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Lord Sector Cloudburst, Rhemortho Quintus[edit]

"Hate is a fine shield, but don’t mistake it for armor. It can strengthen your arm, but if you wear it around you at all times, there will be nobody nearby when you need them but enemies. I have so, so many enemies."

– Rhemortho Quintus

The burden of shielding worlds from the encroaching darkness of the void is a hard one to bear. The leaders of Imperial Sectors vary widely, but by the time a politician has ascended to such high rank that they command a large portion of the Imperium, harsh reality has generally weeded out the lazy and the overambitious. Rhemortho Quintus serves as the Lord Sector Cloudburst, and at least nominally leads the Administratum delegates to Cloudburst Circuit outposts.

Quintus is the second of his family to ascend to the position of Sector Overlord after his father. He is a ruthless but pragmatic man, as he must be to survive the overwhelming political pressure exerted on him by his subordinates for resources to fight the Glasians.

Politically, Quintus is a Celeste animal through and through. He has a taste for luxury, a taste for fine women and food, and is actually a passable target shooter, by the standards of Cloudburst nobility. His responsibilities weigh on him more and more as the strategic situation in the greater Imperium deteriorates. He has taken to spending long days away from the noise of Cloudburst’s maze of tunnels in the resort towns of Celeste, trying to destress. This has not helped his popularity, especially in the face of the mounting threat of the Seventh Glasian Migration. The dozens of worlds that depend on his leadership often find themselves fending off unrest without direction from him.

This is not to portray him as incompetent. He is simply not prepared for the absolute turmoil in which the Imperium finds itself in these dark times, with Chaos, Orks, and far more pressing at the walls. Quintus is a capable and experienced administrator and bureaucrat, and has excellent human resources instincts. One thing he is not is a military leader. He has some logistical skill, but when the time comes to undertake any consequential military action in the Sector, he leaves nearly all of the work to Lord Admiral Maynard and Lord General Senioris Xoss.

Quintus does not have any sway in the Inquisitorial Palace of Cloudburst, despite his position. This is, of course, a reality all Sector Overlords must someday come to accept, but Quintus has even less control over the Inquisition than most, thanks to the fact that the Inquisitorial Palace is in another Subsector entirely from his own palace on Cloudburst. When he does need to interact with Inquisitors, the Maskos Palace sends somebody to find him, and they have developed an unnerving habit of simply appearing in his personal quarters or starship.

Quintus does have his own ship, but rarely uses it for more than travel from Cloudburst to Celeste. The vessel is a Magnifico Star Yacht, which he bought from the Grand Anchor after their breakers prized it from a Space Hulk captured by House Crusher. It is not rated to fly with a Navigator as it has no Throne for them. If ever he needed to evacuate the system, he would need to do so aboard another ship. The yacht, which he has named Moon Glitter for some reason, serves as a convenient meeting place for visiting dignitaries, especially those who may not pass the strict background checks needed to land in the sealed tunnel network of Cloudburst.

Despite his cool interactions with the Inquisition, the other institutions of the Cloudburst Sector receive him more gladly. He gets along cordially with the Blue Daggers’ Chapter Master, Lord Ranult Arden, and is at least somewhat friendly with Lord Fabricator Beraxos. He does not see eye-to-eye with Cardinal Drake, whom he sees as being profligate with the Ministorum’s wealth, and who sees him in turn as being stingy and aesthete. The two men are cordial in public, however. Ironically, the only other Adeptus leader in the Sector with whom he gets along quite well is Lord Marshal Oolan, in whom he sees an overworked kindred spirit.

Quintus lacks military experience, but he has worked extensively with Navigators in the past as they are assigned to vessels in the rapidly expanding Battlefleet Cloudburst. Because of the paucity of Navigators and Astropaths in his Sector, Quintus has gotten to know several new arrivals well, and he privately agrees with the Adeptus Astra Telepathica that the sector needs more, quickly. The Tyranids have bypassed his Sector so far, but there is no real chance of that staying the case indefinitely, and psykers are the only ones who can get out warnings of imminent Tyranid movements quickly enough to respond.

So far, Quintus has had few direct challenges from the Glasian Migrations. Their invasion of Celeste occurred before his parents met, and the aliens have not returned to challenge his home system’s defenses head-on. He is one of the Sector’s loudest proponents of a radically expanded Battlefleet and support network, and his control of the Sector’s purse strings has ensured that their flow of new ships and men has gone uninterrupted. However, there are logistical and monetary concerns that his position can’t address, such as how nearly every shipyard in the entire Sector is already making ships as fast as it can be done without errors. Throwing more money at the problem can’t make servitors and serfs craft faster. However, it can buy new shipyards, and Quintus has seriously considered buying pre-fabricated ship cradles from Fabique in Naxos to expand Celeste’s orbital yards.

The Quintus family has only ruled the Sector for eighty years. His place on the throne came about as the result of an arranged marriage by the Ordo Famulous between his parents. The Quintus family was one of the top three landowning families in the entire Celeste Subsector, so their name was well known in the Sector even before his ascension. However, the previous Cloudburst Sector ruling family had fallen from grace after several well-publicized abuses of Ecclesiarchal resources and the monumental mistake of ordering the Blue Daggers to suppress a rival family, which neither the Ministorum nor Astartes tolerated. The Colliard family promptly shrunk to insignificance as their economic ties evaporated overnight. Rhemortho’s father, Blanchard Lumierre Quintus, assumed the throne, but died seven years later of a heart defect.

In appearance, Quintus is every inch the Imperial politician. Like many high nobles in the Sector, Quintus dresses to impress, regardless of cost. Every stitch he wears, day in and day out, comes from the prestigious Flaxweave Foundry on Thimble, as befits a man of his station. His clothing of office integrates a small Conversion Field, just in case. He carries with him his master-crafted dueling pistol, even though he has not had to draw it in defense for over a century. The threats to a person in his position are numerous, and it pays to be prepared. He also carries a heavy stave of office, decorated with Thimble silver and Nauphry gold.

Emilie Rastimos, Chief Inquisitorial Astropath and Adept Choirmaster[edit]

"The Warp talks. Did you know that? Not the things that live there, no, the Warp itself. It hisses when we fly through it. It laughs when we curse it. It opens its arms and its mouth and its legs when we die. Oh, don’t be so dramatic, it’s the literal truth. Don’t believe me? Go look at the faces of Navigators after a day of hard work and tell me nobody’s been talking to them."

– Emilie Rastimos

The whispered secrets of the Inquisition are entrusted to as few people outside the holy Ordos as possible. Lightspeed is a cruel mistress, however, and the Inquisition needs to send messages as much as the next branch of the Imperium. When a message needs to be sent from the Maskos Inquisitorial Palace, Chief Inquisitorial Astropath Emilie Rastimos orders her seven subordinates to do it, if she doesn’t do it herself. Rastimos is a cold, eerie woman, with the lack of eyes that characterize most of her order. She never leaves her spire in the Palace, although with an apartment as luxurious and well-appointed as hers, few would. She oversees the conclave of seven Astropaths in the Palace, each of whom has the highest levels of security clearance a psychic can have in the modern Imperium. When the need arises for her to weigh in on matters psionic or the Inquisition needs her expertise on a task, they come to her. This is her own arrangement, and it allows her a specter of control over her fate that she knows to be illusory, but finds comforting nonetheless.

Rastimos is not happy with her position. Like most psykers in the Imperium, she finds a gram of self-loathing coloring her decisions, especially under stress. The Imperium is a horrible place to live, and a worse place for psykers. As an Astropath, her final sight was the Emperor, cracked and withered on his Golden Throne, shivering with power and agony as he took her eyes away.

Something about that, and growing up in the psyker-fearing populace of Cloudburst, broke her spirit. Whatever she saw as the Emperor gilded her soul, it instilled in her a sense of utterly immutable loyalty, and a depressed sense of resignation. She, moreso than even the most Radical Inquisitor in the Palace beneath her feet, thinks Mankind can’t win its millions of wars, not unless a miracle comes.

She is only forty-five years of age, but her responsibilities and hideously painful Sanctioning have rendered her seemingly older. She dresses in a smart black robe of office with a powerful psy-crystal staff of office, a focal artifact imparted to her as a gift from fellow psychic High Inquisitor Lerica. She and Lerica have the closest thing to a friendship that their positions allow. Conversations between them would give the opposite impression, though, as they are silent, and consist of Lerica staring at the metal plate Rastimos has affixed over her eyes while Rastimos stares back.

Lord Fabricator Lister Beraxos, Lord of Cognomen and Liege of ABX202020[edit]

"The Machine God inspires us. The Omnissiah directs us. The Motive Force propels us. There is power in knowledge. We’ve all heard the words. How many people stop to think about them? I mean really think about them? What they mean, why they’re so important? Nobody. Nobody but those of us who will get everybody we know killed if we misinterpret them."

– Lister Beraxos

The Lord Fabricator of Cognomen, the Archmagos Executor of the Cloudburst Sector, Cloudburst Circuit, and Northern Oldlight Exo-zone, the Liege of ABX202020, and the Fief-Lord of Foraldshold, Lord Lister Beraxos could make a fair claim to being the most powerful man in the Sector. From his indestructible archaeotech labyrinth in the darkest dungeon of the Castle of the Forges, Beraxos sits at the center of the spider’s web of Techpriests and Tech-adepts that are all that keep the Sector from sliding into anarchy.

He does not give this impression. Unlike Lerica, Quintus, Drake, Maynard, or even Arden, Beraxos is a believer in the lack of need for ostentation. Beraxos eschews any flashy garb or raiment. For an average citizen on the streets of any planet he doesn’t rule, Beraxos looks incongruously like an ordinary Techpriest, albeit an old one. He wears his face unadorned by gadgetry, his robes are oil-stained and loose, and he only has four visible mechadendrites.

Beneath this unremarkable exterior lies the mind of a genius. Lister Beraxos is one of the most intelligent, ambitious, and dangerous men in Cloudburst history. He does not look like a tank because he does not want to. He does not dress like a fop because he likes it when Drake underestimates him. He has so few visible augmentations because his augmentations are designed specifically to look like human flesh, and he has the bare-skinned face of a junior Techpriest because the pseudoflesh mounted on his state-of-the-art facial augmetics is a work of art itself.

Beraxos is more than an administrator, a director, or a priest. He is a master manipulator, and has more connections in random places across the Sector than most of its resident Inquisitors. His responsibilities are heavy and getting heavier, but he would rather die than let his stress show visibly. He is determined to shoulder the burdens of ruling over the Cloudburst network of Forge Satraps and outposts, by himself if at all possible.

Somewhat similar to Quintus, Beraxos is the first man in his family to ascend to a position of high rank. Unlike Quintus, Beraxos loves it. Lister Beraxos is a name that history shall have etched into its metal pages, he confidently believes. He is loyal to Mars, unshakably so, but to his subordinates, that looks more changeable than it really is. He likes to keep his options open, or appear to, and that makes him hard to predict.

In these times of Ending, when the Imperium teeters on the brink of wholesale societal collapse, the Mechanicus benefits from men like him whether it can bear admitting that or not. Beraxos has done more to preserve and expand Cognomen than any Lord Fabricator it has had since the day it was founded. By his order, whole fleets of Explorator vessels ply the hot gas of the Circuit, collecting knowledge and power for his hoard. The laboratories of Cognomen churn daily, producing data and results. Even if some are retreading ground that Mars laid down millennia ago, that does not discourage or redirect him.

Mars rarely reflects the loyalty of its subjects. This is a sad but true state of affairs that has persisted across the breadth of post-Isstvan history, when trust in the Imperium died forever. Even the most loyal and pious Forge Worlds, Lucius and Voss Prime, rarely enjoy the full support of the entire Martian catalogue of ancient blueprints and STC data.

Of course, Mars doesn’t have all of the ancient blueprints and STC data, but even that which it does possess is rarely doled out generously. Some Forge Worlds older than the Unification Wars don’t have the means to build the Baneblade, a twenty-one thousand-year-old tank. Time and again, Beraxos and his predecessors and subordinates have begged for blueprints, designs, artifacts, anything to alleviate the burdens of defending and providing for the people of Cloudburst, and with the notable exception of their permission to make the Legion Congelatio, silence has been their reply.

Beraxos has had enough of silence. By his order, the Forge World has begun building a Knight World satrap, ABX202020, in the nearby system of ABX2. Beraxos has authorized the creation of weapons based on recovered archaeodata from the Cloudburst Circuit without waiting for a reply from Mars, and has even begun ordering his Explorators to begin conquering pirate bases in the Cloudburst Circuit and the dense nebulae between Cloudburst and Drumnos, in anticipation of needing more defenses in the region later.

The acquisition of knowledge, firepower, and bases is hardly in opposition to Martian doctrine, naturally, so there is little question as to whether Mars or the Inquisition would complain too much if he were in contact with his superiors, but Beraxos knows full well, as all Techpriests do, about the importance of ritual and protocol. He is simply not going to wait any more for a yea or nay on building a force of Knights, he is not going to wait for approval to enslave the pirates he captures and work them to death in his mines, and he has stopped caring to pause for a Solar response before producing non-standard Dreadnought designs for the Blue Daggers.

Will there come a reckoning for Lister Beraxos? Maybe. Until then, he holds his head high, knowing that he is doing more for Cloudburst than Mars ever has. Privately, Beraxos knows he is crossing lines. He does not allow his subordinates, even his planned replacement Archmagos Lucana, know how much he hates defying the letter of the law. His belief in Mars and the Machine are not purely doctrinal; Beraxos is a philosophical man, and he knows how easy it is to allow justification for acts to become excuses for acts. He confides in nobody, but he can feel the weight of his silent defiance pressing on his mind as he sits alone in the Cogitation Chamber of his Castle. It may also be, he has admitted to himself, that Mars has far bigger problems. Perhaps their silence stems from severe distraction, not rudeness.

His other responsibilities sometimes blessedly intrude on his moody introspection. As Lord Fabricator, the process of transforming Cognomen from the isolated patch of grass it used to be to the unthinkable powerhouse of a true Forge World falls under his purview. Beraxos spends fully half of his waking hours on the task of overseeing the expansion of the shipbuilding capacity of the Sector, and much of the rest directing the millions of laborers and Tech-adepts under his authority to improve and multiply the manufactorae and forges of Cloudburst’s few industrialized worlds. Beraxos himself hates fighting, and would rather run and live to run another day than risk himself in battle. He hasn’t been to a world that isn’t Cognomen or Celeste in eighty-four years, and doesn’t intend to unless Solstice needs him to fill in for its leadership in an emergency.

If the Techpriesthood of Stygies were to learn of the secret lab that he and Paris are building to study Glasian technology, they would scramble to aid him, and he has pondered telling them, perhaps in exchange for the Leman Russ Vanquisher cannon blueprints they have hoarded. The problem there is that he would never be able to start building them without other Forge Worlds noticing and asking questions, and he is simply not as enthusiastic about the potential of Glasian tech as Paris is or the Stygies Techpriests would be. He is fully prepared for Watch Station Peacekeeper to be a complete write-off.

Beraxos believes in maintaining positive relations with the subordinate groups of the various Mechanicus military forces. Among the forces of Cognomen Subsector alone, he counts PDF, Guard, Navy, Basilikon Astra, Explorators, Skitarii, Secutarii, Knights, Electro-Priests, Titans, and his own personal bodyguards. The full count of Sector-wide Mechanicus martial assets includes Legio Cybernetica Imperial Robots and the Ordo Reductor, as well. On paper, the conventional Astra Militarum forces answer to the Subsector Overlord, but since the Subsector Overlord essentially answers to him regarding the disposition of his forces’ equipment and transport, Beraxos could quite possibly give them orders. He isn’t stupid enough to try, of course, as that would shake Mars from their distraction faster than anything else could, and if they didn’t kill him, the Inquisition would.

Still, he treats his colleagues in the autonomous or Martian branches of the military with respect and distance. Thanks to the extensive reforms instituted after the Schism of Mars, he can directly command very few forces himself. Ultimately, the future of his interactions with Mars comes down to their reception to the revelation of the existence of House Matraxia. If he were to create his Knights House on Cognomen itself, he could point to Mars and say, correctly, that Mars already has a Knight House – Taranis – so he would hardly be breaking precedent. He chose to put the House on ABX202020 because he can exert control over who comes and goes to the system, and so that they have room to grow and flourish. However, to anybody who sees this, it would look like a guilty party covering up knowing misconduct. Beraxos is between a rock and a hard place, and he lives with it every single day.

Beraxos does not share the distaste that most of Cognomen feels for Robots. On the contrary, he would like for Cognomen to gain a Cybernetic Legion, just as Fabique, Syracuse, and Solstice already have. However, he knows that Cognomen’s rise from a provincial parking lot to the powerhouse of the Galactic North is already moving too quickly for some of his neighbors. There are also a lot of demands on the time and resources of Cognomen, not the least of which being building a Titan Legion and Knight World more or less from scratch. Building a Cybernetica Legion at the same time might require more sanctified Techpriests than he can actually devote to so many tasks concurrently without diminishing his all-important industrial output. Once ABX202020 is up to its full power and the many thousands of factories, hab blocks, seminaries, and nutrient recyclers he is presently ordering built on Cognomen are online, then the number of people the Techpriesthood will induct shall be large enough to focus on Robots. Until then, House Matraxia’s Knights and Legion Congelatio’s Titans will have to be enough.

Beraxos eschews battle and carries no visible armaments, although his augmetic left arm has a hidden Needler inside it, and can split open to disgorge two daggers that are made of a special polymer and do not show up on radar or metal scans.

Lady Inquisitrix Cloudburst, Ordo Xenos High Inquisitor Cassandra Lerica[edit]

"Hope is a medicine. If you take it when you need it, and you take the right amount, it can save your life. It can make you stronger. It can help you survive. If you take too much, or from the wrong place, or when you don’t need it, it kills you. Never forget that."

– Cassandra Lerica

The Inquisitorial presence in Cloudburst is as old as Imperial colonization, but its current footprint is new. Inquisitors visited Hapster and a few of the smaller border worlds that Cloudburst absorbed after its creation, but there was rarely much reason for the Inquisition to linger when their work was done.

Now, things are different. Now, the Inquisition holds court over all manner of dangers and distractions to the mighty Imperium, and they do so from the Palace of Maskos, under the watchful eyes of Cassandra Lerica.

Lerica butchered her way up through the ranks of the Ordo Xenos. Her ferocious cruelty towards practitioners of the Cold Trade in xeno artifacts in the Cloudburst Circuit was the stuff of legends two hundred years before she became the leader of the Ordo Xenos in the Cloudburst Sector, or the Lady Inquisitrix Cloudburst one hundred years later. In her time before sitting on the Black Bench at the Court of Precedent in the Maskos Palace, Lerica reveled in taking to the field, alongside the Deathwatch or not, and bringing the electric agony gauntlets she wore to the faces of smugglers and heretics across the breadth of the Circuit. Now that she is Lady High Inquisitrix Cloudburst, she is unable to pursue the Cold Trade as she once did. She has a few random items of xenotech under lock and key on Dascomb, in the hopes of studying them for a sign of having been reverse-engineered from pre-Age of Strife human cultures, but generally eschews all xenotech beyond this.

As her responsibilities grew, Lerica grew more and more disillusioned with her hands-on approach to punishing violators of the Emperor’s laws. Luckily, she found herself interested in the mechanics of running large-scale infiltration and coordination missions, and her natural psychic power helped her considerably. She used her powers and her rank to direct covert actions personnel from her retinue and the Officio Assassinorum to bring down Cold Trade and proselytization groups that dealt in alien lies.

Finally, after her two hundredth year in the field, the death of her superior allowed her to rise to Lady Inquisitrix of the Ordo Xenos in Cloudburst. Along with this responsibility came the role of Inquisitor of the Chamber in the Watch Fortress Dascomb. Her extensive experience in the field, battling those who salvage the debris of the alien empires the Deathwatch destroys, lent her some credibility in the eyes of the Watch Commander, and she has served as the Inquisitor of the Chamber ever since, even after becoming Lady Inquisitrix Cloudburst.

In adjudication, Lerica strives to present a face of reason and temperance, even given the vigorous disputes among branches of the Holy Ordos in the Cloudburst Sector over how best to distribute resources to endure the Glasian and Ork menaces. The most obvious distraction for the Cloudburst Inquisition is the fact that each Glasian Migration leaves behind gigatons of material from their ships, corpses, and vehicles. While most Imperial citizens follow the edict not to tamper with or collect such things, Imperial Guard troops sometimes take relics as trophies, which has led to more than one death. The competing interests and cabals within the sector conclave also spar for limited resources for their own projects. In this regard, Lerica definitely shows favor to the Ordos Xenos and Malleus, despite her best intentions. The lesser Ordos and the Hereticus grumble about this at times, but they would be hard-pressed to find greater consistent threats to Cloudburst than the Glasians and Orks, and the personal attention of Tzeentch.

Lerica does not like Rhemortho Quintus. She sees the Sector Overlord as being unprepared for the dangers of his job, and possibly unable to make the call to abandon a world if there is a chance that the Glasians will take it. Her suspicion has never been tested. She has never hidden her contempt, but she also does not act on it; she understands the need for unity in the face of the Glasian and Ork menaces. She has a bit more patience for Lord Fabricator Beraxos, since he shares her disgust for the corrupted Glasian technology that each Migration leaves strewn about their home Sector, and has so far obeyed her standing order to dispose of it to the letter.

Lerica has considerable psychic skill. Like most Inquisitors with psychic power, she has never needed Sanctioning before the Throne. She stabilizes her psychic power with psybernetic implants in her cheeks and neck, which allows her a wide assortment of extra-sensory perception abilities. Her weapons of choice are a digital melta and two master-crafted hotshot laspistols, which she can charge from the feeds in her artificer power armor, or with independent power cells she carries on her carapace armor. When aboard Dascomb, she prefers a silver robe over silver noble’s attire, replete with hidden Teleport Homer/Recaller.

Lord Inquisitor Oscar Havermann, Ordo Hereticus[edit]

"So many people haven’t a clue what heresy is. Heresy isn’t having thoughts, beliefs, ideas. It’s about refusing to change thoughts, beliefs, and ideas. Change them to the correct way of thinking. That way is the way of the Emperor. What else could possibly matter?"

– Oscar Havermann

Oscar Havermann scares the living daylights out of his own colleagues. As the former Chief of Witch Hunters for the Ordo before his promotion out of the role, Havermann is the most experienced and decorated psychic-tracker in the entire Cloudburst region, and his own psychic power aids him immensely in this regard. Given how low the psyker birthrate in Cloudburst is, any sign of non-Sanctioned psionic activity in the Sector is fairly easy to detect. Before his promotion, Havermann used his Fast Clipper Banelight to skip from system to system, capturing hedge sorcerers and killing out-of-control psyker youths.

Since his promotion, Havermann oversees the efforts of the whole cadres of Ordo Hereticus personnel in the Cloudburst Sector. His second, Jerome Paltmitier, fields far more often than Havermann does, now, and Havermann is just slightly too professional to resent that. Havermann does not like having to spend so much time in the Palace in Maskos. He would greatly prefer being in the field, doing what he does best. Instead, he must spend time in meetings with Lerica, Heung, and Kimihira, arguing about precedence and money.

One task he does relish is interrogation. Havermann is a relentless and penetrating interrogator, able to ferret the slightest heresy out from the most misleading of lies. The fact that so many worlds in Cloudburst are primitive, and have only the vaguest idea of what the Emperor actually is makes this challenging. Is somebody collected from a primitive world’s population actually a heretic, or simply poorly educated?

This is where his psychic power comes into the fore. Havermann is superhumanly skilled at detecting lies. He can read minds and body language like a book, except for when faced by the most skilled dissemblers. Havermann has caught Imperial Navy officers, a Mechanicus Magos, and even members of the Adeptus Arbites in heretical thoughts, and has sent them all to the stake.

There is no person in the galaxy that troubles Professor Unarvu more than Havermann. The two have never met, but Unarvu is a realist when it comes to the odds of his meticulous planning surviving contact with Havermann’s power and cruelty.

Havermann is whip-thin and tall, with long black hair and cybernetic eyes he can cause to glow on command. He dresses in a black overcoat with a black waistcoat over a red business outfit from Thimble, which lends him a darkly, even theatrically threatening mien that only somebody with his appearance could pull off. He has no outward signs of his psychic gifts, which makes it all the more surprising when he uses them. In battle, he employs concealed armor to its fullest advantage, wearing it under his clothing, and prefers the use of a Power Sword and Hellpistol.

Lady Inquisitrix Mizuki Kimihira, Ordo Malleus[edit]

"You know what I’ve noticed about aristos that consort with daemons? They all regret it eventually. Not the peasants, not the middle classes, just the nobles. Even if it takes a while, even if it kills them, they all regret it. I used to wonder why, but I think I know now. They fear egalitarianism. In the Warp, after I kill them, they’re no more powerful or important than any other dead soul. They’re just food or sex toys for the next hungry spirit to pass by. They regret losing the power they had in life."

– Mizuki Kimihira

Among the daemon-worshippers of the Cloudburst Sector who actually make a study of their opponents in the Imperial government, there are none they fear more than Mizuki Kimihira. She has been a quiet, contemplative, thoughtful, and unavoidable force of order and law in the Sector for over two hundred years. She uses a variety of technologies and psionics to maintain her aging flesh, and has essentially trapped it at the age of forty, but even if she allowed more of her age to show, it would change nothing about her capability. Kimihira is, without question or doubt, the single most powerful psyker in the Sector. She is at least a mid-Beta on the Imperial Assignment Scale of Psionics.

Conventional human science does not hold a place for a being of her combination of self-control and psychic power in its present evolutionary model of humans. This is not to say she is wholly unprecedented, even among Inquisitors, but the relative lack of psychic humans in Cloudburst does make her power’s presence all the more conspicuous. She is an outlier, of the sort that the changing times have made ever more common of late. Imperial medicae suspect that humanity is becoming more psionically-active, and people like her may be the proof. No academic paper would reference her directly, however, as no person in Cloudburst outside the Adeptus Arbites, Astartes, and Inquisition is aware of her power, save Chief Rastimos. However, files on her have been made available to both the Segmentum Conclave and the Adeptus Custodes.

Kimihira is more than a potent psyker, however. She is an experienced and capable hunter of daemons. Clad in her silver-plated Terminator armor, armed with Power Halberd and Blessed Rotary Cannon, and outfitted with enough explosives to level a building, she often does not need her retinue of psykers, sharpshooters, and priests to assist her in purging a daemonic cult from the spires of Thimble or the rolling forests of Celeste. When she does bring her retinue with her, she usually relies on her combat bodysuit and collection of psi-reactive knives and pistols instead. In addition, she is a master telekine, easily able to flick a truck onto its back with a single wave of psychic power. Her subordinates have orders to knock her out or even kill her if she ever loses all control of her power. Her custom Terminator armor also contains a concealed needle system built into the neck guard, which can slip a sedative into her bloodstream in the incident that she loses control.

Kimihira hates having to lord over the Ordo Malleus, especially since she has so few chances to slip away and fight the good fight. She and Havermann get along well, although her relationship with Hueng is more acrimonious. She respects Lerica’s centuries of experience, but ultimately would prefer to return to the battle. To the profound annoyance of Herman Rothschilde, she has never bought into his worldview that Cloudburst is doomed and on the verge of total collapse. While she readily admits that the Sector’s aristocracy is entirely too concerned with appearance – and so is the Ministorum, for that matter – she thinks his gloomy worldview is just pure laziness. Every time she has ever brought the glowing tip of her psychic-enriched Force Halberd down on the heart of a sinner or deviant, they have promptly disintegrated, after all. If Rothschilde would just shut up and get back to work, she has told him bluntly, some of the problems he insists can’t be solved would evaporate.

Some of her own subordinates whisper that she is in some degree of denial about the extent of the problems facing the greater Imperium. Kimihira herself would insist that she is aware of them, probably better than most, and prefers attacking them head-on to letting them fester. This has not served her well in her role as the Lady Inquisitrix of the Ordo Malleus Cloudburst. Some of the younger, more politically-minded Inquisitors of her Ordo think her to be too easily distracted to serve as their leader. None have yet acted on this, but if she continues her blithe disregard for the political realities of the Conclave, the status quo may change. As it stands, she rejects the various factional labels of the Inquisition, saying they provoke disunity in the ranks when unity is the only thing that can provide a means of finding defense against the sheer volume of foes Humanity must now overcome.

Given her distaste for the political and philosophical factionalism of the Inquisition, one could be forgiven for thinking that she rejects philosophy in general. That would be an unfair characterization of her mindset. She is a profoundly philosophical person, but her philosophical mindset directs towards the understanding of the presence and extent of the Emperor’s vision in the lives of His citizens, not the balance of power of its government. Fully one third of the daemon cults she has encountered in her centuries of service have arisen from the ranks of nobles of Celeste, Maskos, and most especially Thimble. She has seen over and over how often the idleness of the philosophically dead Imperial nobility leads itself to thoughts of a better life in the Warp’s thrall, and how often those responsible have tricked themselves into thinking they will somehow escape the fates of the billions of other humans around them.

Kimihira is not of noble birth herself, but she does not oppose the feudal system of the Imperium to such an extent that she would ever try to take action against the system itself. Overall, she simply finds it too susceptible to corruption. She and Paltmitier have taken down entire witch covens by themselves, all of them founded from the lesser scions of Noble families and Rogue Trader houses. She has worked with the Grey Knights on only two occasions, simply because they are so rarely called to the isolated Cloudburst Sector.

Lord Inquisitor Xi Gian Heung, Ordo Xenos[edit]

"Cost? You ugly shitter, you think you know about cost? Throw a ship the size of a moon into a star without touching it! Then we’ll talk about cost! Bring me my Throne-damned gun!"

– Xi Gian Heung

Xi Gian Hueng holds the distinct honor of knowing more about Glasian biology and technology than any other person alive knows. The relentless, coarse-tongued cyborg warrior has been physically present for three Glasian invasions, more than any other person outside the Blue Daggers. He is the only one of the four senior Inquisitors of the Conclave Cloudburst with no psychic talent, but he doesn’t need it. His custom Power Armor and collection of esoteric human and alien weapons are more than enough to bring him victory. He has worked with the Deathwatch and the Blue Daggers dozens of times, usually in pursuit of alien forces in the Cloudburst Circuit, but sometimes in the harder-to-navigate Exo-zone to trailing. Hueng is a practical man, and unlike several of his peers in the higher Inquisition, does not mind his relegation to more directorial positions as he grows older. He still takes to the field at times, and usually does so at the personal behest of his superior, High Inquisitrix Lerica.

Hueng has somewhat more time available for his own research and investigations than he might normally. The position of Inquisitor of the Chamber for the Deathwatch of Watch Fortress Dascomb is traditionally held by the highest-ranking member of the Ordo Xenos in Cloudburst, and two times out of three that makes the Lord Inquisitor Xenos the Inquisitor of the Chamber. However, Lerica did not forfeit her position when the Senate of the High Lords offered her elevation to Lady Inquisitrix Cloudburst. This leaves Hueng time to oversee his subordinates more directly.

His coterie of acolytes, Throne Agents, and Interrogators are the bane of the Cold Trade, the moving of alien artifacts through Cloudburst. Thanks to the unfortunate proclivities of the nobility of Thimble, he has stationed a team of his acolytes there permanently, where they make their services available to the Arbites.

Hueng’s hate for the Cold Trade seems hypocritical to those who encounter him, given that nearly fifteen percent of his augmetics and weapons are alien in origin. Indeed, both his favored wrist-mounted las-lances and his thyroid-replacing augmetic are Jokaero products. However, Hueng is also a man of limitless willpower and self-restraint when it comes to the actual use of alien technology, whereas the Highborn of Thimble have levelled buildings in their overzealous use of alien weapons in their sporting duels.

This is less of a distinction than any Arbitrator would admit in a court of law, but Hueng is long past caring about the contradiction in his worldview. He has brought entire alien pocket kingdoms and small-scale Ork incursions to heel by himself, and has fought shoulder to shoulder with the Deathwatch against the Glasians before. As is the case with so many Inquisitors, he ignores contradictions in his own personal conduct if the result is a demonstrable improvement in the Imperium. Of course, as a hard-bitten old cynic, what constitutes ‘improvement’ may consist of a return to order, even if the order is just the quiet of the grave, or a terrified silence.

Hueng isn’t without compassion, but hundreds of years of hard work have burned it out of his demeanor. Hueng made the call to destroy the Space Hulk Inescapable Approach rather than attempt to salvage it, despite over two hundred Imperial Navy sailors still being trapped aboard. Hueng also led the purge of the freighter Calliope after a passenger smuggled out a transmission that there were Genestealers aboard. Thanks to the invasions and Migrations of the Glasians, he has had to send entire cities to the pyres after they were exposed to the Warp energies of destroyed Glasian ships.

He is also the loudest opponent of Watch Captain Paris’s plan to build a bunker for Glasian tech on Lorelei, deeming it to be too large a risk. Paris counters with his own argument that the Glasian tech is too potentially valuable to destroy if parts of it are provably uncorrupted. Ultimately, although the Deathwatch is the Chamber Militant for the Inquisition’s Ordo Xenos, individual Inquisitors do not have the authority to override a Watch Captain’s decisions without a substantial body of evidence, which Hueng cannot produce.

Still, Paris isn’t blind to Hueng’s centuries of experience. He has acceded to the gravity of the circumstance, and added additional automated defenses and failsafes to the facility, which has neither made the locals feel better nor assuaged Hueng’s worry.

Of all of the Lords Inquisitor in the Sector, Hueng thinks he has the hardest job, and has occasionally even given voice to this opinion. He may even be right, but the rest of the Conclave has little patience for such an attitude. Hueng is less popular than Lerica outside his Ordo, not that he cares.

Lord Inquisitor Eric Stoldst, Ordo Sicarius (presumed Xenos)[edit]

"What a pretense we have, we of the Inquisitive nature. How easy is it to see our power and assume we may kill whomever we wish? Ah, but the Emperor was no fool, and he saw that such things were possible. How fortunate are we, that I watch the watchmen?"

– Eric Stoldst

Inquisitors are a secretive bunch, even among their own ranks. Secrets and knowledge have power. Their misuse or overabundance can bring ruin to innocents, wreck carefully laid plans, and inspire heretical thoughts in undefended minds.

Among the Ordos of the Inquisition, there are few more secretive, yet more purposeful, than the Ordo Sicarius. As one of the newer permanent Ordos Minoris, and also the most limited, it has a mere handful of trained members outside Terra, where there are several thousand.

The Ordo Sicarius oversees the dispatch of Imperial Assassins. The Senate of the High Lords of Terra keeps careful watch on the Assassins, and for good reason. However, at times, Assassins are needed to correct the balance of Imperial justice, and when they are, the Senate authorizes the Grand Master of Assassins to dispatch a killer to see the task done. The Ordo Sicarius keeps careful watch on both the administrative and deployment functions of the Officio, to ensure the Officio doesn’t repeat the mistakes of The Beheading.

Stoldst is one of the rare Sicarius Inquisitors who is not stationed on Terra. As part of his responsibilities, he both keeps a weather eye on any Assassins in the region, and also directs promising Culexis candidates to Terra for screening and training. This is typical for Sicarius Inquisitors in every Sector, if they have one. The Ordo Sicarius sent an Inquisitor, and a Senate-appointed Lord Inquisitor at that, to Cloudburst, where he has been posing as a Lord Inquisitor of the Ordo Xenos for seventeen years.

The committee of Lords Inquisitor, consisting of Hueng, Kimihira, Havermann, and chaired by Lerica, knows perfectly what he really is, and they are the only ones. Even the Deathwatch is presently under the assumption that Stoldst is simply an exceptionally scholarly Inquisitor of the Ordo Xenos. He has deceived them, at the behest of the Senate itself, in order to comb through the Sector’s history and present turmoil, looking for any signs of rogue Assassins.

Cloudburst is the perfect place for a Traitor Assassin who has not sold their soul to Chaos to hide. Its planet clusters are far enough apart that travel between them without a Navigator-guided ship takes weeks, its military capabilities are expanding at a lightning pace, and its borders are in constant flux. Beyond that, there are dozens of small criminal organizations and one or two very large ones where a genuine Imperial Assassin could ply their trade and raise little suspicion, while living like a king. Most importantly, however, the Sector has far bigger problems. The Glasians consume the attention of the whole Sector, and the Astronomican’s projection range continues to shrink.

Stoldst has his suspicions, and he believes that one of the higher-ranking members of the Free Corsair Coalition is a former member of the Vanus Clade, the branch of the Officio that handles indirect assassination. Of all the clades, however, theirs is the hardest to detect, especially in contrast to the thrashing violence of the Eversor or soul-melting hate of the Culexis. If Stoldst were right, it would help explain why the FCC has been able to expand so quickly: they have an infocyte aiding them in finding holes in the Imperial defenses. Stoldst has been covertly sending aid and money in the direction of the task force Lerica has assembled to take down the FCC, and the task force’s members are none the wiser.

Stoldst, naturally enough for a Sicarius, rarely enters battle himself, but when he does, he relies on his absurdly oversized Iron Halo and Adamantium-plated Power Armor, which cost fully seventeen times the price of a baseline suit. When fighting the armor-piercing rounds of a Vindicare, or the razor-sharp blades of an Eversor, such things are necessary, after all. His weapons of choice are a custom Hotshot las-rifle with underbarrel grenade launcher and a set of twin Power Gladii. He also carries a variety of Stunner and Concussion grenades, as well as a bag of potent Phosphor bombs – in his experience, a fire is one of the things that even professionals need time to adjust to mid-battle.

Inquisitor Jerome Paltmitier, Ordo Hereticus, Chief of Witch Hunters[edit]

"If you could tell a Witch by sight, my job would be so much easier, but far bloodier. Some Witches know that they can’t shield their taint forever, but try anyway, and so in their hiding, do less damage. If every Witch knew they couldn’t hide, they’d just kill at random. Some do anyway, of course."

– Jerome Paltmitier

The Cloudburst Sector may have an anomalously low psyker birthrate, but it still has one. Psykers are as dangerous when untrained in Cloudburst as they are everywhere else. To find Witches, the Inquisition needs a Witch Hunter.

Oscar Havermann vacated the position to become Lord Inquisitor Hereticus Cloudburst, and Jerome Paltmitier stepped in. Paltmitier is not psychic, but he does have a keen sense of perception, and he is almost as good at smelling a lie as Havermann is.

However, where Havermann relies on cold, sinister subtlety and psychic powers to get what he wants, Paltmitier affects brutishness. When he is pursuing a suspected witch, he quite deliberately projects the image of a calculating but thuggish brute, barely holding back violence, and placated only by honesty. When he is pursuing a known witch, Paltmitier behaves more like his true self: quiet, purposeful, and chillingly efficient. He is one of the most successful users of acting talent in the course of his duties in the Cloudburst Ordos, and he has repeatedly attempted to pass these skills along to his subordinates. Among the other Inquisitors of the Ordo Hereticus, Paltmitier is respected for his skills, but is also widely held to be unlikable and distant, with no real affection for any of his subordinates or colleagues. His skill and success rate in hunting witches speak to his century and a half of experience.

In battle, Paltmitier is an archetypal Witch Hunter, albeit better equipped than most. He wears a custom suit of Carapace Armor with a vacuum-sealable helmet in his pack, but usually goes about with the tall hat and black glasses so common to his Ordo. He uses a Power Sword and an Inferno Pistol, one of the few in the Sector, as well as a much larger Stalker-type bolter he master-crafted himself. It has a combi-attachment of a stake launcher, but the weapon is large enough that even the six foot four inch tall Paltmitier can’t fire it one-handed.

In fact, Paltmitier constructed many of the most powerful artifacts of the Witch Hunters of Cloudburst. He finds the Sector’s relative lack of advanced technology irritating, both because the Mechanicus has had ample time to fix it and because others accept it passively. In Paltmitier’s mind, there is no reason to accept a status quo that inconveniences those few humans with the power to alter their destinies.

When he is not hunting Witches, Paltmitier spends his time working in the Maskos Palace’s forge room with the few Techpriests who work there. There, he makes the custom bolter shells of his rifle and power packs for his pistol, inscribing them with silvered Ward-sculpt and runes. He has also made some custom weapons for his favored acolytes and Throne Agents.

Inquisitor-Captain Lord Gwiddon Thomas Walsh, Rogue Trader and Lord Inquisitor, Ordo Hereticus[edit]

"Who says power corrupts? I’ve been fighting for the Emperor for three hundred years, and nobody could call me corrupt."

– Gwiddon Thomas Walsh

If Lord Cloudburst Quintus and Lord Fabricator Beraxos are the two most powerful men in the Cloudburst Sector, the third must be Walsh. Holding the position of both a Lord Inquisitor Hereticus and a Lord Rogue Trader with a Greater Warrant of Trade, Walsh can travel anywhere he pleases and do almost anything he wants in the pursuit of the defense of the Imperium. He has the arrogance to match his station, and wealth beyond the reckoning of most humans. Walsh is one of only five individuals in Cloudburst history to ever level the command of Exterminatus towards a world, specifically the alien hellhole of AHG131 in the Circuit, for the crime of using planetary-scale brain networking technology looted from ancient human ruins.

Walsh has been a Rogue Trader longer than an Inquisitor. His parents and older sister died in the catastrophic reactor failure of their vessel. Luckily, the family’s original Warrant of Trade was in the family vault on Celeste at the time, and so he was able to prove his ownership of the Walsh ancestral business.

Naturally, some whispers of suspicion fell on the young Thomas Walsh that he was responsible for the loss of his family, but those faded away after four decades of meteoric shifts in the family’s fortune. Walsh made himself absurdly rich, by staking claim after claim on routes between the Sector and the Circuit, and by finding staggeringly rare archaeotech treasures for the Adeptus Mechanicus out in the Oldlight Exo-zone. Even before he caught the eye of Inquisitor Gorli and she subtly added him to her network of informants, he had laid two small alien kingdoms to waste and begun the process of adding a new world to the Imperium.

Walsh would sometimes disappear into the darkness of the Circuit with no more than a single Frigate packed with as many supplies as it could carry, stay off the grid for a year or more, and then return with vast riches and tales of adventure. It was his ship, the Gilded Nobility, which sunk the notorious pirate Redbar Skullswipe and halted his Ork fleet in its tracks. Walsh was there on the day that Inquisitor Lerica condemned the entire Hivrekk species to extinction and threw their asteroid hive into a black hole.

With such a record of working with the Imperium’s many institutions, it was no real surprise that the young Captain Walsh would fall into the orbit of the Inquisition. Hundreds of thousands of Inquisitors have worked with Rogue Traders in the past, to find lost human worlds, destroy dangerous aliens, navigate treacherous Warp Shoals and Gravity Tides, and even prosecute wars against the Emperor’s foes.

However, Walsh is in the rare position of being both an actively-serving Rogue Trader and an actual Inquisitor. This is not unprecedented, but it is highly uncommon. Most Inquisitors find themselves hunting down their fellow man to kill them for crimes against the species, while Rogue Traders spend most of their time flying about beyond the reach of Imperial law. Likewise, Rogue Traders’ tasks are to collect obscene wealth for themselves and bolster the Imperial economy by killing its enemies, looting its neighboring space, and retrieving lost technological relics, while Inquisitors are encouraged to avoid becoming distracted by personal wealth. Finally, Inquisitors have a limited remit to ignore certain Imperial laws, while Rogue Traders have been put to death – sometimes by Inquisitors – for ignoring those same laws.

However, Inquisitor Gorli saw potential in the Rogue Trader. Time and again, when he sent her snippets of information describing un-Imperial conduct amongst his peers in the Rogue Traders of the northern Segmentum Ultima, Gorli saw a distinct contempt for the members of the Houses that ply their work near the Circuit. Conversely, when he encountered other Traders who held themselves to a standard, Walsh’s tone was neutral, and strictly reported the facts, leaving his speculation and opinion aside.

That was the sort of behavior Gorli expected from a peasant, not a noble. In her experience, the higher the rank of a person in the hierarchy of the Imperium, the more likely they would be to think Imperial law no longer held to them. Gorli was intrigued enough to place him as a successor for herself if ever she perished on the job.

When she did so, rooting out the Cult of Blessed Whispers on Nauphry IV seven years later, Walsh assumed her Inquisitorial Rosette. Other Inquisitors, especially those who knew Gorli personally, reacted with disgust, especially when Walsh added Gorli’s ship and Throne Agents to his own assets. Walsh then disappeared into the Cloudburst Circuit, where he spends most of his time. Unlike many Rogue Traders, Walsh has no interest in having children, intending instead to leave his Warrant and title to his niece, and thus spends as little time in Imperial space as needed. Now, with a coterie of his own Agents and his network of Trader ships, Walsh plies the stars, looking for worlds to add to the Imperium, by word or by torch.

Ideally, at least in the minds of his Rogue Trader peers, Walsh would stay the hell away from the Imperium anyway. His colleagues and competitors mutter that no one man should have that much power, and that nobody who has come to his title by so many coincidental deaths should be able to act with near-total legal impunity. Regardless, Walsh now sees most of them as far beneath his station. While his council of master economists and marketers keep most of his financial assets churning without his personal oversight, Walsh has gradually redirected more of his attention towards hunting down heretics in the Houses of other Rogue Traders, which has shriveled up his support among his peers completely.

His largest foil among the Rogue Trader houses is a former Imperial Navy Captain named Madeline Prinz. She is the only Trader in the Sector with a pedigree shorter than Walsh’s but a larger fleet, and she has made it her mission to irritate the more powerful Trader whenever she can do it without attracting the ire of other Inquisitors.

Walsh’s personal philosophy commands him to pursue those whose thinking is too deviant to benefit the Imperium, and about the only organization in the Imperium with which he has positive ties with no acrimony is the Ministorum. He has brought Missionaries on every trip he has taken into the Circuit after the first, and makes sure to include the highest-ranking Ecclesiarchal personnel on his ship in most of his decision-making. Nobody knows whether this is an affectation or honest faith.

Walsh routinely enters battle alongside the mercenaries and soldiers in his service, even at the head of a full battalion at times. His preferred combat regalia is a suit of artificed Carapace armor, with a full set of Digital Needlers on each hand and a Storm Bolter custom-tuned for his physique. Walsh looks like a holo star and knows it, and he has gone so far as to make posters for his recruitment centers with his own face and dashing profile on it, which just irritates other Imperial officials even more.

Ultimately, Walsh is a confusing figure for the rest of the Imperium. He has lived through a life that most people would have killed for, but he apparently hasn’t. He has made enemies and rivals in the most powerful institutions in the Cloudburst Sector, even while employed by them. He pursues wealth and power with zeal, but no more zeal than he uses to hunt down his own colleagues when they disappoint him or betray his principles. He has pursued his colleagues and other human heretics and criminals with terrifying vigor, yet never raises a hand against his own rival.

He is an odd man, and a powerful one. Most other beings in the Cloudburst Sector and Circuit avoid him assiduously.

Inquisitor Noah Theron, Ordo Astartes[edit]

"There have been times when Space Marines marched into the Imperial Palace as liberators, times when they were there as conquerors, and times when they were there as a voice of reason, Throne save us. Of course I’m here to oversee them. How could we not?"

– Noah Theron

While the Blue Daggers are neither an ancient nor a wealthy Chapter of the Space Marines, they require oversight as much as any other. The Ordo Astartes is a very small Ordo Minoris of the Holy Inquisition, and most of its members base from Terra, but a few enter the Ordo after beginning their careers in the Ordo Militarum or Hereticus. Most of the Ordo Astartes are paranoid wrecks, who see plots by the Imperial Fists and other Segmentum Solar Chapters to overthrow the Imperium’s current leaders behind every action they take. Noah Theron is not. He is a cold, stoic, and impossible-to-frighten sentry that stands behind the ranks of the Daggers, always watching for signs of rebellion or heresy.

So far, there has been little to see. All of the leaders of the Chapter for the first several hundred years were well-trusted members of the Novamarines, none of whom had any heretical inclinations. Since then, as the Daggers took over from their progenitors, the Chapter has remained focused on their role. After the Chapter fleet reached the size needed to dispatch their overstrength Chapter across the Sector, the Ordo Hereticus of the Sector took a scrutinizing look at the Chapter to ensure that they did not overstep their mandate, but so far, no such action has occurred. When the last two Novamarine veterans and last nineteen Angels of Fury veterans die, the Chapter will have to be examined again, but there is no telling when that could happen.

Inquisitor Theron is a skillful investigator, which is why some other Inquisitors have asked him to his face why he is wasting time watching Lord Arden and his Marines. He could do far more good, they say, keeping Coriolis and Cognomen on the right track. He replies that the Adeptus Astartes have undertaken so many dramatic roles in the history of the Imperium that to not scrutinize them would be dereliction of duty. He claims very few Imperial resources in his task, too, so his presence is no drain on the Sector Conclave’s assets. He has but two Throne Agents and a single tiny ship, a star yacht named No Second Chances, and has no fleet or Guard regiments to his name. When he is not in Septiim, he is in the Delving or Maskos systems, keeping a keen eye on Dagger mission reports and the feeds of intelligence that flow into the Gargantuan.

He rarely enters battle, but he carries a chainsword and plasma pistol as his weapons of duty and a ceremonial sabre of office, and wears custom carapace armor for protection. This is obviously not enough to kill a Space Marine, but he also has a digital melta he acquired from a Jokaero and a potent needle pistol he keeps concealed on his person.

Inquisitor Herman Rothschilde, Ordo Malleus[edit]

"Cloudburst! What an apropos name it is, for this benighted cluster of stars! Wastrel worlds with wastrel guardians, shivering in the cold when they should be running towards a fire. Darkness is coming to Cloudburst, and its people are too lazy to evade it!"

– Herman Rothschilde

In this Time of Ending, enemies beset the Imperium on all flanks. Times like these produce heroes, when the folk of the Imperium are thrown into the crucible of war. In times such as this, the greatest leaders and prophets of Mankind have arisen to lead humanity from the darkness.

Herman Rothschilde thinks himself one such hero. His colleagues think him a whiner. His subordinates worship the ground he walks on, and if any outside his immediate circle knew the full extent of his plans, they would burn him at the stake.

Rothschilde was a student at the Schola Progenum on Septiim Primus, and his instructors settled on the Inquisitorial path for him. As a boy, he was always asking questions, trying to learn things no classmate cared about, and trying to see the why of things when most people just cared about the how. His superiors rightly concluded that that was the correct mindset for an Inquisitorial prospect. He was elevated to the rank of Lesser Acolyte in the retinue of Lord Inquisitor Nolan in M41.831, and has served in the Ordo Malleus ever since. For the first forty years of his Inquisitorial service, initially under Nolan and later as an Inquisitor himself, Rothschilde was a profoundly Puritan Inquisitor; he was quick to bring down the silver blade on the slightest hint of daemonic corruption. However, after that time, things began to change. Slowly, Rothschilde felt more like the Cloudburst Sector was to blame for its own problems.

He loathes the Chaos Gods and the other beasts of the Warp, but Rothschilde now thinks that at least some of the problems that bedevil the Sector are caused by the Sector itself. Not in the spiritual sense, like the Titanshields Secutarii of Cognomen, but in the sense that so many of the Cloudburst Sector’s leadership is either too lazy to learn the risks of their roles, or too lazy to actually implement any meaningful improvements in the Sector or its defense against daemons.

Rothschilde thinks that the Sector’s current predicament, the Ork and Glasian invasions, are proof positive about his own personal views on the Sector. Beyond any machinations of the Great Enemy, Rothschilde hates how stagnant and unprepared the Sector is. After each Migration, the only institutions of the Imperial government that seem to prepare for the next ones are the Daggers, the Navy, and the Mechanicus. The Administratum just falls back into their lockstep routine, the Guard practically goes on holiday, and the Ministorum goes back to leeching the proles dry. The other Adepta barely even matter in the overall scheme of the Sector, even the Sororitas, who seem to view the Glasian Migrations as a minor annoyance and not the catastrophic threat they are.

However, among all the institutions of the Cloudburst Sector, there are none for whom Rothschilde reserves more scorn than the Adeptus Ministorum. Rothschilde hates the Ministorum, or at least its local branch. He sees the Ecclesiarchy as the ultimate problem for much of the Sector, and he has a whole laundry list of arguments he can recite to support his claim to anybody who will listen.

They deviate from the more restrained path of Sebastian Thor, but that is the least of his concerns. He sees how they vacuum up all of the money in the Sector that isn’t sewn into their parishioners’ pockets, and wonders what kind of defenses such money could bring. He has watched with growing disbelief as they have entirely failed to select a new Cardinal for Thimble, despite it having had a large enough population to justify one for hundreds of years. Septiim will be large enough to merit one in a few more years, and they haven’t even begun the process of selecting a Cardinal for the system.

The Ministorum is doing reasonable work in the Circuit and the primitive worlds of the Sector, but their indolence in the bureaucracy and the utter mess they made of Thunderhead are still crippling both. Cardinal Lamarr is so openly flouting the Decree Passive that it’s a miracle Havermann hasn’t burned him at the stake, or it’s evidence that Havermann is even more distracted than Rothschilde.

Almost as infuriating is the Ecclesiarchy’s complete inability to enforce their own strictures. Woldenbar, Haggar, and half a dozen other major Heretics in the Cloudburst Sector’s history have come from the Ecclesiarchy’s ranks. Rothschilde has learned of Lamarr’s fixation on Eldar and finds it confusing – there are no major groups of Eldar in Cloudburst.

With indolence and with impiety comes Chaos, and Rothschilde has fought the servants of the Great Enemy many times, usually on Imperial soil. Tzeentch’s machinations mean that there are few daemonic incursions in the Sector proper, so Rothschilde usually works on the border between the Cloudburst and Naxos Sectors. There, he has seen the armies of Nurgle trying to smash down the gates of Cloudburst. While fighting the Heretics and daemons they bring to the very edge of his home Sector, Rothschilde has seen hundreds of thousands of lost souls, clawing at the membrane-thin walls of Imperial defense that hold back the powers of Ruin.

He is now convinced, after watching Cloudburst do essentially nothing to prepare itself for what comes after the end of the Migrations, that Cloudburst is doomed to fail. In his mind, the walls are coming down; even if Cloudburst survives the Glasians (which seems unlikely to him), there is no way that the Sector will survive what comes next. He is, ironically, unaware of the Night Slaughter.

His beliefs have dragged him closer and closer to Radicalism. He does not think of himself as being a member of any of the political philosophies that dominate the Inquisition, but the closest to his personal worldview is the Isstvanian. Rothschilde has begun covertly instigating small-scale battles in the Cloudburst Sector, and lending aid to others who do the same. His hope is that if the Sector faces military challenges outside the Glasian Migrations, they will become more able to survive when the Migrations worsen or end.

So far, he has turned material from shipwrecks over to Orks to allow them to build more weapons, he has turned a blind eye to the actions of small cults on Thimble and Cassie’s World, and pressed arms on several mercenary groups that have shown willingness to side against the Imperium if paid well enough. He has also diverted a few uncorrupted Glasian artifacts to the Thimble Highborn houses, in the hopes that their internecine squabbles provide adequate training for the Thimblan Argent Shields.

He has plans to start shifting more resources, perhaps even whole Guard regiments, away from their current duties and into fighting these threats soon. The FCC and the Ork incursions are perfect for his plans. The irony that these wars are draining the Imperium of the very resources it needs to fight the Glasians is lost on him.

There is one line he is not yet ready to cross, and that is engaging with the powers of the Warp directly. Rothschilde is not a psyker, but even he knows the risks of trying to use the Warp to his advantage. Thus, he has not tried to soften the guard against the powers of Nurgle, nor has he risen to actual sabotage of Imperial military forces. If he became aware of Professor Unarvu’s plans, he would probably try to stop them. He has also avoided using Chaos-tainted equipment from the Glasian Migrations.

The greatest threat to his continual use of his strategy is other Inquisitors, as is often the case for Radicals. If Oscar Havermann were to learn of what he is doing, the cruel Lord Hereticus would almost certainly kill him for it. If Lerica were to learn he has used some un-corrupted Glasian equipment in his arsenal, she would drag him in for censure.

Thus, Rothschilde walks a razor-thin line between sabotaging the Imperium and trying to strengthen it. His cadre of personal supporters and agents think him a genius, and undyingly complete his tasks in anticipation of his eventually being proved right, when the walls come down and the stars fill with the armies of Nurgle. In battle, Rothschilde uses a custom suit of Power Armor that interfaces with his cybernetic implants. He prefers the use of a Power Sword and Thunder Shield, but has made use of a bolter as a ranged backup when needed.

Inquisitor Lawrence deWalt Prang, Ordo Xenos[edit]

"If only humans were the only species that knew how plagues work. Throne, that would be so much better. But no, no, of course not. Eldar, Chaos, everybody uses bioweapons these days. So long as they do, I’ll be there, outsmarting them."

– Lawrence deWalt Prang

Of all the Imperium’s servants, Inquisitors must face the broadest variety of threats. The sheer range of potential troubles an Inquisitor can see on the job is staggering to the uninitiated, and no one Inquisitor can possibly have the resources to contain them. As such, some Inquisitors dedicate themselves to cataloguing all of the threats they have encountered, to smoothe the path for their successors.

Chief among them in the Cloudburst Sector is Ordo Xenos specialist Lawrence deWalt Prang. Prang got his start in the Ordo Hereticus, investigating rumors of human experimentation by recidivist Hereteks in the Drumnos Sector. After becoming an Inquisitor in his own right, Prang followed whispers of similar activities to the Cloudburst Sector. After finding and apprehending his targets, Prang stayed in Cloudburst to learn what he could of the local Conclave’s knowledge of such things.

However, in little time, Prang learned that the true threat to Cloudburst wasn’t Hereteks (he is unaware of Magos Gabris’s experiments). The Inquisitor learned of the horror of Ghald, and the strange spores its mountains use to control the minds of any eukaryotes they encounter.

Prang was fascinated by the spores. As he investigated similar organisms, looking for parallels, he eventually found himself being drawn into the art of Xenobiology. Eventually, he switched Ordos entirely, and took up pursuit of his current mastery of counter-biological warfare.

Sadly, the field is wide open. The ever-more hoarding nature of the Mechanicus prevents their discoveries from percolating out to the rest of the galaxy. Prang has ample resources and decades of experience, but few other Inquisitors aid him in his research. By the direct and pleading request of the Subsector Overlord, Lady Lowenthal, he has moved his research into the belly of his ship, a remodeled Itus livestock barge, where he and a team of loyal Tech-adepts labor over his gene sequencers and plastic molders, seeking to learn how humanity’s enemies have made their weapons in the past. The Itus cannot travel through the Warp, since there is too high a risk that an enemy could steal it and use it as a bioweapons platform. He has had all of its Warp systems replaced with redundant life support systems, instead.

Every once in a while, other Inquisitors will come across something that they need from him, or perhaps wish to trade to him, and he usually cooperates as long as they don’t disrespect him or waste his time, which is also disrespectful to him. His combat ship, the Vitiae, has traveled the length of the Drumnos and Cloudburst Sectors, seeking remnants of ancient weapons and current xenos civilizations. On rarer occasions, members of the Astra Militarum have approached him directly to beg aid in overcoming new alien weapons, and when properly motivated, Prang may even take to the field alongside them. When he does, he wears a custom-built suit of Power Armor with extra redundant environmental seals, and a built in Heavy Flamer.

Rarely, Prang works with Magos Biologis members of the Cognomen Techpriesthood, identifying alien biological agents or sequencing their genes. He has even added some Techpriests from the Genetech school of research to his retinue at times.

Watch Seargent Haelven[edit]

"A thousand to one? Fools, that isn’t a ratio, that’s a countdown! Bring me more ammo!"

– Haelven

Deathwatch members, in general, are stoic and efficient figures. This makes Watch Sergeant Haelven of the Space Wolves all the more exceptional, for he knows not how to be either.

Haelven does not especially enjoy the lengthy periods of downtime between missions that many Deathwatch Killteams receive. There is not a moment that he is not preparing for more missions, whether by reading about the aliens the Deathwatch has slain in the past, training with his favored Power Axe and plasma pistol, or by sparring with the others of the Watch Station Dascomb contingent. His favorite activity is proceeding through the Sub-Freezing Assault Course, for which he set the station record, as it reminds him so much of home. Still, homesickness is not one of his faults. As the longest-serving member of the Cloudburst Deathwatch who has not risen to Captaincy, he is one of the very few members of the Deathwatch alive who has seen Glasians before – he is on his second Vigil, having served the first in the Sixth Glasian Migration.

Although his preferred weapons are for close-in fighting, he is quite proficient with Heavy Bolters, as well. Haelven is just as comfortable behind the stock of a Heavy Bolter as he is wrist-deep in an Ork or punting Glasians, but nothing excites him quite so much as clashing with aliens in hand-to-hand combat.

Rogue Trader Lord Crado Zutash[edit]

"Money, dear boy, money!"

– Crado Zutash

Nothing turns the average Rogue Trader’s eye like a bit of wealth. Among Rogue Traders in the Cloudburst Sector and Circuit, Crado Zutash is the one viewed with the most envy by his peers. Zutash has a positively uncanny ability to find valuable salvage, from armor to whole starships. He has led expeditions into the darkness between Imperial worlds for over seventy years, seeking treasure and glory, and he has found both. Zutash sunk the notorious pirate Light Cruiser Robber with nothing more than his two frigates and some cleverness, only a few months before his father died and left him his Warrant.

Other Traders eye Zutash with a mixture of awe and suspicion, not because of any criminal conduct on his part, but because he seems to be able to perceive things others can’t. He has found ships thought lost for centuries in heaps on alien moons; he found and escaped the Eldar ghost ship Elrenoss, and he was the one who discovered the ruins of the Rak’gol warship Unglok on the edge of the Oldlight Exo-zone. Zutash has actually built up his fortune faster than Walsh has, despite Walsh’s greater connections. He is a frequent and welcome patron of the Grand Anchor; he has contributed multiple shipwrecks to their collection. Like most of the Rogue Traders in the Sector, Zutash has a single ship from which he commands his assets. Unlike most other Traders, he also uses a personal deep void platform to cache his treasures between missions, and stages his fleet from there. He also has a mansion on Celeste, as many Rogue Traders do.

Zutash is a heavyset man with a preference for expensive clothing, and never travels without an extensive retinue – warriors for the field, beautiful women around the home. He has clashed with Lord Sector Quintus on jurisdictional mediations between his own House and the Adeptus Mechanicus in the past, but he hasn’t forced the issue. He knows the Adeptus Mechanicus is too valuable in his own efforts to alienate completely. He doesn’t like Quintus, and the feeling is mutual.

Lord Zutash does get along better with one person: his son Fox. Fox is a treasure hunter in his father’s employ, and usually travels with him on his missions, learning the secrets of the acquisitions trade. The two men are inseparable, which is especially remarkable given that neither can remember who Fox’s mother is.

When in the field, Lord Zutash travels clad in a great Power Lifter he has reconditioned with what he earnestly hopes to be the flashiest possible gold plating job ever applied to a powered exoskeleton. He finds that it capably distracts potential enemies from the team of cameoline-clad snipers that usually follow some distance behind him. He usually arms himself with an Inferno Pistol and a Power Sword, just to show off that he can afford them.

The Zutash family is one of the oldest families among the Rogue Trader houses in the Cloudburst Sector, but it only became one of the richest after Crado took over. The house has been able to survive as long as it has because it had over one hundred smaller businesses bringing in wealth from the freight lines and Circuit Outposts. However, by the time Crado took the family Warrant from his own father, he recognized that that was not why his family had been gifted a Warrant. Rogue Traders are supposed to be bold and opportunistic explorers, not just merchants. He shook some ships loose from their other obligations and struck out into the voids of space, seeking glory. His story could have ended there, in ignominy or silence, but instead he returned seven months later, with a captured hoard of ancient technology secured in his holds, and his rise to power assured.

Zutash flies a number of ships when his quest calls for it, but his preferred vessel is the Endurance class warship Bargaining Position. He has given it expensive and thorough upgrades, from its armor materials to its engine power, as well as refrigerated cargo holds for perishables.

Archbishop Haggar of Oromet – Captured and executed[edit]

"Souls aren’t a currency, you twit. They’re worth so much more than gold or glory! Gold goes up and down in price, people forget gory, but SOULS! Oh, they are eternal, and they are all mine! To guide. Yes."

– Haggar of Oromet

No one human in history has ever caused as much trouble for the Cloudburst Sector since Horus as has Archbishop Haggar. The fiery, impassioned, secretly psychic preacher turned most of a planet against the Imperium, and set the stage for another to do the same centuries later.

Haggar’s roots on the planet ran deep. His father and mother were both employees of a large cathedral on the young colony, the largest in the system. When he was thirteen, his father realized he was psychic, but could not bring himself to turn the young lad over to the Arbites. Eventually, Haggar did away with his parents by means unknown, and entered the clergy, living off his parents’ wealth.

As Haggar grew, he sought out every scrap of lore about psykers that he could find, ostensibly to help identify them among his own parishioners. As he learned, he focused his power, and gained a level of control over them that few outside the Scholastica Psykana ever gain on their own. By the time he was forty, and had risen to become the second highest ranking member of the Ministorum in the entire system, he had gained the ability to influence the faces of Tarot cards.

After ten more years of practice, he had perfected his Tarot skills. A mastery of common sleight of hand and his own psychic skills allowed him to force his Tarot cards to display whatever images he wanted. It was time to make his move. Over the next few months, Haggar began working his way into position to succeed his superior, the current Archbishop. When the Archbishop died of a pulmonary embolism, Haggar naturally took his place. One year later, he made his historic announcement that he could read the Tarot. When local Astropaths disregarded that, knowing it was impossible, Haggar had already won. He began performing public readings, using a combination of his own psychic and sleight skills to force the cards to show whatever he liked; when he tried to read them naturally, the Emperor showed him only Death.

When a local Astropath challenged him, he used his card skills to force a broken card into the Astropath’s reading. When the Astropath finally noticed, the mob tore him apart for daring to accuse Haggar of falsehood.

Haggar’s story ended in battle. When the Inquisition gained news of the events on the planet from a surviving Astropath, Haggar used his psychic power to manipulate millions into coming to his aid. The Inquisition feared his pure, righteous power, he roared, and all who did not would fight for him! The flock he had cultivated for thirty years streamed to his side, and the lines were drawn. A gruesome siege followed, one that did decades’ worth of damage to the planetary capital’s infrastructure.

Eventually, after using white phosphorous and other non-conventional weapons to disperse the mad gangs of Oromet citizens, the Inquisition and a small army of support troops and Thimblan Argent Swords swarmed Haggar and captured him. They beat him into a coma and dragged him into a shuttle. When he awoke, he was sitting across from a man who made his brain hurt. The man, a blank in the employ of the Ordo Hereticus, tortured Haggar for information, and then threw him into space.

Thus in the cold and ignominy of vacuum did the life of Cloudburst’s worst Heretic end.

Lord Chapter Master Ranult Arden[edit]

"If the Glasians tracked casualties, my name would be their leading cause of death."

– Ranult Arden

The Blue Daggers have been standing against the Glasians since before they were even called the Blue Daggers. Beginning in the aftermath of the First Glasian Migration, the Inquisition assembled Exigent Task Unit Cloudburst to fight off any recurrence of the threat, and so they did, one hundred years later. After the Second Migration, the Inquisition and the Adeptus Astartes representatives in the Officio Munitorum convened to establish a new Special Circumstances unnumbered Founding, one to protect the Cloudburst Sector in general and the Septiim System specifically. Their initial fourth-in-command was an ambitious Deathwatch veteran named Ranult Arden, and ever since the death of his predecessor, Augustus Alderoster, Arden has served as the leader of the Blue Daggers.

Arden started in the Novamarines, but he never felt quite the same strength of tribal affinity for his people on Honorium as some of his Battle Brothers did. Arden was an obsessive volunteer, and offered his services for every extra training mission or neuro-data load he could. He never felt strongly attracted to any of the specialist occupations, like the Chaplaincy or the Techmarine Brotherhood, nor is he a psyker, but he did qualify for Thunderhawk piloting and gunnery roles, and is a confirmed double ace in a Predator Annihilator.

When the chance arose to enter the Exigent Task Unit, he leaped at the opportunity, and joined at the left hand of his friend, Augustus. At the time, both men served the Novmarines in their Second Company, with Alderoster being its XO and Arden serving as the heavy weapons trooper in his Command Squad. When the Angels of Fury and Novamarines contributed their arms and Brothers to the task, Arden sat in command of the fourth of four units of thirty Marines each, breveted to Brother-Lieutenant to make it official.

When the Glasians attacked the asteroid base of the Task Force during the Second Battle of Septiim, Arden barely escaped with his life. He rallied other Brothers who had survived the madness of the space battle against the great Cylinder and boarded Assault Shuttles, then blasted his way into the device. He and the other members of his unit raced to the heart of the Colony Control Cylinder and blew it up with melta bombs.

Upon returning to his ship and escaping with a few Brothers still in tow, Arden was hailed by the Sector as a conquering hero, and with the death of two of the other three unit commanders, he was formally elevated to the rank of Brother-Lieutenant by the Novamarines. However, shortly after that, the entire Task Force became a new Chapter unto themselves. Augustus Alderoster, who held the line in the defense of first Celeste and then Coriolis, became the new Chapter Master, while he appointed his friend Ranult Arden to the rank of Captain of the First Company.

After Alderoster died in the Third Migration fighting the Glasians in orbit over Cognomen, the surviving members of the Council of Masters elevated Arden to become their new Chapter Master. He has served honorably since. By the time the Seventh Glasian Migration arrived, their technology and firepower had stepped up under Tzeentch’s gaze to pose an existential threat to the entire Cloudburst Sector. Alderoster had already begun the process of expanding the Chapter from a few dozen survivors with the gene-seeds of their fallen brethren into a proper Chapter, but Arden threw himself into the task with manic energy. He set a standing order for Apothecaries to institute monthly checks on each Battle Brother to establish the progress of their progenoid gland reconstitution, to harvest the gene-seed the instant they were mature enough to do so, and also flew to each Deathwatch Fortress to ever have had Blue Daggers stationed therein to collect any gene-seed they may have had.

Then, he began the process of further expanding the Chapter itself. He had always thought it a bit overly constraining to force the specialist branches of Chapters to such a limited size. Why, he asked, did Techmarine Brotherhoods need to limit themselves to such low numbers? Surely, the Chapter would benefit if it had dozens of Techmarines instead of twenty. If the Chaplain attached to a Company died in battle, would it befit the Company if there were no ready replacement? What of the Apothecarion?

Arden had no intention of Legion-building or defying the Codex, but in his mind, there was no real gain to be found in the arbitrary limitation of the specialist branches of the Chapter. The Librarius would always be understrength, there was no way around it; Cloudburst had so precious few psykers. The other specialist forces would suffer no such constraint. Other Ultramarine Successors complain about this at times, but Arden does not care.

Ranult Arden is not a man given to much philosophical introversion, but that doesn’t stop him from doing what he needs to do to defend the Cloudburst Sector. He does not have the trust issues that affect some other Chapter Masters, although he also does not hide his disdain for those Imperial officials who do not provide the aid his Chapter is due in the defense of the Sector. The leaders of the Septiim Adeptus Sororitas are chief among these.

In battle, Arden uses a suit of artificer armor and a Power Bastard. His ranged weapon of choice is a custom Combi-pistol of his own creation. The primary weapon is a Conflagrator Pistol, one of only a handful in Cloudburst. Its secondary attachment is a four-shot Heavy Stubber pistol, a gun that fires .60 caliber tracer bullets, with Mechanicus-grade Helix armor-piercing slugs. It’s a combination that he believes unique, and allows him both anti-tank and anti-infantry capability up close.

Lord Commissar Beleph Dour[edit]

"My stalwart warriors, know this: one day, this Sector will flood with terror. Daemons will walk in the daylight and scourge the innocent. When that happens, we will be there, unshakeable and proud, and we will smite them to the ground."

– Beleph Dour

Nearly all Imperial institutions are under siege in these decaying times. The edges of the Imperium are crumbling away, and Cloudburst sits on the very edge itself. Cloudburst and the Imperium need defenders, people who can and will put their lives on the line to protect it.

One such man is Beleph Dour. Born to a family of Imperial Navy officers, the Schola Progenum system picked him up when the ship on which his family served was lost in battle against pirates. Dour entered the Commissariat, and displayed a natural skill for logistics, discipline, and higher learning that suited him well for the task. Eventually, Dour became the Regimental Senior Commissar for a regiment of Thimble Argent Swords.

While serving the Swords, Dour caught the eye of Lord Inquisitor Cloudburst Vahnden, an Ordo Malleus Inquisitor who was first assembling the Night Slaughter. The Night Slaughter only took the very best of troops from the Thimble military, those who did not have any sort of disciplinary problems or families to miss them. Thus, while the presence of a Commissar for morale or oversight would be helpful, the Commissar in charge of the Night Slaughter’s training would not need to worry as much about refusal to follow orders or other common Imperial Guard problems as they would in the Argent Swords.

Dour was a natural choice, and took over the training of the Slaughter. Because of their non-standard hierarchy, mission goal, and training circumstances, the Night Slaughter are led by their Senior Commissar instead of a flag officer. The Slaughter has not yet fielded, although Lady Inquisitrix Malleus Kimihira thinks that will change soon. The foundations of the Imperium are eroding away, and nowhere is the problem more obvious than the outer frontiers of human space. Dour shares Kimihira’s belief that the Night Slaughter shall deploy soon, but has kept up the cryo-preservation routines and secret manufacturing that has characterized the entire Night Slaughter’s history, just in case.

Because of his responsibilities, Dour has few chances to do anything other than his job. As one of the very few members of the Night Slaughter who is allowed to leave their secret underground base and go to the hives, Dour does infrequently get to enjoy some leave, but he takes the chance to do so less and less as time goes by. As the Night Slaughter grows, he has more to oversee.

On a personal level, Dour lives up to his name. He is quiet when off-duty, and he is slowly sliding into the habit of drink, but he is still smart as a whip. Thanks to his juvenat treatments, he has lived for over two hundred years. There will come a point after which they no longer work, but until then, he serves as the longest-presiding member of the Night Slaughter, bar none.

Dour carries a master-crafted bolt pistol and Power Sword as his personal arms, and is rated on all variants of the Guard standard truck, groundcar, and Sentinel.

Admiral Langdon Reith[edit]

"Work with aliens? Why not? If they like money, they come work for me. Everybody else does, sooner or later."

– Langdon Reith

There is no living enemy of the Imperial Navy in Cloudburst that angers them more than Langdon Reith. To the Navy, Reith is a slap in the eyes. He was one of them, a naval officer, before he turned to crime, consorting with aliens, and eventually full-scale military insurrection.

Langdon Reith grew up on Septiim Primus, in an unremarkable family he has outlived. The young Langdon eventually completed school and joined up with the Imperial Navy Officers’ Corps, becoming a Junior Lieutenant after passing the Nauphry War College with few distinguishing points. His record shows that he had relatively few noteworthy accusations and accolades in his time in school, with his only real area of excellence being academic topics like history and mathematics.

After graduation, Reith served as a lesser officer in the personal staff of Morlo Vakker, the Captain of the Imperial Navy Destroyer Wildstar. Reith worked his way up to Lieutenant Commander in just a few years. The Inquisition and Imperial Navy Intelligence do not know whether Reith planned his crimes from the start, or if he plotted them later. Whether he intended to betray the Imperium immediately or not, he was surely laying the groundwork for his schemes by the year M41.884, when he purchased several juvenat treatment supplies, enough for four or five life extensions, out of his own pocket. Retroactive investigation reveals that Reith had begun saving every coin he had, and even taking out loans, to purchase the juvenats by then. Reith did not behave any differently at that point, at least in the eyes of his superiors. However, by the turn of the century, he was engaged in the preparations for his theft and defection.

History shows that unknown people murdered the Commissar assigned to the Light Cruiser on which he was serving at the time, Kyrsten Lannisdottir, only one year before he stole the ship. The records at the time indicated that the murderer had cut her throat while she was sleeping. No other person on the ship had had a key to her room, to prevent just such an occasion, but there had been no forced entry into her quarters. The Ordo Militarum now suspects that Reith may have asked the ship’s Security Man at Arms to make him a key so he could kill Lannisdottir himself, which may explain why said Man at Arms did not put Reith down when he began his barratry.

That is the point that sticks in the craw of so many Imperial survivors of that theft. The loss of the Light Cruiser Missileer was not a mutiny, nor a boarding action. Reith convinced the other officers to steal it with him, as well as several senior Petty Officers and the ship’s Navigator. It was a true barratry, and he accomplished it only by murdering the ship’s Captain and Second Officer, leaving himself as the First Officer to command the ship uncontested. He flew the vessel into the Cloudburst Circuit and began raiding Imperial shipping between the outposts there and the Sector proper.

Reith commands the Free Corsair Coalition as his personal fiefdom. Officers who please him and obey him undoubtingly receive command of his few capital ships, although he does ensure that only skilled officers are given the chance. He does not tolerate disobedience, and while he allows the Escorts in his fleet to select their own Commanding Officers from the ranks of senior staff aboard each one, he retains the ability to override that choice at any time. As the Flag Admiral and founder of the FCC, Reith can assume command of any vessel he pleases in the fleet, but he doesn’t bother doing so since conquering Zlodziei.

His personal staff are an eclectic mix of former Imperial officers, freelancers he has hired, bodyguards, his logistical officer/quartermaster, and Ortam Lesarien. Reith has enough of an ego to think he can continue his defiance of the Imperium indefinitely, but not enough of an ego to attempt to do so uninformed or directly. He simply doesn’t have the firepower or supplies to fight the Navy head-on, and if he keeps operating within what is ostensibly Imperial territory, sooner or later they will come after him. He relies on his network of spies, informers, and mercenaries to avoid Imperial attention and keep him informed of targets. He still has enough rejuvenat treatment chemicals to perform another life extension, but he will eventually need to steal more if he wants to continue surviving past that.

His advisors have a clear rank hierarchy, but the ones that accompany him at any given time are the ones he needs. When he doesn’t have them in his personal company, his advisors stay in their temporary workspace on the Dead Lights space platform, which trails in the wake of the planet Zlodziei by three light seconds. Reith himself sleeps in his quarters on the Inescapable, which he has conditioned as a combination tactical review chamber and private casino. When the Inescapable is not afield, he keeps it docked on the Dead Lights, where he entertains guests, usually officers from other pirate groups he is trying to lure into his service.

The Dead Lights has few weapons, relying instead on its distance from Zlodziei to protect itself. Reith does not want to commit any more resources to it as long as the fleet is trying to keep itself mobile. He has attached a few small shipbuilding modules to Zlodziei’s existing orbitals, of which the locals only had two, but he is ready to sink them at a moment’s notice if the Imperials are in position to steal them. His largest asset, however, in terms of impact on his organization, is Imperial herself.

Twelve years before the FCC conquered Zlodziei, a woman approached Reith during a raid he was conducting on the Imperial freighter Flying Money. Without firing a shot, she managed to outmaneuver his guards, his crew, and the entire boarding complement of the Inescapable. Reith was standing on the bridge of his ship, watching the feeds as his men stormed the freighter, when Lixivium Dill simply stepped past the bridge guard in a moment of distraction and cleared her throat.

Five minutes later, Lixivim Dill was the new Chief Strategist of the FCC, and the Coalition had gone from being just another ambitious gaggle of pirates to being the prime threat to Imperial border security that isn’t a tainted alien bird. Dill explained to Reith that she was a Vanus Assassin, which Reith had never even heard of prior to her joining him. The Vanus Assassins manipulate others into killing for them. They have put down rebellions against Imperial authority simply by turning various anti-Imperial factions against each other. Lixivim Dill is not Reith’s new friend’s real name, but rather an anagram of her kill count, which is one of the first things she told Reith.

Reith isn’t stupid enough to think that somebody like that can ever be truly controlled. Dill doesn’t want an open war against the Imperium of Man any more than he does, but that doesn’t mean her ambition isn’t as high as the skies and just as endless. Dill is the fourth in command of the entire Coalition, after Reith, his brother, and Lesarien, and Reith knows that she could bypass and kill all of the others if she wishes to rise in rank.

However, Dill is running from something. Reith does not precisely what it is that makes Dill sometimes spontaneously look over her shoulder, but he has a sneaking suspicion that it is a fellow Assassin of greater skill and loyalty. He hasn’t pressed the matter, however. Dill’s casual demonstration of skill has made it abundantly clear to him that she could have killed him any time she wanted, and the Officio Assassinorum isn’t foolish enough to send an Assassin of lesser skill to kill her or him when the time comes for that. If what she fears is another Assassin, only fate knows how it will end.

Reith is not a man of idleness. Although he doesn’t look particularly dangerous, he does have one huge advantage in combat, one that he has employed more than once in boarding actions. Reith has a variety of cybernetic implants, but they are stolen Cognomen implants and augmetics, not the clunky, metallic ones of most Forge Worlds. As such, they look like normal flesh, even while in use. He has a Refractor Field built into his back that powers off a power generator he keeps hidden in the ammo bags on his combat uniform, meaning that shots at him simply do not kill him. Between that and the emergency air phial he has built into his ribcage, neither being shot nor spaced can kill him as quickly as they could a normal human. The Imperial Navy has attempted counter-boardings against his ships more than once, and two separate naval armsmen have reported a fatal hit on him that he found noninjurious at worst. For his part, Reith hates Admiral Maynard right back, and thinks him the one man in the Sector that might actually be able to stop him.

Away from the troops, Reith is a larger-than-life figure. He drinks, he smokes, he gambles, he beds whores, he keeps up with pistol and Power Cutlass training, and he addresses his bridge crews with loud roars instead of clipped pronouncements. He is an even six feet of height, and dresses more like a Rogue Trader than his Imperial Navy roots would suggest.

Monica Lanbrie, Canoness Superior of Celeste[edit]

"So you still have no desire to repent? Truly? I am saddened. No, not for you, but the Exsanguination Harness takes so long to clean after each use. I shall have to get one of the Initiates to do it. No, it’s too late now, you had your chance."

– Monica Lanbrie

All congregations need a leader. While the Cardinals of the Cloudburst Diocese, all two of them, could claim credit for that feat easily enough, the lay members of the flock of the Emperor in Cloudburst know the true exemplar of the Emperor’s divine will is Monica Lanbrie. She could make an honest claim to being the most overworked Sororitas in Cloudburst. Lanbrie’s own Sisters are among the best disciplined and most loyal people in the Sector, of course, but the Sisterhood in Cloudburst contains all of the Orders of the Sororitas at once. The Hospitaller, the Famulous, and the Dialogous are eternally busy, advising noble families and assisting Missionaries in the Circuit. Because of the lack of technological base and millennia-spanning tradition in her Order, Lanbrie must oversee all Sororitas activities in most of the Sector and the entire Circuit. Of course, there is another Convent in the Sector, so she is not without aid in this task, but it is still taxing.

This is made worse by the fact that her superiors throw away money like it’s going out of style. The Convent in which Lanbrie bases her operations is a magnificent piece of Imperial architecture, to be sure, and the overall state of the Sisterhood in Sector doesn’t suffer much, but the Ecclesiarchy in Cloudburst is almost shockingly profligate. Lanbrie feels genuine disgust for the sheer volume of wealth the Ecclesiarchy squanders on looking good. She is notably not taking action to rectify this, however.

Lanbrie has another obstacle most of her kin in other Convents does not. The Chamber Militant, her Battle Sisters, are somewhat underequipped. As much as Lanbrie would like to be able to blame this issue on Drake and Lamarr’s overspending, however, she can’t. This is instead the fault of the Cognomen armories, which have only barely been keeping up with the immense demand of Cloudburst’s rapidly expanding population. The fact that the Ecclesiarchy is quite stingy with the blueprints for their arms is not helping matters.

As the Canoness Extraordinary of the capital system of the Sector, Lanbrie nominally has authority over all Canonesses of equal or lesser rank in the Sector. In practice, her Sisterhood, like most, is as self-sufficient as possible, so this rarely comes up. Rarely, her Convent will play host to the leaders of Sisterhoods elsewhere in the Segmentum Ultima, and on those cases, she tries to be the best hostess she can, despite the circumstances.

Her Sisterhood is a potent force in battle despite their less than perfect weaponry stocks, and as part of her policy to never allow the forces of Doubt and Disbelief to creep into the sparse and hard-to-patrol Cloudburst Sector, Lanbrie simply does not allow her Battle Sisters to enter the fray without at least company-strength numbers, ever. This is expensive, of course, and when lone Sisters accompany Rogue Traders and such into the Circuit it may not be possible, but it does ensure that their casualties are low and their reputation terrifying. This is aided by the High Gothic plaque on the arch over Lanbrie’s office door, which reads “Redemption is not Forgiveness.”

Not all deployments of the Sisters go as planned, but so far, Lanbrie has a sterling success rate against the enemies of the Imperium at the edges of its territory. Her Elder Celestian units, codenamed Pike and Javelin, are without question the deadliest short-range combatants in the Sector outside the Blue Daggers (and Inquisitrix Kimihira’s bodyguards). Their record has no defeats, not since Lanbrie took over as their leader seventeen years before, and not one Elder Celestian squad has suffered a casualty in nine years. They make use of the rare Mars-built weapons which the Sanguine Soul has access to, including its master-crafted combi-bolters, which each Sister is allowed to customize however they wish (silver plating and custom grips are popular). On rare occasions, Lanbrie even leads them into battle herself, armed with a pair of master-crafted and heavily artificed Power Gladii, gifts from Oscar Havermann’s predecessor as the Lord Inquisitor Hereticus Cloudburst. For ranged battle, she instead makes use of a combi-bolter from the same pool as Pike and Javelin.

On rarer occasions, members of the Ordo Hereticus will come to her with secret missions. Usually this merely involves imprisoning individuals the Inquisition has already taken alive, which Lanbrie readily does in her secret prison, but sometimes it involves inserting specific Sororitas into the retinues of other Inquisitors or Rogue Traders. Lanbrie rarely refuses, because these requests serve two major purposes. Firstly, they allow her Sisterhood to improve their connections to organizations across the Sector, and gain prestige, wealth, converts, and equipment in exchange. Second and more importantly, they allow for the sight of the Emperor to reach incredibly powerful people, who might otherwise convince themselves that they are beyond it.

Lanbrie is a grandmother, which is a trait that few other Canonesses hold. Her grandchildren are both students in the Canon Academy of the Imperial Sacrosanct, a prestigious private school on Celeste. Lanbrie was a terrible mother, but age has shown her that family is something you can’t get back when you lose it, and so she has done her absolute best to make a place for her grandkids in her life.

Cardinal-Astra Drake, Chief of the Synod Cloudburst[edit]

"Faith is a beautiful, lovely, perfect thing, and thus must be protected. It must be shepherded and guarded carefully, nurtured when underfed and glorified when natural. It must also look good. Faith that isn’t expressed properly is just… it doesn’t mean as much, you know?"

– Drake

The Archdiocese Cloudburst is exactly two people, and Cardinal Drake is in charge. Despite the population of Cloudburst Sector very rapidly creeping toward one hundred billion, somehow the Adeptus Ministorum has not yet seen fit to assign Cardinals to Thimble and Septiim. Until that happens, the Cardinal of Celeste is the de facto head of the entire Cloudburst Sector Ecclesiarchy.

True to his calling, Cardinal Drake is a leader of the faithful in the Sector and has been for centuries. He has benefitted from two juvenat treatments so far, but his DNA is now too degraded to accept another. Ever since he was a teenager in the slums of Civitavecchia, Drake felt the need to be in charge, and the need to direct and amplify the faith of others. Drake took to the Ministorum as soon as he was old enough, and followed the hierarchical path up through the ranks become the Cardinal of Celeste.

Drake embraced the trappings of office at once. Before he had even gained his present rank, Drake sank vast sums into beautifying several properties of the Ministorum, even those that had had significant investments already. There had already been a loud and costly trend towards expensive decoration and expression among the Celeste Ecclesiarchy, but Drake took it to new heights.

There are strong rules in place in the Ecclesiarchy about the pursuit of personal wealth. These date back to long before Drake, to the Age of Apostasy and the Reign of Blood and the Plague of Unbelief. Drake does not defy them, not in his mind. However, an impartial viewer would have some difficulty interpreting that claim as he does. The Ecclesiarchal protocols command Cardinals not to amass such personal wealth as Drake has spent, but Drake could point out his nearly-empty bank account and claim innocence. However, some parishioners have asked, is that a distinction without a difference? The Cathedral in which he lives is an extraordinarily beautiful, jewel-encrusted, heavily-guarded colossus, and he never leaves it. Does that qualify as having no personal wealth? He also has a ship of his own, with a Navigator he hired from Ecclesiarchal funds. Does that qualify as having no personal wealth?

To Drake, this is all distraction. In his mind, he does the work of the Emperor without hesitation or misstep. Even his critics admit that he does do an admirable job of inspiring the entire congregation of Cloudburst and Celeste. He bellows speeches and sermons about faith and deviance, about loyalty and heresy, and he does so with ironclad conviction and a strong voice despite his age.

However, off the pulpit, Drake is a terrible administrator. As a figurehead, he is capable, but when it comes to navigating the inter-office politics of the Ministorum, Drake is wholly inept. His aides and Deacons run nearly his entire establishment for him, while he imagines himself indispensable. More to the point, his age has grown past the limits of his juvenat treatments. He likely has only a few months to live, and has no idea save for a growing weariness when he rises from bed.

Drake is a friend to the Adeptus Sororitas inasmuch as they theoretically answer to him when outside their capacity as the Chamber Militant of the Inquisition Ordo Hereticus. However, Monica Lanbrie, the Canoness Superior of his home system, finds him distantly annoying, and she is more aware than most of his rising senility. The various measures that she and others have taken to remove him from most command positions have so far not tipped the man off to his predicament.

There are people far more vicious – or malevolent, depending on whom you ask – with their eyes on Drake. The Ordo Hereticus has so far tolerated his absurdly spendthrift lifestyle for the success it has brought the Cloudburst Ecclesiarchy in bringing in converts from beyond the Sector’s edge, but now it has reached a volume that is actually impeding the work they should be doing. The Ordo has not yet noticed his medical degradation, ironically because of the efforts of Lanbrie to hide it until he dies.

Drake has never been in a fight in his life, and does not carry a weapon or armor by habit.

Cardinal Lamarr[edit]

"NOOO!... Oh, Page. No, thank you… just the nightmares again. Do me a favor, my lad, order another patrol of the walls, would you kindly? The knife-ears almost got me that time."

– Lamarr

Cardinal Lamarr is the second of the two Cardinals of the Archdiocese Cloudburst and rules from the planet Jodhclan’s Paradise. Unlike his superior, Cardinal Drake, Lamarr concerns himself somewhat less with the aesthetics of the Ministorum, and more with its defense. More specifically, his personal defense first, and that of his homeworld second.

Lamarr began his life in the Ecclesiarchy in the Imperial Navy, as a member of the crew of the warship Titanclad. After hearing the Chaplain of the vessel administrate to the souls of two crewers who died in a munitions loader accident, he found himself moved to join the Ministorum, and partake of such a holy calling. He was a natural: an orator, a confidant, and a genuinely pious leader of men.

In no time, he had risen through the clergy of Jodhclan and entered a highly public position: that of the primary Confessor of the planetary administrators. While a man of lesser moral caliber or fewer ethics might have been tempted to use such a position and the abundant blackmail opportunities it presented, Lamarr did no such thing. With connections to the rich and powerful of his homeworld, a sterling record of discretion, a dazzling rise in personal power, successful military service, and a public sense of right and wrong, Lamarr seemed destined for greatness.

When the Cardinal of Jodhclan died, Lamarr’s superior, Serano Schneider, rose to fill the position. Lamarr rose from Confessor to the capital city to serve as Schneider’s underling, the Bishop of Durantsberg. After seventeen years, Schneider died, and to the surprise of roughly half the Bishops of the Sector and the weary acceptance of the other half, Schneider’s testament named Lamarr as the new Cardinal. With only one other Cardinal in the Sector, Drake rubber-stamped Lamarr’s ascension to the position, which he has held loyally ever since.

Unlike Cardinal Drake, Lamarr understands that wealth is not a perfect indicator of the level of piety. However, he has not actually taken any significant steps away from the use of the same garish, overwhelmingly decorated art styles for the buildings under his control. He has far bigger problems, in his mind. It is not unfair to claim that his job is far harder than Drake’s; Drake needs merely tend to the leaders of the Sector and represent Cloudburst on Terra, but Lamarr rules a world. Jodhclan’s Paradise’s name may be apt, but the planet still has billions of residents that need both spiritual and administrative leadership. In fact, Lamarr spends over eighty percent of his time at work performing leadership functions for the planetary government. The rest of the time, he is either recording sermons or performing them live.

However, he has also spent several hours per week of late indulging in a personal fear. Cardinal Lamarr is utterly terrified of the Eldar race. He is convinced, beyond logic or hope, that they will come for his world, and they will do so any day now. The work he has done to lead the people of Jodhclan is quickly shrinking in significance in his mind, compared to the overwhelming threat of the Eldar hordes.

So he imagines, because of Jodhclan’s Paradise. The planet is a place of magnificent natural resources, bursting with picturesque views, abundant food and minerals, huge energy generation and residential potential, and habitable neighbors in-system. The world fits all the criteria he can think of to fit the pattern of planet-thieving the Eldar have iterated hundreds of times in history.

Many tens of thousands of years ago, the Eldar Empire instituted mass terraforming (or Xenoforming, more accurately) of thousands of planets around the galaxy with abundant frozen water but no biosphere. Using their technosorcery to reshape the planets’ atmospheres and water to forms that resembled the tropical worlds on which their people’s empire was built, the Eldar named these slow-acting crustal rebuilding projects the Maiden Worlds. Since the collapse of the Eldar pantheon, the Eldar, especially the Exodites and Harlequins, have had far more pressing concerns, but the Craftworlders occasionally find the need for a habitable planet for some reason. Periodically, humans and other species that have taken up residence on these tropical paradises find themselves evicted at gunpoint from their homes, some of which humanity has been occupying since before the end of the Age of Strife.

Cardinal Lamarr is convinced that Jodhclan’s Paradise is one of these. He is convinced enough that a Council of Farseers probably couldn’t dissuade him at this point. To the end of protecting himself and his demesne from the xenos, he has decided to harden the defenses of the world as much as humanly possible.

The problem with that idea is that the Ecclesiarchy, of which he is a senior and public member, is expressly forbidden from collecting and employing ‘men under arms.’ Of course, the Adeptus Sororitas is an exception to the rules, since even Sebastian Thor understood that a defenseless Ecclesiarchy benefits nobody. However, Sororitas require decades of training, highly expensive equipment, and space-consuming vehicles. Likewise, Sororitas answer to the Inquisition over the Ecclesiarchy despite being under the Ministorum’s nominal control.

Mercenaries do not have that problem. Cardinal Lamarr has gotten around his lack of legal grounds to raise an army by buying one instead. He has sent out contacts and invitations to nearly every mercenary organization in the entire Cloudburst Sector, Cloudburst Circuit, and even Naxos Sector, recruiting hundreds of thousands of men to Jodhclan. Technically, the Decree Passive does not prohibit members of the Adeptus Ministorum from hiring bodyguards or emergency security in the case of alien invasions, but it does prohibit the indefinite hiring of hundreds of battalions of men and artillery units to protect an entire planet from aliens who may not even know it exists. Lamarr has been stockpiling guns, troops, and pre-fabricated buildings for over eleven years. The only reason his hiring is stopping now is that he is running out of mercenaries. There are still mercenary groups that exist in Cloudburst, but they are either anti-Imperial or too small to bother with.

Lamarr is under investigation from the Ordo Militarum, a specialized Ordo Minoris of the Inquisition. However, he is unaware of this, and is still desperately hiring military assets from across the Sector and beyond to shore up his defenses. The people of Jodhclan are unsettled by this, although he has so far refused to deploy his troops against the citizens, so most give him the benefit of the doubt.

His paranoia manifests in other ways. Lamarr has collected a small circle of administrators, doctors, bodyguards, deacons, and subaldermen to himself that he feels he can trust absolutely. He has not informed all of them of his secret plans, but they are gradually taking over his responsibilities for running the planet, leaving him more time to plot the world’s defense. However, even a coterie of Imperial elites would have trouble securing a star system from an Eldar invasion, so Lamarr is spending more and more time learning Imperial history and military strategy, which is not helping the case for his loyalty in the eyes of his Ordo Militarum observers. Aside from his preparations, Lamarr is also now troubled by dreams. He has dreamed of the Eldar coming to take everything away from him, to the point that it is now costing him sleep.

Other officials of the Sector generally do not hold Lamarr in high regard. Oscar Havermann is a few months from acting openly at most, given that Lamarr’s authoritarian traits are worsening, and Lord General Xoss loathes him for drawing useful mercenaries away from systems that actually need them.

When not pursuing his obsession, Lamarr is a far better leader than Drake. Unlike Drake, he doesn’t mind getting his hands on the controls of the operation of his diocese. He has personally appointed dozens of the clergy in the Jodhclan command structure. When he needs to, he can be just as personable and kind as he was when he began his rise to power. He has never raised his hands in anger, and he has strictly pursued justice against those who have used their position to bring harm to the parishioners of Jodhclan. He wears a Rosary, but never bears a weapon.

Ortam Lesarien[edit]

"Gold is for idiots and the easily distracted. Give me sport! Give me challenge! Give me power! That is treasure, oh yes, true treasure. What can gold bring me that personal satisfaction and the terror of my enemies can’t?"

– Ortam Lesarien

Even the pirates who work in the FCC are a bit leery of Ortam Lesarien. He’s an alien, for starters, and over eight hundred years old. He is also a psyker, albeit one who never uses his powers except in self-defense. Above all other factors, though, he is a pirate too, and has killed thousands of humans, both with his Wraithstave and his pistol, as well as the heavy cannons of his ships.

To everybody except Lesarien and Reith, his joining the FCC is a complete mystery. He has no stated motive, he detests most of the FCC’s officers, and he doesn’t give a damn about money. He and Reith know, however, that Lesarien is a creature of spite, thrill-chasing, and vengeance. Reith prefers this in his senior officers; he knows Lesarien has no interest in displacing him as the supreme commander of the Coalition. He also knows that the best Lesarien can offer to his organization is his own service. Lesarien’s exile from his own Craftworld precludes any chance of a takeover or reinforcement from Lugganath.

Lesarien’s childhood was as unremarkable as an Eldar’s can be, but his progress down the Paths of the Craftworld came to a screeching halt at once. He had been a member of the Striking Scorpions Aspect Warriors for only seven years before stealing a small ship and fleeing into the Webway after a battle against human raiders assaulting an Exodite world. He turned up four years later, clad in a strange mix of human and Eldar armor, and cutting a swathe through Imperial border shipping. As the Imperial defenses of the Drumnos Sector again hardened against pirates like him, after softening in the aftermath of the destruction of the Dark Winds, he found himself being pushed into the Cloudburst Sector. He had gathered a small crew of a few dozen Eldar Corsairs to his side by this point, but he burned through them quickly with his reckless disregard for the survival of his men, and ever-greater pursuit of thrills.

Eventually, the problems with such a lifestyle caught up to him. After a while, his name was mud with other pirates, who outright refused to work with him. His own refusal to take on crew from the ships he robbed and lack of overall direction meant that his crew dwindled below the number needed to maintain his ship. When the Imperial frigate Bloodhound cracked the superstructure of his ship in a skirmish near the Oldlight Exo-zone, it was the end of Ortam Lesarien’s career as a pirate captain. He managed to limp to the nearest habitable planet, where he put his ship in stationary orbit while he and his remaining crew considered their options.

Salvation came in the form of the pirate destroyer She’s One Of Ours, Sir, which stumbled across the Eldar ship while evading an Imperial Navy patrol. Lesarien boarded the ship with his surviving warriors and captured it, then escaped into the Warp, leaving the wreck of their ship behind to distract the Imperial patrol. Eventually, the She’s One Of Ours, Sir made port at one of the dozens of nameless pirate dens that pop up every so often in the Cloudburst Circuit. There, Lesarien abandoned the ship with the surviving Eldar crew. However, Eldar disembarking from a human pirate ship do not go unnoticed, and a representative of the FCC observed it. He contacted Lesarien and extended an offer of recruitment, and to the surprise of his own crew, Lesarien accepted.

Since then, Lesarien has learned to accept his limitations as a leader. His Eldar warriors, whom he is unable to replenish, form an elite corps of boarding specialists, with the psykers among them acting as force multipliers of immense potency in the largely low-psyker Cloudburst Sector. However, he is also stubborn, rude, callous, and greedy, and these are traits that are harder for him to accept. His subordinates among the humans of the FCC find him nearly impossible to talk to, since he likes to retreat into the linguistic complexity of Eldar compared to Low Gothic to escape conversations he doesn’t like. His Eldar subordinates are happier working for a human than they were for him, however, which has deflated his ego somewhat.

Lesarien has a level of trust in Reith that would shock his family on Lugganath. Not once in the decades that both men have been working together has Reith ever misled or lied to Lesarien, and always gives him a generous cut of the spoils of raids even if Lesarien has no use for it and usually gives it back to him. Ironically, the human Admiral is one of the few people for whom Lesarien has ever felt even the vaguest nugget of admiration. By contrast, Reith barely cares about Lesarien, and only keeps him on retainer despite his behavior because of his superhuman skill. However, Reith is also a skilled dissembler and hides his contempt well.

To keep potential foes from guessing his intent, he never carries the same combination of weapons twice.

Watch Commander Domack of the Imperial Fists[edit]

"Cloudburst Sector is my ward, my bastion. It is a bulwark against the never-ending darkness, and as long as I live, it shall remain as such, unless the Emperor Himself dismounts the Throne to order me to do otherwise."

– Domack

The task of securing a Sector or other large region of space against hostile aliens, and those who traffic in their goods, is arduous and expensive. Among the leaders of the Deathwatch, Watch Commanders are selected only from Adeptus Astartes officers who have earned the respect of the Inquisition and display aptitude for logistics and personnel management.

Of course, overwhelming combat power and skill are also a prerequisite, but nobody serves in the Deathwatch for long without displaying those things or dying in the process. The Watch Commander of Fortress Dascomb is an Imperial Fists veteran named Domack, and he has skill in abundance. He has served for well over twenty years as the Watch Commander, and will likely die in the role. Domack is quiet, calm, serious, patient, intelligent, resourceful, and impossible to read. Psykers and spies alike find his face and mind to be as blank as paper, even when trying to read him directly. Domack doesn’t take to the field as often as he did when he was a mere Watch Captain, but he keeps up with his training and education in the Dascomb Training Pit and Archive with unfailing promptness.

As a member of the Imperial Fists, Domack was a Tactical Marine Sergeant, the third in command of Fourth Company, when his squad and two Techmarines hot-dropped into the middle of a battle between Orks and Dark Eldar. The Orks were dismantling a Webway Gate out of boredom when the Dark Eldar suddenly launched out of it, attacking the Orks to protect their portal. The Imperial Fists assaulted both, and drove the Dark Eldar off by visibly aiming a field gun at the base of the portal. Had they fired, the shot would have collapsed the portal and stranded the Elder there, so the Dark Eldar raced towards the gun to destroy it. They did so while crossing in front of the Ork boyz that Domack had tricked into chasing him on his Land Speeder. The Orks ripped the Dark Eldar to pieces with their unexpected flank attack, and the Marines mopped up the survivors of both after destroying the Webway entrance.

This sterling performance of improvisation on the part of Domack earned him a recommendation to the Deathwatch. When the time came for a member of the Imperial Fists to don the black plate, Domack was one of three chosen, and went to Watch Fortress Dascomb. After four years of sterling work, he was elevated to command of the Kill-team of which he had previously been just another Tactical Brother. After four more years, he applied to become, and was accepted as, a Keeper for the Fortress. He still wears his Clavis, repainted to resemble a normal gauntlet.

Eventually, the old soldier became the High Keeper of the Fortress, but held the position for only eight months before deaths of two Watch Captains during a catastrophic mission in the Oldlight Exo-zone brought him laterally to fill the gap. Here he found his first actual feeling of being welcome. He had not enjoyed the somber, tense, boring life of a Keeper despite being an obvious natural for it, but as a Watch Captain, commanding thirty other Brothers on high-stakes missions with high tech gear and no room for error, he found the joy of battle rushing back in. He stayed as a Watch Captain for twenty-four years, before the sudden death of his predecessor, Watch Commander Julius Varstol of the Imperial Falchions, opened a position above him.

To his slight surprise, the Inquisitor of the Chamber, High Inquisitrix Lerica, elevated him immediately after consultation with him and his peers. Domack was taken off-guard by this because during his own consultation with Lerica about a successor, he had named Watch Captain Teega of the Hunting Hawks as his choice for the role. Lerica informed him that all four other Watch Captains, including Teega, and both the High Keeper and Lord Inquisitor Xenos Cloudburst had named Domack instead.

Feeling a hitherto unprecedented level of emotional upheaval, Domack accepted the post. To his continuing surprise, he has grown to be comfortable in the role. It combines the need for secrecy, poise, and trustworthiness of the High Keeper with the combat and command roles of the Watch Captain. He has personally selected all three of the current Watch Captains and the High Keeper, although all four were in the Deathwatch for at least eight years before he was promoted to Watch Captain.

As the Commander of an entire Sector’s worth of assets – arguably far more than most backwater Sectors like Cloudburst usually have – Domack has a massive workload. As he is both the Watch Commander and Master of the Vigil, which are also not the same position in most Sectors that have enough resources to split the functions, Domack simply does not have the time to go into the field that he used to. However, he has displayed a keen sense for potential trouble in the Sector that keeps him from being overwhelmed. Problems on the scale of the Ork and Glasian invasions the Sector is currently experiencing are larger than he can deal with by himself, and he knows it well.

In the face of the Septiim attack, he has sent a trusted Keeper and six Deathwatch Brothers armed with his secret responsibility. Like every Watch Commander since Fabique recommissioned Dascomb for the Deathwatch, he is entrusted with the terrible responsibility of enacting Exterminatus against the system should the worst come to pass. The Inquisition does not know whether Tzeentch hits the Septiim planets in every Migration because he thinks of it as a control for his experiment, or because it has some value they do not yet recognize. Regardless, the Inquisition simply does not trust Tzeentch to destroy Septiim like Chlorit if the aliens take any of its worlds. Also, Septiim has more habitable worlds in its system than any other in Cloudburst, but its defenses are massive and growing, so the odds of losing only one or two planets instead of all of them is high. What will Tzeentch do if his pawns capture such prizes? The Inquisition dares not learn.

As such, Domack is the most recent Watch Commander entrusted with the Sanction of Annihilation. It is a machine, built long ago on Mars, which contains a self-powering microtoroidal lattice electromagnet. Within, each microtoroid contains a few molecules of antimatter, and uses the interactions of energy and the magnetic fields of the adjacent microtoroids in the lattice to contain them all. The machine is no larger than a meter square, but contains within it over eighty-five kilograms of anti-protons, enough to liquefy the crust of a planet. It is one of only a tiny handful of Exterminatus weapons that humanity built, can build no longer, and can be carried by a Space Marine one-handed. The Inquisition’s Ordo Xenos Cloudburst has debated the use of the weapon, and concluded that a system of over ten billion humans falling to the beasts is simply not acceptable when destroying one planet to save the rest remains viable.

The Oglith invasion is a more conventional problem, involving a far more predictable foe, and in only one system. Domack has dispatched a cruiser, one of the Fortress’s few precious Strike Cruisers, with a Kill-team and several specialists aboard. It has not yet arrived, but the Cruiser’s resident Astropath informs him they shall arrive within a few more real-space days.

When Domack does take to the field on those rare occasions when he can, he arms himself with a magnificent relic: a pre-Heresy Tigrus Bolter, master-crafted and artificed to perfection, with an integrated low-light scope, bayonet mount, and combi-flamer attachment. He has a bayonet for it, a chainsword for close-in work, and a pack of frag grenades for when the enemy is fool enough to cluster up. The bolter is a relic of the Imperial Fists, and is Domack’s own personal weapon. The Techbrothers will be sorry to see it go.

Watch Captain Paris of the Blue Daggers[edit]

"Why do I bother? Isn’t it obvious? We’re wasting time and resources fighting these bastards the old-fashioned way! The Glasians are crafty sons of bitches, and we can learn from their leavings. It’s not unprecedented. If the Officio Assassinorum can use alien weapons, who’s to say the Deathwatch can’t learn from aliens, too?"

– Paris

Watch Captain Paris is a former Tactical Marine Sergeant from the Blue Daggers Chapter. The Blue Daggers have a long-standing presence in the Deathwatch, as is to be expected in a Sector defined by periodic alien invasions. The particular circumstances of the Deathwatch render them all but useless in fighting off the Glasians, however, in contrast to nearly every other form of alien life. The obvious solution to the lack of adaptability among Deathwatch to the threats of the Glasians is to find their weaknesses, and the best way to exploit those weaknesses. Glasian forces lack hierarchy, or an obvious synaptic coordinator like Tyranids have. Therefore, typical Deathwatch tactics of assassination simply do not work against Glasians. Watch Captain Paris is convinced that there is another way to fight them, and reverse engineering is the way to find it.

The Deathwatch does not answer directly to the Inquisition in the field. However, when the Inquisition gives an order to Astartes outside all but the most banal circumstances, Astartes are generally expected to follow it.

That is a line that Watch Captain Paris toes with exceptional care. The standing order from the Ordo Xenos in the region is to destroy all corrupted Glasian artifacts. However, High Inquisitrix Lerica has no standing order for the destruction of mundane and uncorrupted artifacts.

Thus, Watch Captain Paris is undertaking a risky study. He has ordered the construction of a large network of tunnels, bunkers, and laboratories on the planet Lorelei. Within, he intends to begin the reverse-engineering of multiple Glasian artifacts that have survived the deaths of their owners. He is not in any great rush to inform High Inquisitrix Lerica, but he is confident she will see the wisdom of his order.

Paris began his career as a member of the Blue Daggers over a century before, and had an unremarkable history in the Scouts and Devastators before moving into the Eighth Reserve. There, he had average or slightly higher marks in most fields, and excelled in commanding a Predator tank. It was only after another four years in the Eighth, fighting pirates and Orks in the circuit, that he discovered that he had a significant talent for recognizing tactical opportunities in enemy technological use. For Orks, it was their clunky vehicles, which he was able to outmaneuver by banking his tank on angled surfaces by slowing one tread. He further demonstrated his idea to derive vulnerabilities from enemy technology by drawing an Ork company into a desert area to cause the sand to foul their primitive firearms.

Afterward, he was put on the short list for Deathwatch Service by Lord Arden, and when an opportunity arose, he accepted the Vigil. Paris felt at home in the Deathwatch, more than he had in his own Chapter, and accepted every opportunity for extra training and responsibilities he was offered.

He got along famously with Forgemaster Shokunin, but had no interest in learning the secrets of the Machine himself. He served briefly as the leader of a single Kill-Team before the team was assigned to the Watch Station Discus.

On Discus, his Kill-team served as the primary team, which responded to sightings of unknown aliens in the Oldlight Exo-zone. He worked alongside Rogue Traders with his Kill-team over forty times in twelve years, usually the same few Traders over and over. On one notable occasion, his team worked with Lord Inquisitor Stoldst to track down what he still believes to be a shapeshifting alien, and not the human mutant who had eaten a Callidus Assassin.

While working with these explorers and merchants in the unknown regions of space, Paris earned a reputation for ambition and creativity that he had not had many chances to show off in his own Chapter. The Deathwatch encourages greater lateral thinking and improvisation than the regular Astartes, and Paris excelled at using conventional technology in unconventional ways. Some of these ways would have earned him a disciplinary lashing in the Imperial Guard, or a dirty look from his own Techmarines back on the Gargantuan.

After many years commanding the Kill-team, and eventually transferring to Watch Station Redshield, Sergeant Paris reached his thirtieth year serving in Cloudburst’s Deathwatch. When his superior, Watch Captain Lawrence of the Knights of Terra, retired to his own Chapter, Paris was chosen by Domack to replace him. Paris immediately used his new position to advocate for the creation of a new Watch Station. He chose Lorelei for the new site – more or less arbitrarily, not that he would admit that – and dubbed it Watch Station Peacekeeper. Watch Commander Domack and Forgemaster Shokunin debated privately, and eventually came about to Paris’s idea.

Paris proposed that Glasian relics that had no Warp element or Chaos taint be collected and studied carefully. He posited that there are psychological or technotheological ideas to be found even in the leavings of aliens. The Glasians were the first extragalactic intelligence ever detected; surely, they had something to their technology if it was enough to get them across the dark space between galaxies.

The loudest advocate of Paris’s idea is not in the Inquisition at all. Lord Fabricator Beraxos of Cognomen strongly advocates for the project. Paris is willing to take Beraxos’s help at face value for now, since Beraxos’s ambition and expansionistic ideas are well-known to the Deathwatch, ever since he entrusted them with the secrets of ABX202020 when building Redshield. So far, since Paris hasn’t actually led any Techpriests to perform any research, their partnership has borne little fruit. As soon as the facility comes online, however, both Beraxos and Paris expect the plan to continue at once.

Outside of his technological dealings, however, Paris is very much an archetypal Deathwatch Captain. He has an unflinching demeanor, a sense of patience and personnel management, and remarkable combat experience. His gear of choice is an assault pack and Mark 6 armor Corvus set, with a Kraken-loaded bolter. In his experience, the combination of supreme mobility, near-silent movement, and anti-armor capability is perfect for provoking aliens to break formation and pursue him into traps.

He likes taking to the field, and has led Kill-teams or even entire Kill-companies into battle against alien slavers and marauders in the Circuit and Exo-zone before. He prefers to avoid the mixing of Chapters that have traditional rivalries that al-Hasat does, dismissively calling them ‘social experiments.’ He prefers to use Marines from Chapters he knows will work well together.

Watch Captain Roganuharu of the Celestial Knights[edit]

"No, I do not know when I will go home to my Brothers. It’s all right, though. This Sector is worth defending. I have brothers with whom to train and pray, I have foes to butcher. I have my faith and my arms, and a good ship to carry me. No, it’s not home, but life is good here, and I shall stay."

– Roganuharu

Captain Roganuharu is the present third in command of the Deathwatch in Cloudburst and the Captain of Watch Station Discus.

The Celestial Knights and the Blue Daggers are neighbors in the dark reaches of the nebula that created their home Sectors. Because of their proximity, there are extensive interactions between the two when one joins the other’s Sector Deathwatch. The Deathwatch has a far smaller presence in the Naxos Sector thanks to the extensive presence of the conventional military there. The Celestial Knights contribute regularly and generously to the Cloudburst Deathwatch. They believe, perhaps fairly, that the presence of the underdefended Sector to their trailing would not ablate a true threat on the scale of a Black Crusade or a genuine Waaagh!, and that a threat like that would plow through Maynard and Arden and hit the Knights in the back. Given the attrition rate and constant contamination threat posed by the Pox Ring and other Chaos-infested stellar formations in Naxos, the Knights simply can’t take the risk.

Enter the Watch Fortress Dascomb. Roganuharu is a Watch Captain at Dascomb’s largest off-shoot, Watch Station Discus. As a member of the Knights, Roganuharu was a Sergeant in the Seventh Battle Company (one of the notable deviations from typical Unforgiven formations is their lack of traditional Reserve Companies). While serving with his parent Chapter, Roganuharu displayed a particular aptitude for the use of exceptionally heavy weapons. While nearly every Marine in a Chapter spends at least some time using Special- or Heavy-type weapons such as lascannons and missile launchers, Roganuharu has a true skill with them. He successfully sniped a Dark Eldar Jetbike moving at eighty-six kilometers per hour from half a klick away upwind, immediately catching the eye of his Company Captain during his time in the Devastators. That by itself would not have been terribly remarkable, had he not performed the feat with a mortar. Subsequent decades of service showed it to be no fluke. He displayed near artistic levels of precision with a heavy bolter and the lascannon. He eventually moved over to the Seventh Company as a Tactical Marine, but kept his heavy bolter to serve as a squad heavy weapons trooper.

Eventually, he and his company went into a gruesome battle against two competing forces of Chaos. The Rusted Legion of Nurgle and the Splintered Eyes of Tzeentch descended on the hapless and much-maligned Agri-world of Lardox 5 in the Naxos Sector, and the Seventh flew to stop them from destroying the vital livestock ranches there. Roganuharu realized that both cults would stop to fight each other if there were no immediately obvious Imperial presence between them, even if both groups happened to be pursuing the same overall operational objective. He and the half of the Company assigned to his leadership adopted maximum-range engagement tactics, sniping at enemy leaders with anti-tank weapons from absurd distances out of camouflaged nests. If the Chaos forces noticed his troops, the Knights would seed their area with traps and mines and then run for distance, if the Chaotics didn’t, they would just start killing each other.

This worked for a time, but eventually the Splintered Eyes realized what his forces were doing. Their leaders waited until the other half of the Company under Captain Leodhardt were stuck in place fighting the Rusted Legion, then drove their own forces directly at the area that Roganuharu’s ambush sites surrounded, gambling that the Knights had a cache there for resupplying between attacks.

Roganuharu was caught flat-footed by this bold maneuver, but managed to rally his forces to attempt a bottlenecking of the encroaching Chaotics while his serfs and Techpriests hastily repositioned their cache. The grizzled Sergeant only managed to move half of his troops into position before the Splintered Eyes came within maximum range. The two forces engaged each other, but to Roganuharu’s disquiet, the Splintered Eyes did not react at all to the sudden opposition. He had merely confirmed his location to his enemy, and they were risking massive casualties to take the chance that they could push through to end the threat his demi-Company posed once and for all.

The Splintered Eyes used wicked sorcery and mobile mortar units to hem the Knights into an open field, with their supply cache and hastily-moving reinforcements beyond, and started shelling the Knights relentlessly. That may have been the end of the Knights, had Roganuharu not had two key advantages: most of the troops he had with him were Devastators, which he could field like few others, and a full squad of Assault Marines, with unparalleled maneuverability.

The Splintered Eyes mounted the hedgerow to push the Knights deeper into the field and expose them to line-of-sight guns, and the Assault Marines suddenly landed among them, hacking away with Power Weapons and plasma pistols. The front line of the Eyes simply disintegrated under the fierce and unexpected counterattack. After a predetermined length of twenty-five seconds, all of the Marines suddenly engaged their Assault Packs and leaped high, just as the barrage of shots from the Devastators’ heavy weapons arrived to cut down the surviving Tzeentchians before they could rally. Roganuharu personally led a counterattack under their cover fire and vaulted the hedgerow just as the Assault Marines landed again, several meters deeper, in the very thick of the gibbering Tzeentchian hordes.

With the Devastators now unable to fire, they sprinted out of cover for the hedgerow, while the Assault Marines and Tactical Marines formed two parallel, moving lines, pushing forward into the Tzeentchian hordes in tandem. The Tzeentchian troops had raced full-out to endure the barrage of Roganuharu’s long-range fire; their troops were tired and they had brought few vehicles. As such, the simple cultists fell by the hundreds as the Assault Marines pushed away from the hedgerow, and the Tactical Marines pushed behind them in the same direction. When the Devastators arrived at the hedgerow, they added their own fire to the mix, shooting over the heads of the Assault Marines into the pressed ranks behind them.

When the heavier mutant troops caught up to the main body of soldiers, the Assault Marines leaped clear, and the Tactical Marines added their fire to the Devastators to thin the herd. This time, however, they had no advantage of surprise, and even Marines need to reload. The Tzeentchians rallied and pushed into closer combat, drawing Roganuharu and his squad into hand-to-hand, never his strong suit.

As the melee worsened, Roganuharu’s helm HUD showed his casualties mounting. He fought like a man possessed, however, and after four tense minutes of non-stop slaughter, the Tzeentchians broke. When the reinforcements from the other half of the demi-Company arrived, they massacred the Tzeentchians.

When the final tally came in, fourteen Marines were dead, eight more were wounded, and over four hundred Tzeentchians lay defeated, with another two hundred running. Four Chaos Space Marines lay among the dead, with another two confirmed crippled. With the majority of their fastest troops defeated, the other Tzeentchian forces were little threat to the Nurglites and Imperials, who managed to mop them up without too much more difficulty. Roganuharu was, naturally enough, earmarked for promotion.

However, ever since the Glasian Migrations, and their Tzeentchian sponsorship, came to the attention of the Knights, when they first helped the Navy and Carcharadons drive the aliens off of Septiim hundreds of years ago, the Knights have had a tradition. Because of the relative youth of the Blue Daggers (which the Knights tactfully refrain from discussing overmuch) and the fact that the Cloudburst Sector is grossly underequipped for such a burden, the Knights have kept eleven Brothers in the Deathwatch of Cloudburst ever since their first establishment. No Knight has ever risen to Watch Commander, since few Celestial Knights are willing to spend so much time away from their Nurgle-battered home, but Roganuharu may be the exception to the rule. He has been serving in the Deathwatch for over forty years, and as a Captain for four, and as the Captain of Watch Station Discus for one. As such, he is actually at the top of the list to command should Domack die suddenly and without a clear successor.

Roganuharu was offered a position in the Vigil only a few short years after the fateful battle between his own men and the Splintered Eyes. The Inquisition under Lerica has an eye for talent, and his ability to modify plans on the fly and exploit the composition of his forces for maximum effect are obvious benefits for a Deathwatch Kill-team. Because Kill-teams operate without an officer to command them on the large majority of missions, they need to be able to take orders from Brothers of roughly the same rank as all other people on the team. Beyond that, if a Sergeant is assigned to a Kill-team, he must overlook the rivalries of the Chapters that compose his force allotment.

Roganuharu may have been hired for combat skill and improvisational creativity, but he has ascended to Captain because of his personnel skills. He has worked with other Watch Captains to find ideal matches for Kill-team composition on many occasions. At present, he has gathered several of the most experienced Kill-Marines and Kill-teams to Watch Fortress Discus along with every ship he can find, in preparation for a special mission.

He is planning to send some of his ships and Marines to the worlds that the Glasians are about to hit, while sending his Kill-marines out in pairs or singly to silently board FCC vessels that raid the edges of the Nauphry Subsector and capture them, then either self-destruct them or fly them to Grand Anchor to get their IFFs changed. While some officers would question his use of the Deathwatch’s precious assets against pirates, Roganuharu is convinced that the FCC is about to use their position just outside the border of the Imperium to launch raids against its vulnerable flanks during the tumult of the Glasian Migrations.

Within the ranks of the Deathwatch, Roganuharu is a somewhat controversial figure. His record is sterling, and his nature professional and courteous, but his beliefs are anathemic to some of his subordinates. On the face of it, he is a perfect Deathwatch Captain, but his Chapter’s ideology is simply inaccurate, in the eyes of his comrades.

Like all Celestial Knights, Roganuharu believes that the Primarchs split and turned on each other during the Horus Heresy. He believes that there were seven Traitors, who turned their coats to Chaos and assaulted the Imperium to make Horus the new Emperor. He also believes that there were seven Loyalist Primarchs who did not, and remained in the Emperor’s service. The Celestial Knights merge the roles of Vulkan and Ferrus Manus into a single individual named The Smith, and Sanguinius and Lion El’Jonson into a single being named The Angel. Other Chapters find this perplexing and offensive, and Roganuharu has learned to keep his trap shut about it, to avoid provoking his comrades. He believes that Alpharius is just a myth, and Konrad Curze is nothing more than a boogeyman story collection the Officio Assassinorum and Inquisition spreads to keep Frontier worlds in line.

However, unlike most of his Chapter, he has not remained staid in his beliefs. As he serves on the multi-Chapter Deathwatch, alongside others who descend from the Lion or from one of the Smith Chapters, he sees increasing evidence that his Chapter is simply wrong. The Salamander and Iron Hand Marines in his Company have mutually exclusive worldviews in so many ways, even if they can get over it to work together. The Blood Angels and Unforgiven in his force couldn’t be more different. Even more than worldviews and traits, the different histories, homeworlds, and conduct of the Chapters his own Chapter tells him have the same origins baffles him.

It is hard for him to place his disquiet. The feeling grows worse when he sees how his own Chapter receives the brunt of so many jokes and disgusted glances from other Chapters. Worst of all is when his own parent Chapter, the Dark Angels, look down on his brothers despite their sterling service.

Roganuharu does not yet feel that he can speak up about these remarks and doubts. Initially, of course, his impulse was to deny that any such a mistake had been made. However, for over fifteen years, the highest-ranked Chaplain in Dascomb has been Gregorius of the Dark Angels, who has made his seething contempt for Roganuharu both abundantly clear and carefully detailed. No Space Marine Captain is fool enough to ignore the words of his Chaplain, and Gregrorius is more acerbic than most. At long last, after one hundred ninety years of life, Roganuharu is uncertain.

However, he has resolved to face the huge problems threatening the Deathwatch before taking it up with his home Chapter. He knows of ten other members of the Knights in his or nearby Deathwatch structures, and he intends to ask them their opinions eventually, once his current campaign against the FCC wraps up.

When he enters battle, Roganuharu wears one of only three suits of Cataphractii armor left in the Sector, armed with a Plasma cannon and chainfist. When the Terminator armor is not called for, he prefers Aquila armor and his Plasma cannon, wielded two-handed.

Watch Captain al-Hasat of the Storm Dragons[edit]

"I understand rivalry, and I understand animosity. I can tell them apart. Some Chapters have one or the other, some have both. Our enemies have them too. Balancing them perfectly is an art form. I have mastered it. It’s like heating gas molecules: predicting the movement of one is impossible, but if you control the space into which they flow, they take the shape you want even if keeping track of specific bits can’t be done."

– al-Hasat

The Deathwatch may entrust their members with higher autonomy than most Chapters, but that doesn’t mean they have no hierarchy. Watch Captain al-Hasat is the longest-serving Watch Captain in the history of the Cloudburst Sector, and commands second behind Watch Commander Domack himself. He understands the importance of hammering the hierarchy of the Deathwatch into his Kill-teams before they ever have to put their lives on the line.

When the Deathwatch asked the Storm Dragons for a Brother with proven improvisational skills in battle against aliens, al-Hasat’s name was at the top of the Storm Dragons’ list. Quite beyond his ability to stay cool under fire, al-Hasat has a superb sense of battlefield scale, and excelled in the Dragons at balancing the assets he had against alien forces without overcommitting.

His most glorious moment, and the moment that sealed his aptitude for his future role in the Deathwatch, was when he successfully led a team of only twenty-one other Storm Dragons and three platoons of Scions in the defense of the Red Glow Promethium Refinery in the Stutlu system against a horde of rampaging Orks for over two months. He did so by carefully sabotaging the mountain passes that led to the site with metal-detector-triggered mines and claymores, and ordering his troops to avoid those specific spots in the area to give the illusion of gaps in his defenses. When the Orks arrived and set off the bombs, they pushed through, causing more casualties and sealing gaps in the rock. Al-Hasat’s forces engaged at the first sign of movement within vision range, which forced the Orks into charging to minimize casualties. Al-Hasat had known they would, and so concealed grenades on tripwires in their path, causing further chaos and decreasing their numbers further. Finally, when the Orks came into range of his primary weapons, their numbers had dropped forty percent before they were able to fire a shot.

The victory over the Orks came quickly, then, and al-Hasat continued with ever more impressive feats of tactical success as he rose to become the second in command of the Second Company of the Storm Dragons. When he entered the Deathwatch, he served as a Tactical Brother for ten years. Eventually, he caught the eye of the Watch Commander before Domack, and Domack elevated him to Watch Captain. Al-Hasat’s tactical skill may have elevated him above the ranks of his own Chapter, but the Deathwatch only recruits the best of the best, and so his skills were useful but not unique in his new home. However, it was only after he had entered his current rank that he learned of another skill he had never exercised before: logistics. Perhaps taking well to the image of his Primogenitor, Roboute Guilliman, al-Hasat is a natural logistician, with a head for mobility, numbers, safety, and cost that serves the Deathwatch well. Despite presently having fewer Watch Captains than it has in the past, Watch Fortress Dascomb is operating efficiently and smoothly, in part because of al-Hasat.

His talent for logistics makes it easier for Dascomb to draw recruits from far afield, and cover the costs of so doing. He has been able to draw recruits from other Segmentae, and as far afield as Macragge and the Halo Zone Pacificus. One focus of his is combining Marines from Chapters that traditionally do not work well together, in the hopes that this will force the Imperium’s many moving parts to combine and function better when the time arises.

Technically, his rank eclipses that of Captain Roganuharu, by dint of longer consecutive years of service. However, al Hasat does not wish to be a Watch Commander, and would instantly recommend Roganuharu for the position if ever the need arose.

Before his elevation to Watch Captain, Domack had intended for al-Hasat to serve as a Keeper, which al-Hasat would not have minded, but both are satisfied with his current course. When he is not commanding a Watch Station on Domack’s behalf, al-Hasat fights in the field with his Kill-teams, and prefers the use of a Power Sword, Combat Shield, and Plasma pistol, along with a large cache of grenades and explosives. He also has a custom Auspex affixed to his left arm, a gift from Cognomen’s Magi for rescuing two of them from a shipwreck caused by colliding with an errant asteroid near Watch Station Vault.

High Keeper Vanados Elkop of the Novamarines[edit]

"I stand watch over the darkest secrets of Cloudburst. I command our ships, and they fly. I cull those who not deserve the honor of His Majesty’s trust. You want to know what I value? Restraint. Our work would be a billion times smoother if every mortal with a sense of curiosity could keep it in check. The darkness is old and full of horrors, from which humans should keep well enough away."

– Vanados Elkop

Historically, the Deathwatch was meant to be little more than a joint-service elite strike force, consisting of Space Marines from different Chapters with different tactics, to face the many alien enemies of Man with its full array of options. Over time, the Deathwatch absorbed other functions. The Inquisition now uses some Deathwatch Fortresses as caches for archaeotech or xenotech too dangerous to entrust to the Mechanicus (or Inquisition). Other Fortresses serve as de facto deconstitution points for Chapters that have been wiped out completely but can’t stomach the idea of survivors being absorbed into another normal Chapter, so the remainder can serve as Blackshields. To oversee the protocols and facilities of the Deathwatch in all their various forms and dangers, the Deathwatch has created the custom role of the Keepers.

Chief of the Keepers on Watch Fortress Dascomb is Vanados Elkop of the Novamarines, a former Sternguard Sergeant. His service with the Novamarines was lengthy but undistinguished, but he took the Vigil with gusto and deftness. Like the Techmarine and Chaplain roles in a conventional Chapter, the Keeper role is a volunteer one and admission is controlled by the incumbents. Watch Commanders can nominate individuals to serve as Keepers, but they only go through the tests and initiations at their own request, and there is no lasting stigma against failed candidates – not everybody can keep secrets as a Keeper must do.

Vanados volunteered for the role, and barely made it, but settled in well. Prior to becoming a member of senior officers of the Watch Fortress, he served for seventeen years as one of the seven Keepers stationed on Dascomb at all times, then as a Shipmaster for the Deathwatch Frigate Unseen Blade. After that, he rose to command Watch Station Bunker for four years, and then returned to Dascomb to guard its hidden inner vaults of lost xenotech and gene samples.

After that, he rose by default into the position of High Keeper by dint of seniority. He is a skilled and patient Keeper, but so far, has not proved himself exceptional in any particular way. Of course, by mere virtue of being a Veteran High Keeper of the Deathwatch, he is already far above most Marines in skill, but as is a natural consequence of being in the Deathwatch, what is extraordinary elsewhere is ordinary there.

Personally, Vanados is a quiet, focused, calm, and reliable Marine, who does not care for ostentation. He has entered the confidence of High Inquisitrix Lerica, and she has trusted him with the keeping of several xenotech relics recovered from alien habitation sites that were scoured of life during the Crusade or even earlier, in the hopes of studying them once she leaves her role as Lady Inquisitrix Cloudburst.

In battle, he uses an exquisitely artificed suit of Mark 8 armor with a Clavis, Power Glaive, and twin Bolt Pistols he custom-loads with special munitions, as well as an Iron Halo and expanded comm system.

Forgemaster Shokunin Asutori of the Bone Knives[edit]

"Offending the Machine Spirits will get you killed in the field faster than anything else possibly could. How aliens fight after scaring theirs into submission, I will never know."

– Shokunin Asutori

The Deathwatch maintains their own equipment whenever possible, just as a matter of pragmatism. The Adeptus Mechanicus’s reliability aside, Deathwatch postings are usually remote and dangerous. Routine resupply is expensive and impractical for most of their locales. Thus, the Forgemasters of the Deathwatch have to be more than solely veteran alien-killers. They need to be able to adapt their technology to circumstances – hard enough in the stagnant Imperium – and balance the technological needs of the thousand-plus Astartes Chapters. Some Forgemasters balance each Chapter’s varying ideas about technology and the Machine Spirits with precision and care.

Shokunin Asutori does not. He is as bull-headed and stubborn as a grox and twice as leathery. He is as flexible as the job needs him to be and not one inch more, and his policy about adapting xenotech to Imperial needs is about as yielding as a million-year-old glacier. He can be friendly enough to those who shut up and get out of his way, but if those options aren’t in one’s immediate plans, he is as tough as an Ork and roughly as forgiving.

Asutori has only been Forgemaster for eight years, and served as a normal Deathwatch Techmarine before that for seven. Normally, the process of selecting a new Forgemaster would arrive at its end in a far slower way, but there was no real choice in the matter. Two Techmarines of the Deathwatch at Dascomb were lost with their Forgemaster during a recovery mission on an Adeptus Astartes ship of unknown age found crashed into an Eldar corvette near Vasari’s Cruelty when the Eldar ship suddenly self-destructed. The vacancy demanded a new appointment, and High Keeper Vanados and Watch Commander Domack had to make the choice quickly.

Since then, he has filled the task of Forgemaster with talent, but he has left his fellow Techmarines in the dust. Asutori’s rapport with machines is not something learned, it is something innate, and thus hard to pass on to others. He works in silence, with his prayers to the machine spirits unvoiced and his instructions internalized. Other Techmarines and Techpriests watching him labor over weapons and equipment can only stare in awe, and at the end of his labors, he is often less able than they are to explain how he achieved his marvelous feats of artificing and manufacting.

This is no hindrance for those who use his advanced technology, of course, and his specialized bolter payloads are the bane of xenoforms across the breadth of Dascomb’s jurisdiction. The problem is that since he seems unable to pass on his skills, there is every chance that whomever replaces him will not be able to reach his heights of technoarcana. Asutori is aware of this and finds it a distraction. In his mind, he is not supposed to be a teacher. If others can’t keep up with him, that’s their problem.

Compounding the issue is that he has an at best inconclusive policy towards the use of xenotech. He admits that using salvaged xeno-weapons in an emergency in the field is probably harmless, but his protocol for bringing captured xenotech back to Dascomb is inconsistent. Often, he will stop whatever he is doing to examine recovered xenotech himself for any sign of corruptuous traits, further disrupting attempts by others to follow his work. Other times, he incinerates xenotech without even cursory looks. His policy, he insists, is unyielding, but he rarely shares exactly what that policy is.

In battle, however, all ambiguity fades. He is a monstrously skilled close-range combatant. He has outfitted all of his mechadendrites with arc dischargers, allowing him to engage up to five targets in melee concurrently using nothing but his back. He also carries two Power Handaxes of his own making. His ranged options include a bolt pistol, a plasma pistol, and a conversion beamer he refurbished himself. Eventually, he intends to integrate a Conversion Field into his harness somehow, presumably with his typical lack of documentation.

Master of the Defenses Arthur Molliere of the Ultramarines[edit]

"I am the bulwark of the Deathwatch. My Brothers are free to pursue the alien wherever they may hide because they know I have their backs."

– Arthur Molliere

Arthur Molliere is in charge of the slowly expanding defenses of the greater Cloudburst Deathwatch, and it is a monumental task. His assets include a few Defense Monitors, a handful of permanently detached Imperial Guard troopers at various Watch Stations, two Astropaths, and the small fleet of trans-system warships in the Deathwatch armada. Individual ships answer to the Keepers that Dascomb assigns to command them, but Molliere decides their overall distribution priorities. As a former member of the command squad of the Master of Victualers for the Ultramarines, he has plenty of logistics experience, and he has worked extensively with the leaders of Cognomen’s Council of Magi to establish a deeper channel of supply between them and Dascomb.

Molliere is very much an Ultramarine officer. He has a more scholarly bent than some, but he values honor and martial pride more than anything else save skill. He studied logistics not only because his forbearer Roboute Guilliman did, but also because in his mind, it makes him a better soldier. As he rose through the ranks of the Ultramarines, he absorbed every speck of lore and extra training he could without deviating from his role in the Company.

Unlike most Deathwatch officers, Molliere actually asked to be added to the Deathwatch. The Ultramarines let him go with the understanding that he did not intend to depart forever. As he explained to Lord Calgar, the Chapter Master of the Ultramarines, the Chapter had allowed their overriding mission to protect the Segmentum Ultima to distract them. The Glasians had arrived before the Tyranids, yet the Ultramarines had never faced them. After the arrival of the Tyranids and reawakening of the Necrons, the Thirteenth had devoted the vast majority of their efforts to fighting those two specific threats, with obvious exceptions like the Second War for Armageddon.

In Molliere’s mind, the Ultramarines have allowed themselves to become blinded to the possibility that certain alien threats may hold the counter to certain others. The Necrons obviously hate the Tyranids for destroying not only their pool of slaves, but their pool of potential new bodies. The Tyranids know no hate, only hunger; while they harvest genes and biomass to create new forms for themselves, they never bother to adapt technology for themselves. In the Glasians, the galaxy sees an enemy that is fleeing the Tyranids, but also arming themselves with Chaos.

Therefore, to Molliere, the opportunity posed by engaging the Glasians, relentlessly and thoroughly, is enormous. They are the only extragalactic force the Imperium has encountered in untold thousands of years besides the Tyranids, and the only one the Imperium stands a fair chance of beating in their current state. What could the Imperium learn if they study how Chaos is able to control the Glasians utterly? What could the Imperium learn if they examine the tactics Tzeentch lets the Glasians use? What if the Ordo Xenos is right, and the Glasians are fleeing a successful Tyranid invasion; might that not offer the Imperium to see what a failed attempt at outlasting the Tyranids looked like?

He is less enthusiastic about the prospect of studying their technology directly than Watch Captain Paris is, however. Molliere’s interest in the Glasians stems from their unique origin and psychology, not their technoarcana, as much as he must admit that their plasma guns are simply better.

Master Molliere has proposed that an attempt be made by a blank or Pariah agent of the Inquisition to capture a leader of the Glasian invasion forces alive, for interrogation by the Ordo Xenos. High Inquisitrix Lerica thinks this is an idea worth pursuing only if it means that the planets of her Sector are not jeopardized. Of course, Molliere’s service in the Deathwatch is not based wholly on his desire to analyze the Glasians. Before he was Master of the Defenses, he was a Deathwatch Kill-Marine. He put his exceptional education and broad skillset to work in the Cloudburst Circuit in the company of Lord Trader Zutash. There, he saw first-hand dozens of worlds, Imperial and not, that could easily support the populations of all of the ships in the known Glasian fleet, untouched and uncolonized. As far as he’s concerned, this is just more proof of the Inquisition’s working theory that the Glasians are under Tzeentch’s control. If all they wanted was a new home, why would they skip so many potential ones in favor of the polluted and heavily-populated Cognomen, Delving, or Hapster?

In person, Molliere is a staid, respectful fellow, who emphasizes discipline in everything he does. He is a skilled ornithopter pilot, and his preferred wargear loadout is a custom Stalker bolter, outfitted with specialized multi-loader ammo slots he built himself. He also carries an anomalous weapon for a Space Marine: an Imperial Guard styled gas-propelled grenade launcher, with a breech-load and a custom grip and stock. He wears a standard suit of Mark 7 armor, plain and unadorned by ostentation.

Lord Admiral Walter Maynard[edit]

"How does a region of space so empty cause me so many Throne-damned problems?"

– Walter Maynard

Born on the L5 Lagrange station of the planet Septiim Pentius, Lord Admiral Maynard has arisen over one hundred years of work to command the entire naval contingent of the Cloudburst Sector. He headquarters from the warship Vulpes Ferrum, stationed in the Celeste system and presently on duty in the Hapster System.

Maynard is a grumpy, cynical, and thoroughly unlikeable man, who has nevertheless managed to rip the claws of the Glasians and Orks off the necks of the Cloudburst Sector’s innocents once already, and will do so again. So he proclaims, although his contribution to the defense against the Sixth Migration consisted of, at most, fighting off a few fires in the hangar of the Cruiser on which he was stationed as a First Loaderman’s Rate. His early career is one marked by roundly indifferent performance on his part, and indeed he probably would have languished in obscurity and retired young, had chance not knocked on his door.

When he was thirty-one and serving as a Senior Lieutenant in the service of Battlefleet Nauphry, his Captain gave Maynard a chance to impress him by negotiating a complex asteroid belt in simulation. Maynard promptly left the simulator and brought over another junior officer who had far more aptitude than he for solving such three-dimensional puzzles. Amused but irritated, the Captain then posed to the Senior Lieutenant a series of theoretical problems in the ship’s fighter contingent to solve, and found himself impressed despite it all when Maynard chose to hand them off to the ship’s Junior Commissar and Flight Boss instead.

As Maynard rose in rank, his true skills showed through. Despite his demeanor, Maynard is a genuinely exceptional personnel manager, with skill at quickly analyzing the root of interpersonal squabbles and cutting through pretense and posturing. His skills as an actual Navy officer are nothing to scoff at, either. With nothing but a single Frigate and a Cobra Destroyer, he assaulted and obliterated the notorious pirate Commodore Barzeblood when he slunk from a drubbing in the Drumnos Sector with three ships. Maynard’s ruthless ambush and use of the different ranges of the main guns of the two ships he had at his disposal are still displayed as a study template in the Nauphry and Hapster War Colleges.

Later, Maynard rose to command a four-ship formation of the Sector Fleet, consisting of his own Sword Frigate and three more. He excelled at using the ships’ identical weapon loadouts to form perfect defense perimeters when transitioning them from deep-space formations to asteroid sweep formations, and no convoy he has defended has ever lost a ship to Ork Freebooterz.

However, while he is a perfectly competent fleet officer and skilled Captain, his true strength is his eye for talent, and he knows it as well as every one of his subordinates. His officers would throw themselves out of airlocks to prove themselves to him. Unlike Lord General Halwart, he doesn’t mind aristocratic families offloading their less interesting children on him with purchased commissions, since he knows how desperately the Navy needs both men and money. However, he outright refuses to offer them special privilege, and has weeded several into dead-end careers by simply giving them every chance to fail.

Without family or any intent to retire, Maynard is a man undistracted. He does drink, but never to excess. He does eat gourmet foods in a carefully-designed dining hall on the Vulpes Ferrum of his own making, but never enough to throw off his humours. He does lash out at subordinates, but only when they have cost him blood and treasure. Ultimately, his staff stand between awe and resentment of him at any given time. He is impossible to like, easy to disappoint, and sometimes offers gleams of such brilliant manipulation of assets and fortune that it overcomes all his flaws.

It is hard to gauge how the man behaves outside of command positions, because he hasn’t left the Vulpes Ferrum in over a year. He has stayed on its decks to command the defenses of the Hapster Subsector for four years, first on the hunch that the Glasians would hit it again, then in certainty. He is perhaps the loudest advocate of the piratical nature of the Battlefleets Rampart and Delving, and even gives his approval to Lords Trader and Privateer Commodores who ask for permission to steal pirate ships. In his mind, the fact that Lords Trader and privateers don’t serve him directly is a minor one. After all, if they fail to defend the Imperium when the walls close in, wherever shall they spend their money?

Maynard knows well that Watch Captain Roganuharu and Lord Trader Zutash are both preparing to take major action against the Free Corsair Coalition as soon as possible, and plans to stay well away until the dust settles. He thinks both men naïve if they think they stand any real chance against Langdon Reith.

The old Lord Admiral hates Admiral Reith. To him, Reith is emblematic of everything wrong with the Imperial Navy. The two men are so alike that such an opinion is stinging to Maynard himself, but he believes it fervently. Reith had a chance to make the Imperium far better, and chose instead to rob it. True or not, Maynard thinks Reith to be lazy and self-entitled. Officers who have actually met Reith disagree, but Maynard’s mind is made up: Reith could only have broken from the Imperium so young if he had planned on coasting through Imperial Navy service until greed got the better of him. The irony of the master Human Resources manager having such a blind spot to the true strengths of his most hated enemy is lost on both of them.

For his part, Reith hates Maynard right back, although neither man has ever even seen the other. Reith fears Maynard’s growing fleet, which is swelling with fresh and refurbished ships at a rate that actually equals Reith’s own, despite Reith’s lack of bureaucracy to wade through. Of course, Maynard has more shipyards.

Maynard carries his silvered sword of office and a dueling pistol he has never drawn. He is not a fighter, he insists, but a thinker.

Lord General Senioris Charles Xoss[edit]

"Silver knives, hot laser, brass bullets. That’s the way! Let Arden and Lerica plot their plots and hatch their schemes. Give me aliens to shoot and good men to lead, and I’ll punt these birds right in the cloaca, every time."

– Charles Xoss

As is usually the case in a full Sector of the Imperium, one or more Lords General command the ground military assets of the Sector. In the case of Cloudburst, there are two: Charles Xoss and Howard Halwart. Charles Xoss is the senior by dint of many years of rank, and he operates from the Cloudburst Secured Tunnel Network, only a stone’s throw from the Overlord’s Palace. An officer of his stature rarely leaves their command center most of the time, of course, thanks to the difficulty inherent to replacing them, but Xoss is old enough that he wouldn’t leave anyway.

Xoss is high nobility of Cloudburst, and in fact is a distant relative of Sector Overlord Quintus. His military career started at twelve, when he enrolled in the Cloudburst Junior Officers’ Program. He followed an unremarkable trajectory for advancement in the Imperial military hierarchy until the age of fifty, when the Planetary Governor of Celeste appointed him the Flag Marshal of the Celeste PDF. However, in M41.814, twenty regiments of Celestial Guard Rifles rose to the Astra Militarum for a passing Crusade into the Naxos Sector, along with a regiment of Cloudburst Defenders and five regiments of Thimblan Argent Swords. The combined infantry assets of the force needed a single officer to serve as their high commander, and Xoss volunteered to transfer his commission from the PDF to the Guard to serve as that commander.

Four years later, Nurgle had whittled the full ranks of the Cloudburst Sector’s contribution to the Crusade from two hundred sixty thousand down to fourteen thousand, but Charles Xoss was a hero for saving even that many from the nightmarish meat grinder of the Imperium’s never-ending battles against the armies of Nurgle. He had shown unflinching courage, consistent and even-handed discipline, and creative tactical thinking in his opposition to the Plaguemaster. The enlisted men of the crusade force mustered out or joined combined regiments, while the surviving commissioned officers returned to praise and thanks from the Cloudburst hierarchy, and General Xoss’s career rocketed to greater heights.

After the crusade ended, the newly-minted Lieutenant General in the Imperial Guard took to commanding the regiments of Cloudburst Sector troops assigned to patrolling the border with the Drumnos Sector. After only a few short decades, the Dark Winds pirate gang, which had swollen to a full-size rebellion against the Imperium, launched an assault on the Cloudburst Sector’s southern edge. The combined forces of the Battlefleets Drumnos and Cloudburst, alongside several elements of the Cloudburst Mechanicus, counterattacked against the Dark Winds and crushed them entirely. Lieutenant General Xoss was among them, and led a combined force of Septiim and Clegran troops in ground actions in support of the Skitarii of Cognomen. Although radiation poisoning mysteriously laid several of his troops low, Xoss succeeded in corralling the Leman Russ Annihilators the Dark Winds fielded, and crushed them when they tried to withdraw. Xoss was promoted to General, and became the new leader of all Imperial Guard forces on Cloudburst’s southern and Exo-zone border.

After that, Xoss went on rejuvenat treatments to extend his life, and eventually rose to the position of Lord General Cloudburst after the death by liver failure of his predecessor, Lord General Grummon. The newly appointed Sector Overlord promoted Xoss to Lord General after consultation with the Overlords of the Subsectors. Xoss moved from Celeste to Cloudburst proper and settled with his family into the warren of secured tunnels under the moon’s surface. Shortly after that, tragedy struck. His ship, the Cloistered Hate, disappeared into the Warp and got trapped by the whorls of aetheric space. When he finally emerged, he was only one day older, along with the rest of the crew, but eight hundred years had passed. He eventually settled into a command position after some bureaucratic wrangling, and has steadfastly refused to leave the Celeste system since.

Xoss commands the growing ranks of the Cloudburst Astra Militarum from the tunnel network, in a custom-designed command structure built into the walls of the tunnels. Because of the natural time delay in all inter-system communications, even psychic ones, Xoss can’t direct his forces at any tactical or operational level from these tunnels, but they do allow him to keep a rough count of active-duty personnel in the Sector at most times. Of course, during the ramp-up to the Glasian invasions, the military contingents of some planets rise dramatically, which requires that he keep track of it, as their commander.

Beyond his command duties, Xoss is technically required to serve in a field command position if the Celeste system itself ever comes under attack from a force large enough to require the mustering and deployment of its full Imperial Guard and PDF defenses. However, in a practical sense, this is both highly unlikely and unpragmatic. Xoss is an ancient man, and even juvenat treatments can’t hide the fact that his body can’t endure much more prolonging. Besides, even Leviathan and Capitol Imperialis superheavy transports have fewer command and communications options than his own home tunnels.

Because Xoss has command authority over all Imperial Guard forces in the Sector, he is often consulted when a planetary government requires advice or approval from Sector Command to raise a regiment. His decades of service as the supreme commander of the Guard in Cloudburst have granted him keen insight on the needs of a regiment when they face specific foes or obstacles, and he lends his knowledge to whatever System Overlord or Planetary Governor needs them as required. Of course, not all martial assets in the Sector answer to him. The Navy, the Blue Daggers, the various Mechanicus forces, and the armed enforcement wings of the Arbites answer to their own leaders. Xoss’s forces are the most numerous by far, of course, and unlike Arden or Maynard, he bases from Cloudburst itself, and thus is sometimes called on, fairly or not, to serve as the representative of other Imperial institutions before the Sector Overlord.

As a part of his chain of command, his forces ultimately answer to both Quintus and the Master of the Administratum Ultima, but the Segmentum Fortress is too far away for it to exert much direct control in such a backwater, and Quintus has no military experience. Xoss, therefore, must decide which threats in the Sector require the full attention of the Imperial Guard. He is aided in this by the senior staff of Coriolis, where much of his force stages between missions. The government of the Septiim system also aids in this. Xoss can, on behalf of the Guard, ask Lord Admiral Maynard for the use of Maynard’s troopships, to transport Guardsmen and their gear to wherever they may be needed, and can also authorize the hiring of mercenaries, although Cardinal Lamarr has already snapped up most of them in the Sector.

Xoss is the loudest proponent of a crackdown on Lamarr. He detests the old Cardinal for so openly flouting the Decree Passive, and has all but begged Lady Inquisitrix Lerica to do something about it. His word, more than any other, has compelled Oscar Havermann to follow up on Lamarr’s actions. However, he is now so busy with the raising and training of troops to prepare for the Seventh Glasian Migration that there is no real chance that he will be able to do something about Lamarr in person.

He gets along better with other senior members of the Sector’s hierarchy. He and Ranult Arden have a polite relationship, while he and Maynard are at least distant friends. He does not like Lerica very much, but she scares the hell out of him, and Lord Marshal Persinius Oolan trusts him to keep the aliens from the walls long enough for the Arbites to do their job.

Because of his advanced age, Xoss doesn’t actually enter battle any longer, but when he did, he did so with an arm-mounted bolter on his left arm and a master-crafted hotshot laspistol in his right hand, which he could holster quickly if he needed a free hand. He also carried a dueling saber he never needed.

Professor Merrick Unarvu[edit]

"Do you know what I want, more than anything? I want everybody’s life to be as much fun as mine."

– Merrick Unarvu

The whispers of Slaanesh drift through the minds of the bored and lustful, twisting them to sin. So claims the Ecclesiarchy, at least. Many of those who devote themselves to the Prince of Pleasure are happy to abandon the Emperor for somebody who at least feigns affection.

The stultifying life of the peasantry ensures that many of those who serve Slaanesh are those who couldn’t find luxury any other way. Worlds that are more cosmopolitan have a middle class, full of burgeoning ideas with no place in the rigid Imperium. Aristocracy offers wealth and boredom: fertile ground for the seeds of Slaanesh.

Slaaneshi teachers, however, are rare indeed.

Professor Merrick Unarvu is a wholly devoted servant of Slaanesh, and a dark thrall of the Lord of Excess. Nobody would think it to look at him. He wears tweedy robes and shirts with Imperial skulls on the lapel, and smiles patiently at students who try to bribe or flatter their way past his strict grading. His colleagues, or most of them, think him a charming and clever old sort, the kind that make a school better for having him. Indeed, when he lectures the students about how Terran art changed as the populace fled Old Earth in the Long March colony waves, he seems both harmless and well-informed.

Then, he goes home, puts on his true working clothes, and descends through his hologram basement wall to sink barbed hooks into the flesh of screaming vagrants and catatonic children, and his smile doesn’t change at all.

Thus it is, Professor Merrick Unarvu is both wholly aware of what he is doing and completely unable to call it wrong or cruel. He loves to spread knowledge, whether of the minutiae of the artistic themes of Post-Diaspora sculpture or what it feels like to swallow fishhooks coated in honey. He loves to spend time with people, whether bright young students who want to know how the blending of light colors can draw out the inner beauty of a bust or the brainwashed murderers he instructs in the way of Excess.

Unarvu is insane, incurably and happily mad. He sold his soul to Slaanesh in exchange for power that he outright refuses to use; he finds it so much more delightful to twist a person’s mind until serving the Prince is the exactly right thing to do. He can call down towers of lightning and blast a person’s soul out through their mouth, but that’s both far more visible and much easier than seducing a failing student and turning them to the Warp.

Oh, but he has fun, him and his hundreds of friends, as they slowly spread their influence through the academic and civil institutions of mighty Coriolis. He has had no success subverting the Supreme Marshal’s office, and with only a few hundred people on his side, knows better than to try his luck. However, he has been able to keep the local Ministorum clergy off his back through the careful application of booze and women.

Unarvu is a beguiling and calculating man. He knows that the only way the Imperium can survive its thousand-fold enemies is by giving itself to the Warp. He was not born psychic, but after a night of indulging himself on nameless victims in the gutters of the great city in which he lives, whispers soothed his mind as he dreamed. He dreamed of a new future, one where the great Prince ruled over all, and everything was better.

Merrick Unarvu is no fool. He knows full well now what he has pacted himself to. He has stopped caring. The Imperium is dead, stagnant, and collapsing, and now he sees the way forward. If the Ecclesiarchal texts call him a monster, who cares? He serves the true power in the universe.

Unarvu is crafty, and he prefers to bait his allies and future victims in with different methods. To his victims, he is a patient benefactor, who offers his home and knowledge to those who need it. To his allies, he is a coconspirator, and a font of hidden power that becomes more delicious every time.

One thing about which he does not deceive is his combat skill. He does not carry weapons, and if ever he were forced to fight without weapons, he would fall at once to any skilled foe. However, his dark pacts grant him control over lightning and a powerful glamour, which he can use to surprise his foes.

Magos Gabris[edit]

"The nerve pathway passes through a small gap in the bone structure here. A single nervous bundle carries the signals from the sensory perception nerves in the fingers and cuticles to the larger nerves in the elbow here, under the cartilage. See? If one puts the probe here, you can feel the pain from when I cut you, but you can’t move to stop me. Isn’t that interesting?"

– Gabris

The Mechanicus ideal is that of thought and reverence unburdened by emotion, distraction, or impurity. In all ways, the Mechanicus and its adherents strive towards the simplicity of the Machine. Magos Gabris, the leader of the Mechanicus contingent of Lordarine, strives for the Machine by learning as much as he can about his subjects. Specifically, he does so by learning as much as possible about their anatomy, how much they can endure before breaking, and their tolerance for his tyranny.

Gabris started out as just another lowly Cognomen Techpriest, but in time, his natural skill at carving away pretense and personal investment in his projects raised him the eyes of his superiors above the entry level of the clergy.

As with all Magi, Gabris had to distinguish himself and advance the Quest for Knowledge in order to accomplish his rank. He did so by pioneering the combination of specific natural stone crystals, sometimes no more than thirteen molecules in width, with tungsten-iron alloys in cutting tools, which he was able to prove through historical reference was a technique that certain ancient surgeons had used. Once elevated to Magos, he continued his research into the archaeotechnological techniques of ancient human cultures. As an expert in the field, he was the natural choice to lead the Mechanicus team researching the ancient human surgical tools in the mines and subterranean cavernways of Lordarine.

Initially, Gabris’s projects produced remarkable results. Although he never quite managed to determine the exact methods of some of the more complex neurological reconstruction equipment in Lordarine’s ancient laboratories, he was able to get them to work perfectly as long as they were prepped properly first. He also found detailed instructions on their cleaning and basic maintenance, apparently written by somebody named Manuel.

The documents revealed that if used properly, the equipment is both safe to use and relatively painless, thanks to the redundant nerve suppressors in the surgical tools. Gabris studied these documents extensively, in the hopes of finding something that would allow him to replicate the technologies and send something of value to Mars. Eventually, he was able to repeat the results of the ancient researchers on two human volunteers, and he was off to the races.

However, nature or the fickle hand of the Warp intervened. At this point, the nearby Warp Storm Vasari’s Cruelty flared up catastrophically, throwing wafts of energy from the Rift at its heart into space. Several hit Lordarine. The resultant ecological damage, lightning storms, and loss of property disrupted Gabris’s work.

The humans of Lordarine begged for shelter from the elements, and Gabris, as the unofficial leader of the colony, was forced to begrudgingly permit this. After lengthy storm effects that partially levelled the Lordarine mining and research colonies, the damage done to the surface buildings was so bad that several hundred humans had to take up residence in the ancient tunnels instead.

However, while most of the humans who fled into the tunnels during the damage escaped great harm, Gabris did not. The exposure to Warp energies he sustained during the Warp Storm unhinged him. Although he is not corrupted by Chaos, he is definitely mad, and his madness is growing. With each successive Warp Storm, his measures against his own populace are growing worse. He has even begun to inflict the surgical tools at his disposal against dissidents in his population outside the times of the storms.

This is a rising problem for him, as well, as the Warp Storms and the resultant lightning squalls have become so frequent and so disruptive that Gabris has had to fully disconnect the nervous systems of several hundred colonists just so that they aren’t harmed by the Warp energies. He and his cyber-guards imagine themselves immune to the effects of the Warp thanks to their cybernetic replacements of their body parts, and to their credit, they do suffer the Warp effects less than the humans do, but they are not actually immune. Slowly, the Magos is losing his mind, and his guards aren’t far behind him.

The Magos carries a custom-built Twin Galvanic Pistol and a Power Axe, but he hasn’t used either in years.

Magos Lethicos[edit]

"Fuck this place."

– Lethicos

Adamantium is one of the rarest and most valuable metals in the entire galaxy. It is the only thing sparing the world Tendrils from destruction.

Magos Lethicos of the Cognomen Explorator fleets discovered vast sums of it after his ship detected a slight radio wave transmission with unknown encryptions from an unexplored system in the northern edges of the Cloudburst Sector. When Lethicos arrived, he was immediately attacked with primitive ballistic weapons from the surface of the world. After seeing off the missiles with the guns of his battleship, Lethicos retreated a safe distance and scanned the surface carefully. He found both a hostile alien civilization of unknown organisms and the largest deposits of Adamantium ore for a hundred light years.

Lethicos quickly and excitedly sent news of his findings to the Cognomen Explorator command, and included notes about the primitive defense capabilities of the residents of the planet. Despite the obvious superiority of his weapons, Lethicos knew not to try to engage an unknown alien race with only a single battleship and minimal ground troops. However, the issue quickly rose away from his direct control.

As news of his discovery of enormous Adamantium deposits made its way up the chain of command, word eventually reached the Senate of the High Lords of Terra. As Adamantium is the most valuable metal in the galaxy after Aurumite, the Senate took an immediate interest in the issue, especially since it was accompanied by the discovery of a race of hostile aliens inside Imperial borders. Magos Lethicos was ordered to return to the planet with fresh supplies and dedicated orbital surveying equipment and conduct a proper scan of the surface and its defenses.

Lethicos did so, and flew back to Tendrils three years later. To his shock, the world had visibly changed. Even granting that he had not heavily scanned the population or surface beyond mineral surveys the last time, the world’s surface was too different to be confused for its original appearance. The number of aliens, which he dubbed Tendrilites, was far lower. However, despite an apparent population drop, the construction on the surface was vastly higher. There were far more buildings, and signs of extensive excavation all across the rain-lashed surface. Again, the aliens fired a barrage of cruise missiles at the Mechanicus ship, but this time, they fired over three times as many, and they were significantly faster. His defenses still swatted them down without trouble, but the noted improvement that the Tendrilites gained in the time it took him to fly home and get new orders shook Lethicos. He sent this new discovery to the Senate via Astropath, and started more detailed surveys.

Even as his ships watched from orbit, he saw the world below changing. Alien constructs and fortifications erupted from all around major cities. Populations of aliens vanished as they moved underground. Lethicos even spotted a few small-scale battles, perhaps between political factions. In the time since then, the planet has hardened against any further attempts to attack, while Cognomen dithers and focuses on other things.

Seventy years have passed. In that time, Magos Lethicos has returned to Tendrils over and over, and each time, their society has seen radical advancements in technology and culture, to an extent that horrifies Lethicos. Their technology alone has advanced immensely in the brief time that Lethicos has been watching them. They have progressed from a mixture of flintlock weapons and simple missiles to gas-propelled infantry rifles and complex cruise missiles with in-built anti-countermeasures that his ship can barely stop by itself. Culturally, they have progressed from warring internecine states to a nearly unified global military autocracy. The Tendrilites have also begun stockpiling truly shocking volumes of biological weapons that Lethicos has seen them testing on each other for lack of an understanding of human anatomy. Lethicos has been busily translating their language and hacking their primitive satellites to glean more intelligence about the Tendrilites, and has noted with unease their trend towards global unity and dedicated anti-alien forces.

Four times, Lethicos has sent pleading messages to Cognomen, Fabique, even Mars itself for backup, and every time, he has had nothing but unfulfilled promises and buck-passing. Cognomen insists that it is too busy shoring up the defenses against threats that can actually attack back, Fabique doesn’t wish to become too involved in a Cloudburst matter, and Mars is no better at returning Lethicos’s calls than Beraxos’s. Then, Lethicos tried Cloudburst Command, but after waiting as long as he had in the hopes that the Mechanicus would help him out, now the Cloudburst military authority are caught up in preparation for the impending Glasian Migration. As the millennium draws to a close, the Senate of the High Lords has delivered an ultimatum to Lethicos. Either he handles the Tendrilites, or they may send somebody who will do it for him. Lethicos is even considering falsifying his findings to suggest that the Tendrilites may have stolen Dark Age human tech to motivate Mars into helping.

Outside of his onerous duty of watching his job getting harder before his eyes, Lethicos is a quiet and stately man, with few hobbies or interests outside his clerical duties. When he is not staring in morose silence at the distant planet that is the source of his woes, he is usually tending to the spiritual needs of his crew, or carrying out research on the data his sensors collect about the Tendrilites. He is Cognomen born and raised, and until Beraxos’s sudden inability to help him arose, considered Beraxos a friend. When he enters battle, he does so with a master-crafted transuranic rifle of his own design, and a pair of Arc Pistols he carries for self-defense.

Governor Chadwick Haupstmann – Subsector Overlord of Cognomen Subsector[edit]

"Sometimes I wish I did not have to rely on others to do my job. It’s hard to find good help, but you can if you try hard enough. I just like the peace and quiet. You know? I do my best work with a cup of water and a lho stick where I can reach them, total silence all around me, and no people in white and red getting in my way."

– Chadwick Haupstmann

The common image of the Masters of the Administratum among the commoners is that of an elderly person, ink-stained and lho-smoking, far from harm or the common touch. It’s not always true, of course, but in the case of Chadwick Haupstmann, things couldn’t be closer to the mark.

Chadwick started life in a family of Administratum Adepts on the planet Cognomen’s orbital platforms. They would flit from orbital to orbital as needed, addressing the myriad concerns of the Subsector’s administration and government that the Mechanicus chose to ignore. Unlike most other positions of Imperial high office, the position of Master of the Administratum Cognomen (usually just shortened to Overlord Cognomen to avoid confusion with the similar titles of Lister Beraxos) is not a particularly prestigious one. Because the entire Cognomen Subsector is essentially a satrap of the Mechanicus, the Subsector Overlord has precious little to actually do. Their Battlefleet is a tiny one, since the Mechanicus prefers to build ships to protect its own territory, and the Battlefleet is dependent on the Mechanicus for parts and fuel anyway. The civilian population of most of the Cognomen Subsector worlds are under the authority of either the Mechanicus or Ecclesiarchy in the majority, and there are few new colonization efforts to undertake nearby that Beraxos isn’t running himself.

Therefore, the only real draw to the position is the range of benefits afforded the families of the Overlord. They are afforded the very best education, commissions in the military if they want them, and a variety of permissions when dealing with other powerful Imperial officials, like the right of refusal if Rogue Traders attempt to press them into service in their crew. Since the position of the Lord Subsector Cognomen has little to do compared to their counterparts in Oglith, Nauphry, or Delving, some members of the Cognomen Administratum compete to succeed the incumbent family if ever something should happen to them.

At present, however, Governor Haupstmann is unlikely to vacate his position. He has been in the current Governorship for only nine years, but has settled in well. He and Lord Fabricator Beraxos do not see eye-to-bionic on many topics, but they do have an understanding about the ABX202020 construction: Haupstmann doesn’t tell Quintus, and Beraxos leaves Haupstmann to his work.

Privately, Haupstmann actually does approve of the ABX202020 project, especially since Beraxos has assured him that the forces built there will be devoted to the expansion of the Sector into the Circuit and Exozone, a cause Haupstmann supports. However, Haupstmann doesn’t see any need for Beraxos to know that.

Haupstmann avoids giving himself any special political or partisan identity, and his jurisdiction is far more limited in the scope of his power than most Subsector Overlords. Rogue Traders who deal with the Cognomen Techpriesthood aren’t particularly common despite how many Traders operate in the Circuit, thanks to Beraxos’s personal dislike of Rogue Traders as an institution. That means that there are few chances for Haupstmann to interact with others of his own social standing and power. However, Haupstmann does prefer peace and quiet, so this is less of a personal disadvantage than it would be for Lowenthal or Oskoldr. His daily routine is identical. After breakfasting with his incredibly bored children, he goes to his office and sits alone for ten hours, broken only to smoke and eat, then dines with his incredibly bored wife, watches the holo for a few hours, and then goes to bed. Every few weeks, he goes on a sudden health kick and exercises in all of his spare time, then loses interest a few days later and goes back to sloth.

He refuses to carry a weapon out of general principal, and he has never been in combat.

Master of the Administratum Maskos Samantha Lowenthal[edit]

"This is my ancient home, sir. Do not disrespect it. I said do not! Rogue Trader you may be, but I am an Overlord, and if ever you dare levy troops from my factory workers again, I shall have you fed to my lions. What, you don’t have your own lions? Hmm."

– Samantha Lowenthal

Samantha Lowenthal is old money in the Maskos high society. As a descendent of one of the families that originally supported Missionary Maskos himself, her family has been in the public eye of the people for as long as history records. Thanks to that publicity, and no small amount of economic finagling, the Lowenthal family has been able to remain a constant presence in the Imperial nobility and merchantry for thousands of years.

Lowenthal is the ninth of her immediate ancestral family to ascend to Subsector Overlordship. Like many of her predecessors, she has refused to divest her family of its many, many businesses, although she does begrudgingly allow the Arbites to routinely inspect her family’s finances to make sure her decisions do not overly favor her own interests. Lowenthal is fabulously wealthy, moreso than one would suspect an Overlord of a system founded and named after a Missionary would be.

She is also ruthless, prideful, and a bit self-conscious about her position. Her rank as a Subsector Overlord may be secure, but Cloudburst is hardly an auspicious or prestigious posting compared to Drumnos or Naxos. Still, Lowenthal presents herself like a queen.

Some Governors and Overlords are very much bureaucrats, but Lowenthal is a classic Imperial aristocrat. To her social inferiors, she is a towering figure, as are her children to a lesser extent. However, every time she decides she is the most important person in the Subsector, High Inquisitrix Lerica arranges for some tiny, near-invisible reminder that the Inquisitorial palace of Cloudburst is a few hundred miles away, and full of people with far, far greater power.

Lowenthal is a product of the times. Politics on Maskos tend towards the dynastic, but the upset caused to the surface by the Glasian Migration (or First Glasian Migration, as it now called) led the people to demand a strong new leader. The existing Subsector Overlord, Marco Pazzi, stepped down after the people nearly rose up in arms in outrage at the state of the planet’s defenses. The new Overlord, voted in by the Sector Overlord and his Council, was Lowenthal’s ancestor Julius Lowenthal. Julius sent the fullest force of his family’s business interests to the ravaged surface of Maskos, rebuilding and fortifying what remained, and earned his way into the people’s trust. As centuries wended their way past, the collective wealth of the Lowenthal family expanded and expanded, until the family was both the wealthiest in the system, and its ruler. The family also bears extensive scrutiny from the Ordo Famulous of the Adeptus Sororitas, and most of its marriages are arranged by the church. While the Lowenthal family members do not always appreciate it, this has prevented inbreeding or any strains of the psyker gene manifesting, and has allowed the family to stay in power uncontested, despite the violent nature of the Cloudburst Sector’s recent history.

Samantha is not a psyker, but as the hostess of the local Inquisition, she does have some dealings with psykers as employees or guests of the Inquisition. Chief Rastimos keeps the Inquisition’s business their own, and does not rely on Maskos’s own Astropathic Choir to messaging, but periodically the Inquisition does make requests of Maskos assets the Overlord is not in a position to deny.

Lowenthal also sees much of the power of her family as a birthright, and treats it as such. She finds it personally offensive when other nobles ask for favors, as if it would ever be anything other than a business or political transaction in her mind. She has no military experience, and does not carry a weapon as a matter of course.

Harek abn Alnasr, Clan Ahad, Lord Subsector Thimble[edit]

"By the threads of my looms are the Emperor’s armies clothed, by the sweat of the brows of my citizens do they soar over the land, and by the work of my hands, shall my family rule in the Emperor’s name."

– Harek abn Alnasr

Thimble is the most heavily populated Imperial world in the Cloudburst Sector, and economically the mightiest. Its silvered spires soar high over the baked earth outside, and its foundries and looms feed the economy of the Sector like no other world save Cognomen. Clan Ahad has presided over the Sector for over a thousand years, and its leadership has enabled the planet to rise nearly to the level of productivity it had between the fall of the Terran Federation and its own collapse.

Lord Harek is responsible for much of its growth. His combination of ruthless economic exploitation and expansion, and his family’s personal wealth, have fueled much of Thimble’s growing export business. The planet exports aircars, clothing, and some household goods, as well as various industrial goods and alloys.

Clan Ahad has been able to push Thimble’s power throughout nearby space. Their policy for colonization is aggressive; both of the moons of Thimble are undergoing extensive construction at Harek’s order. Harek is pouring his money into his own project; namely his resurrection laboratory.

Harek is obsessed with living long enough to see his clan’s vision for the Subsector come to fruition. Working with an army of Hereteks and mercenaries, he led the roundup of over thirty thousand scavs and underhivers from Singer Hive, which he traded for all manner of illegal mind-transference and cloning technology. In the secret laboratory he has built on the moon Iocanto, his servants are crafting him a genetically-identical body, one that is essentially him at the age of 20. When his current body ages beyond its limit, he intends to transfer his memories and his mind to that body, and return to the public eye as his own grandson.

Aside from these Heretek servants and a few members of his immediate family, nobody yet knows of his plan. Certainly, Overlord Quintus does not know what Harek is doing. If Lord Beraxos were to learn of what Harek is doing, he would have the Overlord’s execution warrant printed and ready for Inquisitorial approval in hours. Harek knows this, and has taken every precaution to prevent anybody from learning about his plan. The damnable part is, he thinks, that there is no harm in what he is doing. If the technology works and produces a clone that is free of outside influence or risks, then why should it be illegal? It is because he can’t think of an answer that he assumes that there is no answer. In reality, the Heretek level of understanding of the cloning technology is at best tenuous. It is quite possible that whatever happens during the mind transference will destroy the body’s neural system. Of course, the group has neglected to inform Harek of this.

Beyond his ‘dynastic’ ambitions, Harek abn Alnasr is a model Imperial Subsector Overlord. The people who enjoy the benefits of hive life adore him, while the proles find him amusing or annoying, if they think of him at all. He periodically showers the upper hives with gifts largesse, but mostly couldn’t be asked. His ties to the military are those of duty alone; he has never served in the military. He leaves much of the running of the system’s affairs to his subordinates as he focuses on the larger concerns, such as the rest of the Subsector’s preparations for the imminent arrival of the Glasians. Although the Thimble Subsector does not contain any worlds that the Glasians are going to hit in the Seventh Migration’s first wave, the possibility that the aliens succeed in destroying a world and then move to a Thimble Subsector system, as they did with Chlorit and Coriolis, means that the Thimble Subsector still must be protected. Of course, the invasion of the Orks of Squiggothrider into the Rampart system also drew the attention of the Navy. Lord Harek has diverted every ship he thinks the Subsector can spare to the defense of the Rampart system from further alien incursions.

Lord Harek has an uncomfortable relationship with the Inquisition. Of course, they can never learn of his mind transference lab, but he also has more political power than the majority of nobles or even Overlords in the Sector, thanks to his colossal wealth and the fact that he controls the only Hive World in Cloudburst. The enormous shipyards of the Spindle system allow his world to manufacture ships and metallurgical goods in a volume that can change the course of a small-scale war, purely on the basis of their volume. However, while High Inquisitrix Lerica is in a position to disregard the undeniable good that Harek’s industrial work has done for the Imperium, lesser Inquisitors tend to watch their step around the canny Overlord.

As a product of the same Highborn schools and academies as most other Thimble nobles, Harek had an early grounding in politics, economics, religion, history (at least the sanitized version taught to Imperial Highborn), and at least a grounding in warfare theory. However, Harek quickly proved to be a voracious reader, and he fairly gobbled up knowledge about the system, about its past, and most especially about the ancient labs on its moons.

Harek has had a few notable interactions with the Deathwatch. As the system in the Subsector with the largest volume of civilian shipping (at least until Cognomen finishes its expansions), the Spindle system has had numerous problems with alien pirates or infiltrators. On four occasions since M41.822, the Deathwatch has sent Kill-Marines to the Spindle System to either hunt down alien troublemakers or advise Clan Ahad on how to do so. Notably, one of these Kill-Marines was current Master of the Defenses Arthur Molliere. One of these visits happened while Harek was Overlord, and another happened two years before his elevation to the role.

As perhaps befits a Heretek, Harek has wildly different public and private levels of defense. He seems to carry no more than a ceremonial dueling pistol, and even then, it is usually in the hands of his second and bodyguard, Niles Lancaster, one of the few people who knows of his secret lab. However, he has a highly illegal precision laser blaster built into his prosthetic left wrist, and carries a hardened polymer blade under his trousers on both legs, neither of which will show up on a metal detector or smell wand.

Lord Subsector Nauphry Matheus Soldati[edit]

"My planet is bipolar, but by the Throne are we hitting our quotas! I say, do you think it would make things better or worse if I announced a formal competition to see who can open the most new mines in a month?"

– Matheus Soldati

Some Subsector Overlords rule through fear, others through inertia. Some rule through military glory, others the clenched fist of the law. Matheus Soldati rules through a combination of jovial nature, excellent breeding, the public support of the Ecclesiarchy, and complete denial of facts he doesn’t like.

Born and raised in a tropical island chain at the equator of the Nauphry IV demilitarized zone, Soldati lived his entire early life in the combination of unapproachable isolation, unfathomable wealth, and religious instruction that defines much of the Imperial nobility of the Nauphry Subsector. As a citizen of neither of the two super-nations that have rent the Nauphry IV surface and ecology in twain, he feels no particular attachment to either. In truth, he barely cares for the two nations, seeing them as being essentially inert in their ability to actually look forward to serving the Imperium. Playing their competitive edge against each other is all well and good for economic reasons, and it has certainly done immense good for the Nauphry shipyards and factories, but he finds them distasteful in the extreme.

However, Soldati has hid this well, as he should. As Nauphry IV has no Planetary Governor, thanks to its absurdly bipolar rulership, he is the de facto ruler of the planet as well as the System and Subsector governments. Of course, even his critics in the two nations begrudgingly admit that there is simply no way that even the best-educated men such as Soldati can rule so much at once. Thus, he delegates. Soldati has appointed over fifteen hundred Ministers and Lords Excellent to rule the system, Subsector, and parts of the planet in his absence, although they have limited power over Nauphry IV itself. To keep the rather large militaries of the system from exercising tribal affinity for one nation over the other, Soldati has also strictly enforced the harsh rules that separate troop levies from the places from which they were levied. Of course, these rules long predate him, but he has been downright forceful in his denial of the two Federocracies.

Perhaps because of his ironclad upholding of certain planetary laws, he has a somewhat more comfortable relationship with the various Arbites and Enforcers that cross his path than most Subsector Overlords. The Arbites enforce the Lex Imperialis, and couldn’t care less for the bipolar nature of local law as long as the Emperor’s Word is obeyed; the fact that Soldati has the same opinion has earned him the distant respect of the world’s Judges.

However, Soldati has no patience for the local and galactic-scale Guilds that operate much of the actual economic work of the planet. The constant urging of the two Federocracies has made it clear to the Guilds that they should have no time for failure. The Guilds have a penchant for putting tiny bureaucratic obstructions in just the right spots to bottleneck the industrial work that is the lifeblood of the Nauphry IV tithe payment, just to remind the governments in turn how much power the Guilds have.

In person, far from the shouting matches that characterize the Nauphry IV population and politics, Soldati is a jolly fellow, with a grandfatherly air and physique. He has a booming voice and an infectious smile, and when the planet’s not giving him an ulcer, he has found contentment in the glass-bottomed boats that sail around the island chain on which the Imperium bases its holdings. He has a wife and four children, and caries only a vox and pen-knife, never a gun.

Lord Subsector Delving Miles laDremankine[edit]

"The darkness rises against the Aquila’s endless light. I see it every year. I can read the projections of my mines and refineries, you know. Every year, a bit less goes to luxuries and a bit more goes to warships and such. How much longer can we hold shut the gates of hell?"

– Miles laDremankine

For somebody with no military experience, Miles laDremankine puts on a heavily martial air. He has never served because of his extensive genetic defects, but he does not allow that to stop him from pretending he is a soldier’s soldier at every chance he thinks he can get away with.

laDremankine is a dwarf, and has served as the Lord Subsector for forty years. He and Lord Ranult Arden work together to arrange the defense of the Subsector during the centennial Glasian assaults on Septiim, and sometimes other worlds in the Subsector. He is also in charge of coordinating the immense shipments of rare metals from Delving to Cognomen and Thimble, as well as serving as the figurehead of the Delving militaries.

And what a figurehead he is. When he goes about in public, he wears a custom-designed military uniform he has never earned, and carries a shockingly expensive master-crafted Hellpistol he can barely draw. He also visits all of the weekly strategic meetings of the planetary Marshal and High General (in charge of the SDF/PDF and Guard, respectively). He has memorized the entire Low and High Gothic radio code and alphanumeric response code, all of the PDF and SDF current landing aircraft codes, and the names of the thirty highest-ranked Blue Daggers. He is on speaking terms with both Lord Inquisitor Hueng and Lord Admiral Maynard, and has a recall of the ships and Captains of the Subsector Battlefleet Delving that puts some of its actual officers to shame.

Lord General Xoss once remarked, well out of earshot, that it was not laDremankine’s vigor or brains that kept him from proper military service, but his stature. Precisely why laDremankine so favors the military, Xoss does not know, nor does he especially care. In reality, laDremankine has told nobody, and there is no one incident or event that contributed to it. He is simply fascinated by the military and its stylings, and he finds the subject endlessly educational.

As one could imagine, the upswing in interest the military has enjoyed during laDremankine’s tenure is no bad thing for Subsector Delving’s many valuable assets. To be sure, Battlefleet Delving and the Blue Daggers are better equipped now than they have ever been, and laDremankine has been carefully polishing and refining the mechanisms of government in the Subsector in anticipation of the lean times for decades. His love of the armed forces does not blind him to the very real possibility that the Glasians might actually score another victory some day, and he has taken some preparations to ensure a loss on that scale does not cripple the Subsector forever. This level of pragmatism soothes the working relationship between himself and Arden, who has little patience for the slowness of the Imperial bureaucracy.

As Subsector Overlord of the Delving Subsector, laDremankine is at the focal point of the incessant resource needs of the rest of the Imperium, and the precarious ecological balance his planet has to endure for its people to survive. He spends enough time on his military matters that he has not been able to divert his full attention to the ecological repair and improvement of Delving. If he spent no more time on military affairs than he needed to, that would be easier to forgive, but as it stands, many Delving civilian and Administratum leaders have begun to question if this obsession of his has led him to distraction.

To be fair, Delving has many concerns. The Glasians hit Delving in the Third Migration, and the planet’s civilian population took a horrific pounding from the aliens before the Blue Daggers and the Cognomen Skitarii drove them off. After that, the Delving Guard became the primary concern for the planetary government. It took two hundred years, but eventually, the Delving Guard rose to a level of competence that ensured that it would only be dependent on the Daggers for the direst circumstances.

Thanks to the enormous vulnerability of the Delving terraforming machines, which no other Mining World under Administratum control in the Sector needs, most of the Home Guard are tied up in asset protection instead of garrison duty. Overlord laDremankine tours these facilities as often as he’s able to do so. He has attended the dedication ceremonies for several Delving Guard regiments raised to fight in the Circuit, and after he finally realized he wouldn’t be able to accompany the Delving regiment raised to defend Oglith, he couldn’t be talked out of his room for a day and a half.

As befits a martially-obsessed person of his status, laDremankine carries a dueling pistol and his Hellpistol at all times, and sometimes even wears a flak jacket to work.

Lady Subsector Hapster Astrid Oskoldr[edit]

"The blood in my veins is bronze. My people have killed, bled, prayed, sailed to the tune of the Senate for eleven thousand years. Let Celeste take the credit for building Cloudburst; my people know the truth. Hapster is Cloudburst, and the Glasians will have to kill every single one of us to break us."

– Astrid Oskoldr

The Hapster Subsector is the oldest continually-inhabited Imperial territory in the Cloudburst Sector, and the planet Hapster itself has served the Imperium loyally for over eleven thousand years. The Oskoldr family was not the first to serve as its Overlords, but they have held the post for most of that time. A distant ancestor was executed by the Inquisition for not preventing the Voidlife flotilla from robbing Hapster’s orbitals, but beside that unfortunate incident, the Oskoldrs have been in charge of the Subsector, whether politically or economically, for eight millennia. Astrid Oskoldr is a capable and talented leader, but her reputation is that of a somewhat fearful taskmistress, who has no qualms about using whatever dirty tricks or influence-peddling she needs to get things done. Astrid was educated in an Ecclesiarchal school built on the grounds of a common estate in her closed noble enclave in her home city. By the age of twenty, her grandfather had already promised her the position of heiress to succeed him as the Subsector Overlord. Only two years later, her younger sister attempted to poison her. Their youngest sibling, a brother, caught her in the act, and Astrid turned her over to the Arbites without a second thought. She has a small soft spot for her brother Brian, although she would never admit it. Now that Astrid has arisen to the rank of Subsector Overlord, she has been able to enact her iron-fisted vision on Hapster with none to oppose her, since Brian has taken to business instead of politics. Astrid has driven much of the senior bureaucracy of her grandfather’s administration from their posts and replaced them with people of cunning and loyalty to her, whether the displaced Adepts were bad at their jobs or not. However, the people of Hapster are warming to Astrid’s style, as it has undeniably produced results. Hapster was hit in both the Fifth and Sixth Glasian Migrations, and now the people know it will be hit in the Seventh.

Astrid’s brutal and clinical assessment of the planet’s capabilities has left no room for doubt: Hapster can’t survive another invasion unaided. Too much of the planet is inhospitable to humans for a global-scale defense to be enacted with the personnel she has available. As such, she immediately swallowed her pride and asked for assistance. Much of the Sector’s defenses are focused on Oglith or Dawn-break, but some ships from Battlefleet Cloudburst’s reserves are on the way, as are a handful of Inquisitorial assets. The largest asset that Hapster shall enjoy in this upswing of protection, however, is Lord Admiral Maynard. The canny old officer was already in orbit over Hapster when the news of its impending invasion broke, because he had correctly anticipated that Tzeentch would target it again. Thanks to his foresight, he has been able to arrange for a significant increase in the fixed and orbital defenses of the planet, and has summoned every ship that can be spared from the defense of the two Feral Worlds in the Glasians’ path without jeopardizing them. Astrid and Maynard get along well enough to work together, and that is the extent of their co-operation. Astrid herself has a personal rule of strong martial training, and is a dead shot with a slug-loaded shotgun thanks to her extensive hunting practice.

Politically, Astrid is a calculating and efficient person, who insists on the usual cruft of bureaucrats and Adepts that run Hapster serving her directly. When she isn’t getting away from it all in her mountain retreat, she is directing the Subsector’s government from the Imperial Castle. Of course, with so much of Hapster undergoing ecological reconstruction at any given time, the region of the planet over which she can actually preside at any time is limited. Astrid has essentially browbeaten the Planetary Governor into following her instructions concerning defense and taxation, to the extent that the Administratum of Cloudburst are somewhat taken aback; some have even begun to whisper of reprimanding Astrid if she doesn’t start adhering more closely to her position’s traditional limits.

Astrid carries a conventional military slug pistol at all times, and displays it openly. Publicly, she does so to assure the people that she is as ready as she can be to fight off the Glasians, but she could do so just as easily with a ceremonial dueling pistol, as most of her fellow Masters of the Administratum do. She uses an unadorned, ugly combat pistol as a subtle – or perhaps not so subtle – reminder to her fellow nobles that she is not to be trifled with.

Lord Subsector Oglith Darren Atongwë[edit]

"The green tide threatens to drown us all. How many generations of my family have utterly failed to fix this problem? I fear that before this is over, the Atongwë family will have a new martyr in its holy ranks."

– Darren Atongwë

The blood and sweat of the Atongwë family has brought hundreds of millions of souls to the light. So the family claims, anyway. The ancient Rogue Trader branch of the family established two worlds that eventually became Subsector Capital worlds, and now rule one of them by dint of ancient right of discovery.

In truth, however, it was partly because of the failures of ancient generations of the Atongwë family that the Rogue Trader house has seen its fortunes decline so severely in the last few centuries. The House Atongwë once reigned as the wealthiest in the Sector and much of those adjacent, but the sheer cost of the Oglith problem has drained their coffers ruinously fast.

Today, Darren Atongwë sits the throne of Rampart, as its Subsector Overlord. The Planetary Governorship has long passed to another family, but the Subsector still counts Atongwë as its leader.

Darren suffers no illusions nor delusions of the future. The time of the Atongwë family’s political supremacy is over. He knows that the Administratum and Astra Militarum have no reason whatsoever to allow his family to continue to rule over the Rampart Subsector, not after thousands of years of unaddressed failures.

First there was the initial failure to address the subterranean Orks on Oglith itself. Then there was a different ancestor’s throwing in with a privateer group that was a mere few months from being declared Perdita by the Segmentum Command Office. Then there were the centuries of dithering and denialism over the continuing Ork problem, then the rising pollution and gang problems on Soak, then the massive and possibly illegal buildup of mercenaries on Jodhclan’s Paradise.

Darren Atongwë knows of the two Officio Assassinorum agents that are now active on his planet. He suspects, with morbid certainty in his heart, that the Vanus Assassin is on Oglith to kill him. Why else would a knowledge manipulator be accompanying the master sharpshooter codenamed Mimic? Orks don’t care about human information services or agitprop. The only targets that merit a Vanus’s attention are human ones, as far as he believes.

Only the Senate of the High Lords of Terra can commission an Assassin to field within the Imperium’s borders, let alone two. Surely, Darren thinks, this means the Senate has lost all patience with him, and means to put him in the ground. Perhaps in the final days of the war, a pack of his own subordinates will descend on him and rip him apart, or undetected Ork sympathizers in the populace shall suddenly gain widespread access to his personal aircars. Or maybe the Officio will wait until the Glasians have landed and kill him in the chaos of Chaos?

However, Darren Atongwë is a fatalist, but not a pessimist. He is a profoundly spiritual and pious man, and he has not allowed his suspicion of his imminent doom to delay him from doing his work. He has focused his every waking hour into preparation for the arrival of the aliens; first the Glasians, then the sudden arrival of Big Chief Squiggothrider. Atongwë actually knows very little about Orks and Glasians, despite the obvious risks. He has a highly compartmentalized mind and little room for knowledge of heretical aliens. Were he better at facing reality, he might have made a decent Bishop. Alas, he is a politician through and through, replete with the frailties of mind and spirit that entails.

He is not a poor politician, but he relies on public image work and messaging to get his point across to the proles, not actions. Oglith is – or was – a world rising fast in the estimation of the Imperium. Their exceptional Scions and potent fleet made them a lynchpin of local defense on the very outermost edges of Imperial space. The natural increase in economic power for the nobles and standards of living for the general populace ensured a relatively low level of crime, and Atongwë managed to convince himself, even in the face of contrasting evidence, that all could be well, even if the Glasians were coming. He should have known better, and now he sees this.

As a child, Darren was groomed for leadership from the age of six. By the time he was twenty, he had already enrolled in the ranks of the local commissioned officers’ corps of the Oglith Warriors, and never once took to the field. He thought it was because he was too valuable to risk, when in fact he was simply connected too highly for his COs to survive the damage to their careers if they got him killed.

After leaving the Guard with desultory honors and participation trophies, Atongwë took to study of the family business. The House Atongwë family merchant business was far less robust or expansionistic than it once had been, and Darren proved an unexceptional scion of the family at most. However, by right of age, Darren became the new Subsector Overlord after a token vote by his peers. As the Subsector Overlord, he was unable to direct his control over individual planetary governments at the level of granularity he would have liked, but as time went by, he found himself less and less interested in the day-to-day minutiae of governance anyway.

Of course, when the Orks came, all that changed. Suddenly, every armchair general and actual general in the Sector was screaming for his head, the Inquisition was suddenly asking him some very uncomfortable questions, and two strange people, who never smiled, and wore tight black clothing, arrived on his doorstep.

Antongwë never bothers carrying arms, even when outdoors. In his mind, if the aliens or the Inquisition truly decide to kill him, nothing he could carry on his person could make a difference. He’s not wrong. Darren is unaware of this, but the Vindicare Assassin codenamed Mimic is already planning his execution.

Lady Celeste Magnolia Clement[edit]

"Oh, I’m not angry. Things happen, you know? Oh, dearie, no, all’s fine. Everything is always fine."

– Magnolia Clement

The dual worlds of Cloudburst and Celeste sit like jewels in the crown of Cloudburst Sector. As is typical in Imperial Sectors, the Sector and host Subsector governments are both in the same system; atypically, they are divided between two worlds, and both of them have their own Governors as well.

Magnolia Clement is thus in the odd position of being in charge of a Subsector of which she is a resident, but not in charge of the planet or system in which she resides. She has addressed this asymmetry by becoming as slovenly as only an Imperial noble can, and lives in the core of luxury on the most beautiful planet in the Sector. Days have come and gone in which she did not even get out of bed. Since rising to the position of Subsector Overlord, Clement has delegated all but a mere handful of details of state and politics to her Administratum subordinates and members of the Celeste peerage.

Clement started life in the lap of luxury, and grew up on one of the massive pillar cities in the oceans of Celeste. Her family owned one of the sea cities, or rather a partial stake in one that amounted to sixty percent of the total investment. Her parents were nobles too, both of whom were related to the Subsector Overlord on different sides of the family; young Magnolia needed extensive gene therapy to avoid the perils of inbreeding. The life she lived was otherwise delightful, with servants who catered to her every whim, picturesque views all around, and a variety of exotic luxury boys and food to enjoy whenever she wanted. After the passing of her grandparents, Magnolia became second in line for the throne of Celeste Subsector, ahead of her brother and behind her father. Her father’s death a few years later led her to ascend to her current position long before she had formally finished her training.

Informally, there was little to train. The Famulous Order had perhaps overestimated the strength of the gene-line that would result from the merging of the two branches of her family. Clement was terminally lazy, and even the knowledge of the impending Glasian Migration has done little to rouse her from her languid torpor.

However, some of those to whom she has directed her responsibilities are fair-minded and capable enough to actually get things done. From time to time, a few impulses of duty fire off in Clement’s mind, and she emerges from her salons and meditation pools long enough to make a few instructions, and then she wafts away to accomplish little else. Her Administratum subordinates have all but replaced her in the hierarchy of the Subsector, which is less damaging than it would be in other Subsectors. Celeste Subsector has few worlds of a modern standard of communication, commerce, and travel, and the Celeste System and planet both have their own leaders who do not need Clement’s supervision. Thus, her absence is more of an irritant than a true obstruction of function.

Now, the Glasian Migration is a problem that will hit the Celeste Subsector straight on. Dawn-break is sitting in the path of the Glasians, and there is no conceivable way the under-equipped defenders will drive them off. Thomas Walsh and Madeline Prinz are maneuvering assets to protect it, as is Lord Beraxos, but if that is inadequate, and the Blue Dagger reinforcements can’t stop the gaps, the Glasians will surely destroy Dawn-break, just like they did Chlorit. If the Inquisition’s Ordo Hereticus or the Internal Affairs offices of the Administratum decide to make Clement the scapegoat – which would not be unfair, given what is about to happen to Darren Atongwë – there won’t even be a need for a trial. Clement will simply vanish, and with her brother long dead of colon cancer, there is no clear heir for the Subsector’s leadership.

High Queen, First Princeps Remilia Matraxia[edit]

"I used to shuffle papers. Now I rule a planet, when they let me. Soon, there won’t be an alien alive in the Sector who isn’t terrified of me."

– Remilia Matraxia

From the ashes of total mediocrity rose the phoenix of Remilia Matraxia. Once, she was a mere stylus-pusher for the Adeptus Administratum. Now, she is arguably the most dangerous resident of the sector whose existence is not common knowledge, after perhaps Mimic.

Remilia Alenhoff was born to an unremarkable household on Forender, where she capably served as an Adept in the Mechanicus’s internal organizational structure. Her work was mind-numbingly boring, and held no real room for improvement. She was engaged to another Adept of lower standing, in whom she saw little more than comfort and perhaps solidarity. In her free time, she practiced a variety of combat sims and educational games, and sometimes dreamed of something better. She had always had a natural touch for machines and codes, and her superiors had noted she had an uncanny ability to find the solutions to the technical problems that cropped up in their office.

One night, she awoke to find her bed emptied of her fiancé, who she saw unconscious on the floor beside the bed, and four men in the robes of the Adeptus Mechanicus standing beside her. She listened, first terrified and later intrigued, as the Techpriests made her an offer. The Cognomen Priests informed her that they had been surveilling her for over two years, and that she had great untapped potential. They explained that there was a great and holy undertaking, made in secret and executed far away, to which she could be an integral part.

Remilia looked down at her fiancé, out the window at her planet, back at the Priests, and asked when she started.

Six hours later, Laramie Gunli and ‘Remilia Alenhoff’ died in a bizarrely unlikely propane fire, Remilia Matraxia was being fitted her for new Queenly robes, and the planet ABX202020 had a new leader. Since then, Remilia has ruled her new planet with an iron fist and combination of pragmatism, cold logic, fiery impatience, and intellectual curiosity that drives Lister Beraxos alternately to heights of pride or deep annoyance.

Remilia is no mere figurehead, although even Beraxos didn’t want her to just be one. She is a fiercely independent and disturbingly insightful woman that no Magos has made the mistake of underestimating twice. Her combination of utterly flawless genes and untapped brilliance at strategic affairs have actually allowed her to accept life-extending DNA treatments and Mechanicus edicts that would have crippled any other Adept in Beraxos’s employ. Privately, he’s not sure even he could have done a better job turning ABX202020 from a forest grove into a ringing hall of chivalry and Mechanicus piety. At least, not so covertly.

Since she has received the bone-curdlingly invasive and agonizing treatments needed to prolong her natural life, Remilia has overcome their side effects completely. She looks thirty, despite being over sixty, and will not need traditional juvenat treatments for at least another eighty years. She has put her old life firmly out of mind, and has since wed another man, Cobus Dallde, who decided to take her name. She has borne him four children, each of whom has completed the Ritual of Becoming and assumed the mantles of Noble Knights themselves, as has Cobus. Now quite done with such child rearing, she has instead devoted herself fully to the cause of the newly minted House Matraxia. She spends her every waking day training, reading, working, and preparing for the day when the House banners shall rise over the blood-soaked soil of worlds far away, and her Knights will roar their defiance from a dozen guns and engines.

Of course, she needs actual Knights first. So far, Cognomen has only been able to keep their manufacturing of Knights at a snail’s pace. Because Cognomen’s resource and product manufacturing protocols must account for a rapidly-growing Sector population – and six Feudal and Feral Worlds that shall someday join it properly – they are increasing their industrial output as fast as they logistically can. That means that there are few opportunities for Cognomen to devote entire factory complexes to the hard work of manufacturing new Knights or Thrones. Of course, the chance does arise once in a rare while, and when the chance comes, Beraxos has taken it. The supply of Thrones and Knight suits to ABX202020 has been inconsistent, but Matraxia almost has enough suits to supply her first Banner of Knights.

Remilia’s Ritual of Becoming was a strange experience, for both herself and the Mechanicus personnel overseeing it. There were no spirits of data trapped in the memory matrix of her Throne Mechanicum, as it was fresh-built for her instead of being handed down from ancient bloodlines. Inside, there was nothing but darkness, silence, and the throb of a new machine spirit, hungry for knowledge and power. She imparted as much of herself to it as possible, and it did not find her wanting.

Outside of her work, Remilia shows a side the planet at large doesn’t get to see: her exhausted one. Her firebrand politics, energetic style, and ferocious support of her planet (even if it doesn’t seem to improve the lot of the people much) has left her bone-weary. She hasn’t yet faltered in her physical and piloting training, but even her own children are beginning to question how much longer Remilia can maintain such a pace.

Of course, where people who aren’t her immediate relatives can see her, Remilia maintains absolute control. Everything from her martial style of dress – modeled after the off-duty uniforms of the Sanguine Soul Celestials – to her severe tone of speech to her rather spartan house flag suggests total authority. Of course, the Sacristans of her house know who really calls the shots, but Remilia doesn’t let that stop her.

She has a somewhat rocky relationship with her nominal superior, Magos Ermincrole. He is as strong a proponent of a more powerful House Matraxia as she is, but he finds her personnel management style annoying and confusing. Remilia has chosen to disregard the fact that her subordinates on the planet are technically her slaves. She treats them as peasantry, but not bonded thralls. She has no court to hear complaints, but her children sometimes adjudicate legal disputes on her behalf. She and her husband spend hours poring over ancient records of other Knight houses that have no pertinence to their own, and sometimes pull the maddest ideas from them about chivalry and independence. Ultimately, Matraxia knows she has to dance to Ermincrole’s tune for now, so she does, but she has made it quite clear that one day, she will be his equal, not his servant.

She carries a bewildering variety of weapons depending on the circumstances, but at the moment, Remilia prefers a pair of silvered dueling daggers.

High Prince, Princeps August Cobus Matraxia[edit]

"To the Throne do I offer my service. To my High Queen do I offer my loyalty. To the Machine God do I offer my obedience. To my species do I offer my shield. To the foe do I offer my hate. To my world do I offer my nobility. Finally, to my family, I offer myself, and may I lead you into battle until my eyes fail and my bones turn to dust."

– Cobus Matraxia

By the metrics of Imperial success, Cobus Matraxia is nobody. So many worlds of the Imperium measure success by heretics burned, aliens slain, money accumulated, and other mechanisms that simply don’t apply to him. However, Cobus is no mere Menial or void crewer, destined for nothing of note. Cobus is the second-in-command of the Noble Knightly House Matraxia, and his lack of burned foes is indicative only of the low numbers of his House. As soon as the Martians let him off his leash, he confidently asserts, Cloudburst’s enemies will die in droves.

There may be something to Cobus’s confidence. Cobus is a Prince of ABX202020, and the husband of Remilia Matraxia, its High Queen. His combat performance skills equal hers in simulation, and he has made extensive use of the various training devices with which Cognomen has supplied ABX202020 to train his talents ever higher. Among the hundreds of simulated battles in which he has engaged while he awaits a larger pool of talent for his House, Cobus has improved his teamwork and coordination immensely.

Cobus began life as Cobus Dallde, a common laborer on Cognomen. He attended school and studied the Will of the Machine Spirits, as most children on Cognomen do, and eventually entered the labor force in a factory that built parts for the Legio Congelatio. However, when a position opened up above him, and he applied for it, his application was rerouted to the colonization effort for ABX202020. When offered a position as a member of the pilot colony for the planet, he accepted, and off he flew.

Upon arrival, he was selected by genetic screening algorithms as a potential Knight pilot, and to nobody’s surprise greater than his own, he was chosen as one of the first Nobles of the planet, by virtue of the Mechanicus not wanting to simply put their own people on the Thrones Mechanicus. It was during his training that he met his future wife and High Queen, Remilia Matraxia. Instantly smitten but wise enough not to show it straightaway, Cobus engineered every opportunity he could to be present for her, and the two of them eventually merged their houses, which consisted solely of themselves, into the new Royal Family of ABX202020. Of course, to hear Cobus tell it, his was a suave and charismatic wooing and courtship, but the new House did take Remilia’s name.

For over thirty years, Cobus has been obsessively pursuing training in his Knight suit. He passed his Ritual of Becoming on his first try, and although his skills are only average among the Knight pilots on ABX202020, his and Remilia’s scores drag the average up. The entire Matraxia family are now Knight pilots.

Of the six, Cobus is the loudest proponent of fielding the incomplete House now, before all of the prospective Nobles in the House are fully equipped and have mounts to ride. Knights are the ultimate mobile force multiplier, requiring a crew of only one and able to deliver firepower not far less than a Titan. With the greenskin hordes, the FCC, and the ever-annoying Glasians on the way, Cobus argues that House Matraxia should take to the skies and battle the foes wherever they may be found, regardless of their under-expanded force.

Cobus is a passionate and clever man, but he lacks his wife’s natural talent at statecraft, and he is less able to argue in parity with the Mechanicus overlords of his fiefdom. As a natural function of the Questor Mechanicus system, House Matraxia will eventually have to take on even more lesser nobles who may not necessarily be directly related to his own as subjects in their House, and he is not looking forward to that. Still, he understands the necessity of the expansion of the House. Unlike Remilia, he does not dread the day that the Inquisition learns of the secret of ABX202020. In his mind, the Inquisition are fainthearts when it comes to contradicting the Mechanicus. As the Princeps August of the House, he is in an awkward position, as about half of his subordinates are presently his children. However, other Knights are trickling in from other worlds.

Cobus wears his silver saber of office and no other arms, most of the time.

Magos Dominus Prannan duPree[edit]

"Faster, Tech-rate! Faster, you fool! Praise the Omnissiah, I’ll take this Hulk or I’ll kill you all for not taking it for me!"

– Prannan duPree

The Imperial Navy looks on in private awe at the ships in the Basilikon Astra. The Adeptus Mechanicus keeps the very best ship models for themselves. It’s easy for them to justify as needing the best ships to enact their Quest for Knowledge, of course, and even the Astartes would be slow to deny the fairness of the shipbuilders getting the best ships, but the Mechanicus’s warships are for more than war. They are engines of faith and glory. The fleets of Cognomen and Solstice ultimately answer to one man: Prannan duPree, and he commands his ships ever onward.

duPree is the Magos Dominus of the Basilikon Astra Cloudburst, and commands the Basilikon from the Oberon battleship Lucubrate, a nine-kilometer monster. His roots in the fleet run deep; he has been serving aboard one Basilikon ship or another since the age of twelve.

Prannan duPree began life on Cognomen as the seventh of twenty-four vat-grown offspring of two Magi he never met. He chose his name from a list, as is usually the case for the title-obsessed Cognomen culture, and promptly entered the seminary. duPree displayed natural aptitude for the traits that an officer of the Basilikon Astra would need, including three-dimensional maneuvering, and quickly shunted into that program in the seminary’s instruction.

duPree was able to climb the ranks in the crew of the cruiser Ekpliktikos, thanks to his drive and determination to find the lost treasures of the Omnissiah. However, when the chance came to select which branch of the Basilikon he would enter, he chose the military wing of the Basilikon Astra instead of the Explorators. He sees the possibility that the many annoying aliens of the Exo-zone, Halo Stars, Circuit, and other non-Imperial regions of the galaxy might find and loot valuables that rightly belong to the Mechanicus as an insult, and he sees the Basilikon Astra Dominus Cloudburst as the best way to prevent that from happening.

No sooner had he eventually arisen to command his own ship than he applied for the status of Magos in the Priesthood. Awarding that status is traditionally earned by an individual and bestowed from above, and asking for it is rarely something one would do unless that particular person had very good reason to think their contributions to the Quest have been overlooked. duPree was understandably given a very high threshold for success, but managed to clear it. He gathered the fleet leaders of Cognomen (at the time, Solstice did not have a fleet to speak of) and explained in great detail his plan to slowly push the Oldlight Exo-zone back by establishing Mechanicus and Adeptus Astra Telepathica communication points along the trailing edge of the Rampart Subsector. He demonstrated the feasibility of the plan with a series of well-rationed plans, graphs, and explanations, and included both a cost and a benefit analysis with his presentation. Of course, all the plans of the Mechanicus can come to nothing if the proper work isn’t applied, and so as soon as he left, duPree took his one ship and its three Escorts, and flattened a small pirate base on the outer fringe of Imperial territory. As his men combed the rubble for valuable raw or processed materials, he planted the flag of Mars, and installed the first of over two hundred fifty telescopes that now scan the Exo-zone for trouble.

Eventually, he was granted the status of Magos he desired, and has since commanded ever larger ships and missions on behalf of the Basilikon. Technically, he has to forego his personal allegiance to Cognomen like a Skitarii does, as he now represents Mars in the fleet, not his homeworld. So far from Mars, of course, and so often scorned as Cognomen is, he does still feel pangs of loyalty to Cognomen, and has had to balance that with his orders to provide extra safety to Solstice until the little Forge Moon is able to stand on its own.

Of course, duPree has many tools at his disposal. Unlike the Imperial Navy, which also keeps track of their fighters and warships in a Sector down to the last rivet, the Cloudburst Basilikon Astra is in constant flux. All of its ships are accounted for, of course, as to not do so would be an offense to the Omnissiah and the Machine God, but their ships are eternally rotating in and out of the Sector proper. duPree is one of the most fervent advocates for the unrestrained expansion of the Cloudburst Sector into the Cloudburst Circuit and Exo-zone, and his vessels are constantly testing the borders of nearby dark spaces on the map, even as the Explorators do the same. While some Explorators are somewhat less than pleased by duPree’s generous understanding and interpretation of his remit to protect the Imperium and Mechanicus, duPree rationalizes the dispatching of his ships outside Mechanicus-controlled territory by pointing out that the entire history of Cloudburst is one of people not noticing things right under their noses. How long had Septiim sat within non-Navigated flight of Cognomen? How long had Dawn-break, Gorum’s Folly, and Fathon Prime sat unexploited and unknown, within sight of Hapster? Would the Imperium have a working STC if Maskos, Nauphry, Oglith, Triune, and Coriolis had been discovered during the Crusade or Heresy, or even the Scouring?

This is difficult for the Explorators to dispute, and certainly duPree doesn’t treat the presence of offensive warships and Explorator vessels in the same place as being a competition – quite the opposite. He has so far directed his vessels to come at once to the response of any legitimate distress call of any Imperial or Martian ship within their range, even if they are perhaps somewhat afield of their normal jurisdiction, and every scrap of archaeotech he has ever found has gone straight to Lord Fabricator Beraxos.

The largest ship in the Cloudburst Sector is presently the fourteen-kilometer Ark Mechanicus Comprehension, which is technically not under duPree’s authority. It, and other vessels of its fleet, are actually Explorator vessels, which use their combination of absurdly heavy armor and weapons to protect themselves when they fly beyond the range of the guns of the Navy and Basilikon Astra Dominus. Thus, duPree has used a Battleship as his command vessel, custom-built to lead the fleet in the region, thanks to the massive yards of Cognomen. He has routinely flown the ship to Syracuse and Fabique to exchange knowledge and sensitive reports with his counterparts in Drumnos and Naxos.

Pursuant to his drive to find every scrap and sample of archaeotech he can while also vigorously defending what little he has, duPree has done everything he can think of to stay in the good graces of the Council of Magi of Cognomen and Solstice. He and Magos Lethicos of the Explorators are more than colleagues and peers, they are personal friends, and he and Lord Fabricator Beraxos are thick as thieves when it comes to the planning of their radically-expanded Mechanicus. As the man ultimately responsible for securing ABX202020 and Solstice until their own defenses are complete, he takes his job to keep the secrets of House Matraxia confident and ensure the survival of Solstice with utmost seriousness. Of course, to visit ABX202020 more often than would be needed for a simple logging colony would give away the game, and so he visits only rarely and never without a secondary purpose. Likewise, the fact that so many of his ships are needed to protect Dawn-break and Forender (and Foraldshold) during the Glasian Migrations means that he has had to entrust Lord Ranult Arden and Overlord Neverember with the defense of Solstice, which burns him. Solstice is his ward, and both Syracuse and Fabique have entrusted him – not Beraxos, him – with the survival of their investments there. Of course, Cognomen lay clergy have the unfortunate tendency to look down on Solstice clergy, but until Solstice has enough manufacturing capability to make their own ships, duPree is maintaining security for both.

duPree is not a great boss, as his immediate staff can attest, but as a natural result of his drive, connections, charisma, success rate, and experience, many of the junior officers of the Basilikon Astra have attached themselves to his coattails in the hopes that they will be carried with him to power and glory. Of course, the consequence of so many of the Sector’s best and brightest all crewing one ship cuts both ways. The Lucubrate may be a mighty and powerful warship, thanks to its dizzyingly large array of upgrades and elite crew, but its loss would instantly cripple the Basilikon Astra for hundreds of years, just as it was after the destruction of the Archetype.

In personal battle, which he carefully avoids, duPree carries a Refractor Field and several five-slug magnum revolvers he custom-built with sealable chambers so they can be virtually silent, a truly odd collection of arms for a Magos.

Grand Master Princeps Adrian Phillip Ilnus[edit]

"By my word do gods reap the souls of sinners. Tread lightly, Ermincrole. Your toy Knights are so very breakable."

– Adrian Phillip Ilnus

Riding a thirty-meter death machine breeds hubris. Whomever designed the great Interface Units that allow a Princeps to embody their Titans must have understood this. Few are the Princeps who can come away from interfacing with their God-Engines without a profound sense of awe. For Adrian Ilnus, the sense fades quickly. Every time he disengages his mind from the Titan, he is left gasping from the experience, but within the day, he is the same arrogant, stubborn, grouchy old man as he was before the MIU turned on.

Those with the mental stability to become Princeps, especially those who command the mighty Warlords, are staggeringly rare in the Imperium. This is not helped by the bureaucratic incompetence and inertia that prevents some qualified candidates from entering the Mechanicus’s eye. Those who do, however, can come from pasts as disparate as street-sweepers to nobles. The Ilnus family were primary school teachers on Thimble when young Adrian’s exceptional mind came to the attention of the Techpriests who maintained the firing range at the school. He passed every single test they could throw at him, with bored and contemptuous ease. They took him from his family with their awed consent, and he was off to Cognomen to become one with the Machine.

After nine years of brutal training and eventually a year of ride-alongs with Princeps Clomach of the Reaver Scoured Alloys, he passed his final test and became an Arms Moderatii of the Warhound Titan Stellar Gifts. The Princeps of the Stellar Gifts, Anya Heulter, commanded Ilnus as her Moderatii Gunner for many more years. He eventually passed the arcane standards needed for him to rise to command of his own engine. He was given command of the Warhound Scout Incarnate Brilliance, which he commanded for two more years. He later earned command of a Warlord after the death of its Princeps. That Warlord was the Gold Blood, which he remains with to this day.

He earned his place after the Princeps of the Gold Blood died fighting a pair of Nurglite Ravagers, the Gleeful Molder and the Death of Denial. The Gold Blood had outpaced her escorts and moved in range of the Ravagers, which managed an impossibly lucky coring shot on the Warlord. Ilnus stepped up, crippled the heels of the Molder, and slowed it to a crawl. While the Death of Denial tried to catch up to and pin down the Incarnate Brilliance, the Titanshields of the Corpus Secutarii Congelatio unloaded a wall of melta and missile shots into it, dropping its Void Shields. Ilnus maneuvered to put the Molder between himself and the Death of Denial, then fired both of his Plasma Blastguns into the Molder at maximum range. The Molder dropped, stricken and overheating, and as the Death of Denial scrambled out of range, it stepped out of the path of the rapidly-maneuvering Warhound and into range of the Stellar Gifts, which sniped the unshielded Ravager with a precision Volcano shot.

As a gesture of acknowledgment for Ilnus’s success, he was given command of the Gold Blood once it was repaired. After twenty-five years of merging his mind with the Warlord, he looks ten years older than he should, and the Gold Blood is a mere two hundred years old; hardly the ancients of the Martian Legions. The Gold Blood mounts two Reaver Melta Cannons on its shoulder carapace points and a pair of Volcano Cannons on the arms by default, although it can also switch out any of those weapons as needed. The Cognomen forges do not yet have the blueprints for the Quake Cannon, but all other variants of Titan guns are in production. The Gold Blood usually partners with the Reaver Titan The Hatred of the Long-Sighted in the field, commanded by Princeps Pietro Ivans, one of Ilnus’s few actual friends.

Because of the rarity and value of Princeps, they live like kings among the more spartan and unaesthetic Techpriesthood. Ilnus is no exception. His private suite on Cognomen and on his Titan Transport, the Nebular Hammer, are identical, down the carpeting, and packed with the incredible luxuries that the only Forge World for a Sector’s distance can produce. Like most Princeps, he has no spouse or children. What satisfaction can merging one’s life with another mortal bring after becoming one with a god? Regardless, his life is as comfortable as the life of a person who regularly fuses with a machine can be. He performs the absolute minimum of work himself, preferring to stay alone in his chambers, drinking expensive tea and grumbling about how things were better in his youth.

As can perhaps be expected, he does not have cordial and friendly relations with most of the Cloudburst major players. He and Ranult Arden have a speck of professional respect for each other, and he is slightly intimidated by Lister Beraxos and Cassandra Lerica, but he looks down on nearly all other people in the Sector, even Magos Sneth. He is not so far up his own asshole that he believes that he is a god, like the machine he commands, but that is not the impression one would get from a brief exposure to his attitude. Ilnus is quite well-educated, but actually keeps his mouth shut in most meetings of Legio Congelatio Princeps. The younger Princeps think this to be intimidating in the extreme, and that he is perhaps judging them all in stormy silence, but in reality, he is usually just stewing over some minor issue or another that he focuses on to the exclusion of all others. Older Princeps generally do not bother directing questions to him unless they really need his input. He has a disciplinarian streak to him that younger Titan crews have learned to fear. While he has never quite arisen to having disobedient Princeps or Moderatii whipped, there is no question in the minds of his subordinates that he could muster the bile to do it, if he had to.

There is one point on which there is no discussion or contention, anyway. He is in charge because he damn well earned it, as he rarely has to remind people. Of the two dozen active Titans in the Legion, his has the most kills, and that was not the case when he took it over. The tanks of Nurglite Warbands, the rickety contraptions of Ork Meks in the Circuit, even the Necron Monolith that had been raiding the Imperial border defenses in the Rampart Subsector in M41.989: there is no foe he has yet faced he has not yet killed. Even the massive Supa-Gargant Bloodcrunch, which killed a previous Grand Master of the Legion, died when he trained his massive lasers on it twelve years later. He is simply unmatched in Titan combat, at least among the Congelatio. If the Legion had an Imperator, he would insist on piloting it.

Some of Ilnus’s kills and glorious career stem from his affinity for machines and innate understanding of how much more damage a wounded Titan can bear, both his own and his enemies’. The man doesn’t even look at the vehicle damage sensors when he’s connected to his mount. He keeps his eyes trained on the visuals of his Titan at all times, seeing through its optics and its augurs, and that can make the difference. Another contributing factor is his reflexes. Although the huge, lumbering Titans may not seem like they are fast enough to gain an appreciable advantage from having a pilot with sharp reflexes, as a Lightning or Avenger might, they in fact can benefit greatly from a quick pilot. Princeps Ilnus has superb reflexes, especially for a man of his advanced age. His Warlord may be big and slow, but having a reaction time near nil can still be very helpful in avoiding artillery.

Ilnus is a staunch traditionalist, as many Princeps are. He believes in the purity of the Machine, albeit without much public display. He is a strong supporter of the expansion of the Legion, but rarely rouses himself to get overly involved in that expansion. There is one way in which he finds himself drifting away from the general Cognomen Techpriesthood, however, and that is in regards to the creation of the Knight World ABX202020. He finds it to be a blasphemy and a crime. The Knight Worlds, he loudly insists, are the relics of another age and should stay that way, growing no more numerous nor larger. He says this with the conviction of a zealot, and has done so to Ermincrole’s face more than once.

However, now, Ilnus curses fate. He knows that no matter how strong his reservations, no matter how harsh his critique, he can no longer do anything to stop House Matraxia from someday becoming a full part of Cognomen’s armies. This is, he has finally admitted, because Ermincrole and Beraxos are damnably, inarguably, bitterly right. The Imperium is on the ropes and swooning. Cognomen does need more defenses; Cloudburst does need more heroes; Mars is giving them the cold shoulder.

This has not helped his attitude. The Legio Congelatio is the most powerful force under arms in the entire Cloudburst Sector. Ilnus has led them into battle alongside the Titanshields, the Skitarii, and dozens of other forces of Naxos and Cloudburst. In these Times of Ending, as the darkness closes in and the Astronomican shrinks, the Legion will quite possibly have to bear much of the burden, and Ilnus knows it.

So far, the Legion has had few direct deployments against the Glasians. At first, this was because the Legion was too small, but now that it can field several maniples against the beasts, they have begun to field more and more. Ilnus is too young to have been present for the battle against the Glasians who attacked Cognomen directly many centuries ago. Ilnus’s next battle will be against the Glasians on Dawn-break. The Mechanicus will be basing a large force there to protect the Heliopolis.

Ilnus carries a ceremonial Cognomen Hotshot Laspistol, but has never needed to use it.

Lady Trader Admiral Madeline Prinz[edit]

"Money’s nice, but by the Throne do I look good."

– Madeline Prinz

Rogue Traders are vain creatures, as a general rule. Even the ones with ties to the Ecclesiarchy tend towards the grandiose and opulent. Lady Prinz is so opulent, so determined to conduct business with maximum ostentation that her rivals think it can’t be anything but a front.

It isn’t. Madeline Prinz is obsessed with appearance, with presentation, and with wealth. She has made herself the personal foil of Lord Captain Walsh, the Inquisitor and Rogue Trader whose enigmatic journeys have become a source of speculation for every other Trader in the Circuit. Exactly why she seems so fixated on defeating or at least showing up Walsh, nobody but her immediate staff knows. For his part, Prinz disgusts Walsh. He thinks her a dilettante and a showboat, at best. To her credit, she was a decorated Imperial Navy Captain prior to becoming a Rogue Trader, but on the surface, she does sooner chase money and glory than accomplish anything for the strict good of the Imperium.

Walsh has also sourly noted that the Lady Admiral is both a highly unconventional admiral and a profoundly incomprehensible one. Her victory record does nothing to suggest she deserves the title she’s given herself. Worse, she seems to follow him around at times, even interfering in his missions, albeit never without a cover story to allow her to deny any wrongdoing to the Inquisition. Yet despite her cavalier attitude, for some reason, fate or the Emperor smiles on her at times, allowing her to escape certain doom or the rage of the Lords Inquisitor Council.

Prinz’ personal history is a baffling one. Her family in House Prinz appeared to have no regard for her, yet she was clearly integral to their plans for supremacy in the Circuit from the age of fifteen. She never pays any attention to her surviving blood relatives, yet without them, she would have had no claim on the Warrant. What little her rivals know is that she was a Captain in a squadron of Escorts in the Navy. Her opponents other than Walsh know there is more to her story, and there’s no way Walsh doesn’t know with his Inquisitorial credentials, but he is tight-lipped on her past to his peers, even as his resentment at her conduct grows.

There is simply nothing to grasp, as far as her rivals can tell. She has no one world she seems to favor, and her accent is purely neutral Celeste nobility. She likes to back up her promises with withering firepower, but she eschews aid from her former employers in the Navy as often as not. Ultimately, there is little for the other Rogue Traders of the Cloudburst region to find with Madeline Prinz. Her overall plan shall remain enigmatic, for now.

Lord Marshal Persinius Oolan[edit]

"In theory, Law serves Justice, and the Arbites serve both. In practice, this Sector is full of hopeful idiots, each of whom think they know the law better than me. I don’t mind. It keeps the mind sharp, and the truncheon swinging."

– Persinius Oolan

The Adeptus Arbites usually recruit the very best of the very best from Schola Progenum across the galaxy, and from local Enforcer departments in a pinch. Persinius Oolan hails from the former, and had been slated to serve the Arbites since the age of nine. He was born to two Imperial Navy officers on leave on the planet Cassie’s World, and returned to the ship with them after their leave ended. The first seven years of his life, he grew up with the other children in the bowels of the frigate Hallowed Ether, but after that ship was captured by a gang of Orks, his parents shoved him into a savior pod to be rescued by a passing freighter.

Young Persinius was taken to Septiim Secundus, and eventually entered the Schola there. He quickly excelled in academic fields, even as a young child, with his stellar memory and comprehension skills beyond his years. By the time he graduated at eighteen, he was already a Junior Arbitrator in honored standing, and led his graduating class in truncheon scores.

He settled in on Septiim Primus and joined a Precinct there as a Street Patrol Trooper. Given the size of the cities on Septiim Primus, and the need for the delicate maintenance of the vast forests there, Arbites play a secondary role after the planetary Civil Police. Thus, it was and remains seen as a safe early posting for Arbitrators. After only a few years as a Trooper, Oolan was promoted to Arbitrator, and eventually transferred to the system capital. Oolan had a knack for the historical interpretations of the Lex Imperialis, and he applied it judiciously. He was often able to cite precedents that his counterparts forgot. It was obvious that his eventual career path would take him to the bench of Magistrates, and by the time he was forty, he was already the highest-ranked Judge Marshal in the Septiim system.

Oolan’s career took a sharp right turn at that point. He benefitted from a variety of genetic alterations to extend his life and increase his health as it was, and as soon as he became the Judge Marshal of Septiim, he attracted the eye of Lord Inquisitor Palmer, one of the two most experienced Lords Inquisitor in the Sector. Palmer was a member of the Ordo Hereticus and had been since the day he received his Rosette. His investigations took him deep into the hearts of heretic cults that worshipped dead gods of humanity’s primordial past, about a third of which turned out to be the Powers of Ruin in one of their ancient disguises. Oolan occasionally joined Palmer’s retinue as a font of knowledge about Imperial law that eclipsed even Palmer’s.

Here, Oolan had the pleasure of working with the crack team of Battle Sisters and Mutant-Hunter Ecclesiarchal clergy Palmer had assembled. Like most Arbites, Oolan had started his career resenting how much the Ecclesiarchy interfered with the purely procedural application of law in the Imperium, but as he worked for Palmer, his view shifted. He came to witness the sheer power of oratory in the sermons of vicious hate the Sisters and Priests espoused. He watched with jaw agape as the speaking skills of the Inquisitor and his collection of preachers turned hostile crowds into adoring, eager militia.

Oolan realized that there was a function for the faith in law after all. After Palmer was killed in action and his retinue dispersed, Oolan returned to Septiim a changed man. He became a Judge Chaplain, to date the only Judge Marshal to become a Judge Chaplain in the history of the Sector and one of fewer than four dozen in Ultima history. Oolan served in the Chaplaincy for nine years of non-stop work, maintaining the faith and morale of the Arbites of Septiim. Eventually, Lord Blanchard Quintus, the current Lord Sector’s father, recognized Oolan’s unique combination of experience, knowledge, and faith. He put Oolan’s name forward to succeed Lord Marshal Sarah Creill after her retirement, and Oolan was eventually offered the job by the Senate of the High Lords.

Oolan has never forgotten his religious turn, but it no longer dominates every aspect of his position. On the contrary, ever since moving to Cloudburst and setting up in the warren of tunnels down the street from Lord Quintus’s mansion, he has had barely a moment to rest. He has taken as many of the extraneous tasks of the Arbites senior leadership on himself as possible, intending to free up as much time for his subordinates to prosecute the lawbreakers of the moon as he can. In this, he has inarguably succeeded. The Cloudburst moon’s crime rate has slowly dropped away to almost nothing after his seventy-three years of work. He still attends services in the same black robes as he has the whole time, and still sits in silent judgment of the Sector Council, in the chair under the dimmest bulb. He still attends monthly dinners with Lord Remortho Quintus to discuss work, and even struck up an odd friendship with his colleague.

However, although he projects an air of being the ineffable, wise old lawman, Oolan has had some uncomfortable misses in his career. He is no closer to solving the Hapster problem than any of his predecessors. He is totally unaware of both ABX202020 and Merrick Unarvu’s evil plots. He is so distracted by Cardinal Lamarr’s potentially illegal military buildup that he has no inkling of the danger posed by the Genestealer infestation of the wreck of the Predator, nor has he nor have his men noticed the size of the Circle of Whispers, nor their true ambitions. Oolan is also helpless to do anything more than he has about the Free Corsair Coalition, no matter how much he wants to see Admiral Reith hang.

If Oolan were to learn of ABX202020 and House Matraxia, he would no doubt be astonished and disgusted, but would leave the matter to the Inquisition and Mechanicus to resolve, rather than try to involve himself in the internal affairs of another Adeptus. However, if he learned of the scale and horrible threat of The Unbound Good lead by Unarvu, he would not wait for permission from the Astra Militarum to rally every Arbites in the Subsector and crash down on Unarvu’s head like a lightning bolt.

Oolan is on good working terms with most of the senior Adepts of the Sector, save the Synod Cloudburst. Drake dislikes Oolan, thinking him pretentious with his religious background. Oolan was only a Chaplain late in his career, whereas Drake has served for three hundred years. For his part, Oolan can’t wait for Drake to die. Cardinal Lamarr is so openly flouting the intent of the Decree Passive that Oolan is rapidly losing his patience. All of Lamarr’s talk of Eldar has come to nothing, and the rest of the Sector needs mercenaries, too.

The Lady High Inquisitrix Cloudburst, Lerica, regards Oolan as a distant ally in the struggle against those who would undo the Imperium, and has often called upon him to aid her subordinates in their own investigations. Of course, very few Inquisitors actually work directly for another, even for an Inquisitor of her august rank; most work on their own and only come to the Conclave to seek out new talent or leads. Many of them have brought Arbites into their employ, temporarily or permanently, just as Palmer did to Oolan, so long ago.

To avoid any temptation to abuse his position, Oolan does not carry any non-standard equipment. His only weapons are his standard multi-ammo pistol and a Shock Maul, as well as a fine suit of carapace armor. He wears black priestly robes over them, adorned only with a white velvet rosette from his time in the Inquisition.

Marshal C. (Chrysanthemum) Lumina Copperlain[edit]

"I can arrest lawbreakers until the cell walls buckle, but I can’t plug a hole in the sea."

– Chrysanthemum Lumina Copperlain

Hapster can drive an Arbitrator to drink. Marshal Copperlain is getting close. Her job frustrates her so much that she is perhaps one bad day from taking it out on a hapless liquor bottle.

The strange and complex traditions of Hapster do not mesh well with the stratified Imperium. This is part of the problem that Copperlain struggles with so much; it doesn’t look like Hapster has a civil problem at all, on the surface. However, at some deeper level, the caste system that Hapster employs, its precarious workforce supply, and the Lex Imperialis are simply not able to mesh. Copperlain chooses to respect the Lex Imperialis, as an Arbitrator should, and so she will be no more able to fix the problem than any other Arbitrator.

Copperlain was the daughter of two Imperial Administratum officials on Maskos who heroically sacrificed their lives fighting an out of control fire in the archive building in which they worked. Technically, however, their deaths did not quite qualify the four-year-old Chrysanthemum for Schola Progenum admittance. Eventually, the Schola which she attended begrudgingly allowed her in after her new guardians pointed out that she had nowhere else to go, and they couldn’t afford to keep her.

Chrysanthemum quickly learned to keep herself distant from the other students, who mocked her youth, her name, her appearance, and her relatively low scores in several classes. She applied herself relentlessly and alone, and she was able to scrape by the passing grades of the programs in which she enlisted. She quickly shunted towards the Arbites program, after her tutors noticed that she gravitated towards the impartial presentation of it all. Chrysanthemum started going by her middle name before long, both because it was easier for people to spell, and because it made for a convenient callsign.

In training, Lumina took to the physical training and the enforced practice of impartiality that the Arbites need. She got along well with her teachers even while she wasn’t scoring well in their tests, and was among the last in her class to pass the final grades. Some of her peers muttered that she did so only because of favors she did for the instructors, which are almost certainly not true, not that she deigns to comment on it.

Lumina rose quickly through the ranks of the Arbites on Hapster, though it was more because of high turnover than any outstanding effort on her part. As with most Arbites, she was assigned to a planet to which she had never been and on which she had no living relatives. On Hapster, this may actually be a liability more often than not. The complexities of the Hapster culture and attitude towards authority means that the Arbites’s jackboot-first legal style simply doesn’t work well; a native might know better. In her responsibility, Lumina presides over the affairs of the highest echelon of the Arbites in the Hapster system, and must appoint the heads of each Precinct. She also must occasionally take to the field. When she does so, she fields against the very worst of the worst, the criminals and heretics so foul that to not employ lethal force would be a crucial mistake. She does so with an autorifle with a custom stun gun mounted under the barrel.

Part of the problem Lumina faces with making the Hapster system more law-abiding is that her subordinates are simply done with it. Most, perhaps all of the Judges and Marshals in her precinct-fortress have been so jaded by exposure to the hostility that Hapsterites have for them that they’ve simply stopped trying to understand and combat it. Technically, Copperlain and her subordinates can ignore the local resentment entirely and still do their job, and so many do. Naturally, Copperlain’s time is taken up with the other problems of running a planetary Arbites force, like making budget requests, overseeing recruitment, appointing senior officers, and prosecuting heretical recidivists, leaving her little time for reflection and contemplation.

Lumina has responsibility over those Arbites forces that mobilize in response to threats against the rule of the Imperium over the Hapster system, as well, including Suppressor forces and Marshals.

Lord General Howard Lannis Halwart[edit]

"Orks? It’ll be a fight, then. Lots of Orks? It’ll be a good fight. They landed on Oglith? Then it’ll be a LONG fight! Strap up, gentlemen, there’s business afoot for His Finest Men!"

– Howard Lannis Halwart

It is a well-practiced and easily verified maxim of the Imperial military that the higher one’s rank, the easier one’s job becomes. Lord General Halwart is the second in command of the Cloudburst Sector Imperial Guard, and presently the overall commander of the Imperial defense on Oglith, and he loves every second of it. Halwart is an optimist, a foolishly vainglorious one, and is probably the last line standing between the Glasian and Ork menaces and the loss of a Subsector Capital.

Born on Nauphry IV, Howard Lannis Halwart was a scion of the Halwart Transit Services Corporation, and the great-grandson of its Chief Executive. There was no chance that he would inherit his distant sire’s vast wealth and corporate power, and so his family passed him off to the military in the hope that he would make something of himself. To his own surprise, he loved it. The military lifestyle fitted him like a glove. He paid his own way through a token degree and returned to the military as a commissioned officer. Eventually, Halwart mustered to the Nauphry Guard as a Lieutenant, and he began the climb up the ranks. He saw combat alongside the Oglith Jaegers and Warriors and the Septiim Guard in the battle against the rebelling PDF army of Delving in M41.890, and found a true thrill in leading troops into the fray. He wasn’t especially good at it, but his combination of genuine but foolhardy courage and chest-pounding patriotic braggadocio at least kept morale above acceptable thresholds.

In his time with the Guard, Halwart engaged in battle with rebel soldiers with zeal, gusto, and a batman with a twin heavy shotgun protecting him from the immediate consequences of his exuberance. He ended the war with a few confirmed kills and a chest full of medals. His rise to power continued unobstructed, although he acquired a reputation of losing his aides and staffers in his zeal to reach the front. Halwart trained obsessively in what he called ‘the martial things,’ like religious history, logistics, dress codes, and obscure communication codes and hand signals, which he began working into his body language during ordinary conversation.

Once his rank rose high enough that he was expected to converse with the nobs and fops of Imperial high society, he took to it like a fish to a river. He captivated the lower nobility of several Cloudburst and Naxos worlds with his barely-exaggerated tales of battlefield daring-do, and stories of the foes he and his armies had vanquished. Of course, by that point, he was rarely allowed to engage openly against enemies in the field, and became more likely to command from the rear, but he still took every chance he got to get his hands dirty in the field, and does so even now, thanks to his juvenat treatments.

Thanks to his training and Highborn heritage, Halwart is just as comfortable interacting with the upper crust as they are with him, but he still prefers the thrill of battle. He has no children nor plans to make any, but he has adopted a series of patronages that allow him to shower with monetary rewards the many artists he has hired to decorate the cabin of his personal starship. His ship has no Navigator, but it can follow in the wake of other ships in the Warp well enough, and the first thing it usually does after exiting the Warp is bull to the front of whatever formation it was a part of, so he can be seen leading the charge.

Even in the corrupt and staggering Imperium of Man, men like Halwart usually catch a case of bolter shell to the brain for their attitude, and Halwart himself probably would have, if he didn’t have some actual skills. His combat skill is middling at best, but that is among his peers: the highest-ranked Generals in the Imperial North. By the standards of a common General or a PDF commander, he is quite skillful. Compared with masters of warfare like Ranult Arden or even Lord Maynard, he is unimpressive, though they would not fault his courage.

At the moment, Halwart is in charge of the defense of the Rampart system’s ground assets from the Orks and Glasians. Sector Command had always known that Oglith would require particular defense thanks to the need to prevent the Glasian Migration from worsening the psychic stimulation of the Orks below. Now, that is a secondary concern. If Big Chief Squiggothrider is still alive when the Glasians arrive in Rampart, the planet is all but lost. The Imperium can just barely hold back the hundreds of thousands of Orks that crashed on Oglith or rose up from beneath it; also fighting off the Glasians without destroying the Ork unity is beyond the scope of their capabilities. Halwart may be a vainglorious braggart, but he is not stupid enough to think the present war can or should go on forever. Even if the Imperium does somehow eke out a victory here, the sheer drain on the Sector’s resources that the concurrent invasions represent is enough to ensure that the two low-tech worlds the Glasians are also hitting are defended by token garrison forces at the most. Despite his best wishes, Halwart recognizes that this is not a war the Imperium is going to win if he simply throws himself at it headlong.

Thus, he has allowed himself to retreat to his command bunker in Overlord Atongwë’s castle or his Leviathan command vehicle, where he unhappily commands plastic squares around a holo table and hopes he doesn’t make any mistakes. His force has the two Ork armies outnumbered by a considerable margin, but the operational requirements of fighting Feral Orks underground and star-faring Orks aboveground are so different that he just can’t use the same tactics against both. He has reluctantly requested more forces from Lord Sector Quintus, although he knows few can be shaken loose.

Halwart’s advisors and subordinate Generals, as well as the Brigadiers and Colonels who will actually be leading the forces of the Imperium against the aliens, have been counseling him to ask for more aid from the Adeptus Astra Telepathica and the Segmentum Ultima Officio Munitorum, but Halwart is loathe to do so for two reasons. First, he does not like admitting that he is in over his head, and to be fair, if he were only fighting one implacable alien enemy, he probably wouldn’t be. The second reason is that help is already on the way, but by secret means. A Deathwatch Killteam is on the way, dispatched by Watch Commander Domack from Fortress Dascomb. It will dock on the Watch Point Earthquake, and then make its way to him for a briefing. He has also met with two people sent from Terra itself to ‘assist him,’ which is language vague enough to unsettle him. This is a rare circumstance for him.

The two people sent from Terra are quiet and terrifying; they are black-robed specters of death and fear that scare the living daylights out of him, perhaps the first beings to truly do so. Halwart is a man upon whom frightful reality dares not often intrude, but these two folks manage to do so without any real effort. The first is a Vanus Assassin, introduced to him as “Civil,” and the other is a Vindicare Assassin, codenamed “Mimic.” He had never even heard of the Vanus before meeting Civil. Mimic, however, is apparently one of the deadliest people in the Segmentum, and despite looking no different from an ‘average’ Vindicare sniper, Mimic all but radiates cold violence. Mimic barely talks, but not from the burden of great trauma or a dour personality. He has simply done so much flying about and so much killing that nothing he has seen on Oglith particularly incites his emotions, or requires his question nor input.

Halwart has never worked with Assassins before, but as all Lords General do, he knows of their secret remit and their Terran obligation. He does not know that Mimic is also tasked with killing the Subsector Overlord, nor does he know that Civil is actually present to manipulate his data streams to boost morale and encourage civilian resistance against the Orks and Glasians because the Senate thinks he can’t do it himself. Of course, if he does do it himself, that would seal the deal for his ascension to Lord General Senioris when Charles Xoss retires or dies.

Halwart cuts what he thinks to be a dashing image outside of battle, with a variety of custom uniform adornments and arms, including a great feathered hat and a pair of ivory-grip dueling six-shooter revolvers. He also carries a Power Sword he paid for from his own pocket, which is as deadly as it is ceremonial.

Lixivim Dill, real name unknown, official kill count 1667[edit]

"I can kill with a whisper. I do kill with a whisper. The best kills are the ones I read about in the news a week later."

– Lixivim Dill

Lixivim Dill is a codename, as are the names given to all Imperial Assassins. Some use combinations of numbers and letters, some use the names of the first few Imperial Assassins over and over in homage to their roots, but Lixivim Dill uses an anagram of the numeral of her kill count.

Dill started life in the gutters of Terra, but her cleverness and willingness to rob Imperial institutions to get by drew the attention of the Officio Assassinorum. Dill doesn’t remember a thing before her abduction, thanks to extensive hypno-conditioning. As with all Vanus assassins, she is trained as an infocyte. Her specialty is traveling the streams of data that cross most Imperial system and planetary data webs, collecting knowledge and fielding it against the enemies of Mankind.

However, fourteen years before the Thirteenth Black Crusade, Dill simply vanished from Terra. The Officio Assassinorum keeps up-to-the-minute track of all of their Assassins; those as experienced as Dill were permitted some leeway in accomplishing their missions, but were not allowed off Terra any more than a neophyte would be. Dill had traveled the galaxy many times before, coordinating Sector Commands to root traitors out into the open in rebellions, or covertly directing Planetary Defense Forces to overthrow Heretic cabals without overt Imperial influence.

This was different. The Officio Assassinorum dispatched personnel to find her, but she was simply gone. For two years, the Officio sent agents to places where they suspected Dill might have hidden. When the Ordo Sicarius learned of the Officio’s lapse, they were understandably disgusted and outraged. The Ordo dispatched Assassin-Acolytes to locate Dill, all of whom returned empty-handed.

Dill had prepared over two hundred false identities during the planning of her escape from Imperial leadership. To her mild chagrin, she only needed three to elude the Imperial pursuers. Over the next two years, she made her way out to the remote Cloudburst Sector, stopping only long enough to buy some camping supplies, a few guns, and a few sets of driving gloves, and to steal a Mechanicus dataslate from an unattended battery truck on Calathos.

When Dill arrived in Cloudburst, she immediately got herself a job on the freighter Flying Money, which she had calculated was the vessel most likely to be highjacked by the Free Corsair Coalition. In no time, the FCC did indeed target the freighter, and disabled it after a brief exchange of fire. When FCC troops swept into the ship, Dill navigated effortlessly from cabin to cabin, staying out of the line of sight of the boarders. When the FCC encountered more resistance from the crew than anticipated, thanks to Dill arming several crewers before the attack with illegally-purchased slug pistols, they moved more troops to assist the boarders. Dill snuck past them effortlessly, and maneuvered her way into a cargo pod that the pirates were loading onto their own ship. When it stopped moving, Dill emerged from the cocoon of life support equipment she had made from her camping supplies, walked casually up to the CIC of the warship, walked in after setting off a bomb in an adjacent room to distract the guards, caught Admiral Reith’s eye, and cleared her throat.

After Langdon Reith’s bodyguards were done dogpiling her, Dill pulled out a dataslate packed with Mechanicus data, and a step-by-step breakdown of how she had accomplished her feat. Reith instantly recognized the implication of her information: she could have killed him with disgusting ease, but had come asking for work instead; it was a profoundly unsubtle gesture. It was more than enough to make the point.

Reith hired Dill to serve as his Chief Strategist, and so far, she has been a great investment. With her skills as an infocyte, she has been able to ferret out vulnerabilities in the Imperial and other human governments of the region, including some out in the Cloudburst Circuit that the Rogue Traders of the region have not yet found. Reith has successfully conquered a star system with her help, and his organization is now expanding so quickly that even the other pirate groups in the region are giving him a wide berth.

For Dill’s part, she has found the FCC to be suitable to her needs, at least until the Sicarius hounds draw closer. She knows there’s no real chance that the FCC can or even would try to protect her from another Officio Assassinorum killer, certainly not if the faint whispers of completely impossible sniper kills on Oglith are true. She and Mimic have never met, but she knows there is no way she could elude him forever. For now, Dill is focusing on evading Imperial attention, and expanding on her own plans.

The Officio Assassinorum, meanwhile, has compiled an extensive dossier on Dill’s activity, and paired it with her records from her Assassinorum mission listing. The Officio and the Inquisition are attempting to learn why Dill abandoned her post. So far, the best the Officio can come up with is that at some point in M41.984, Dill was exposed to something that damaged her mind or loyalty, and for the next two years, she plotted to flee Terra and pursue an unknown goal. Exactly why Dill snapped is open to debate. Her peers suspect a data daemon, her superiors suspect her hypno-condition broke down somehow, and the Inquisition believes her to come under the influence of a higher, corruptive power that seeks to control the Assassin for its own ends.

The Inquisition is increasingly worried about Dill falling to Tzeentch. Vanus Assassins are masters of data manipulation and long-range plots. Tzeentch is a plotter beyond his kindred, able to weave complex strategies and plans that span centuries or longer. The possibility that Dill may have been exposed to Chaotic corruption somehow, perhaps through a literal daemon or a scrapcode blast in data she was processing, is one the Inquisition can’t ignore. Terra-based members of the Inquisition are actively investigating this, sending Throne Agents and Assassin-Acolytes of the Ordo Sicarius to the Vanus Temple to examine her data material more closely.

Meanwhile, both the Officio Assassinorum and the Ordo Sicarius have initiated containment protocols. While the Officio lost track of Dill almost immediately, the Inquisition’s Lord Eric Stoldst is on Dill’s trail. He has not yet been able to confirm that Dill is present in Cloudburst, but he knew that this was a perfect place for a rogue Assassin to hide. The rise of the FCC was something Dill knew she had to risk if she wanted to flee the Imperium, and she could hardly join a pirate gang and just serve as one of the grunts. Her plan involves accumulating power at a pace an infocyte typically doesn’t sustain, and her alternatives were either find a pirate gang or a pliable Rogue Trader. Rogue Traders ultimately answer to the Imperium, however, so the FCC was a good fit for her.

Dill is not a member of the more combat-oriented branches of the Officio, but she does have extensive survival and self-defense training. In combat, she prefers to engage at maximum range, and slings a silenced slug rifle when she can bring it with her, although she is a perfectly capable martial artist as well.

“Mimic,” official kill count 2102, estimated kill count 6201[edit]

"Subject has experienced liquefaction from the mid-stomach upwards. Assessment: prototype necrocyte round is overkill. Recommendation: immediate deployment."

– "Mimic"

If Lord Sector Quintus, Lord Fabricator Beraxos, and Lady Inquisitrix Lerica have all the power, and Lords Walsh and Zutash have the money, Lord Halwart has the secret weapon. The Vindicare Assassin codenamed Mimic is the single deadliest person in the Sector, on a scale that would even give Oscar Havermann pause. Mimic has been killing enemies of the High Lords, sometimes whole families of them, for over forty years. He has spent much of that time in hypno- or cryo-sleep, and his neural cybernetics have been pumping him full of technical data and mission profiles the whole time. He has killed a Black Apostle of the Word Bearers, a Necron Praetorian, and most recently and impressively, the rogue Inquisitor Xavien in the nearby Drumnos Sector. Now, he has set his sights squarely on the Ork who leads the army that is assaulting Oglith, and there is nothing they can do to stop him.

If anything, Mimic’s total kill count is actually too low. He has stopped counting the security guards and other, similar trash that litter the path he crosses to reach his targets. If he did, the number would be well over five thousand. Halwart has even asked him – with exceptional care – if advertising his presence would shore up the morale of the troops a bit, but Mimic knows that he is externally no different from any other Vindicare, so it would mean little.

Mimic’s youth was wasted, as he would admit if he could remember it through the haze of memory conditioning. He was swept into a Guard scum tithe on Primiza Station in the Centauri Cluster, and earmarked for Officio Assassinorum training after he was found to possess a specific combination of alleles for intelligence and strength. His training progressed at a rate that left his supervisors impressed. However, there was little to suggest that his talents were particularly above average until he began target training with the practice rifles. Thus, he was one of the very few Vindicare Temple assassins who did not rise up to the Officio as a result of Schola Progenum training.

Within a month of practice, Mimic was breaking records that had lasted thousands of years. His accuracy was near-perfect, of course, as all Vindicare’s scores need to be, but his ability to rapidly re-target and re-focus his weapon between shots was so fast that some of his instructors wondered among themselves that he had a cybernetic augmentation. Mimic, then using the callsign ‘Regrets,’ first deployed against a cabal of daemon-worshipping Heretics in the Scarus Sector. He polished them off by perching on the maintenance catwalk under an illuminated billboard, camouflaged by the contrast of light. Mimic eradicated the entire cabal within an hour by using a combination of motion-sensitive sensor pods and his Exitus weapons.

Mimic proceeded through the path of his career as a member of the Emperor’s marksmen, distinguished but never quite pulling to the head of the pack in the eyes of the Officio Assassinorum. It was only after his seventeenth mission that he catapulted to the very highest ranks of the Vindicare Temple and formally took on his new title.

The Officio had sent him on a mission on behalf of the Senate of the High Lords to assassinate the rebel General Clodsdan, a notorious opponent of Imperial expansion into the previously neutral zones between the Ixiniad and Lorcam Sectors. However, Clodsdan had enacted an orbital web protocol that meant that every ship that didn’t have his own personal approval couldn’t land on the surface of the planet where he had planted his flag. Mimic was able to get to the system in question, and a stealthed shuttle meant that it would be impossible for the General to know precisely where he touched down, but the heat flare of a descending shuttle is impossible to mask completely. Thus, when Mimic touched down, the General had known he was coming long enough to hide successfully. Clodsdan settled into a bunker complex that had no unobserved exits, and there he stayed.

Mimic made his way two hundred kilometers overland and hid outside the bunker. He knew Clodsdan would never be tricked into exiting the bunker, so instead he mapped out the local routes of nearby aircraft. Once he found an appropriate aircraft flying in his general direction, he waited until the right moment to strike, and then shot the engines of the aircraft. The plane tumbled out of control and slammed into the bunker, collapsing several levels. Clodsdan panicked and sent out every guard he had to flush the area, and none reported contact. Only then did he leave the bunker to evacuate, and as soon as he stepped into the daylight, Mimic shot him through a two-inch gap in the shieldwall his guards had erected around the exit. He escaped into the night and flew back to Terra, mission complete.

That was enough to seal Mimic’s reputation as the best. Mimic’s subsequent assignments were the sort that the Officio only acted on because the Senate asked them to, or the sort that would normally require an entire Imperial Guard regiment. Mimic’s reputation within the Temple grew as he shot the drivers of tanks through quarter inch Lexan sheets while moving, blasted engine blocks out of trucks moving a hundred miles an hour, and in one notable incident, shot a Chaos-tainted crystal out of the chest of a mutating daemonhost, driving the fiend back into the Warp. Eventually, the Master of Vindicare selected Mimic to test several new ammunition types, including the prototype Necrocyte round, which was designed to kill Genestealer Patriarchs and other large Tyranid organisms with one bullet. The Master is even pondering Mimic as his own successor, although Mimic’s eye for talent in others appears to be unremarkable at best.

Mimic has been crisscrossing the Imperium, killing its enemies, for so long that he no longer views it as a particular challenge. His focus hasn’t waned, but he no longer feels like he has much to do with himself. In the eyes of the Officio Assassinorum, dispatching both him and Civil to solve one Ork problem is a bit of overkill, but it is their hope that once he is present and working, he may be able to help with their other problem: the disappearance of Lixivim Dill. Ironically, they do not actually know where she is, while Lord Inquisitor Stoldst is a few weeks from figuring it out first.

Mimic has long abandoned the practice of formally tracking his kills. He has killed so many guards, body doubles, seconds-in-command, and other rabble on the way to his targets that he doesn’t particularly care to count them. If pressed, he would estimate his true kill count to be around six thousand, but his count of named targets is two thousand, one hundred two. The death of Big Chief Squiggothrider will bring his true count up one, and perhaps more if the Officio or Lord General Halwart bring him new names for his list on the Senate’s authority.

Like most Vindicares, he carries an Exitus Rifle, an Exitus Pistol, his standard uniform and mask, and a set of simple survival tools. However, Mimic carries far more ammunition than most Vindicares. As the Master of Vindicare has entrusted him with the responsibility of testing new ammunition types, he carries a variety of odd rounds. In addition to the usual ammo types of the Vindicare Temple, he carries prototype necrocyte ammunition, which dissolves tissues around impact by lysing cell membranes, and lumenshock ammunition, which emits a blinding light upon impact. He also carries Hawk rounds, which move below sonic speeds for most of flight, then abruptly speed up when near the target, to bypass some forms of energy shield that turn away supersonic objects. As these rounds are prototypical, he only carries a few, and reports to the Officio on their efficacy after each use. Thanks to his hard work, necrocyte rounds will probably enter Deathwatch service within twenty years. The Officio usually keeps its technology to itself, but as they are privy to the secrets of much of the Senate, the Officio knows how far the Imperium is out of its depth against the Tyranids. Thus, they are begrudgingly willing to share the technology with the Deathwatch, to augment or replace Hellfire rounds in use against Patriarchs or Zoanthropes.

Regarding his Cloudburst assignment, Mimic is the quintessential big fish in a small pond. An Assassin of his caliber simply does not visit a place as small and poor as Cloudburst very often. Cloudburst’s defenses and assets are minuscule compared to even those of its immediate neighbors, and its economy and colony networks are a fraction of the scale of Naxos, and especially Drumnos. The character of the threats present in the region is no more complex or potent than any he has faced in his extensive career of silent murder, and far less than most. Still, he is only one man, and while he is more than a match for any one foe he could face in Cloudburst, he is not fool enough to confront any such a target alone, any more than a Vindicare should be.

“Civil,” official kill count 157[edit]

"If another human sees me at work, something has gone horribly wrong."

– "Civil"

The Vanus Assassin codenamed Civil is the leader of a cell of infocytes tasked with the defense of the Cloudburst Sector against the greenskin menace. The Officio Assassinorum generally does not care about the morale of the Cloudburst or any other Sector save Sol, but the possibility that two Ork invasions and the Glasian Migration might collapse Imperial authority there has them concerned, especially since they know a Lord Inquisitor Sicarius is there for some reason. The Officio Assassinorum does know that Lixivim Dill is present in the extreme galactic north somewhere, but they do not know precisely where. If Civil does discover Dill’s location, he is to start trying to kill her immediately, while also sending a message back to Terra to notify the Officio of his discovery of her.

Dill is far more experienced than Civil. Civil and Mimic are aware of each other’s presence, having taken the same ship to the Rampart system, and Civil is hoping that Mimic’s signature super-long-range sniper kills will catch the rumor mill to disguise Civil’s presence. For his part, Mimic suspects that Civil is using his presence in what amounts to a relatively small Ork invasion for something, but he is long past caring. Civil has a seconday objective: resolve the problem of Oglith’s incompetent representation in the Sector. Maddeningly to General Halwart and others tasked with saving Oglith from the Orks and Glasians, the Planetary Governor of Oglith is a personable, loyal, intelligent, capable, and reasonable man, but Subsector Overlord Darren Atongwë has made only half-hearted attempts to dislodge the Orks (as have his relatives) for centuries. There is genuine concern in Sector and Segmentum Command that the Rampart system may fall, and fall soon, should the Orks still be present when the Glasians arrive. Civil is preparing to kill Atongwë if Mimic doesn’t get there first.

Typically, the military of the Imperium uses the Templars Psychologis to reinforce the morale of faltering Imperial worlds in the face of alien invasion. However, Civil is just as good at that as any of them, and so has been sent to perform that role.

Thus, the Senate has tasked Civil with the tertiary objective of using his media manipulation skills to rile up the people of Oglith against the aliens, and also make them at least amenable to a regime change if Atongwë has to die. Civil has focused some of his manipulation efforts on the Oglith media machine, planting whispers and rumors in the right places in the holovid studios, newscast centers, refugee camps, and even Atongwë’s own palace. Civil has based their infocyte operations from a hardened room dropped from orbit by the Senate ship that brought him and Mimic there, which can be just as easily transported back up to the ship overhead by a Bratan or Cetacean cargo shuttle.

Civil is a product of the Schola Progenum system, as all but a tiny handful of Vanus Assassins are. He was born on Cypra Mundi to parents who promptly died in selfless battle against a Dark Eldar raider four years later. He has a relatively low kill count because he was, until recently, stationed on Terra itself. Civil was rooting out and arranging for the murder of Imperial nobles that controlled and sometimes abused corporations on the Throneworld. The noble families based on Terra are sometimes unfathomably ancient, with bloodlines and pedigrees that stretch back all the way to the Golden Age over thirty thousand years ago, and have defenses of archaeotech and bonded servants that the Senate can’t easily bypass. Still, ancient wealth breeds grudges, indolence, and sinful thoughts, and so the Vanus Assassins sometimes send amateur members of their Clade after those nobles who step out of line as training. When those trainee Assassins discover that there is a larger or more dangerous conspiracy or heresy in the house they are tasked with purging, they must call for assistance; until recently, that assistance was Civil. Thus, he has very few kills despite his age.

Civil’s retasking to Cloudburst ensures that he can put his talents to work far from the Palace. In fact, Cloudburst is at the very edge of Imperial space; he is as far from the Palace as he can realistically be and still be in the Galactic North. He has never been to Cloudburst before. If all goes to plan, he just might kill Squiggothrider, Atongwë, and Dill without ever setting foot out of his armored module.

Civil carries a pair of Martian-built Hellpistols for personal emergency defense, as well as the usual arrangement of cybernetic animals, netfly drones, and other info-tools of the trade. As with all Vanus Assassins, he avoids combat when at all possible.

Magos Erin Ermincrole[edit]

"This Sector, and the adherents of the Cult Mechanicus, deserve better. They deserve to feel the footsteps of the Knights around them on the fields of battle, and to worship the Machine in combat. If only more people could understand that."

– Magos Erin Ermincrole

The current leader of the ABX2 system. Magos Ermincrole is a close confidant of Lord Fabricator Beraxos of Cognomen. Their bond was forged in shared labor, as the Genetors and bureaucrats of Cognomen groomed Beraxos for leadership. While Lister trained to rule, Ermincrole trained to obey his ruler. However, despite their Machine-ordained hierarchy, the two also simply got along well. As youths, the two were thick as thieves.

As they advanced through the layers of tech-clergy on Cognomen, both men grew increasingly irritated by the lack of help from Mars in advancing Cognomen’s presence and blueprint library. The lack of Template support from the Red Planet made the expansion and improvement of its Titan Legion arduous. As the strategic situation of the Imperium grew ever more dire, both men agreed it was time to take matters into their own hands. Several decades before the turn of the forty-second millennium, Erin Ermincrole volunteered to commit the crime of the century, and build a Knight World for Cognomen to develop as a satrap. Beraxos agreed at once, and the work began.

In his labors, Ermincrole is territorial and easily-distracted. He does have substantial logistical talent, and suits the role of System Overlord well for the ABX2 project, but his prickly demeanor and reluctance to trust in the autonomy of his subordinates is hampering ABX2’s development into a functional military bastion of the Mechanicus.

Ermincrole does not resent his born-and-raised inferiority to Beraxos in the grand scheme of things. Decades of implanting from the rigid Mechanicus hierarchy have brought him to accept his role. However, the task of building a Knight World from scratch is taxing his patience. Remilia Matraxia is a highly independent leader, and has little patience for Ermincrole’s caution and defensiveness.

He gained his status as a Magos not by riding Beraxos’s coattails, but through his research into the application of the chemicals acquired by rendering wood down to its constituent molecules to the manufacturing of flexible liquid transport pipes. Coincidentally, this makes him the perfect public face for the development of ABX2, which started out as a simple timber camp.

Magos Logisticos Alveena Alexia[edit]

"Half for them, half for us. If only it were that simple."

– Magos Logisticos Alveena Alexia

Magos Logis Alveena Alexia is a busy woman. Under her authority, half of the operations of the great Deep Void Port Maxient function. Her specific task is as the leader of the Adeptus Mechanicus contingent of the huge space station, and all that entails. As a Magos Logis, her official duty is to supply and coordinate the Quest for Knowledge in the outermost reaches of space, far from the comforting but un-innovative confines of Forge Worlds. In practice, since she does not actually control the station, her day-to-day leaves a bit more time than would normally be available for a woman of her significant rank and rarity.

Alexia is a flesh-spare and brutal woman, one from whom nearly all personality has been shorn. Duty has taken it, and an earnest interest in the soothing work of tabulation and organization. Her cranial implants have replaced all of her head save a bit of her brain and a patch of skin that grows a single braid that hangs down her back, decorated with iron skulls of the Mechanicus to indicate her long service. The ancient Magos has served on Maxient for only seventy years, but has existed in the Quest for Knowledge for thrice that. As the chief of the indispensable (and legally-mandated) Adeptus Mechanicus contingent of the huge station, her tasks include summing up all orders from the Forge Worlds of the Mechanicus every Terran month, replacing and promoting underlings, overseeing the growth of servitors, and extraditing Here-teks.

In reality, she does far more, as the Imperial Navy does not allow her any direct control over one square inch of the station more than the law absolutely demands. The Explorators and Enginseers who work the ships that travel to and from the station describe her as inspiringly even and mechanical in her nature, given the frustrations of the role, but the simple fact is that she can’t do more than she is without breaking the law. Maxient sits at the very edge of Imperial space in the north trailing, and thus sees Rogue Traders, Explorators, Free Captains, and even the occasional Inquisitor or Space Marine come to visit, delivering archaeotech to reverse engineer, or even xenotech. Thus, her role at the galaxy’s sentinel station is crucial, even if the law limits her.

Of course, the Adeptus Mechanicus has always had a dim view of the Lex Imperialis, and Alexia is no different. There have been times when the martial provosts of the station, or even Adeptus Arbites, have demanded she bring a halt to some activity or another in the pursuit of her duties, and she has not always done so. As she insists, half of the station is the sovereign territory of the Adeptus Mechanicus, and so long as they do not violate the Inquisitorial edicts against specific anti-Imperial activities, there is precisely nothing the Arbites can do about it.

While this defiance has made her few friends outside the ranks of the Mechanicus, it has earned her many within it. Lister Beraxos does not know her well, but trusts her about as much as he trusts anybody not named Erin Ermincrole. He plans to let her in on the secret of ABX2 soon, incorrectly assuming that she does not already know. In reality, the master logistician figured out the secret of the Knight World decades ago, by carefully tabulating the timber output and sudden drop of metal ore shipments. She does not care, and trusts in Beraxos to do what he believes is best for the Omnissiah and Mankind.

Among her other duties is commanding the Adeptus Mechanicus forces in war and its cleanup. On the rare occasion that the station is threatened so badly that its Naval half alone cannot repulse the threat, she springs into action, directing armies of Skitarii Tech-guard, combat servitors, war clergy, mercenaries, and Enginseers in battle. However, the Imperial Navy has ceded total salvage rights to all battle debris around the station to the Mechanicus in exchange for other concessions of their own, and so any takings and leavings from battle near the station are hers and hers alone.

Alexia has set up shop in the huge Bay 6, the last of the original six storage modules attached to the Xerxes III from which Maxient grew. The cavernous structure has had its gravity plates left untouched, and as such, the pull of gravity is towards the nearest bulkhead, not the arbitrary ‘down’ of the station. This laboratory approach allows for any one wall of the room to be quarantined if something goes awry. This is helpful to her. As she is a properly ordained Magos, she is among the few people in the Sector who is authorized to perform original research, and actually does so in her sparse free time. The Skitarii of the station subtly jostle for her attention and the right to work here. Aside from the lack of radiation-emitting weapons to kill them, the chamber is also home to the most hallowed shrine of the Machine in the entire Cloudburst Circuit, that of the Magos herself, where she prays to the Omnissiah and performs her sanctified Innovation. Her current research project is on a logistical computation device, to aid her work as the leader of the station contingent.

Magos Alexia is a grudging inferior to her Imperial Navy counterpart and technical superior, Admiral Caravel. She sees his authority, but chooses to buck it in small and sometimes easy-to-miss ways.

Admiral Connor Liamsson, Second Admiral Cloudburst[edit]

"I’m told the Glasians make the most distracting noises when you shoot them. Good thing that in space, nobody can hear you scream. Oh, you like that? I came up with it myself."

– Admiral Connor Liamsson

It is not an easy thing to do, to appraise Admiral Connor Liamsson. Born and raised on Thimble, the clever old man is a strutting peacock of an Admiral. A bit like Lord General Halwart, he dresses in custom uniforms and carries fancy pistols. He has a custom bionic eye that makes it look like he has a permanent monocle on in addition to letting him see through clothing; the man is so eccentric that he has drawn the eye of the Inquisition itself. Yet, beneath all the pomp and bombast, he is a man of scrupulous adherence to his word, and genuinely remarkable fleet command skill. The man could make a claim to being even better than Maynard, but Maynard has so much more experience with high command that he wouldn’t bother. He bases himself wherever he needs to.

Liamsson was born and raised on the planet Nauphry VII, and entered the Imperial Navy Officers Corps after completing an academic degree in Psychology. He stations himself on the Emperor battleship Conqueror’s Sword. At the beginning of the Seventh Glasian Migration, that ship led the defense of Maskos from the invading xenos.

Admiral Tiago Caravel, Stationmaster Maxient[edit]

"The Omnissiah must be an incredibly mercurial god indeed if he sees fit to bless the work of people as petty as the Adeptus Mechanicus. Don’t even start with me."

– Admiral Tiago Caravel

As the presiding officer of the Deep Void platform Port Maxient, Admiral Caravel has hit the end of his career path. He is the third-highest ranking officer of the Cloudburst Sector space forces after Lord Admiral Maynard and Admiral Connor Liamsson, but he shall climb no higher. Part of this is the result of his station, part of it is because he knows in his heart he will never quite reach Liamsson’s level of skill, and some of it stems from the fact that he is not gaining the esteem in the eyes of his peers he would need to succeed the ancient Admiral Maynard. He hasn’t had the chance.

The vast space station Maxient is as far removed from the path of the Glasians in the Seventh Migration as any station in the Cloudburst Sector could be. There is no risk, the Emperor’s Tarot and the Blue Daggers assure him, of the station coming under attack in the coming war. In his heart, Admiral Caravel knows his career ambitions must be sated with a support role.

He does not desire for the war to strike at his home, exactly, but he would certainly like to prove himself in glorious battle. Still, given the alternatives, he would settle for the current state of affairs, however grudgingly. He has a family to protect. In fact, Tiago Caravel is a family man. Thank to his juvenat treatment and many wives, he has fully eighteen grandchildren and thirty-nine great-grandchildren, and would not throw them all into the fires of war if it was the only way to succeed Maynard.

In his official responsibilities as the presiding officer of the massive space station Maxient, his job is simple: secure the Imperial western trailing border. The massive Warp-shadow thrown by the great Warp Storms to the galactic south-west delineate the borders of the Oldlight Exo-zone quite clearly. Beyond them, the Imperium may travel freely, but within them, only the most skilled Navigators can chart a course without blindness and death following their every step. His role means that he – more accurately, his subordinates – must deal every day with merchants, Explorators and Astrocartographers, Rogue Traders, privateers, and other people who slowly scour the Oldlight Exo-zone. He buys maps from many, but only if they meet the strict standards of the Astrocartigraphicae.

However, his principal job is military. Port Maxient is a battle platform and border fort above all other factors. The problem is that half of the station is outside his control, thanks to the literal interpretations of his predecessors of the ruling that split the station. What was probably intended to be a metaphorical split to ensure that nobody shirked responsibility over the station’s wellbeing is now a literal proclamation that has left half of the platform’s military power beyond his oversight.

In his youth on Celeste, Tiago was schooled in the highest Imperial boarding schools, operated by monastic Sisters of the Order of the Sanguine Soul. They correctly interpreted the youngster’s eye for detail and numbers as a potential military talent, and shunted him into the Imperial Navy officers’ corps as soon as he was legally old enough.