+ inload: Anatomy of Empire III: Stygies VII [Guestpost by DC147] +

+ Anatomy of Empire III: Stygies VII +

+ Another guestpostinload today, courtesy of the prodigiously talented DeathCat147. Check out One Four Seven Miniature Painting and Terrain on Facebook here [+noosphericexloadlink embedded+] for some genuinely inspirational conversions and paintjobs. +

+ DC147 has breathed life into a world that really brings out the shades of grey available to gamers, hobbyists and writers involved in the Alien Wars. If you've ever needed an excuse for Imperial on Imperial gaming, why not give the Nova Terra Interregnum a try? +

+ As usual with a guestpostinload, the models and background below are the owners; and the text edited by myself for consistency within the Alien Wars setting: all typos and errors are mine alone! +


Trying to discern the the motives and goals of a Stygian Priest is, by and large, an exercise in futility and madness. Only those with a discerning eye for the truth may be lucky enough to catch a glimpse of their agenda – and even then, you should question closely what you saw.

Extract from All Human History – Inquisitrix Barbari Kills, Ordo Xenos


+ Abstract +

Located at the confluence of Segmentum Solar and Segmentum Pacificus, Stygies VII – poetically referred to as The Ever-Staring Cyclops – was a battleground of ideas, philosophies and influences during the Nova Terra Interregnum. Although recorded as schismatic; this was mainly owing to Martian prejudice: the Forgeworld has a reputation eternally marred by ancient deeds; and its denizens are held in great suspicion because of it. 

In practical terms, Stygies VII was part of the Neomechanicus – that group of forgeworlds which lay in Nova Terran space, and were nominally loyal to Mars while continuing to supply local worlds. Owing to its astrographical positions between Segmenta, this meant that its priesthood occupied a position of supplying both belligerents; essentially remaining politically neutral. 

Its religious standing was no less murky. With the radically schismatic forgeworld of Moirae nearby, many of Stygies' techpriests were influenced by the revolutionary predictions of the Moirae cult; though just as many rejected its doctrines violently – including the famed Barbas Vholk.

Vholk serves as an exemplary member of the famously secretive and insular priests of Stygies, who were famed for secretly followed their own paths; some loyal to Mars and Terra, others looking to extend their influence with the Ur-Council or beyond. During the Nova Terra Interregnum, the world became a mass of competing theologies, black-market smuggling and clandestine parleys between influential groups.

+ The Shadow of Moirae +

Even amongst the normally secretive scions of the Omnissiah, the Magi of the Stygian Priesthood obsessively shroud their activities and agendas from the prying eyes of outsiders, using whatever means at their disposal. The events of the Nova Terra Interregnum only helped to drive individual Stygian Priests to still more extreme efforts to cloak their world from the rest of the fractured Imperium. Only the most necessary tasks and contracts were fulfilled, thoughts of new grand expeditions were banished, and lofty studies suspended. Productivity almost ground to a stop and military actions beyond their world were minimal, as the shroud of secrecy intensified.

Stygies had long been both politically and religiously complex and fractious, with different ideologies and the ambitions of various Magi creating a perfect environment for labyrinthine plots and shadow wars. Despite that, there was a vague equilibrium. That was until cults and notable magi following the nascent Moirae creed – a millennial cult which believed hidden messages in the Astronomicon prophesised, amongst other things, the fall of Mars – started openly extolling their beliefs and exerting power. The Moirae following split apart numerous alliances, fraternities and pacts, destabilising the balance on Stygies and creating a great deal of concern and paranoia for the more orthodox members of the Stygian Priesthood; along with those that wished their less orthodox methods to remain out of sight. Strange new pacts and political alliances were forged in the shadowy corners of the planet as former rivals put aside their differences to rid themselves of the heterodoxical Moirae cultists.

The shadow war on Stygies ramped up over the coming centuries, with the opponents of the Moirae followers seeking to purge their heretek code from their world, lest it draw deeper scrutiny from the Ordo Machinum and other Imperial agencies. The Moirae Purge continued right up until the turn of M36. Unfortunately for the remaining Stygian Priests, the wall of secrecy they threw up to avoid scrutiny drew the attention that they so desperately wished to avoid. Their actions would have bloody consequences not long after, and would only deepen the mistrust of their world within the greater Imperium...


+ Principal holdings +

Stygies VIII is located on the seventh and largest moon orbiting a gas giant in the Vulcanis System, on the edge of the Segmentum Pacificus’ border with the Segmentum Solar and close to the Segmentum Obscurus. A strategic point in a vast web of trade and supply routes that cover the confluence of the three segmentae, Stygies is well placed to feed its voracious appetite for materials and to distribute the fruits of its labours to where they are needed. A constant stream of raw and processed goods pour into the vast orbital docks and tethers that service Stygies, ancient contracts from nearby Imperial Worlds and tithes from vassal worlds fulfilled with minerals, ores, and fresh flesh ready for mind wiping. Mining worlds such as Rast and Varana, along with asteroid mining across many systems supply the vast amount of Stygies needs. For its supply of potential servitors, Stygies relies primarily on a number of nearby hive worlds supplying them with criminals and other malcontents for mind wiping and conversion, along with vat grown biological forms. Stygies' other significant asset is a sizable and highly secretive network of informants and agents supplying them with data and leads to potential sites of interest throughout the Imperium. 


+ Principal military forces +

Stygian Skitarii Praeventore
Militarily, Stygies conforms to the same broad structure as other forgeworlds, using the macroclade system to organise its Skitarii Legions. The only marked difference is a slightly higher number of Skitarii Sagitarii units in the field, often equipped with tracked Light Conveyor Units equipped with a plethora of long-range support weaponry. These units are typically attached to a Praeventore squad along with a small unit of Velites as part of a mutually supportive unit capable of adapting to a variety of threats. 

The Velites range ahead of the Praeventores, scouting out their path as well as identifying and nullifying anything that may stall an advance. Should they encounter a heavy obstacle, such as a defensive position or armoured asset, the Sagitarii are brought to a forward position to clear away the threat with their prodigious firepower. The Praeventores can then begin sweeping away lower level threats with their rad carbines, plasma calivers, and arc rifles. 

This formation lies at the heart of a Stygies Battle Maniple, usually structured around twelve of these units – twelve being viewed as the Omnissiah's sacred number by the Priesthood of Stygies VII– along with the usual Onagers, Dragoons, Ironstriders, Infiltrators and Rustwalkers supporting. Dependent on operational needs, such a formation may be assigned a Skitarii Alpha Primus to coordinate and command in lieu of direct commands from the magos leading the force or one of his techpriest subordinates.

Stygian Skitarii Velite

Alongside the Legion Maniples march a veritable horde of servitor variants, from the Machai Pattern Breacher Servitor, Mors Murder Servitor, Thrax Pattern Combat Servitor, all the way down to the lowly Monotask Servitors. The servitors present in a force depends on the Magos and their personal preferences. The servitors that are part of a Magos rentinue as bodyguards or servants are often outfitted with all sorts of esoteric accoutrements, often a reflection of their owners field of study and their craft.

The most notable force available to the Magos of Stygies VII when fighting abroad are the Titans of the Legio Honorum “The Deathbolts”. During the Moirae Purge the Legio Honorum were mostly left to their own devices, only mobilising for campaigns offworld when there was significant evidence that their god machines' firepower would be instrumental to the battles ahead. Because of this stance, the Legio Honorum left the soil of Stygies on only a handful of occasions during the 35th millennium.

Praeventores attempt to repel an ork attack upon promethium refinery Beta-Chi 32 during the fighting on Uralon.

+ Notable personnel +

Magos Barbas Vholk, orthodox member of the Stygian Priesthood.
Pict-Capture taken: 236.M35

+ Magos Barbas Vholk +

Fully initiated into the Stygian priesthood in the mid 32nd millennia, Barbas Vholk spent two and a half millennia diligently – many would say obsessively – working on a variety of projects and numerous expeditions. His efforts garnered many accolades and a sizeable amount of influence amongst the hierarchy of the Stygian priesthood, and yet he showed little concern for the accolades and only used his influence sparingly to secure resources and materials for his works.

Even by Mechanicus standards, Vholk is aloof and calculatedly logical, unwavering in his resolve, and considered by many to be misanthropic and cynical. With such a divisive personality it’s unsurprising that it has lead to many strained and fractious relationships amongst his peers. However, his work and it’s results have secured many a like-minded priest to join him, seek his tutelage, or align themselves with him politically.

In mid-M34, Vholk secured in perpetuity the cruiser Caminus Aeternum and its attendant vessels for his latest undertaking, thanks to his supporters and, rather surprisingly, his detractors and rivals. The details of his expedition and it’s goals were rather undefined, only that it would be long-term and would ultimately be for the greater glory of Stygies and the Imperium at large. His opponents threw their support behind Vholk, hoping that at minimum he would spend decades away from Stygies on a ludicrous personal quest, and at best, that some galactic horror might rid them of him during a foray on some backwater planet.

Unfortunately for them, Vholk persisted and thrived. Caminus Aeternum regularly returned to berth in Stygies docks over the years, bearing materials, artifacts and code fragments for analysis and cogitation. Vholk whisks the prize pieces away to his personal facilities for him to pore over in detail. While Caminus Aeternum is well equipped for such activities, it pales in comparison to resources available in his planetside facility. He has often spent decades locked away with his latest baubles and data, only engaging with the forge at large when it suits him, and then frenziedly gathering up his followers, materials, and munitions onboard the Caminus Aeternum and disappearing into the void chasing his next whispered lead.

During the early years of the Nova Terra Interregnum and the rise of the Moirae cult, Vholk was on the far side of the Segmentum Pacificus, having led an expeditionary force to investigate ruins on Anostos IV. He and his expedition spent just over a century charting an erratic course home, beholden to the vagaries of the warp, whispers of ancient technology, and slowed by the machinations of madmen and the pleas of the damned. Once home, he set about securing his holdings and weeding out Moirae Cultists amongst them, identifying any cultists amongst his political allies and removing them from the equation. Such affronts to the Omnissiah would never be allowed to take seed amongst his followers or students, and he would certainly not suffer any of his allies that had fallen to the heretek beliefs. 

Once his own purge had been completed, he isolated his facilities and locked them down so no one could corrupt his works, Any Moirae followers attempting to breach his facilities were to be eliminated with extreme force by the combat servitors and their attendant priests. He organised kill teams to hunt known Moirae followers, occasionally unleashing assassins to eliminate particularly stubborn Magi. 

Vholk’s pragmatism, his Machiavellian schemes, and the brutality of his actions only added to his divisive reputation, once again garnering more critics and earning new like-minded allies. Though Vholk’s actions were small in comparison to the whole story of Stygies VII at this time, they helped secure his realm of influence during this period and showed him to be a loyal servant of Mars and the Imperium. His actions benefited him greatly when greater scrutiny fell upon Stygies in the early years of the 36th millennia.


+ Major conflicts during the Nova Terra Interregnum +

Stygies VII Skitarii engaging Orks of the Serpent's Eye Nebula during the early stages of the Uralon Campaign
  • Moirae Purges [154.M35–982.M35]
  • Xang-Zao Belt War [287.M35–293.M35] Asteroid mining clans in the Xang-Zao system refuse to send contractual tithes to Stygies and choose independent self governance, throwing off the yoke of Imperial rule. They also rebuff representatives of the Ur-Council in a bold but foolish move. Three separate forces: a Terran Imperial task force, an Ur-Separatist force, and a reclamation force from Stygies each converge on the Xang-Zao system. The Terran and Ur-Separatists each seek to secure the system for their respective leaders. The Stygian forces remain aloof and neutral, working to their own agenda. While the Xang-Zao Clans, the Terrans and the Ur-Separatists engage in a long costly war over a six year period, the Stygian forces slowly secure key processing and mining facilities along with the primary transfer docks. Eventually the rebel clans are eliminated, the Terran and Ur-Separatist forces end up with a bloody stalemate and leave the system to lick their wounds. The Stygian Priesthood become powerbrokers in the system and reorganise the remaining clans, assigning seized assets and creating stronger ties between them and Stygies. Just after the war, the clans discover one of the largest mineral rich asteroids has been cracked in two revealing a vast void and a series of carved tunnels in its interior. No explanation is forthcoming from Stygies, but the clans are quickly distracted by the the easy access to the vast untouched mineral deposits within. 
  • The Uralon Scourging [442.M35]  An ork expeditionary force led by Arch-Krumper Ghaznob Wurrgob captures the mining world of Uralon. Attempts to retake the world by forces from Stygies and supporting Nova Terran Army regiments prove futile due to the size of the ork horde planetside, and the vast network of mining tunnels they have occupied. Magos Gharrus Skorn decides to cut his losses and orders the remaining ork void ships to be hunted down and the remains used to bombard the planet, along with all the ordnance the Imperial ships can dispense. After a month-long bombardment the surface of Uralon is turned into a hellscape of blasted rock, magma flows and ash laden superstorms. The dense poisonous particulates in the atmosphere cover the planet in perpetual darkness for centuries to come.
  • The Galatex Extraction [714.M35] [+REDACTED auth: Unfortunus Veck+]

+ Post Script +

Thought for the day: It is not in my mind to ask questions that cannot be answered. That is the soul standing upon the crossroad of vacillation. You search for wisdom, but achieve only a stasis of will.

The Stygian Priesthood stand as an excellent example of the multi-faceted nature of the Nova Terra Interregnum: it is not enough simply to label an system as loyal or secessionist; any more than a man may be stamped indelibly good or evil. All amongst the Inquisition must recognise this. Just as the human soul admits merely of degrees of guilt; so with the loyalty of a system, we must remember that heresy takes root in even the most well-tended soil. 

I remain, at your service; Inquisitrix Barbari Kills.

No comments:

Post a Comment

+ submission exloadform: inload [comments] herein +