Carapace: Chest, Abdomen
Flak: Legs, Groin, Arms,
Enclosed Helm: Average Autosenses, inbuilt rebreather, voice masker, range finder, infrascope, inbuilt stab-lights, Psy-Shielding (recongregator sourcebook).
Armaplas Suppression Shield
Revolver with 18 additional bullets, 6 manstoppers, and 6 dumdum rounds.
Digital laspistol (a ring)
Eyes of Chaos DC20
Rock Steady Aim
Dead Eye Shot
"I was born on the world of Londras IV, a civilised imperial world, that I would later discover is part of the Kilrenus Sub-sector, of the Forsarr Sector, of the Segmentum Tempestus. I was born to a noble family, an off-shoot of the Governor's bloodline, and would have grown up likely pampered and a little spoiled, and doubtless married off to some other noble family for political gain. We lived around the planetary capital, rather unimaginatively named Londras City, where it is believed the original settlers first landed. Supposedly you can visit the exact landing site, apparently well preserved by the Adepts of the Mechanicus, for three thrones a head (youngsters under the adult or working age enter free). I'm often left wondering why the system was named "Londras". Was it for the explorator that located it? Perhaps for the first settler who stepped onto this habitable rock? I'm sure the reason must be located somewhere - assuming the administratum hasn't gone and lost the record, or corrupted it by accident.
"The city itself is in the northern hemisphere of the globe, in a rather temperate zone, and I recall it did rain to a reasonable degree. Which, of course, made for good farmland for more certain types of crops that might not be grown on a standard agri-world. Hence the imperial interest - outside of the usual tithes and occasional raising of a Guard regiment. It didn't rain all the time, mind you, and the local flora and fauna were present and pleasant enough to amuse oneself to watch or view, outside of the usual grox required to feed imperial citizens. Various food businesses sprang up of course, one or two specialising (and competing in regards to) various forms of grox-patty, flavoured or accompanied with all forms of spices, side dishes, fillings when used inside of bread wrappings, and so on. Supposedly they also provided healthier options, but the processed stuff was usually cheaper, and therefore often used by citizens in a hurry or on a budget (inevitably both).
"You would think I wouldn't notice such things, being a child, and a noble at that, but I often found my peers and the various intrigues to be boring at best - so dull-witted that it was quite literally child's play to resolve them or avoid them as needed. They had begun to atrophy in their machinations and complexity thereof. Indeed, I found many adults were often too direct for their own good in certain areas, and many things were done - often inefficiently - simply because it was how it had always been done, rather than for any sensible reason.
"As I grew older, I realised where my future would likely lie, and gradually learned how and why the adults around me did what they did. I imagine many among my peers were doing the same, because if not I would do whatever was necessary - or use my eventual husband in whatever manner was fit - to ensure they would not be a threat to me or my family. Perhaps you think me callous? You would be right, in this case. I am. Though when you consider the political make-up and various power-plays that occur on my home-world, you might understand why such a mind-set becomes necessary.
"Consider for a moment, this is a world that - regardless of their worship of the nearby Raven Guard Adeptus Astartes, and loyalty to their home-world - has had only a minor involvement with the greater world of the Imperium of Mankind. Interests have often turned inward, and focus ended up on power, money, control, domination, etcetera. Selfish needs, over the more selfless needs of the Emperor, whose light guides us all. So if these people, these nobles, are so willing to put their own needs before the needs of the Emperor, or even merely the world that they live on, then you might begin to realise just how selfish and corrupt they can become. And what kind of mind can survive in such a predator-filled society. And perhaps you can understand my youthful fascination with the lives of those I was taught were inferior to me. After all, they were - for the most part - free of such things. Free of such thoughts, attitudes, politics, restrictions
. Free to marry who they want, and free to wield their own power. I envied that. The simplicity. The ability to live to one's own wants or needs after doing one's duty to the Emperor. And the ability to speak one's own mind. To speak, and be heard, be listened to. Yes, I envied them.
"My father, on the other hand, was quite proud of his place in the world, and the power he had managed to accrue. He was the 'Major Kalladrus Bumenar Morannon III, Officer of the Planetary Defence Force, Commander of the Logistics train, and bio-fuel delivery and production corps" which was a fancy way of saying he was in charge of transporting, organising, delivering, and providing food and-slash-or properly cooked meals to the ranks and the officers as needed. He even had medals for one reason or another, was would proudly tell stories of putting down some gretchin this one time out in the field somewhere, when the PDF supported a Guard deployment to remove a minor Ork incursion. Apparently it had only lasted a couple of years, and then it was done. Of course he made it out to be more than it was, until one might almost think he'd taken on an Ork Warlord and retinue. Quite useful when drumming up suitable deals with various members of the local merchant groups.
"My mother, of course, Lady Sara Abigail Morannon, supported this attitude, much as she supported everything else he did, often for the good of the family. She was a canny woman, and I don't doubt for a second that I likely inherited my intelligence from her rather than my father. I did learn many things from her, and some of her more progressive political manoeuvres to protect our House. As a woman, in a male dominated society, there was only so much she could do, though she did manage to wield some of my father's power, albeit by proxy. I saw in this how a certain degree of misdirection, and the occasional bout of forgetting to tell the entire truth (omission can be a useful tool on occasion) can sway many decisions and redirect many minds, when used in the right place.
"My younger brother and, by dint of being male, my father's heir was certainly more like our father. I did my best to provide at least some protection for Karl from some of his more embarrassing political blunders amongst our peers, but there was only so much I could do for him. In the name of the family and my own protection, of course. He really was quite useless - at least to himself. For me he was actually somewhat handy to have around, often as a foil for my own actions when I needed such. That's Karl Kallandros Morannon II (note the use of the 'o' in that name) for the record.
"Perhaps I have erred. I doubtless seem as if I did not care for my family. In truth I did. I loved my mother because, in addition to her keen mind and political sense (and thus ability to provide protection for our family in my father's blind spots) she also loved myself and my brother very much. Nannies aside, she was a wonderful mother, and knew how to organise the family household to the same degree my father purported to know (and apparently did, in all fairness) the managing of troops, logistics, and other such military and economic matters. What I still remember of her is quite positive. And for all my brother's lack of tact or political guile, he was at least loyal, caring in his own way, and he did protect me sometimes physically - he fought a few duels for my honour. Never to the death of course, after all we were only children, engaged in childish behaviour.
"My father, bless his soul, never really noticed this, and just understood that it might be of use to impress various political figures, and even the occasional officer who could be shown that our family took pride in their work and the work of the PDF as a whole. He was a good man, and a good soldier of the Emperor. As I said, a little blind to political necessities, but I suppose that could sometimes be a benefit to a military mind, so perhaps that was why he had gained his position - earned it, really.
"With all of this, I suppose growing up I had a good life. Nobody was shooting at me, which was certain. Nor should I have been in any real danger, as the politics and strength of our family prevent any real damage or weakness unless my mother or I had been particularly foolish, or my father (or brother) particularly unskilled in the arts of war, combat, or command - say what you will, my father and brother could at least be inspiring. Perhaps I did gain that much from them, at least.
"Of course, as I said, politics on a backwater world often focus on selfishness, and the need for personal power above all else. And if you have any passing familiarity at all with how that mix can end up at any level within the imperium, I'm sure you can imagine what followed.
"One night I was awoken by loud noises, shouting, and the smell of smoke. Screams could sometimes be heard, crying, choking, and other noises that a young mind should probably not be exposed to. The sounds of misery, fear, and worse. My home was coming down around my ears, torn from me by corrupt hands - though perhaps I am a little ahead of myself there. I was barely into double digits in terms of my age at the time, and my brother was only a year younger than myself, give or take the odd week or so - I speak of course in Terran terms, as the local timeframe was off by an additional month, give or take a few hours - Mechanicus adepts would be able to be more precise I am sure.
"So there I was, my dark hair in disarray, dressed in my nightwear, afraid for the first time in my life, and feeling very alone. What use a silver tongue (or spoon) when marauders trample through one's home? I was lucky though, one of the many household staff slammed into my room, possibly looking for a place to hide. He hadn't been followed - at least not yet. I summoned what wits I had left and tried to calm him - he was doubtless three times my age and male besides, and I
was calming him
. In doing so I calmed myself, at least somewhat. The terror of the situation was locked away behind what mental fortitude I could erect, and I did my best to ignore the sounds and smells seeping into my room through the door.
"I persuaded the man - Tannel Gorv, someone who worked under our butler apparently - to help me escape whatever this was, alongside my brother and parents, assuming we could locate them without getting ourselves killed. Remember, I had at least watched some manner of combat training, both military combat training and noble duelling, and was at least passingly familiar with what combat sounded. Not war, not by any stretch of the imagination. But combat, I knew. For some reason, our ancient House was under attack, I knew not why.
"I made to leave, but Tannel - I cannot call him 'Mister Gorv' as he was both a servant, and later a friend - stopped me. I remembered that my home was filled with various secret passages, often used by servants, such as the maids who would attend my room when other guests were present in the house. Normally the main passages might be used, unless there was some particular reason not to, but the secret passages behind the walls existed for occasions when it might prove necessary. I had explored plenty of the passages, and knew every one of them by heart, often prowling them to amuse myself, or scare my brother. Such childish pranks and curiosity now proved itself to be of some actual value, and we moved towards and through one of the secret doors, Tannel having regained enough stability to remember to close it behind him.
"We crept into my brothers’ room, as quiet as we could be, and woke him - I remembered to place a hand over his mouth at the last minute, so he wouldn't be too loud. I had read about such things in some of the more thrilling (or lurid) works of fiction that I had stolen upon, and decided it would be of use to maintain secrecy now. Thankfully he woke quietly enough, and after a very short explanation, we had hidden ourselves away in the secret passages once more. It finally entered my mind that we might have been betrayed by one of the servants, and I considered whether or not they might know about our passages. Of course if they had, we would likely have been located by now. But sooner or later some blithering idiot would knock a hole in a wall, and ruin everything.
"We maintained quiet as much as possible, and tried to dim our lights as best we could so we wouldn't be noticed from too far away in the passages. I had Tannel take the lead and guide us to our parent's room. The noise was beginning to go down, somewhat, but I could still hear some fighting and yelling. The smoke was beginning to penetrate the somewhat musty and dusty smell of the passages now too, so clearly some part of our house - what was a grand old building - was burning down quite merrily. Quite a miserable state of affairs from my perspective. I certainly hoped it hadn't reached our librarium. We had a fantastic collection of books. Dated back centuries, really. Possibly much longer than that. The cogitator which housed digital works was also located there, occasionally maintained by the Mechanicus, which we paid a dutiful tithe for. Worth every throne, in my opinion. Not least because I'd even managed to tempt my brother in there on occasion - I'd decided that in addition to our lessons, it was my place to broaden his mind, or at least reduce the limits somewhat. After all, girl or no, I was the older sibling.
"Our luck held, just long enough to encourage our mother to leave their bedroom. She didn't look at all surprised to find the secret passage - unlike my brother who had been somewhat shocked. I had to use what childish guile I had to convince her to leave the room. But it worked. We decided that the best idea would be to escape to a nearby household. Father could undoubtedly hold his own, and extract with the Morannon Guard - our personal household unit - to a suitable location. Given the depth of the invasion of our home I knew the likelihood of this, but chose not to think about it. That way lay a descent into hysteria, and I didn't have time for that. I ruthlessly squashed such thoughts, and mother decreed we would move at a pace suitable for the situation to reach such craft as we maintained. I suggested that perhaps the airspeeder would be an appropriate vehicle for such an occasion, and my mother agreed that perhaps the groundcar would quite possibly be lacking in the suitable particulars.
"Fortune finally left us, and as we rushed to the airspeeder, we came under attack from the monsters who had assaulted our home. And when I say monsters, let me be clear. Outside of the 'normal' humans attacking us, there were also mutants, all dressed in various garish colours. Lasfire flew all around us - which my mother startlingly returned from one of her hands, as if by magic - a jokaero ring, I realise in hindsight. Tannel managed to start the vehicle as my mother's weaponry provided cover fire. A brave woman, and impressive accuracy. Startling, really. She managed to down six of the eight who were arrayed against us, and as I got aboard the airspeeder a little behind my brother, I turned to call for her to hurry up. My brain had shut down to all fear by this point - I was too scared of dying to waste time on being scared anymore. I just acted. That's when it happened, of course. The universe sometimes has a dark sense of humour. She was hit, high, in the chest, and her blood sprayed across my face as the round pinged from the chassis of our vehicle.
"I screamed something incoherent and charged for her. She managed to fire off a few more shots as I dragged her - fuelled by adrenaline, and I now remember the help of my brother, as we dragged her into the vehicle. Two children manhandling a grown woman aboard a vehicle is surprising is it not? Well, not entirely. I later learned that our man was secretly a telekine. At the time, of course, I knew nothing of this. With mother safely aboard, Tannel lost his nerve completely, and we blew out of there, another mutant bouncing off our fender as we did so. From the air, I and my brother saw our father and his guard on the front lawn, in the main part of the grounds. He was trying to get everyone together, to extract using the two ancient chimera vehicles that our guard maintained.
"First one rocket hit, sending one sky high. The other followed suit quite rapidly. After a few more moments of awful violence and bloodshed, I saw my father surrender. Someone approached him, slowly, walking out from the horde of people surrounding them. There were gestures, and probably heated words. Then an eye searing purple fire consumed my father, as he opened up on the enemy. What remained of our household guard was cut down within seconds. Then the rabble dispersed inside our house to pursue whatever demented interest or desire they had for our home. I was quite glad it was dark, and that Tannel had flown up high - we hadn't been spotted yet, so I encouraged him to leave.
"Karl was attending mother. I remember her asking after our father, a man she had come to love quite deeply over the years. I was crying by now, my mind finally beginning to give in to the sheer horror of what had happened. I didn't care about our power now. Just our family, my mother, my father, my brother. My home. She asked if he was alright, if he would follow soon. Her mouth was choked with blood, and her eyes were wide with fear. I didn't dare. I couldn't. How could I tell mother that daddy was dead? What would I tell Karl? I gave her what assurance I could, mopping her brow, and cleaning her up as best I could. I didn't know much of medicine, but what had happened to her looked pretty deadly, and I was just a scared little girl now. Powerless. Useless. Nobody in the airspeeder had any idea about medicine. We didn't even have any supplies. My brother had his hands on the wound, as if trying to press it in and keep the blood from flowing out. But it did.
"And then she died. Just like that. Her breath whispered - gurgled a little - out of her body, and she relaxed completely. My brother recognised something was wrong. I knew it too. I knew she was dead. That cold, horribly rational part of me knew it, admitted it, and forced me to face it. I had no choice - once more choice was taken away from me, away from all of us really. But this time it wasn't society that did it, wasn't my home, my world, or my position that had done it. In fact, for the first time I was a free person, in a sense. But that had been ripped from me thanks to the actions of some rabble, someone who could wield purple fire like it was nothing more than throwing a stone, or hurling a bucket of water. I wanted revenge, I wanted them to hurt, I wanted to tear their eyes out, and stamp on their toes until they screamed. A shriek burst out of me, borne of rage, loss, abject misery, and need. It startled all of us.
"Between myself and my brother, we organised my mother's body into a semblance of respectability, given that we were all covered in blood. I gently removed the digital weapon, and placed it on my own hand, being careful about it. I left mother's wedding band with her. An action I regret in hindsight, as it was most valuable, and had great sentimental value. It was buried with her though, so I suppose it is for the best, and I still have the jokaero ring she wore.
"With that dealt with, I had Tannel guide us to the nearest noble household. We looked a truly shocking sight, I am most sure. An under-butler in less than presentable manner of dress, being as he was decidedly knocked about and scruffy from all our travails, and two bloodstained children, accompanied by the corpse of their mother.
"We were roundly bundled off to suitable rooms, as our manservant explained matters as best he could. The children of this family were a rather horrid lot, and I couldn't stand more than a few minutes of their company even on the best of days. This was, obviously, not the best of days, so I made myself into a truly foul brat until I was left alone and allowed to use what hand-me-down clothing I could to bring myself to some degree of presentable appearance - I was not supported in this endeavour due to the tantrum I had thrown, but a little applied logic and some practice from previous tantrums soon had me correctly attired. My hair was little more than a quickly applied braid down my back, but it would do in the short term.
"I then ensured that the local servants provided the same service for my brother, as he was incapable of dressing himself except in military attire, of which they had none. If he had tried to put on the clothes they provided him, I have no doubt he would have made quite a hash of it. I was lucky in that these servants had not encountered me at my lowest ebb, so I was able to talk them into it properly, like a good little lady.
"I realised then that Karl was now Karl Kallandros Morannon II, lord and master of the Morannon estate, and I would be his sister, and Lady of the household until such time as he (or I) was married. A daunting thought, to be sure, for one so recently come into a breath of freedom, but duty to my family came first (after that to the Emperor, obviously).
"It was not to be. Far from what I might have expected - in that the scheming minds of our hosts would have tried to marry me off to one of his own horrid brats, while redirecting Karl into the PDF officer cadets as sponsored by his household, to ensure suitable political power, and loyalty - we were instead to be dumped in the care of the Schola Progenium. Not just ripped from our home, but ripped from our entire world. Tannel could do nothing, of course. He was but a servant. He would be formally taken in by the House of Vordel as a kindness for warning them of the threat, and we would - as befitted orphaned children of a military officer - be directed into suitable careers for such imperial citizenry.
"And just like that, our world washed its hands of us. With our power stripped, we were no longer of use to anyone except as political pawns, and the manner in which we were removed would gain the Vordel family much immediate political capital, while at the same time removing us from the game completely. With us quietly, but somewhat honourably out of the way, they could move in on our grounds of power, take our estates, improve their own holdings, and steal our inheritance, with no resistance whatsoever (until the other families realised what was occurring of course). I didn't even have time to try to contact the Governor. We were handed into the care of a passing trade ship, and just like that we were gone.
"Stripped of House, home, world even. All within a short span of days, the wonder of seeing one's home-world from orbit rapidly followed by the horror of travel within the warp. And soon thereafter, our training began. I would become a member of the sisterhood, my anger at all that had happened, and my abilities in combat throwing me into the more militant of the Sisters of Battle, while my brother ended up being trained as a commissar. I sometimes wonder what happened to him after he left the schola. I hope dearly that he survived, but given the usual success rate for commissars, I somehow doubt it. It would be nice to think he might make a name for himself though.
"For my part I rapidly found out that my silver tongue wouldn't get me quite as far as before, and I soon found myself having to become more self-reliant than I ever had previously. I soon learned much of the ways of combat, while strengthening my faith. My hair was cut short, a dark brown bob of hair, and I gained a fleur-de-lis tattoo on my left cheek. A decade and change later, I was sent to Ophelia VII to become part of the Order of the Valorous Heart. Skilled in many weapons, both ranged and close-quarters, and as pious as one might hope, albeit with a strong understanding of politics and leadership, I soon found myself and my squad were often seconded to aid the Inquisition in cleansing the impure and the tainted, rather than aiding our order on the battlefield proper.
"Eventually, that became a permanent secondment, under the aegis of Inquisitor Varrus Hendrick of the Ordo Hereticus. I became permanently attached to his retinue, along with the rest of my squad. We began to be split up, however, and my sisters were often deployed to other groups, while he used my leadership skills to keep them under good command, and to organise the incursions. I became useful to him, due to my understanding of both politics and tactics, and also by learning about lower classes and criminals and how they thought. I had a duty, to the Emperor, and the Inquisition. I knew that much of what I did would never be known. And much of the more distasteful acts would be necessary if we were to cleanse the galaxy of mutants, heretics, traitors, and worse besides. My sisters sometimes had trouble with this. For all my faith, I dealt with it better, I think. I sometimes had questions, but I had learned in the Schola that when I had questions, I should turn to the Emperor for guidance. Our first duty is to Him and the Imperium of Mankind. Which means that we, ultimately, are expendable in the face of that. Our needs as individuals are nothing compared to the sacrifices we must make for the protection of all humanity. If the God-Emperor can sacrifice himself to stop Horus, and still be seated upon the Golden Throne, in the name of humanity, can we do any less?
"My work took me to many dark places. I saw much that most do not see - should never see. I learned much about the darkness that dwells within our society. And I learned that sometimes it can be turned against itself, rather than purged with fury and flame. My master even aided me in resolving the situation on Londras. We landed on the world in secret - once more I was little more than a young Lady, playing the part of a noble returned home. Or rather, a woman with the appearance of a young Lady. Rejuvenat treatments are a wonderful thing in terms of extending ones usefulness in service to Him on Earth. And I had become useful enough that my master deemed me worthy of such treatments.
"Our way in was through House Vordel. They had gained control of the food production that my own family once dealt with, and had gained a degree of control over the logistics of the operation. The military side of things was under the control of others. My home had been possessed by the Vordel family as additional property and estate - though as Lady, and sister to the heir of the estate of Morannon, I could make some manner of claim to at least that much, albeit by proxy. We managed to recruit suitable local tutors and manservants to aid in ensuring the success of our infiltration. The tutors to help refresh me in the particulars of the society I had become estranged from, not to mention training me in skills I had not yet learned at an adult level. Largely certain ways of acting around adult members of my society, as most of the rest had been suitable trained into me at a young age, and though initially rusty, it did not take too long to bring those skills back to the forefront of my mind. The manservants were there to provide for our cover, so that we could be and look exactly as who we were supposed to be.
"My master used nobility as a cover for himself as well, though in his case he played the part of a far off imperial representative, a noble who had gallantly escorted me home from wherever the Schola had sent me. The explanation for that, of course, was that I was part of the one of the Orders Famulous - explaining my haircut and tattoo - with an interest in the history of our little world for the sake of imperial records. He would be there with an eye towards gaining favour of House Vordel, so as to acquire suitable rationing supplies for Guard regiments, and forge worlds across the sector, which would have given House Vordel a good source of profit if true. In fact it could well have been true for all I knew, as it might have suited my master's aspirations well to have a local House in his pocket, and a suitably improved source of supplies for imperial endeavours in the area. Especially in light of the usual provocations by the Orks in the region.
"House Vordel was still being led by old Lord Grenlich Goddfried Vordel, though his brats had all grown up. They were still greedy, which at least made getting them to agree to the deal my master offered them fairly straightforward. Getting my old home returned to my family was dull and time consuming drudgery, but we got it done. It took a full six Terran months, but it was done. By then I'd rediscovered Tennel, and had him returned to my family's service. My master discovered his talents in short order, and rather than having him executed, he chose to bring him in to his personal service. The fact that he'd survived this long without attracting daemonic attention was enough for my master to decide to keep him around. Or possibly it was just so he could keep an eye on Tennel. Either way, after an initially frost re-introduction, especially in light of his abilities, we eventually learned to accept each other.
"By the time my home was back in my possession, we had investigated much of my planets under classes, but still found only limited traces of the cult that had slaughtered my household. My home itself had been restored - I was childishly pleased that the librarium had not been damaged during the violence, or otherwise negatively impacted in the intervening years since then. However, in further investigation I discovered a select number of books had been removed from there. We were forced to enlist the aid of the Mechanicus in tracking through my own data stored within the on-site cogitator system. It should have been simple, but the weight of information in our librarium was quite sizeable. This was no mere room with books - it was a full complex in its own right, with its own security and protection systems, including defences (thankfully) against fires. Maintenance servitors would keep track of the store of books, ensuring they were properly kept and protected, properly stored, catalogued, and organised.
"The missing books were a concern - why had the cult wanted them thirty years ago? What were they doing with them now? Where had they gone? Were they still here? How had they known where to look and what to take? What kind of support did they have? A thirty years dead case now had to be solved, and given that a psyker was involved, we probably had to begin moving fast to make up the ground. House Vordel would have gained much from such an occasion - and indeed had - but it was not they who were responsible. A surreptitious investigation into their affairs under the guise of clearing them to begin operations with the distribution effort for resources into the wider imperium soon proved that they were innocent. A part of me had wished otherwise, but they were loyal. There none among them who consorted with heretics. Which meant the issue lay elsewhere.
"The books themselves were a mix. Some dealing in old lore, others in concerning myths about this planet. More than that we could not say, without discovering them ourselves. The only lead we had was in tracking down who had been involved with house access on the night of the incursion. Much of the records were scrambled, but we were able to get at least one name who had access that night and hadn't died. It led us to a woman named Vara Dunne. Interrogating her allowed us to discover the traitor who had let them in. Garet Goulding had died five years previously of bowel cancer. His effects were still stowed away in a slum lockdown.
"Tracing through his business records - what we could find of them - led us eventually to a likely looking candidate. He had been an inveterate gambler, apparently, and was indebted quite thoroughly to a local slumlord by the name of Vraxx Furtoth. Unsavoury by any standards, with connections that we dearly needed to know about. He had thrived among the underclasses - and lived on far better fare than the local grox-patty houses could provide. Once we swept in and removed his defences, however, he became quite chatty and forgiving. Once we had what we wanted - including access to his records - we executed him. He was foolish enough to aid a heretical cult, greedy enough to try to profit by it, and cowardly enough that his silence had been kept - until now, anyway. His continued living would have served us little, and imprisoning him would have been worthless. The power vacuum his removal created, however, might prove a benefit to the local citizenry. Hopefully something better, or stronger, would grow up in its place.
"We had leads now, and the investigation began to move apace. We traced payments through several groups until eventually we found ourselves in a rather concerning place. The orders, and payments, had come from the Governor himself, or at the very least, his House. They had employed muscle, including mutants, provided by the late-slumlord, supporting whatever core cult had desired our property. Our group moved in, using the full force of the Inquisition now to penetrate his holdings, enter his grounds, and interrogate his people. Eventually, my small group found ourselves in a firefight as forces, loyal to whomever had started this mess, decided to act. In the ensuing chaos, I was knocked unconscious.
"I awoke to find myself bound, gagged, and naked. Not even so much as a stray sock. I was somewhere in, or under, the Governor's manse, and surrounded by cultists. Off to one side I could see one of the Governor's advisors leading the cult in chanting, reading from a book doubtless stolen from my own librarium. How had my family even owned such a book? And what were they doing? I spotted my master, hidden away up in the rafters - nobody else had spotted them, thankfully. Doubtless he would be with me soon, having cleansed this filth from existence. And yet, he didn't. He merely watched, some of his core agents with him, some looking away as if in distaste. What were they waiting for? Just because I was naked was no reason to hold back - they had heretics to kill!
"The chanting reached fever pitch, and still my master did not move. It ended, and silence ringing, and suddenly I felt something invading my body, my mind, my very being. Foul, nauseating, corrupt. Evil. The daemon Khal'athatras - in an instant I knew it, saw all that it had done, and even all it would do, all the horrors inflicted, the cruelties both perverse and foul. And it knew me. Every inch. It sickened me.
"The creature owned my body, and trapped my mind and spirit away, locked in a box. Apparently the cultists had not thought to banish my own existence before forcing this thing
upon me. It moved within me, unwanted, unbidden, hateful, torturous, vile. And I was powerless to do anything about it. The creature knew, and took pleasure from this. I vowed I would fight back somehow, reclaim what was mine - but I couldn't. Unbidden, my body rose, melting the bonds that had held it, and hovered above the ground, uncovered before all. I wanted to cry, throw up, run, do anything at all, but I could not.
“‘What would you have me do?" the creature asked, in a voice that was not my own. 'Unleash hell.' replied the cult leader. I felt my body shrug. 'Very well.' the daemon replied. Its voice hurt me. My own is calm, noble, cool, and controlled. Even in the midst of a firefight, I am ever the noble. A relic of my upbringing. This one was raw, sultry, deep, and hard edged, all at once. It hurt the ears.
"The daemon whipped out into the cultists, and those foolish enough to stand in its way - they died ecstatic, beatific, as if it was the greatest gift in the world. And they died in terror, in a split second seeing what they had truly descended into. When it was done, the hard core of the cultists remained, the leader smiling. 'Now we will remove the governor, and begin corruption of the people - you will aid us in this.' He directed this last at my hovering body, at the daemon he held within it, wisping around his hands a purple flame as if in threat. As if it could impress Khal'athatras.
"A second later his head vanished, replaced by a red mist as a round from my master's plasma pistol took his head clean off. Pandemonium ensued. My master's followers swept into the room, slaughtering the cultists. The daemon within me attempted to begin slaughtering anything in range, but I found it was held down. My master was using Tennel to hold my body in place - the strength of that old man was fearsome! He was crying, tears mixed with blood, ice forming around him as he fought against the strength of the shard of a greater daemon. He shook as if in the grip of a seizure. My master began crying out foul words, binding the daemonhost that I had become. The daemon fought harder, but it was fruitless. My master claimed the evil thing.
"I was disguised, and removed before anyone else could interfere. The acolytes all looked away from me - as well they might. They had known what was coming, what I would become, had become, and like my master had done nothing. I loathed them, as I loathed him. Deceitful bastard. Heretic! I was used soon after to remove the Governor from power - he had allowed this cult to fester under his nose, his weakness, and that of those around him, damning this world. But my master instead raised House Vordel into power. I, however, was chained, restricted, trapped inside my own body, jailed in turn by both my master, and this daemon, playthings of them both.
"Three years. Three Terran years, it took. Three years of doing horrific things to unjust people in the name of the Emperor, under the aegis of the heretic Hendrick. A recongregator by choice, which I agreed with, and heretic by action, which I did not. He was also part of a splinter faction of a splinter faction, of the Order Hydra, sub-sect of the Illuminati, which was in itself a sub-sect of the Inquisition as a whole. And for those three years, I was his tool. It took me every iota of strength, every erg of faith in the Emperor. Every day, every minute, every second I pressed, poked, and prodded at that thing, pushing at it, forcing at it. After one particularly hellish battle (I use that word advisedly) the daemon was at the lowest ebb I had ever known it to be. I forced at it, chased at it, pushed through the pain, the horror, and sheer mind-numbing hell of its very being. And fell screaming to the floor of the hold in which I had been chained.
"It was gone, sent screaming into the warp, though whether in gladness for being free of my master, or anger at me for overcoming it, I could not tell. I did not care to. It was enough that I was free, so to speak. Chained in a locked hold, but free of the daemons control, its taunts, and its imprisonment. I had been sustained by the daemons presence, my body kept in vaguely good health, rather than emaciated, though my muscles were now whipcord strong, rather than their previous bulk. It would take many months to recover from the three years of abuse and violation.
"A few hours later, my master entered the hold, a smile on his wretched face. I wanted to rip off his skin, and force feed that smile to him, the smug heretical boil. 'It would seem you have achieved much, acolyte. The strength to remove a daemon from one's own body is no small thing.' The fact that he had planned for this eventuality made my blood burn. 'Some would accuse you of being tainted. Others would suggest that to throw off a daemon means you were blessed by the Emperor. You managed it in a good time frame. Not the fastest on record, but impressive enough, considering what you shared your existence with. You will be healed, and retrained, in the service of the Inquisition. You are mine.’
"'Doubtless you think me cruel, but to become a member of the Illuminati requires that you be possessed by a daemon, and then to throw it off - if you fail, your host body is used until either it is destroyed, or the daemon is required to be banished, and your body along with it. You are now one of that number, irrevocably so. You will train under me now, and under my direction you will learn what it means to be an Inquisitor.'
"With that some of his acolytes, the ones who had held back, filed into the room, and picked up my unresisting limbs, and dragged me out. A medicae team healed me, and I began training as a true acolyte of the Inquisition, rather than the mere agent I had been previously. I suffered much in the training and rising through the ranks. By age 66 I was one of his Interrogators, once more granted trust to lead teams and prosecute his duties, but ever on a leash, and 'supported' by operatives provided by him. I bided my time. I knew now what he had done, and why, and how. Already I knew too much of heretical lore, and daemons, and hosts, and their control.
"I learned more of the Order Hydra. And the Illuminati proper who hunted them - rightly so in my opinion, though they hunted me also. The Order Hydra was determined to pursue their goals, regardless of the wider needs of the Imperium, or the Emperor. They had to be stopped. But in my current position, I could do nothing.
"And then, having earned his trust, he made his first mistake. He and three of his co-conspirators raised me to the rank of Inquisitor. I would continue to be their puppet, at least for now, but the rank and the privileges it gave me finally granted me a little leeway. The rosette gave me legitimacy, and I intended on using it.
"I set up my personal base within Londras IV, using my ancient House as a cover. My home was once again mine, but now in the service of the Emperor. From here, and with Tennel now working directly with me, with rejuvenat to attempt to keep his service for as long as possible, I began to build my own networks, my own webs of agents and intrigues. I travelled far and often, sometimes following leads that forced me to cross the entire length or breadth of the Imperium, or further besides. Sometimes my master would require my efforts on tasks for Hydra, and I would do them, setting up groups, cults, networks, often simultaneously with my own duties. I would often ensure that it was done via cutouts, and I would ensure that such cutouts were excised before I left them, leaving plans to run on timed organisation. The cutouts were rarely executed by my own hand - most of the time they would be organised to die by accident, or discovery by one of my unknowing groups of agents.
"Completing these plans gave me greater insight into Hydra, a wider understanding of their works and aims. I took from my networks and cutouts and agents the methods with which I would begin to oppose Hydra. To do so I would secretly create within the Illuminati an Order Templar - a mirror of Macharius, the Black Templars, and the Grey Knights. We would purge Hydra from the shadows, striking from places where they would not recognise the danger until it fell upon them like the wrath of Him on Terra. I would even use the Ordo Malleus to do much of this, having agents’ plant info-bombs within cogitator centres to spread the information through the datastacks of the Inquisition, once more using my cutouts, and removal processes to deflect blame, implicate others, and entrap Inquisitors of the heretical Hydra group. A sword for every head, a dagger for every neck, a pyre for every heretic.
"And this was how I defeated my master. Not bombastically, not with my own violence, or rage. I did not claim responsibility, I did not bandy it in his face - this would be the act of a fool. Instead I simply stood aside - much as he and his band had stood aside when I was possessed - and allowed the Malleus to have their way with him. Or more accurately, allowed them to execute him, before he could betray me or anyone else. I ensured that he would be forced to resist arrest, be tainted enough that they would send the Grey Knights to purge his fortress and all who dwelled therein. After all, when one is possessed by a daemon, one ends up learning its true name, if one is patient.
"Knowing what I do, I agree with the aims of the Illuminati proper, and where possible I try to support those, while moving forward as a recongregator of my own sort, and member of the Ordo Hereticus, with my eye towards removing Hydra, excising them where I can. I have raised my own acolyte to a position within the Inquisition - Jack Jomar, of Ultramar, of the planet Macragge.
"Bringing him into the Illuminati was perhaps one of the harder tasks I have faced - I had to put him through what I myself went through. Summon a daemon, imprison it within him as host, and hope he would break free. Unlike my master, however, I warned him first. Told him of the test, of what it would mean, and why, and what our aims would be if he survived the ordeal - and what would happen if he failed it. I did not do this lightly, or without thought - had he refused, or attempted to run off to appropriate authorities to turn me in, I would have had him executed before he could have taken more than a few steps.
"It is to his credit that he not only understood, but accepted willingly, with the courage that the best of his world show in the face of such demands that duty to the Emperor places upon them. A telepath, and psykana graduate already, he knew the risks well. I do not doubt that he had some fear of what was to come, some revulsion of what would have to be done. And it took him five full years. There were times I was almost convinced he had failed, but something stayed my hand. I knew now that Khal'Athatras hated me fully for doing to it what had been done by my master, and been done through it to me. It was a threat to me, and the Illuminati as a whole. But it was the only daemon whose true name I knew, that I had power over, and I did not dare attempt to locate another true name under the nose of the Malleus.
"Interrogator Jomar, as he became a few years after freeing himself from that monster, suffered through much as a daemonhost. I was forced on occasion to employ his powers, bound as deeply as he was. But I did so rarely, if at all. I do not doubt that was he went through was no better than my own experience at that hands of that vile thing. But the Illuminati order, and my own Templar order within it, is demanding of those who truly follow the path.
"Jomar was one of very few that I tested in such a manner who survived the ordeal. Many were not strong enough, or were corrupted outright. I purged every one of them, due in part to using daemons who I could not fully control without a true name. Only rarely did such bindings succeed. In the case of Jomar, it had succeeded, and well - he had retained his powers, grown a little in them, even. His physical recovery was arduous, but over the decades, he proved a worthy acolyte and Interrogator in my service. I oversaw his ascension to full Inquisitorial status with pride. His ordeal made me consider - would control over a daemon via its true name ensure a higher success rate of illuminated agents for the Illuminati? I needed to know.
"I travel almost alone now - sometimes with an agent or two. When I travelled with Jomar, he would pilot our Arvus lighter. Now I maintain pilot contracts for a single person, and occasionally acquire the immediate services of an Operative of one of the Assassin temples - usually one who is in training prior to becoming a full assassin. Operatives are quite lethal in their own right, and Sicarian Operatives have many applications. I maintain a few connections to that sub-Ordo of the Hereticus, not just for my actions as recongregator, but also simply in the line of my duties - sometimes a plan, or operation will require such direct subterfuge or action that an Operative can provide.
"It's easier this way. Ever since I dealt with my master, I have worn the remnants of my Sororitas armour, and an enclosed helm, with suitable accoutrements. Hiding my identity is the best way to misdirect, and even redirect the vengeance of Hydra. My identities, truths, and names keep me safe. I cannot remove my identity or appearance from the records, so instead I flood the records with multiple appearances and identities. In the Carthax sector most recently, I have flooded the databanks with identities of Kaede Mack. There are already multiple identities for this criminal it would seem, so I have taken advantage of that confusion, and multiplied it further. I use some of them, and attribute others to yet other people, even fellow inquisitors so as to prevent them becoming a threat to me. As ever I use my cut-out methods, accidents, rumours, and manipulation to prevent it coming back to me. In the Emperor's Name."