemn their adoration, they would practice their rituals in secret and neither proselytize nor challenge the Imperial Truth. Some of the Imperial Army might have been men of faith - either worshipping the Emperor or clinging to some more primitive tradition - but if there were they wisely kept their beliefs hidden.

Among the Custodians and Astartes, of course, there was not even a hint of such superstition. Supremely loyal to the Emperor, they were not awed by him as normal humans were. They understood the things - weapons, vehicles, armor, even their augmented selves - that appeared supernatural to the common folk. Genetically descended from him, they knew he was but a man. The supreme man, the paragon of humanity - but a man nevertheless.

And so it was all the more strange when the Emperor's seventeenth son bent the knee to him not as a father, but as a god.

The planet of Colchis was a world ruled by an ancient religion known as the Covenant and the Primarch Lorgar, after being thrown to that world by the disrupting powers of Chaos, had risen high within its priesthood. Assailed by visions of a mighty warrior in golden armor, Lorgar soon came to believe this was the one true god and that the gods of the Covenant were at best subordinate to him and, at worst, false idols to be cast down. The masters of the Covenant could not permit this heresy to go unchallenged.

And so a holy war erupted on Colchis, engulfing the planet and forcing the whole population to choose sides. Eventually, Lorgar's "Godsworn" were victorious and those of who refused to convert to his belief in the one true god were put to the sword. Lorgar, now the high-priest of the reformed Covenant, promised his followers the one true god would arrive on the planet within a year and they would know him only as "the Emperor". When the Emperor reached Colchis and he descended from his landing craft with Magus the Red at his side, there was no doubt in Lorgar's mind that he knelt before his god.

But it was not merely the cyclopean Primarch who accompanied the Emperor. With him, all-but-hidden behind the hulking, ornate forms of the Thousand Son's Astartes, was Verity. When Lorgar organized months of festivity and ritual to honor the arrival of the one true god, the Emperor chafed at it, uncomfortable with the adoration shown him and eager to return to the Great Crusade. But Verity embraced it and eagerly flung herself into it - for the first time, one of Emperor's sons, semi-divine beings themselves, recognized their father as a god. Not only that, but Lorgar had developed a profound theology which gave shape and structure to this (to Verity, at least) obvious truth.

Verity participated in the rituals, melding them with her own faith in the Machine Spirit and the Omnissiah, offering incense and prayers to the Emperor of Mankind alongside the people of Colchis. Uninterested in the delicacies offered at the grand feasts in the public squares, she sustained her organic components on fiber cakes and flavorless nutrient broth and sought out the priests of the Covenant, questioning them intently on the most minor details of theology.

Many of the answers they gave did not satisfy her; her unique abilities to sense falsehood meant she was aware when they dissembled or speculated about something they were ignorant of or their theology had never encountered. And she was not shy about letting them know she was aware of their attempts at obfuscation. "All I want is the truth!" she exclaimed in the courtyard of the Cathedral of Illumination. "Is that so hard?"

"Perhaps, metal-maid. Perhaps." Verity turned at the voice - striding across the courtyard was Lorgar himself, a magnificent figure in golden armor and crimson robes. "You demand to understand the ineffable as you understand cogs and circuits. Such a thing is beyond you, beyond even me. If your mind is incapable of grasping it, can the truth truly be said to exist?"

"Knowledge may be divinity," she countered, "but truth is that which comports to reality. To know falsehood is to know nothing, and so the Omnissiah who comprehends all knows only truth. So I say to you; if a thing exists it is true and only the truth exists."

For an instant, Lorgar looked her. And then he laughed. "Withdraw with me, metal-maid. Let us speak of the one you call Omnissiah."

And so began a conversation that never really stopped. They withdrew together to a side chapel of the Cathedral, debating the nature of truth, divinity and the Emperor. When the Emperor and his entourage left Colchis, reuniting Lorgar with his Legion and charging him to prosecute the Great Crusade, they remained in contact through encrypted epistles sent via uncomprehending astropaths.

Who can say who truly influenced who? Verity's faith in the Emperor's divinity was a logical thing, a function of evidence weighed and measured, a religion of facts and conclusions. Lorgar's was more spiritual, a religion of revelation and visions. She saw his supernatural experiences as vindication of her intellect, he saw her cogitation as confirmation his visions were authentic.

The last communication Verity received from Lorgar was a transmission doubly encrypted, so subversive was it. Occluded with vermillion-level encoding and then translated into Mechanicum binharic cant, Verity received it just as the Emperor's expeditionary fleet came out of Warp outside a system in the Segmentum Tempestus to the galactic south of Holy Terra. As the system was scanned and compliance plans formulated, Verity sang the cant to herself in her techno-sanctum. As the fleet fired up its realspace engines and moved towards the center of the system, she translated pulses of ones and zeros, of on and off, into the confusing and emotion-laden letters of organic language. As the fleet breached the Oort cloud and moved into the star's biosphere, she decrypted the jumble of letters into meaning. And as First Captain Sigismund ordered his battle-brothers into the drop pods for planetary assault, she committed the missive to memory.

Even if she were an unaugmented human, with a merely organic brain, she would never have forgotten the words Lorgar had written. As it was, they were recorded in her memory banks as well as burned into her very heart and soul. The book Lorgar had sent to her was a comprehensive treatise on the divinity of the Emperor, effusive and laudatory in its praise and adoration, but dense with precise and penetrating theology. It was an expression not just of his own faith, but the culmination of their long conversation. The book was the Lectitio Divinitatus, Lorgar's masterpiece of faith.

Both Lorgar and Verity knew very well what the Primarch's work represented - a direct challenge to the atheistic Imperial Truth, an affront to the wishes of the very god they lauded. Outside of his most-trusted battle-brothers, Lorgar had shared it with no-one but the Tech-priestess. The time might come when the Lectitio would be shared with others but, for now, it must remain secret.

And so Verity destroyed the scrolls recording the binharic notation, performed a deep memory-wipe on the servitor who had brought them to her and even killed the astropath who had received the message. With the only copy of the Lectitio Divinitatus outside the Word Bearers Legion safely stored in her memory banks, she boarded the landing craft of the second wave, joining Sigismund's forces already fighting an alien army for control of a system Imperial cartographers had named "Ophelia".

It would be her last planetfall before her death and apotheosis.
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Offline Darknight

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Re: The History of Ophelia VII
« Reply #4 on: July 08, 2017, 01:11:16 AM »

The stinging hiss of flechettes as they whizzed overhead mingled with the binary chatter of the tech-priestess as she knelt before the hulking Astartes. Her once-crimson robe was darker now, caked with congealed mud mixed from the soil of Ophelia and alien blood. “The Xenos projectile has severed the tertiary brachial communications bundle, Brother Captain,” she explained. A segmented tendril pushed aside the hem of her robe, barely revealing the glittering silver darkness within. Yellow-black-banded jaws snapped shut on the needle-tipped dart, tugging it free and holding it up for him to see. “Such a small thing,” she remarked. “Yet does not the very fate of the galaxy turn on such seemingly-insignificant cogs?”

“Spare me your Martian poetry,” the Space Marine snarled. “Can it be repaired?"

The tech-priestess did not look up as an articulated servo-limb reached over her shoulder and grasped the pus-yellow pauldron, lifting it away as she unscrewed the magnabolts holding it in place. “The armor's machine-spirit is aggrieved, Brother Captain,” she chided. “The anointings are two, three days old at best and the sacred unguents are smirched with foreign matter. Furthermore, I . . .”

“A warrior fights where he is sent.” The Captain interrupted her, angrily shifting his arm. It moved awkwardly, not merely because of the damage but also because another of her servo-limbs was clamped tight around his wrist. “The filth we clean from this world is the xenos who infest it, not dust and grit. And no Imperial Fist would shirk . . .”

Now she looked up. She smiled, humor crinkling around her organic eye and – somehow – gleaming in the crimson depths of her ocular implant. “Liar,” she said without malice and bent once again to her work.

The Marine stiffened. “If I have,” he said – it was a careful non-admission. “If I have neglected the ceremonies of the Mechanicum, it is only because there is no time for them. We are at war . . .”

“Liar,” she said again. She paused to consider. “Well, the last part is true. But it is not merely haste that makes you scorn offerings to the machine-spirit, Captain. You reject them because you do not believe they are necessary, do you not?”

“The Imperial Truth . . .”

“Is no such thing. Believe me, Captain,” she assured him, “I know truth.”

There was silence for a second, broken only by the whiz of flechettes, explosions as ammunition cooked off, and the screams of the dying. The Captain glowered angrily. “Can you repair it?” he asked.

“No spare parts,” she explained.

He nodded. “So you cannot,” he snorted dismissively. He made to stand. “You should have . . .”

The strength in her servo-limbs surprised him and he was pulled back down unceremoniously. “That is definitely not true,” she said. She lifted an incongruously beautiful and fully-human hand. Elegant and slender, the nails printed with a circuit board design, its only augmentation was thin silver-green lines of electroos like strange cartography on her palm. She reached into the shadows of her hood, to the nest of cables plunging into her skull behind her left ear, and delicately disconnected one. The bundle of hair-thin wires inside writhed like swallowing cicla as she spliced it into place. "There," she said. "Good as new. Of course," she added, "that's not praise on Mars."

The yellow-armored Marine grunted as she screwed his pauldron back in place, standing once the final magnabolt was driven home with a squeal of compressed air. "Thank you, Magos," said Sigismund of the Imperial Fists, hefting his sword and marching into battle.

"You're welcome, Brother Captain," Verity replied to his departing back. "And he actually meant it," she added in wonder.


The Tale of Verity pt IV: Ophelia and the Garrison

The star had been designated "Ophelia" by the Mechanicum Explorator vessel that had first charted it. A yellow star similar to Sol, it was orbited by a dozen planets but only one was capable of supporting life. It was a nickel-iron cored world about the same size and mass as Terra, with six-tenths of its surface covered in water oceans and its landmasses heavily forested with thick equatorial jungles. Axial tilt, rotational and orbital period were all close to Mankind's homeworld and so it was inevitable the system would be colonized.

But first the native inhabitants had to be conquered. Ophelia IV* was populated - colonized would perhaps be overstating it - by xenos; a fierce race of warriors whom the Magi Xenologis surmised were a product of genetic engineering rather than natural selection. Certainly, there were no lifeforms they could have evolved from. They were intelligent, but their intelligence was solely devoted towards war - they had no civilization, no art or culture, no concept of relaxation or retirement. They had not built cities, only barracks, and showed no interest in the galaxy beyond their planet. Their weapons were simple but effective chemical-propellant firearms, produced in munitions factories they constructed instinctively.

They were tribal and different groups made constant war on each other, but they would capture rather than kill, trading and releasing captives freely - it was almost as if they were playing wargames rather than truly fighting. But when the Explorators' armies landed, they showed no such restraint and slaughtered the humans in hit-and-run tactics, practicing asymmetric defensive warfare. The natural cover afforded, not to mention familiarity with the terrain, meant the Explorator armies were halted and soon driven back with heavy casualties.

The Mechanicum, not given to flights of imagination, designated the xenos race "the Garrison" and made their report to the Imperial War Council. The lords of Terra agreed with the Explorators; the Ophelia system could not be ignored - not only was Ophelia IV ideal for colonization, but the system was strategically valuable and the other planets - while inhospitable - geologically rich. The Imperial Fist Legion - masters of siege warfare - were dispatched and the Emperor himself joined the assault, eager to seek answers to the questions posed by the presence of a race like the Garrison.

With First Captain Sigismund leading the assault a beachhead was established within hours. The Emperor and his court soon joined the Imperial Fists on the surface and war was made against the Garrison. With the might of Rogal Dorn's Legion, not to mention the strength of the Custodians of the Master of Mankind, the xenos were driven back towards the mountains which seemed to be the center, not of their civilization, but whatever it was they instinctively defended.

Though the fighting raged for several weeks the outcome of the campaign was never in doubt. Desperately, the Garrison massed for a last-ditch effort - not a final stand, but an all-or-nothing assault intended to kill the invaders' leaders. They gathered together - males, females and juveniles - at the head of mountain valley and flung themselves at the Imperial forces. The Emperor himself lead the charge at the head of ten-thousand Imperial Fists and one hundred Custodians, slaughtering the xenos and destroying the Garrison as not just a fighting force but - for all intents and purposes - a race.

But while this final battle was being fought, other events were afoot. Seemingly out of nowhere, a group of Eldar - a Warlock and a bodyguard of Aspect Warriors - appeared behind the Imperial lines. The Warlock brought a stern warning and a dire prophecy; the mon-keigh had defeated the guardians the Old Ones had left on the planet - they must cease their offensive, abandon the world, and allow the guardians' numbers to recover.

The rearguard Space Marines who received the Eldar's message were indoctrinated to be suspicious of xenos, but something about the aliens' desperation gave them pause. Demanding the Warlock leave his bodyguard behind as hostages the Lieutenant and his command squad escorted the xenos to meet with his immediate superior.

First Captain Sigismund was not fighting in the valley - Rogal Dorn had wisely kept some of his forces in reserve in case the Garrison's assault was a trick, placing them under the command of his senior adjutant. But it seemed as if the Primarch's concern was unfounded - this was, truly, the Garrison's last-ditch attempt to drive the Imperials from Ophelia IV and in gathering their forces for this desperate gamble had all-but abandoned the mountains. Sigismund had pushed forward, all the way to the central and highest peak. There he had discovered what the Garrison were defending.

Something was hidden on the summit. Visually undetectible from any real distance, the very stone of the mountain had been softened with something akin to a melta weapon and then re-sculpted into a semblance of undressed stone as it cooled. The conclusion was inescapable; someone had hidden something on the planet and set the Garrison to guard it.

Scans revealed nothing - the stone could be penetrated, but something beyond it could not. Sigismund ordered the stone burned away with multi-meltas, and his Marines did just that, revealing a gleaming blue crystal sphere chased with unreadable golden runes. The tech-priests accompanying him seemed drawn to it, with an eagerness uncommmon among them. Interfacing with the strange runes, the seniormost said it was a door and it must be opened - a "great, ancient weapon" was inside, a weapon that would give victory who whoever possessed or controlled it. The other tech-priests eagerly agreed - the door must be opened. Sigismund, a straightforward warrior rather than a scientist or statesman, trusted the advice of the Mechanicum and ordered them to open it.

At that moment, the rearguard Space Marines arrived with the Warlock in tow. The xenos was aghast the mountain had been breached and "the Crystal Vault" exposed. Desperately, he implored the Marines and Tech-priests - Eldrad Ulthran the Farseer had cast the seerstones and read the runes; the mon-keigh did not understand what they tampered with. "The Seraph" must not be released - it was a great and terrible weapon that could not be allowed out into the galaxy.

The tech-priests challenged the Warlock; there was, indeed, a great and terrible weapon in there - but it was one the xenos wanted for themselves! It was Imperial blood, human blood, which had subjugated this world and discovered this weapon, and now the degenerate Eldar wanted to steal it? It must be put into the hands of the Emperor for him to use in the Great Crusade, not given to the filthy xenos.

The Warlock begged Sigismund, to understand - the Seraph couldn't be used, by anyone! It was uncontrollable, beyond the ken of even the Eldar, let alone primitive mon-keigh.

Sigismund listened to both sides, but it was clear he was swayed more by the arguments of the tech-priests - they were, after all, human rather than xenos. But it also made sense to him as a warrior; there was no sense in locking a weapon away and not using it - a weapon existed to be used. And the manifest destiny of mankind meant that it must be humans who used it - the temerity of the Eldar to say no human (not even the Emperor!) could use the weapon was the greatest insult. He dismissed the Warlock's entreaties as nothing more than xenos trickery - it was clear he wanted the weapon for himself. But no Imperial Fist, especially not the First Captain and the right-hand of Rogal Dorn himself, would fall for such lies. He would gain control of this "Seraph" and add it to the arsenal of the Legion for the greater glory of the Imperium and the Master of Mankind.

It is possible the Warlock knew Sigismund's mind before he did. Desperate, he sent out a psychic scream and charged forward, vainly hoping to kill the Marines and Tech-priests before they could make a terrible mistake. Sigismund cut him down like a child and ordered the tech-priests to redouble their efforts; the Crystal Vault must be opened and the weapon obtained before more xenos arrived to challenge them.

At the rear lines, the Aspect Warriors sensed their Warlock's call for aid and then his sudden death, and turned their weapons on those guarding them. Marines fell to shuriken, but the return bolter fire was brutal and precise and in a few moments Eldar bodies fell on Ophelian soil.

At the mountain, the tech-priests had interfaced with the crystal sphere, ancient runes shifting and tessellating as sequential encryption sequences were broken and locks opened. "Soon," the Tech-priests promised Sigismund. "Soon the vault will be opened and the Seraph will be free. Soon . . ."



* Ophelia IV was, as its name suggests, the fourth planet from the Ophelia star. However, this was based on the initial astrography survey which failed to correctly designate a trio of dwarf planets which mutually orbit around their shared center of gravity. This trio - informally known as the Three Sisters - orbit the star between Ophelia IV / VII and the gas-giant Ophelia III. Periodically, the Three Sisters are caught by the gravity of Ophelia III and orbit that planet as satellites until they are flung free and back into their independent orbit by gravitic forces caused by planetary alignments within the Ophelia system. When the original astrography survey was made during the Great Crusade, the Three Sisters were caught and orbiting Ophelia III. This error was not corrected until after the Great Crusade, and dissemination of this information was hampered by the slowness of the Administratum. Accordingly, the name of the planet of the Synod Sanctorum is recorded as both Ophelia IV and Ophelia VII. In these records, the planet is named Ophelia IV prior to the Horus Heresy and Ophelia VII afterwards.
Completed Projects | History of Ophelia VII

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Offline Darknight

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Re: The History of Ophelia VII
« Reply #5 on: July 08, 2017, 01:12:42 AM »
The Tale of Verity pt V: The Seraph

In the valley below the mountain peak, the Emperor surveyed the aftermath of the battle that had defeated the Garrison. His Custodians and the Astartes of the Imperial Fists Legion had been victorious and Ophelia had been pacified. Ever the strategist, seeing this system's value to the Imperium, Rogal Down began to speak about ferrying colonists. But even as he spoke the Emperor interrupted him.

"Take charge, Rogal," he ordered. "Verity, attend me." Without another word, he turned and boarded one of the Custodians gravtanks, accompanied by the puzzled Tech-priestess and a small cadre of his bodyguards.

The Emperor had sensed the Warlock's death, hearing his psychic scream. Dire portents swirled in his precognitive vision - he knew the fate of this world, perhaps the galaxy, hung on whatever might happen in the next few minutes. Goading the driver of the tank to foolhardy speeds up the mountain, he leapt from the vehicle even before it landed, Verity jumping out beside him and his Custodians following an instant later.

He did not waste time asking Sigismund what was happening - with brutal efficiency, he sucked the immediate knowledge of the situation from Sigismund's mind, leaving the First Captain slumped mindlessly in the dirt. For Verity's part, she approached her brother magi and - through the neurotrans connection they shared as members of the Mechanicum - sensed what they were doing.

"It's a lie!" she screamed. Her unique abilities and devotion to the truth allowed her to see what the other Tech-priests had not; that whatever was imprisoned inside the Crystal Vault had deceived them into setting it free. "Don't open it!" The Tech-priests ignored her, alien fanaticism gleaming in their eyes, and kept unlatching the locks. "Stop them!" she screamed.

Trusting her - as one of his oldest allies who had not only never lied to him, but was incapable of it - the Emperor sent a psychic command and, as if they were his own limbs, the Custodians moved forward, halberds raised. But they were too late. The crystal sphere opened into a gateway to labyrinthine maze of crystal corridors and an ancient, cybernetic horror burst forth - a six-winged serpent of azure crystal and alien metal. The Vault was open and the Seraph was free.

The Tech-priests were absorbed in a twinkling, what little organic flesh remained splattered across the rocks and their bionic enhancements incorporated into the Seraph's body. A dreadful techno-psychic scream echoed from the mountaintop as the Custodians closed ranks around the Emperor and the Marines opened fire. Their weapons blew chunks from its body, but it reached out with its newly-acquired mechadendrites and plugged itself into their armor, overloading the suits' programming and circuits with ancient, alien code. It took mere moments - the Marines shuddered inside their armor as biological recycling and recirculating systems worked against them, starving them of oxygen, flooding their blood with toxins and frying their nervous systems. Moving jerkily but with dreadful speed, the suits turned their guns on the Custodians.

Verity understood what was happening - her brief contact with the alien programming had revealed the truth. The Seraph and the Vault were the same thing; an ancient, alien intelligence converted to mechanized form to fight in a war older than the stars, defeated but not destroyed, reprogrammed into crystal quiescence and then buried within the mountain. The Vault was the Seraph's body, forced to assume that shape by the imprisoning programming. The six-winged serpent fighting the Custodians was merely a fragment of a much larger horror, the small part of the monstrous weapon-creature the Tech-priests had unlocked. If the locking program was not reinstated, the Seraph would free the rest of its coils and kill every Imperial soul on the planet, and perhaps beyond.

Verity knew what needed to be done and as she looked over at the Emperor so did he. Silently, he nodded with solemn sadness at the daughter of the Mechanicum who had been one of the first to acknowledge him as the Master of Mankind. She flung herself at the Seraph, her own mechadendrites interfacing with it. Alien programming invaded her mind as she and the ancient monster connected. Desperately, she dove into its awareness, its very mind, feeling the weight of eons and a mechanical hatred for all flesh flood her. She felt her own blood and bone slough away from her cybernetic enhancements as it absorbed her body, but not before a golden warmth enveloped her. Where the other tech-priests had been reduced to nothing more than soulless circuitry which the Seraph's programming had ruthlessly dominated when their organic minds were destroyed, Verity felt her awareness expand as the Emperor himself flooded her soul with a modicum of his inestimable power. Verity - a hybrid fusion of the machine and the human - plunged deep within the coils of the Seraph's programming and fought it with all the fervor of humanity as the Custodians charged its stumbling form and shoved it bodily back into the crystal labyrinth, the gate closing behind it.

Inside the maze, the Seraph's serpentine body writhed with internal conflict. The sophistication and power of its ancient programming was greater than anything the Mechanicum could muster, let alone the cybernetic augments of a lowly tech-priestess. But it was not crude logic circuits that fought the Seraph, but the flaming spirit of Man itself. Against a human soul, illumined by the Master of Mankind himself, no mere machine - even an ancient alien intelligence millions of years old - could hope to prevail.

But Verity's victory was neither instant nor without cost. Her body she had already lost, its organic components sloughed off and splattered on the mountainside. Now as she struggled against the malign intelligence of the Seraph her mind and soul merged with it, the two of them fusing inextricably together. As she struggled to retain her identity, she warred for control of its - her - body. When she was dominant, she retreated further into the labyrinth. When the silica animus was in control, it attacked the Custodians, crushing them like insects. Soon, only the Seraph - its body a fusion of alien crystal and Mechanicum bionics, its mind a war between human soul and alien programming - remained.

Outside, the Emperor was alone except for the grav tank's Custodian driver and the drooling Sigismund. The First Captain was stunned, but his awareness was returning. Swiftly, the Emperor used his formidable psychic power to summon a thermokinetic wave, melting and reforming the stone to cover the entrance to the Crystal Vault. He turned to see the driver standing over Sigismund, his halberd poised to execute the Imperial Fist. The Emperor shook his head and, with the merest expenditure of his mental energies, wiped the whole event from the First Captain's memories. He did not even need to speak to the Custodian. "This Talon is sworn to secrecy, Sire," he assured the Emperor. "This Talon shall not even think of it." Nodding in satisfaction, the Emperor picked up Sigismund and boarded the grav tank, ordering the driver to take him to Rogal Dorn.

Within the mountain, Verity was doubly trapped - within the maze of the Vault, and also within the Seraph's body. Her soul, the indomitable human spirit, was victorious over the machine, but she knew her fight was only just beginning. Only part of the Seraph was free, the smallest portion of its programming unlocked. It was that she had fused with, but the rest remained beyond her reach, imprisoned within itself by encryption code locks. It was securely quiescent for now, but she could not be certain others might not dig into the mountain and, like her tech-priest brothers, fall prey to the Seraph's seductive lies. Immortal now she was joined to the xenos programming, victorious at the cost of fragments of her soul and with pieces of its own identity embedded within her, she deliberately unlocked the next segment of the Seraph's programming and plunged into combat. If it took her ten-thousand years and everything within her that was human, she would defeat this monster and take control of everything it was. Guided by her unshakeable faith in the Omnissiah, she began her lonely battle.

In the valley, the Emperor spoke quietly with his Primarch, telling him the barest minimum necessary. All detailed records of the campaign were to be destroyed - it would be recorded as Victoria Imperalis but nothing more. The Ophelia system would be colonized, but an eternal edict forbidding excavation or construction within the mountains of Ophelia was to be set down. The rearguard Marines who had fought the Eldar were brought to him and he interrogated them personally, scrubbing their minds down to those of newborns to divine every single nuance from what they had seen and heard. As the imbecile Astartes gurgled and drooled in front of him, he sat in silent contemplation of what he had learned and certain knowledge of the threat that would come when he was no longer there to protect humanity.

Finally, despite the fact he had taken every precaution to hide the truth, the Emperor ordered a monument to Verity be made. Perhaps it was a purely human weakness, an acknowledgement of the sacrifice she had made. Disdaining and abhorring the Mechanicum's use of bionics, and knowing it was the spark of humanity which would allow her to defeat the Seraph, he ordered his genitors to project her unaugmented appearance in the prime of life through the use of DNA prognosticators and sculpted an allegorical representation of her defeating the Seraph from this pattern with his own hands. He set the statue atop the mountain with the legend "VERITY VINCIT VERMIS" on a plinth beside it; "Truth Conquers the Worm" in High Gothic.

Encircling the monument to Verity, he erected ten pillars in the Palatine-Terran style to honor the Custodians who had sacrificed their lives. This duty done, he walked down the mountain alone, through the valley where he had defeated the Garrison. He met Rogal Dorn and his court at its mouth, the leader of the colonization fleet with them. He brushed aside the Primarch's introduction. "You know my edict, Governor?" Nervously, the man nodded. "Then see it is followed." He did not wait for a response, but simply turned and boarded the shuttle to take him back to the battleships of the First Exploratory Fleet.

No other human would set foot in the mountains for nearly three-hundred years.
Completed Projects | History of Ophelia VII

Quote from: PhillyT
Everyone finds their balance between satisfaction and obsession.