The Adepta Sororitas – The Sisters of Battle
The Orders Militant of the Adepta Sororitas (or the Daughters of the Emperor to give them their archaic title), are a powerful and largely independent collection of religious orders that form the militant wing of the Imperial Ecclesiarchy, protecting its domains, enforcing its will, destroying its enemies and defending the faithful. Each member of this all-female sisterhood is sworn to the Imperial Creed, relentlessly trained to excel and is utterly devoted to her Order, her work and the Imperial faith.
The origins of the Adepta Sororitas lie in the dark days of the Age of Apostasy and perhaps even before. Their modern form took shape in the Reformation of Sebastian Thor that ended the wars of religious schism and gave birth to Ordo Hereticus. They owe their power in no small part to Thor’s great Decree Passive that prevented the Ministorum from raising permanent bodies of “men under arms”. Following the disbanding of the Ecclesiarchy’s standing armies and fleets, the Sororitas were given the task of defending the Ecclesiarchy and Imperial faith from direct threat. They also form the Chamber Militant of Ordo Hereticus of the Inquisition, a zealous and utterly fanatical force of elite soldiers, learned savants and skilled physicians who are an invaluable part of the Hereticus’s war on unbelief, witchery and, of course, heresy.
“I am sending you a replacement for Uthaks battlefield expertise. Sister Jean is an experienced sister of the Adepta Sororitas, and I am sure she will make a valuable addition to your team. Her aid in purging the emperors enemies which you are so adept at rooting out will be invaluable, and I am confident that those acts of cleansing will be rewarding to her sense of duty. Inquisitor Sand”
Rewarding indeed. Her first combat service with her new allies, and the heretics she is sent to cleanse turn out to be the Emperors own.
As the newly acquired Rhino APC speeds down the road, all eyes are on the corpse of the power armoured woman on the floor. Even Magos Borg directs an optical mechadendrite over his shoulder as he steers the vehicle at high speeds down the dimly lit access network of roads and arterials connecting the warehouse districts to the rest of the Hive. As a massive explosion levels the cursed warehouse to the ground, you all look warily at each other, what does all this mean?
Just a few minutes earlier the Acolytes felt elated at the breakthrough, it was obvious that the warehouse was housing the answers to many of the questions they had been searching for these last months. As the imposing figure in power armour and Xenos helmet turned up it became obvious that something was wrong, and that the heretics were preparing to pull put and purge their tracks with fire. Then it all went wrong.
After a short but intense firefight that included the destruction of 2 tanks and a display of psychic powers that was truly frightening, sister Jean quickly scans the battlefield for further threats while the smoke still rises from her heavy bolter. The tech-priest administers to the fallen witch as Castus the Assassin drops from the walkways above, holding his Nomad hunting instrument. The destruction is immense, and fires burn in wrecked vehicles and crates, spreading smoke with alarming speed. The Acolytes make a quick final search, gather documents and evidence and prepare to leave. As Borg drags the fallen Inquisitor aboard the APC, sister Jean watches in disgust as Brutus strips the fallen guards of their armour and gear. Seeming not to care about the blood and entrails covering the carapace pieces, he manages to patch together a complete set by combining undamaged parts from 3 different corpses. “Where are Uthaks standard issue lootbags when you need them?” he muses, as he pulls an intact underarm brace from a severed arm. His work is cut short as the team is ready to leave and the fire and smoke makes the place too dangerous to inhabit. There is also the matter of placed and armed explosives…
In the APC, the silence is almost tangible, and even Brutus has stopped cleaning his newly acquired gear. Castus finally breaks the silence. “What do we know about the various factions and schisms in the Holy Ordos?”. Havelas nods and collects his thoughts, but Jean looks confused. While she is well aware of the history of schisms an infighting in the Ecclesiarchy, she had believed the Holy Inquisition above such matters. Not so, apparently, as becomes plain when Havelas (assisted ably by Magos Borg) presents a wealth of forbidden knowledge to his allies.
The factions of the Holy Ordos
The various factions concerned can be divided into two broad camps. There are those traditionally dubbed ‘Puritans’, and the factions that are referred to as ‘Radicals’. Puritans uphold the letter of the Lore and the dictates of the Emperor to the letter, as enforced upon the populace and servants of the Emperor at large where possible. It is they who uphold the widespread beliefs that permeate the organisations of the Imperium, and can be said to adhere to the traditional values as preached by the Ministorum and enshrined at the heart of Imperial Law. Radicals, in their favoured position as Inquisitors, feel they are free to enforce the spirit and intent of the Emperor’s Judgements, and it can be truly said that they see the methods they employ to be secondary to the execution of their duties and the achievement of their goals. They would be considered heretics by the vast majority of Imperial citizens for their behaviour, but we, as more knowledgeable and wiser observers, can see there are powerful arguments to support their views and methodology. In either case, extremism of one type or another must always be closely witnessed, lest it turn to self-destructive obsession.
The main Puritan factions are the Thorians, Monodominants and the Amalathians, while on the Radical side we know of the Xanthites, the recongregators and the Istvaanians.
The Thorians trace their origins to the Age of Apostasy, and the overthrow of Lord Vandire by Sebastian Thor. To some Inquisitors it was evident that Thor moved with a divine purpose, and was instilled with some of the power and charisma of the Emperor Himself. It is their belief that the Emperor walks among us. Having been shorn from the physical realm by the wounds inflicted by Horus, he once again must choose vessels to do His work, as he did so before the Age of Strife. The flesh maintained in the Golden Throne is not the Emperor, for he travels abroad, tending to His Divine Will, instilling His power into those who have been chosen. But these are frail, mortal bodies which can possess only a fraction of the Emperor’s power, and are ultimately destined to die of injury or old age. But what if the Emperor could be granted a body that does not wither and die, that could be His vessel for all eternity to come? The Thorians believe that such a thing is possible, that the Emperor yet waits for His new body to be found or created. In essence, a new Emperor will be created to lead Mankind to its destiny and conquest of the galaxy.
It was Inquisitor Goldo in the third century of the 33rd millennium who penned the treatise ‘Monodomination – The Right of Man to Rule the Galaxy in the Emperor’s Holy Name.’ In this lengthy document, he compiled his many experiences and commentaries from nearly four hundred years of service to the Imperium. His final conclusion amounted to declaring that the only way the Emperor’s loyal servants would survive in the galaxy was if everything else was destroyed. The Monodominants have a simple goal: to destroy forever the Emperor’s enemies. Monodominants have absolutely no tolerance for any kind of wayward behaviour. There is no excuse for heresy, contemplating heresy or for abetting heretics. Heresy includes mutation, religious deviation, aliens, psykers and any other beings who do not conform to their view of the loyal Imperial servant. There is only one punishment for heresy in the Monodominant philosophy – death. Mankind is fighting a war for racial survival, and the Monodominants hope that if they kill off enough aliens, psykers, mutants and heretics, eventually natural selection will prevail and humanity will rise to its position of ultimate power. Castus can be seen nodding in complete agreement as Havelas lectures on.
The Amalathians believe that the Emperor’s will is unfolding constantly across the Imperium and that He has a plan known only to Him. A strict Puritan faction, they believe in maintaining the laws and governance of the Imperium above all considerations, convinced that in keeping the status quo they are in fact fulfilling the Emperor’s great vision for His domain. They are also counted among the oldest of the factions, their tenets first being laid down millennia ago on the sacred slopes of Mount Amalath – from which they take their name. They strive to maintain the status quo, seeking out any person or agency that might destabilise the power of the Imperium from without and within. They are less concerned with the more traditional crimes of mutation, witchery and religious heresy except where these conflict with the institutions of the Empire of Man. They try to keep the rivalry and politicking between the various Imperial Organisations to a minimum, holding to the Inquisition’s original creed of strength through unity. Change is considered the most serious threat of all, for change can herald disaster. While other Inquisitors may endeavour to bring about some great upheaval or revelation that will see Mankind break from its current turmoil into a new golden age, the Amalathians prefer to progress slowly, if progress is necessary at all. The Amalathians accuse Inquisitors of other philosophies of utter arrogance in claiming that they know the Divine Will of the Emperor. Amalathians trust the Emperor to work His way and His plan as he has always done, and it is for the Inquisition to maintain the Imperium so that he may do so as He sees fit – mortals do not try to guess the Emperor’s mind. At its heart, the Imperium is the Emperor embodied and to protect the Imperium is to protect the Emperor.
Xanthism is one of the oldest philosophies of the Inquisition, named after Inquisitor-Master Zaranchek Xanthus who was executed as a heretic in the early 32nd millennium. Xanthus was accused of Chaos worship, and although he professed his innocence strongly, he was eventually burnt by a team of fellow Inquisitors. Throughout, Xanthus had maintained that he remained pure, though he admitted that he did on occasion utilise the forces of the Warp and Chaos to achieve his goals. It was his firm stance that such power could be harnessed without the spiritual corruption of the wielder that was to be later picked up on by other Inquisitors. It is the ultimate goal of the Xanthites to harness the power of Chaos for Mankind. They believe that Chaos cannot be defeated, for it is merely a reflection of humanity itself. However, those energies and powers created by its existence can be turned back for the benefit of humanity, rather than being an enemy. This does not mean that they advocate giving in to Chaos, but rather to capture the essence of Chaos and turn it to useful rather than destructive purposes. In the same way as the Warp (and so Chaos) allows Warp travel, Astrotelepathy and psykers to work on Mankind’s behalf, so too can other facets of Chaos be controlled, tamed to the Emperor’s Will by the Xanthites. Castus sneers, and Jean looks almost physically ill and Havelas tries to conceal his enthusiasm and moves swiftly on to the next faction.
According to the Recongregation philosophy, the Imperium has become corrupt and decaying. It no longer serves the purpose for which it exists, and works in spite of its massive organisations rather than because of them. Over time the morass of politics, factions, bureaucracy and the immense edifices of the Imperium must be pulled apart and reassembled in a new fashion that works better for Mankind. If the Imperium is allowed to continue to stagnate, it will eventually fall apart and humanity will fall prey to the unnumbered perils that it faces. Recongregators attempt to destabilise the Imperial organisations from the inside, replacing corrupt and/or conservative leaders and men of power with people who have more radical views and a will to change. Most are wary of too much upheaval though, preferring not to destroy something utterly, but to subtly change it and shape it to their will. Too much direct action risks bringing about the premature downfall of the Imperium, and the commensurate disaster that that will bring. As can be imagined, Recongregators have frequent run-ins with those who believe in the Amalathian philosophy, as the two beliefs are diametrically opposed. It would appear that Inquisitor Brieger was a follower of the Recongregators philosophy before he was led (even further) astray.
The greatest conflict to engulf humanity was the Great Heresy which began with the Primarch Horus’ virus-bombing of Istvaan III. Although the Horus Heresy saw the destruction of entire worlds and devastation on an unprecedented and unrepeated scale, there are some Inquisitors who see it as one of the moments during which the Imperium and Mankind’s future was forged. From the Horus Heresy came the great military changes that saw the break up of the Space Marine Legions and the division of Navy and Guard, the Emperor’s Ascension and the creation of the Ministorum and many other events which shaped the Imperium of the present.
It is the goal of the Istvaanians to strengthen humanity through adversity, believing that humanity is at its strongest in times of turmoil and conflict. From periods of greatest upheaval have come the greatest leaps forward in technology, faith and galactic dominance. Did not the Horus Heresy weed out those Marines disloyal to the Emperor? Did not the Age of Apostasy herald the coming of Sebastian Thor and the reformation of the Ecclesiarchy? Did not the great battles fought by Macharius’ armies shine like a great torch in the dark times of the early 41st millennium! These are the arguments they put forward. The Istvaanians claim that only when it is hardest tested does Mankind show the true strength that lies within it. To this end, the Istvaanians endeavour to propagate strife and conflict for Mankind’s own
greater future. Istvaanians fan the fires of war and hatred so that Mankind will stay vigilant, that its warriors will be skilled and ready, and so none will believe that they have done all they can. They are a bombastic and obvious creed, flaunting their warmongering ways, instilling those nearby with fiery zeal to fight for themselves and the rest of Mankind. They pit faction against faction, world against world, so that the survivors will be the stronger for it.
As his lecture ends, all eyes return to the dead woman on the floor, and to the piles of evidence gathered. What faction, if any, did she identify with, and what enemies had the Acolytes made for themselves now?
What were her goals? What plans had they foiled, and what might be the unforeseen consequences for the worlds of the Calixis Sector?