Setting:CloudburstAzure

From 1d4chan
System
Galactic Position Cloudburst Sector, Nauphry Subsector
System Overlord None
Worlds in the system 4
World Type, Name Dead Word: Brotherhood
Tropospheric Composition N/A
Religion N/A
Government type N/A
Planetary Governor N/A
Adept Presence N/A
Climate N/A
Geography .93 times the size of Terra
Gravity .9 Terran Gravity
Day Length 27 Terran Hours
Economy N/A
Principal Exports N/A
Principal Imports N/A
Countries and Continents N/A
Military N/A
Contact with other Systems N/A
Tithe Grade N/A
Population Unknown


Description[edit]

Once, there was no Brotherhood. This planet was once known as Azure, and was an Ocean World under Imperial control. The times before the current desolation of the world were at least relatively peaceful. The Sector Overlord even briefly considered Azure as a candidate for Subsector Capital, before settling on Nauphry. Azure was not like Obelisk 2, however: it did have large amounts of dry land.

Azure was among the dozens of planets discovered during the Gold Rush Two, and promptly became a major Imperial colony. The world’s history was unclear to colonists, but there were signs of former human habitation on some of the larger island chains, mostly in the form of oxidized metals and the outlines of building foundations. Whatever colony had once been here, though, was clearly long gone. Azure’s neat, orderly land cities and mines, and its oceanic floating cities, proved to be quite profitable for the Imperium. Its tithe payments were larger than its imports, and it had enough left over to export some material to Cognomen and Thimble.

Hundreds of years of relative peace and quiet passed by, before tragedy struck Azure. There were few initial signs, at least to offworld observers. The world had always been a heavily religious one, so when the planet filed a petition to formally change its name from Azure to Brotherhood, the immediate reaction was one of weary resignation among the Administratum. Another system, lost to unproductive over-zeal, embracing piety over usefulness.

Life went on for the Imperium. Then, one day several weeks after this shift in planetary title, an Inquisitorial ship out of Maskos set in above Brotherhood for supplies. The Inquisitor, Iacob Harnier of the Ordo Malleus, prepared to travel down to the planet below. He had barely stepped into his shuttle when his frigate came under sudden attack. The Inquisitor raced to the bridge of his ship. As soon as he arrived, the exterior doors of his ship gave way, and his vessel filled with thousands of bellowing invaders.

Harnier gave a message to his Astropath and ran off to confront his attackers. The Inquisitorial habit of chaining indentured prisoners to their workstations on the ship meant two things: very few crew wanted to come to his defense, and the boarders were able to recruit from the front. In hours, the loyal crew were dead, the invaders had been bolstered by liberated criminal crew, and Harnier was dead. The ship’s Astropath had barely managed to call for help before the boarders had slaughtered him.

When the Ordo Hereticus arrived to investigate four months later, they found the world reinforcing their defenses, far beyond anything normal for an Ocean World. Careful observation of communications between the few living loyalists on the planet below revealed that the population had arisen against the Imperium. Harnier’s ship was gone. The few loyalist holdouts below were bracing for an attack by screaming hordes of cultists.

The Ordo contacted several of these holdouts – Arbites Courthouses, PDF bases, and a Black Ships depot – and informed them that help was one the way, but also demanded an explanation of the cult’s motives. To their disgust, each holdout reported the same thing: there was no cult of opposition to the Emperor. Rather, a mad Astropath had turned vast numbers of the people of Azure against the Imperium’s bloated, inefficient government. The Astropath, named David Recolomar, had fallen into deep narcissism, and anointed himself leader of the True Brotherhood. He proclaimed that the Emperor had given him the gift of bestowment, and could grant psychic powers on his most devout followers.

Given the similarities between this uprising and the action of the heretical Archbishop Haggar, the Inquisition decided to take no chances. The Ordo Hereticus ships summoned every Battle Sister in the Cloudburst Sector and Circuit to a Mechanicus refueling station on the outer edge of the system. By the time they were assembled, all but a tiny few holdouts had fallen to the maddened cultists. The Sisters descended on the planet, with an extra four thousand Templar Militia and twelve thousand Celestial Guard in tow.

The combined forces of the Ordo Hereticus began their attack on the enemy from the Arbites precinct-courthouse in the remains of the world’s largest land-based city. The initial landings went well, with the military forces attacking from air and space, while the Arbites fought out from their embattled Precinct Fortress to meet up with them. The maddened Imperial citizens came from every walk of life, and few had any martial skill or equipment, but they fought with psychotic fervor.

The landed Inquisitorial troops quickly took stock of the situation, but before they could regroup, a force of nearly two million citizen cultists, led by four psykers apparently under the control of Recolomar himself, assaulted their position, by ramming boats and ships into the islands and disembarking. The Inquisitorial force was too large to shelter in the precinct, so they were forced to dig in and defend their landing zone. Nearly two weeks of grinding combat followed. While the Battle Sisters and Arbites managed to weather battles with the untrained and barely-armed cult without too much trouble, the less equipped Imperial Guard and Templar Militia did not fare as well. After several more weeks of grinding combat, the Inquisition had had enough. The ships in orbit cut loose with their heavy weapons, instantly reducing several floating cities to scrap.

In retaliation, the cult’s new clutch of psychics unleashed their own powers. The tide of ground combat shifted decisively in the cult’s favor as newly-awakened psychics in the horde of cultists unleashed waves of lightning and ice shards against the Sisters and their support. The territory under their control shrank from seventeen square miles to two in under four days.

When the Inquisition received word that the other Imperial holdouts on the planet had failed or fled off world, the strategic situation seemed finished. The surviving Inquisitors begrudgingly gave the order to withdraw. The Sisters and Templars wanted to stay and fight to the bitter end, but the order of the Inquisition is final, even over the objections of their Chamber Militant.

All of the surviving Imperial Loyalists retreated from the surface of the world. As the last shuttles lifted, and the madmen below celebrated, an Inquisitorial Longstrike heavy cruiser opened a torpedo tube it had never used before, and ignited the planet.

The surviving Loyalists disseminated over the Celeste and Jodhclan military contingents, while the Arbites stationed their own survivors in Maskos and Nauphry. The Inquisition’s use of a Catastrophe-class Atmospheric Exterminatus weapon came under scrutiny from the Palace on Maskos, since the potential to reclaim the world may yet have existed, but Astropaths from the Inquisitorial reprisal force testified to the Ordo Hereticus’s defense. They had sensed the psychic scarring on the world’s population, and when the orbital bombardments had not only made the scarring worse, but also failed to kill Recolomar, the use of Exterminatus weapons had become justified.

Brotherhood itself was left a cooling ember. Tugs came to retrieve the few remaining orbitals and Mechanicus fuel platforms worth keeping. Satellites not worth preserving de-orbited in time. The world’s surface was still red-hot, even decades later.

However, in M41.939, a new and confusing Chapter of the history of Azure/Brotherhood began. To the unease of Inquisitorial spies, several combating cults of Chaos in the adjacent Drumnos Sector abruptly abandoned their conduct and made their way to the nearest means of transportation. Thousands and thousands of Chaos-worshippers abandoned their homes, their cover identities, their schemes, and either bought or hijacked transport to Brotherhood.

Naturally, the Inquisition took immediate interest. Stormtrooper and Throne Agent personnel seized ships known to contain some of these agitators. Other Chaotic cultists resorted to simply robbing ships and flying them themselves, most of which promptly vanished into the Warp. Of the roughly seventeen thousand Chaos Cultists from Drumnos to attempt to travel to Brotherhood, only four thousand made it. They mostly accomplished this by sticking together and attacking Imperial passenger ships in such numbers that a few Inquisitorial troops backing up the ship security contingent simply were not enough to hold them back.

Over the next few weeks, dozens of ships arrived in orbit over Brotherhood. Some cultists crashed their ships to the surface, killing most of the people aboard. Others took shuttles, and some sabotaged the ships that had carried them before doing so.

Once planetside, the Chaos worshippers promptly turned on each other. The many cults that had sent members to fight distilled into two factions: Tzeentchian and Slaaneshi. The two factions clad themselves in vat suits and power armor stolen from their homes and transports, to survive Brotherhood’s inhospitable atmosphere.

More ships arrived, and within another Terran month, the number of cultists on the surface had swollen to well over four thousand. They battled and slaughtered each other, with no clear goal in sight. The Inquisition watched in bafflement as the casualties of the internecine Chaos warfare rose higher and higher, even above the body count of some Inquisitorial purges of Chaos cults on Hive Worlds.

The ships the Great Enemy had taken to transport their men hung in orbit, empty, or exploded from sabotage, or even tried to limp away as the original crew reasserted order. The Inquisition impounded them all, and interrogated what living people they could find aboard. The only clues the people on those ships had to offer about the war below before the Inquisition executed them all for contamination were that the leaders of the cults had been convinced beyond any reason or doubt that an artifact of unmatchable power existed somewhere on Brotherhood.

The Inquisition is convinced that no such artifact exists. When the ships stopped trickling in and the vac-suited fighters below finally killed each other off, the Inquisition took careful psychic readings of the world, employing over two dozen Sanctionites. Beside the Chaos taint below and the psychic scars of the rogue Astropath centuries before, the Inquisition found nothing. There was no pattern they could gleam in the movements of the cultists below before their deaths. Scans for active power consumption below produced nothing. There were no non-natural radiation spots the Inquisition could detect.

Still, the cults were clearly there for something. The amount of hard work the Chaos worshippers and their Gods had undertaken to insinuate nearly twenty thousand cultists in the populations of two sectors boggles the mind, but they had thrown it all away in months. The Inquisition keeps a vigil of the world using a long-range telescopic satellite in the outer system, just in case more ships come to visit. In the interim, the Inquisition has sent what ships could be salvaged back to their homes, after purging Chaos influence from them. Only time may tell what the forces of Chaos want on the dead rock of Brotherhood.