"To stand in their sight, to be in their presence and bask in their glory, even through so pale an imitation as this... it is something that few can bear. Those who can stand proud before the gaze of a god often find their faith renewed and invigorated."
- —Attributed to Lorek Thalin, 33rd Lord Cardinal of the Jericho Sector Arch-Diocese, 6443521.M33
Credos is a mountainous Shrine World located within the Achilus Crusade's Orpheus Salient in the Jericho Reach. It was declared a Forbidden World by the Inquisition after the forces of Hive Fleet Dagon made planetfall, and thus became sequestered by the Deathwatch under clearance level Omega Vermillion.
The planet stands as a monument to the might of the Imperium and to the grand heroes that strove to unite Humanity so long ago. For as long as the Imperium has laid claim to the stars themselves, Credos has existed to denote the impossible distances Mankind has crossed and the strength of Human ambition.
Believed to predate the Horus Heresy, the Theopticon appears to have once consisted of twenty-one statues, with eleven of them -- clearly those depicting the Lost and Traitor Primarchs -- having been reduced to nothing more than rubble, leaving only empty spaces and shattered rock as testament to their presence.
Each statue is some six kilometres high, carved from the hard yellow-brown stone of their surroundings, maintained by ancient and cunning technologies to help them endure the ages and stand under their own immense weight.
The statues are arranged in a vast arc, all facing inwards with each statue gazing at the same point as all the others -- the highest peak on the small, mountainous continent. Into this peak is built a temple to the might of the Emperor, now maintained by forces loyal to the Deathwatch.
Deathwatch personnel frequently make pilgrimages to Credos as a way of reconnecting with their spiritual and genetic fathers, though there are some outside the Deathwatch -- amongst those few who know of Credos -- who suspect some motive for the Deathwatch beyond Adeptus Astartes spiritualism in their continued maintenance of the Theopticon and its temple.
The world has seen many changes in the long millennia of its existence. The structure known as the Theopticon is said to have existed upon Credos' only continental mass since before the Horus Heresy, the statues of the Emperor and the Primarchs dominating the skyline with their size and majesty.
In the wake of the Horus Heresy, Credos became a world of specific importance in the Jericho Sector. As belief in the God-Emperor spread across the Imperium in the 31st and 32nd Millennia, temples and shrines were constructed to celebrate that faith, and worlds came together to share it.
When the Temple of the Saviour Emperor became the official religion of the Imperium, the many priests and clerics of the Emperor within the ancient Jericho Sector embarked upon a pilgrimage to Credos, to stand beneath the gaze of the Emperor and His sons and consider the faith that they all shared.
Over the course of many years, these priests resolved many disputes and came to many conclusions, determining the sector's first Imperial saints, the core tenets of faith, and the structure of the sector's dioceses and which worlds would fall within them -- in short, the entire religious landscape of the Jericho Sector.
In the millennia that followed, the sector's Cardinals embarked upon a pilgrimage back to Credos once a decade, to discuss matters of politics and theology, their grand conclave being the only opportunity these powerful individuals had to all appear in the same place at the same time.
However, the tradition was ended with the appointment of Arch-Cardinal Udo Asterus, who saw no need to discuss his power with those he considered beneath him, and Credos lay abandoned by all save the last generation of monks who maintained the temple.
Centuries after Cardinal Asterus' demise, Credos had been all but forgotten, its existence remembered only in the works of scholars, or so it was believed by the rulers of the Jericho Sector.
For reasons which even today are unclear, the Deathwatch keep a watchful eye on abandoned Credos, despite the temple there being empty but for the desiccated remains of the monks who once dwelt there as caretakers.
For some five thousand standard years, the Deathwatch has maintained a vigil over Credos, employing a select group of trusted mortal serfs to maintain the temple and the arcane machinery that keeps the immense statues from collapsing.
During that time, many Battle-Brothers of the Deathwatch have voyaged to Credos, some to bear witness to the visage of their ancient gene-fathers, while others confine themselves to the temple complex instead, venturing deep into the catacombs for solar weeks at a time.
The first Tyranid creatures made planetfall on Credos in late 816.M41, when a cluster of Mycetic Spores bearing vanguard organisms plunged into the ocean several hundred kilometres from the world's only land mass.
Even so, the group of Deathwatch serfs given stewardship of Credos must now contend with the likes of Genestealers and Lictors attempting to gain access to the mountain temple, slaying all they encounter to prevent knowledge of their presence reaching the hive fleet and bringing a greater concentration of Tyranids down upon them.
Standing some six kilometres high at its tallest point, and consisting of ten remaining statues -- the other eleven having been destroyed at some point during or after the Horus Heresy -- in the image of the Emperor and nine of His Primarchs.
The statues are not believed to be accurate depictions -- few beings even during the Great Crusade could claim to have laid eyes upon the Emperor or His sons, and thus stylised representations or ones based on picts and existing art would likely have been the source instead.
The statues are constructed from carefully machined blocks of the hard yellow-brown stone common to Credos' surface, designed to interlock seamlessly with one another.
Each is laden with arcane technology intended to help the statues endure the ages without being diminished by weathering or brought low by gravity, cunningly concealed so as to be invisible to all but the most meticulous inspection.
What also becomes apparent from close inspection is that the statues themselves are partially hollow, with chambers and passageways woven within their immense structure.
Whether these tunnels were part of the original design or added later is a mystery, but given the sheer mass and enduring nature of the statues, it seems likely that were anything to be stored within them, there is little that would be able to liberate such items by force.
Temple of the Vigilant Emperor
Significantly younger than the statues that gaze upon it, the Temple of the Vigilant Emperor was originally little more than an observation balcony, a habitation area and a small landing platform.
Over the millennia, it has steadily expanded, initially into a sizable monastery sufficient to house several thousand monks long-term, and keep several high-ranking priests in their accustomed manner for solar months at a time.
As the wealth of the Jericho Arch-Diocese grew, so did the size and opulence of the Temple of the Vigilant Emperor, as it has become known, eventually reaching a point where it rivalled some of the sector's smaller cathedrals in size.
After the reign and death of Arch-Cardinal Asterus, the Temple of the Vigilant Emperor was ignored, becoming a footnote in history and a mausoleum for the monks who had dwelt there. However, the Deathwatch was not content to let such a fate befall Credos, and their efforts saw the temple renewed.
This time, military practicality and the spartan beliefs of the Adeptus Astartes prevailed over the greed and indolence once endemic amongst the Adeptus Ministorum, and the Temple became a fortress, reinforced against external attack, with many of its lower chambers repurposed to serve the Temple's new masters.
The Temple today is a bastion designed to be held by a small number of warriors against many, fitted with batteries of emplaced sentry-guns and servitor-crewed anti-aircraft weaponry. That, however, is only the surface of the Temple of the Vigilant Emperor.
Beneath the mountain, and connected to a series of winding passages that lead into the statues themselves, the temple's purpose becomes clearer.
Vast quantities of arcane cogitators and sophisticated logic engines, connected to a colossal array of augurs, auspex feeds and a choir of astropaths, fill the deeper chambers of the temple, gazing upon the void and sending information back to Watch Fortress Erioch continuously.
Deeper still, the secure vaults within the statues themselves are often employed to store the most valuable and most dangerous of artefacts, hidden away from all but a chosen few.
Every so often, a matter of importance detected by the temple's scanning equipment requires the presence of a member of the Deathwatch to confirm and report on, a voyage often referred to as a "pilgrimage."
Indeed, many amongst the Deathwatch take the opportunity to reaffirm their oaths of service under the gaze of the Emperor and His loyal sons, while waiting for another Battle-Brother to return from the temple's depths.
While not an official watch station in the traditional sense, the Temple of the Vigilant Emperor on Credos serves a similar purpose, ensuring that the Deathwatch are aware of threats in the region and giving them the opportunity to prepare.
At present, Credos' isolation and relative lack of Tyranid presence allows it to continue functioning, barely, but it is an asset so significant and valuable to the Deathwatch that the prospect of losing it to alien invasion is one that few wish to contemplate.
- Deathwatch: The Jericho Reach (RPG), pp. 126-127