"The being known as Mephet’ran came to us, speaking honeyed platitudes and halftruths, and to my shame we heeded its words. We exchanged the soul of our race for the illusion of emancipation. My revenge, when at last it came, earned me but a sliver of satisfaction. It pleases me to know that this avatar of disruption is now slaved to the cause of Necron dominance and galactic order. I only hope that this is as torturous a fate for the Deceiver as the weight of failure is for myself."
- — Szarekh, Last of the Silent Kings
The Deceiver, also known as Mephet'ran or Mephet'ran the Deceiver, is the C'tan or Necron Star God of trickery, lies, manipulation, and deception. Many millions of standard years ago, it was the Deceiver that presented himself before the ruling Necrontyr Triarch, and offered the Silent King Szarekh knowledge of the biotransference process, granting the Necrontyr bodies of Necrodermis to help them fight against their ancient enemies, the Old Ones.
The Necrontyr agreed and their consciousnesses were transferred into waiting Necrodermis bodies by the C'tan. This transfer ultimately dulled the minds and eliminated the emotions and compassion of the majority of the species, and they became the horrific, soulless Necrons, harvesting life energy across the galaxy to feed their C'tan masters.
Despite its legendary guile, in the end Mephet'ran was betrayed and tricked like his fellow C'tan by the revolting Necrons, his essence shattered into fragments, each entombed within a Tesseract Labyrinth. However, recent, scattered events hint at the fact that one or more of the C'tan Shards of the Deceiver might still be at large in the galaxy.
Before the Necron Rebellion
Of all the so-called Star Gods, Yngir to the Aeldari, the one known as the Deceiver was the most insidious and capricious. The Deceiver is, as its name implies, a difficult entity to track down. It enjoys using trickery, deception and lies to achieve its own ends. The other C'tan quickly learned to distrust and shun the Deceiver, and its nature was displayed most prominently when the Deceiver tricked the Necrontyr into giving up their organic bodies in favour of metallic Necrodermis husks. When the Necrontyr first encountered the Deceiver, they gave it the name Mephet'ran, the Messenger, and hoped it would be able to bridge the gap between the Necrontyr and the C'tan.
Despite the Messenger's godly charisma and unbound skill in the art of subterfuge, there were a few amongst the Necrontyr -- Orikan the Diviner amongst them -- that were riven with doubt as to its intentions. Those who had not surrendered to the gods already were enjoined by the rest to submit, but could not be persuaded to make such a giant leap of faith.
It was only then that the Deceiver's true face began to show as it lured the unbelievers into the clutches of the faithful with promises of mediation and compromise. All but Orikan himself were seized by the Deceiver's followers and delivered to their fate, whether willingly or not. Then the believers themselves were added to the glittering ranks of unliving machines. Eventually the Necrontyr race was utterly purged, becoming instead the undying Necrons, cursed to eternal servitude.
As the C'tan began to gather followers and devotees, the being known as the Messenger soon outstripped its peers in influence. The Star Gods seemed too remote and awe-inspiring for many Necrontyr, but Mephet'ran communed in ways they understood. Perhaps this was because it was never as powerful as the other C'tan, and used guile and skill to secure its future. With its mortal puppets dancing to its tune, the Messenger stoked the fires of hatred that the Necrontyr felt towards the Old Ones. In doing so it drew them towards a war which would burn the galaxy to cinders.
The War in Heaven
The War in Heaven escalated time and time again, with the C'tan at the heart of each new engagement, and their silvered legions of Necrons at their side. In many ways the doubt and mistrust sowed between the young races by the Deceiver contributed more to the Star Gods' cause than any number of legions or starships. Yet even when its foes lay scattered and slain, the Deceiver could not help but sow discord to amuse itself. As the C'tan gained ascendancy over the Old Ones and the harvests of sentient populations grew thin, it was the Deceiver who first set one C'tan against another.
Driven at first by bravado and later by desperation, the C'tan fought their personal wars with a casual disregard for their slave races, leaving millions dead and whole star systems consumed. In a whirl of pacts and betrayals the Deceiver tricked and consumed several of its fellows, but it still remained the weakest of the C'tan in terms of raw power, and was always careful to avoid the clutches of the mightiest. Aeldari legends portray a figure they refer to as the "Jackal God" as helping and hindering both sides equally, always keeping itself at the edges of a conflict where it could take advantage of any opportunity or weakness.
The Deceiver convinced each C'tan that the other Star Gods were the "best of all feasts," but despite this the Deceiver remained one of the physically weakest C'tan and only survived by avoiding the more violent and powerful C'tan, such as the Nightbringer and the Void Dragon.
This same deviousness proved to be the Deceiver's undoing. Its schemes were close to perfect, but absolute perfection eluded it. Ultimately word spread of its manipulations, and its reputation became tarnished, then torn into tatters. When the C'tan were ambushed and laid low by the Necron slave race they had created, none came to the Deceiver's aid.
He was fettered, bound and broken into shards. Now the Deceiver is the unwitting tool of the race he once enslaved. Each shard believes itself in control, fighting alongside the Necrons the better to manipulate them. In reality, it is the Deceiver that is deluded, forced by its former minions into an eternity of servitude in a cosmic irony that will never end.
In recent times, the Imperium has come in contact with either a Shard of the Deceiver directly, or translated accounts of its past accomplishments:
Translation of the Aeldari Artefact
An ancient Aeldari artefact tells of the signs that will portend the return of the C'tan. It has one line dedicated to the Deceiver, "...and the Jackal-God shall turn brother against brother." This confirms the abilities of the Deceiver in trickery and deceit and also gives a slight reference to time, as the Deceiver would need a longer time to turn brother against brother than the Nightbringer would need to kill them both.
This is an account of the attempt by a Callidus Assassin to assassinate a Planetary Governor named Takis. She used her C'tan Phase Knife and attempted to kill Takis, but she failed and her weapon passed straight through him. He knocked her aside and took her weapon and absorbed it into his hand. We can then probably assume she was absorbed as the last line talks about how her polymorphine drug "gives human essence such a delicate flavouring".
The fact that the being could absorb the C'tan Phase Knife meant it could only be a C'tan Shard, as its body was made of the same material as the weapon which would have destroyed anything else. Also, we can assume that it is a Shard of the Deceiver, as he is the only known C'tan with a modus operandi of deception and trickery. This is proof that the Deceiver is operating to attain power in the Imperium of Man for purposes unknown.
The Deceiver has traveled far and wide around the galaxy, and is known, in form if not in name, by multiple still-extant intelligent races and cultures:
- He is known as Artemorra to the Jokaero
- He is known as Sathsarrion to the Initiates of the Gethvar
- He is known as Mohagg to the Cornochinae
- He is known as Harrimoch to the Vendichi travellers
The Deceiver and the Nightbringer
This is a brief account of the Deceiver convincing the Nightbringer to consume the other C'tan, kept within the recesses of the Black Library. This text hints at the possibility that Cegorach, the Laughing God of the Eldar Harlequins, is in fact The Deceiver in another form -- although there is also much evidence against this proposition, as well as the possibility that both entities have masqueraded as the other on numerous occasions.
The Silvae were an agrarian society with little technology. They were visited by the Deceiver early in their development and it convinced them to worship it. It returned occasionally to reinforce their devotion and they quickly became a superstitious people. There is a sentence that merits attention: "Here, it seems to be testing them, promising the race as a whole greatness at its side should they prove worthy". This could be seen as an attempt by the Deceiver to recruit new races and create new Necrons to bolster its forces.
The Silvae were then introduced to the Imperium and they soon turned to violence, but the Deceiver did not show up to help them. Instead he found them "slipping back to barbarism" and was dismayed. He then sent in Necrons to wipe out all of the Silvae. Most of them were killed but a few survive although there was insufficient variation in the DNA to continue the race and they eventually died out. This account shows the Deceiver's ability to sway the minds of entire planets, but also its instability as any failure is punished by destruction.
- Codex: Necrons (8th Edition), pg. 70
- Codex: Necrons (5th Edition), pp. 6, 7, 40
- Codex: Necrons (3rd Edition), pp. 5, 8, 27-28, 30-31, 50, 63