Sisters of Silence
- "That's their function...aside from the fact that they fight like bastards. Got the pariah gene in 'em."
- --Leman Russ, Primarch of the Space Wolves, on the Sisters of Silence
As stated, the Emperor formed this all female army at the beginning of the Great Crusade as a counter-measure against untrained psykers, which had increased at the start of the Age of Strife. To do this, the Emperor ensured that they were all pariahs, human beings with no presence in the Warp (One has to wonder though whether they had to compete with the Officio Assassinorum for recruits (though probably not seeing as the Culexus Assasains are primarily males)). As such, the psyker's abilities would have no effect on them, but would be cancelled out when they got close enough to them. In one of his odder decisions, the Emperor explicitly had the Sisters take literal vows of silence upon becoming full Sisters. They could communicate via several sign languages (including Astartes battle-sign) but would not speak a word upon completion of their training. To ensure communication between other branches of the Imperium of Man, Sisters in training would serve as communicators.
The Sisters of Silence are also consummate warriors, trained to the same levels as the Space Marine Legions and using similar wargear, such as bolters and power weapons, as well as being covered in SoB-like power armour, albeit with no armored helmet or other head protection aside the massive jaw-like collar that hides their mouths ( it's called a Gorget mate ), which leads to a lot of deaths from headshots during the burning of Prospero. As a military force they are formidable; during the Burning of Prospero they were deployed to augment the Space Wolves and the Adeptus Custodes. While this was more because the pariah gene would neutralize the Thousand Sons psyker abilities, they were more than capable of fighting with the Astartes. They would also in turn augment the Custodes, the Imperial Fists, the Blood Angels, and the White Scars during the Siege of Terra, where the pariah gene became a boon fighting the Daemons unleashed.
After the Horus Heresy
The fate of the Sisters of Silence following the Horus Heresy has not been completely documented yet. What is known is that the sisterhood was either abandoned, exiled, or betrayed by the Imperium after the internment of the Emperor on the Golden Throne, and as a result, the sisters gave up their vow of silence.
Reasonably, since people with the Pariah gene are so useful to the Imperium and so rare (occurring in less than one in a billion people), you'd think the Imperium would institute some baby-making program with members of the Sisters of Silence to boost the number of people with the Pariah gene; the Imperium's grimdark enough to do far worse, which also addresses the fact that the Pariah gene induces feelings of unease and disgust in non-blanks, making any male volunteers who aren't blanks themselves unwilling to impregnate said members (though that can be worked around with artificial insemination).
They refused to recognize the Imperium in its political form as of M32, seeing it as a corrupted simulacrum of what the Emperor actually intended, but they still acknowledge the Emperor as the focus of their loyalty. Thus, when their services are required again in the War of The Beast, they accept the calling and return to Terra, where they are granted an audience with the Emperor in his sanctum on the throne, a privilege that not even the High Lords are afforded. Just how exactly that would've worked is a mystery, given how the Emperor can presumably only communicate psychically at this point, which probably wouldn't work at all on a group of nulls. The Beast Arises series ends with the Sisters of Silence being wiped out while killing the Beast, meaning that (if we are interpreting correctly the hints of some supplements) it is possible the Order was reformed with entirely new members and possibly entirely new beliefs and/or traditions.
The Gathering Storm, book 3, indicates that the Sisters of Silence were officially disbanded upon the conclusion of the Age of Apostasy in M36 (perhaps coinciding with the formation of the Sororitas) but continued to exist through secretive enclaves throughout the Imperium right up to M41. Hidden away with several orders being scattered through the stars concealed in "Convents" that made them looks like Sisters of Battle to outside observers, even taking upon themselves the role of Witch-Seeker without any official sanction to do so. Some were also maintained on the Black Ships whilst others were recruited by Inquisitors who knew their value, but for all intents and purposes they did not exist as an organisation; this conveniently explains how the Sisterhood being "wiped out" on Ullanor/Armageddon during the War for the Beast wouldn't have rendered them completely extinct, since they had always been there in one form or another.
Over time, they recruited, and their numbers swelled to tens of thousands over millennia. As for their combat history, it was "conveniently" erased by Imperial authorities to keep them secret. Some were also said to have been cut off from their orders and suppressed their powers to settle down and have descendants, before they had to relocate to avoid being lynched. Shortly after the reappearance of Magnus the Red during the Fenris campaign, the High Lords of Terra issued a writ that would summon the Sisterhood back to Terra where they would be used once again; something that some of the exiled Sisters resented greatly, having been ignored for millennia. Although it transpired that Trajan Valoris, Captain-General of the Adeptus Custodes had pre-empted this decree and had quietly been collecting disparate Sisters to Terra in advance, knowing that the time may come when they were needed again, the knee-jerk response of the High Lords to Fenris simply rendered it legal.
Their first action was to deploy with the Custodes on Luna to save a recently resurrected Lord Guilliman from being used by Magnus to mop the floor, and they later helped fight back against a Khorne daemon invasion of Terra directly. When Guilliman returned from his audience with the Emperor, he dissolved the standing order that restricted the Custodians to Terra and he ordered the Sisterhood to coordinate with them and join the front lines.
A common rumor is that they will be added into some upcoming Sisters of Battle relaunch. If so, that would be an interesting revision; on the one hand, the Sisters of Battle, despite being designated witch-hunters, are lacking in the anti-psyker department. On the other hand, the Sisters of Silence, much like the Space Marines, are big believers in the Great Crusade era of the Imperium, and likely won't mesh well with the Ecclesiarchy. So, in conclusion, the most probable work that GW can do with SoS is saying that the Adepta Sororitas in its current form can trace its origins to the M36 Daughters of the Emperor as well as offshoots of the original Sisters of Silence and find some way to reconcile them both.
- Warhammer_40,000/Tactics/Talons_of_the_Emperor_(30k) - For the Heresy Era rules representing their original incarnation.
- Warhammer_40,000/Tactics/Imperium(8E)#Sisters_of_Silence - For the far more limited 40k rules.
|Forces of the Sisters of Silence|
|Command:||Excruciatus Cadre - Oblivion Knight-Centura|
|Troops:|| Null Maiden Cadre - Oblivion Knight Cadre |
Prosecutor Cadre - Pursuer Cadre
Seeker Cadre - Vigilator Cadre
|Vehicles:|| Grav-Rhino - Kharon Pattern Acquistor |
|Titans:||Warlord-Sinister Pattern Battle Psi-Titan|