- "Come signs, come figures, all hell dance before me in bloody light, come woe, come pleasure, drown me in infernal night."
- — From the proscribed play "The Banquet of Malfi"
The Hadex Anomaly is a raging Warp phenomenon that lies at the core of the Jericho Reach in the Eastern Fringe of the galaxy. Bathing countless worlds in a sickly red glow, this nebulous tear in space-time represents far more than a navigational hazard or obstruction to astropathic communication. It is a cancer upon the fabric of time and space, and entire star systems have been lost to its baleful influence. To the astronomers who study it, and the Navigators who fear it, it is known as the Hadex Anomaly. Like a monstrous heart palpitating in the void, the influence of the Hadex Anomaly expands and recedes rhythmically, absorbing and disgorging entire solar systems over the course of decades. Worlds bathed in the crimson glow of the Anomaly become saturated with its corrupting essence, while stars languish under its stygian radiance. Such stars become clotted red orbs, shedding a carmine luminescence mimicking that of the Anomaly itself.
Scholars, savants, and madmen have striven to classify the anomaly in line with others of its type, such as the Eye of Terror, the Maelstrom, and the Gates of Fire, yet it continues to defy all classification. Though clearly a Warp/realspace overlap like most other similar events, the Hadex Anomaly exerts an exotic effect not just upon the physical realm but on the temporal as well. In their vain efforts to understand the Anomaly, Imperial savants have claimed it seems to "spew time" into the surrounding region, disrupting the flow of events and occasionally reordering them entirely.
The erratic behaviour of the Anomaly has caused many scholars to believe that it may, in fact, have a mind and sentience of its own. There is a ring of voidships surrounding the Anomaly, ghost vessels that have become locked within a tide of chronal disturbances -- frozen forever within a flow of time. It is conjectured that the Hadex Anomaly is the source of a flow of time spewing forth into the galaxy from another dimension, although any efforts to fully catalogue or study the effects of the Anomaly have ended in utter disaster. More than the amassed forces of the Stigmartus, the xenos fleets, or the warbands of the Traitor Legions, the Hadex Anomaly represents a seemingly insurmountable obstacle standing in the way of the Achilus Crusade's Acheros Salient. How can the forces of Mankind know victory when their enemy is space itself?
Since the time of its formation, the Hadex Anomaly has haunted the Jericho Reach, casting out its malign radiation and corrupting hundreds of different worlds. Measurements performed over the centuries in Watch Fortress Ormasim indicate that, since its creation, the Anomaly has continued to grow fractionally every year, slowly pulling the worlds of the Reach into its dark grasp.
Currently the Hadex Anomaly marks one end of the titanic Warp rift known as the Great Rift. Even before the fall of Cadia, the Immaterium had been growing ever more turbulent. Travel and communication suffered increasing disturbances as the events of Abaddon the Despoiler's 13th Black Crusade unfolded in 999.M41. It seems that eventually the Materium could take no more, and a titanic Warp rift tore across the galaxy, stretching from the Eye of Terror to the Hadex Anomaly.
- "There is a wound in the void!"
- — Dien Xquin, Astropath Transcendent of the Limitless Grasp
In the Cellebos warzone of the Jericho Reach, there exist twin aspects of one malefic phenomenon: the Hadex Anomaly. Although unclassified, it is similar to a Class III Warp disturbance, an overlapping vortex of turbulence in the Æther that spills over into realspace, distorting and twisting its fabric and making navigation and observation almost impossible within its baleful influence. While considerably smaller than the great and legendary reality-lesions such as the dreaded Eye of Terror or the Maelstrom, it is no less dangerous. The Charon Stars, in turn, is the name of those stellar bodies trapped within the Warp-breach's grasp, stars that now cast a murderous and unclean radiance wherever their light falls. Resembling a "red hole" in space, the Hadex Anomaly rarely stays in the same place for long, having been reported in different regions of space on numerous occasions. The Anomaly's mobility suggests that it may have some malign sentience. One theory amongst the Adeptus Mechanicus forces present as part of the Achilus Crusade is that the Anomaly spews time from other dimensions into our own, distorting all attempts to monitor it more closely. The outer rim of the Anomaly contains a debris-strewn ring of ghost ships, starfaring vessels that have become trapped in some kind of stasis from which there is no release.
The origin of the Hadex Anomaly is shrouded in mysteries as impenetrable as the Anomaly itself. What is known with any certainty is that the Hadex Anomaly came into being during an ill-portented planetary alignment in 656.M40. The Deathwatch's records state that the vortex was the result of some great and bloody design of the mortal worshipers of Chaos come to fruition on one of the lost worlds it now has swallowed: a ritual unleashing the abyss of the Warp into reality. Thanks to the former Jericho Sector's fall into anarchy, no Agents of the Throne were there to stop it. Apocryphal accounts link the Anomaly to the blood rites practised by the corrupted lords of Verronus, a decadent Hive World thought destroyed during the Anomaly's violent birth. Astrologers claim the Anomaly is the result of an inauspicious planetary -- or possibly galactic -- alignment, a confluence of forces that ripped the void asunder. Darkest of all explanations are those espoused by Warp dabblers across the Jericho Reach who claim the Hadex Anomaly is only a prelude to a future calamity set to lay waste to the entire Jericho Reach.
A Stain Upon Space and Time
Of all the properties ascribed to the Hadex Anomaly, its most perplexing feature is its visibility. When the Hadex Anomaly first manifested it was immediately visible across the Ultima Segmentum, its appearance recorded by observatories and scout stations as distant as Nocturne. The fact that the light cast by the Anomaly was instantly visible across so vast an area, in flagrant defiance to the laws of the physical universe, has not gone unnoticed by the Magi Physics of the Cult Mechanicus. The flow of time is inconsistent within the purview of the Anomaly. On a world suffused in the Anomaly's glow, the length of day and night is in constant flux. Shadows cast betray hints of future events while the voices of the past are forever at the edge of hearing. Voidships undertaking brief Warp jumps emerge from the Immaterium months after they departed or days before they left. Astropathic communication is all but impossible as fragments of messages never sent infiltrate telepathic sendings. Navigators fare worst of all. The Hadex Anomaly's infectious brilliance overwhelms the light of the Astronomican, rendering all but the most keen-eyed Navigators unable to plot accurate courses along the Acheros Salient.
Lord-Captain Emanuel Hadex
What little the forces of the Achilus Crusade know of the Hadex Anomaly comes from the journals of Lord-Captain Emanuel Hadex, one of the few Rogue Traders to venture into the Jericho Reach during the Age of Shadow. Born into a moderately successful dynasty operating in the vicinity of Charadon, Emanuel fled the realm of his birth during the invasion of the first Ork Arch-Arsonist. Seeking a new territory to exploit, Emanuel took advantage of a break in the Warp Storms surrounding the lost Jericho Sector to venture into the worlds beyond. When Emanuel's flagship, the Aletris, translated from the Warp, the Lord-Captain was awestruck by a sight he described as "like a rose suspended in the firmament!" In his hubris, the Lord Captain named his discovery the Hadex Nebula.
Soon after the Anomaly's discovery, the journal of Lord-Captain Emanuel Hadex begins to reflect the emerging madness of its author. Day-to-day accounts of shipboard life give way to imagined conversations between the Rogue Trader and the red hole bearing his name. Hadex claimed that the celestial phenomenon responded to his thoughts and somehow began communicating with him in his dreams.
However, as the fleet drew closer it became clear to Emanuel's crew that the Hadex Nebula was something to be avoided and feared. The journals of Emanuel Hadex and his officers record countless preternatural phenomena now commonly associated with the Anomaly -- odd "jumps" in time, entire days missing from a ship's log-recorder, and signals received before they had even been sent from other ships in the fleet. Still, the Lord Captain pressed on, driving his fleet ever closer to the Anomaly's heart. The Lord-Captain's negligence, combined with the steady erosion of morale caused by time distortions and Warp phantoms, weakened the discipline and courage of the crew. When the Hippeastrum, a decommissioned Lunar-class Cruiser under the command of one Lieutenant Argord Pym, attempted to turn back from the foolhardy journey, the Lord- Captain ordered the macrobatteries of his flagship turned against the fleeing vessel. The lieutenants in command of the remainder of the Hadex fleet, torn between loyalty to a maddened Lord-Captain and a desire to flee to safety while there was still a chance, mutinied.
The Oberon-class Battleship Messier Ascendant discovered the derelict Aletris in 779.M41. Found drifting on the outer edge of a vast circle of similarly adrift and abandoned vessels orbiting the Anomaly, her crew's final moments preserved in a vacuum-frozen tableaux of violence, the Aletris was nevertheless intact. Lord-Captain Emanuel Hadex was found barricaded within the bridge, seated upon his command throne, the red flicker of the Hadex Anomaly reflected in his frozen eyes. Lord Militant Tetrarchus issued an edict setting the Hadex Anomaly off-limits to all but the most highly-authorised vessels (which naturally included all Inquisition and Deathwatch ships), and its presence is considered a celestial hazard of the utmost danger. A few foolhardy souls (and a Rogue Trader or two) have tried their luck in salvaging or reclaiming some of the vessels in the temporal stasis ring surrounding the Hadex Anomaly, but none of those expeditions has so far returned.
The Fate of the Hadex Fleet
According to the logs of Lord-Captain Emanuel Hadex and his lieutenants, the Hadex fleet consisted of five sturdy voidships of varying class and purpose. The fleet managed to escape the Anomaly bearing their Lord-Captain's name only to have each vessel claimed by a tragic fate.
- The Hippeastrum - This Lunar-class Cruiser was reported lost in a resurgent Warp Storm shortly after the mutiny that ousted Emanuel Hadex. In 809.M41 a battle-scarred Lunar-class Cruiser of ancient design began preying upon Imperial Navy supply caravans supporting the Planetary Defence Force garrisons of the Eleusis Shrine World. While this craft has yet to be conclusively identified as the Hippeastrum, degenerate crew, captured in a recent boarding action over Aurum, have identified their commander as "the Decimated Argord Pym."
- Weeping Amaryllis - A colony ship bearing serfs, vassals, and oath-bound drudges loyal to the Hadex Dynasty, this lumbering Jericho-class voidship was abandoned to a pack of xenos raiders near the world of Credence. Surviving logs report the remainder of the Hadex Fleet crippled the straining engines of the Weeping Amaryllis, leaving it as easy prey for the raiders and allowing the rest of the fleet time to escape. While the fate of the Amaryllis itself is unknown, it is believed the slave cult of the Carmine Lamentation has its origins upon the unfortunate vessel.
- Lilium of Charadon - The Hadex Fleet lost contact with the scout Frigate Lilium of Charadon as the nimble craft sought a stable route through a Warp Storm battering the trailing systems of the Jericho Reach. In 779.M41 a voidship bearing the Lilium of Charadon's markings drifted into the Ormasim System. Three Deathwatch Battle-Brothers, veterans of the Kaggeran Pogrom, boarded the derelict to investigate. No sooner had they boarded than the ship's Warp-Drive surged to life, carrying the Lilium into the Empyrean. The mysterious return and disappearance of the Lilium coincides with an opening of the Omega Vault. The leaden doors swung wide revealing a single drop of blood hanging in a suspensor field. The blood and the gene-print identifying its origin are currently under seal by order of Watch Commander Mordigael.
- Dracaena - The fate of the Dracaena, a voidship serving as the Hadex Dynasty's mobile mining platform and ore smelter, is unknown to the masters of the Achilus Crusade. However, a Deathwatch Kill-team, recently returned from a failed attempt to re-establish contact with Watch Fortress Midael, reported an odd discovery upon a rogue moon adrift at the edges of the Hadex Anomaly. Distributed evenly over the moon's surface, covering an area of some eight-square leagues, are the components of a dismantled mining ship laid out in meticulous order like cogs on a watchmaker's worktable. More disturbing are the remains of some 15,000 crewmen arranged in neat rows, their organs beside them and configured like a chirurgeon's anatomical chart. The dead flesh shows no signs of decomposition and is moist to the touch.
- Aletris - Unknown to the rank and file of the Achilus Crusade, the Aletris still plies the void. Commandeered by Lord-Militant Achilus shortly after its discovery, the Aletris was purged, refitted, and pressed into service as a blockade-runner. Re-christened Dirk of Alphos to disguise her true origins, the ship bears a dark reputation. Crew report hearing snatches of foul poetry carried on the stale air, and Navigators claim the ship feels the pull of the Anomaly. Those who serve upon the Dirk of Alphos and possess some hint as to its true origin live in fear of the day the vessel slips from her Navigator's control and plunges headlong into the Hadex Anomaly.
Wreck of the Limitless Grasp
- "Be thankful the God-Emperor wills you die but once in His service! Beware those who serve any other, for they shall die a thousand times in the name of their master, and yet shall not know victory!"
- — Julius Scipio, Deathwatch Librarian and Loremaster of the Kabiri Archives
The parsecs surrounding the Hadex Anomaly are haunted by a voidship that is far more real than the stuff of voidfarer legend. It is an ill-omened ship with a cursed crew, shunned by all who detect its faint but distinct energy signature at the limits of long range Augur sweeps. It is the Limitless Grasp, and it alone is the key to understanding the origins of the Hadex Anomaly. The Imperial Navy first encountered the Limitless Grasp in 781.M41. Of the battle group involved, only the Frigate Sebastian's Gauntlet survived the surge of Warp phenomena now known to follow any manifestation of the Limitless Grasp. The Auspex logs and officer's testimony regarding the incident recount events that have played out numerous times in the history of the Achilus Crusade. Their encounter, and those that followed, are nearly identical.
An elegant merchant voidship, its hull a masterwork of lustrous silver and gleaming brass, translates from the Warp into open void. After a moment's silence, the vessel's Vox channels open, broadcasting on all frequencies. The ship identifies itself as the Limitless Grasp, a free trader under the command of Chartist Captain Olympia Thyatira, followed immediately by a formal request to enter orbit around Verronus, a planet conspicuously absent from charts of the Jericho Reach. After another period of silence a woman's voice requests audience with "his pharaonic eminence, the Sanguine Oligarch of Verronus." Again, silence, followed by a burst of Vox-chatter as the crew of the Limitless Grasp bear witness to a strange phenomenon consuming a planet only they can see. The engines of the Limitless Grasp flare to life, the ship banking hard as if to escape some onrushing horror. The Hadex Anomaly becomes agitated, flooding the void with red light. Distress signals and agonised screams flood all Vox channels as the Limitless Grasp is reduced to shreds of titanium alloy and ceramite by devastating tidal forces. Any voidship unfortunate enough to remain in the vicinity is assailed by similar gravitic phenomena. When this period of turbulence ceases, nothing remains but the void.
Weeks may pass, or months, or years, before the Limitless Grasp appears again. It is only a matter of time before her crew die screaming at the void once more, their deaths repeated and relived countless times, any witnesses to their tragic end unlikely to survive the encounter. The wreck of the Limitless Grasp is but one of many phantom voidships haunting the Anomaly. Countless other vessels caught in temporal ebbs drift between past dooms and future calamities. Some claim this is the fate of all voidships that risk an engagement with the Grasp. Other fear the phantom ships are casualties of an apocalyptic battle yet to be fought. None dare investigate these mysteries too closely. To do so, they warn, is to join the phantoms of the void.
The Lamentation Wave
In the Limitless Grasp's final moments the vessel's chief Astropath, one Dien Xquin, transmits a single message. This cry of awe and horror echoes throughout the Empyrean. Those Astropaths unfortunate enough to encounter this psychic missive are overwhelmed as they experience the final agonised thoughts of their dying counterpart. An unfortunate few Astropaths in service to the Achilus Crusade have perished as a result of intercepting the Lamentation Wave. Some die in a moment of apoplexy as Dien's final thoughts surge through their minds. Other fall upon Psykana mercy blades, taking their lives rather than risk intercepting the Wave again during a future manifestation of the Limitless Grasp. More unfortunate Astropaths are driven to madness. Their minds lost to the bemoaning cry of Dien Xquin, these psykers spend the remainder of their lives sequestered in hidden compounds of the Inquisition, their incarceration broken only by periods of intense questioning. Through the interrogation of these psykers the Inquisition hopes to gain some understanding of the true origins of the Hadex Anomaly.
Lexicanium Aratron and the Lamentation Watch
Since the discovery of the Limitless Grasp, the Librarians of Watch Fortress Erioch have monitored the Lamentation Wave, documenting each manifestation and recording whatever information can be gleaned from the minds of the unfortunate Astropaths chosen to assist with the task. Designated the Lamentation Watch, the task currently falls on the shoulders of Lexicanium Aratron of the Marines Errant Chapter. Known to isolate himself within his personal chapel for weeks at a time during bouts of ardent meditation, Lexicanium Aratron tirelessly correlates over one thousand years of psychometric data regarding the time, location, and intensity of each occurrence of the Lamentation Wave. Now, after over a decade study, Aratron claims a pattern is emerging. According to a report recently filed with Watch Commander Mordigael, Lexicanium Aratron believes he has enough data to predict the exact time and place of the Limitless Grasp's next appearance. Aratron now seeks a company of Battle-Brothers to await the next coming of the Grasp and, if possible, board the vessel. In this way Aratron hopes to witness the birth of the Hadex Anomaly first hand. Watch Commander Mordigiel has yet to authorise such a mission.
Many doubt the wisdom of Lexicanium Aratron's plan, and several among the Deathwatch doubt Aratron's sanity. It is rumoured Aratron opened his mind to the Lamentation Wave in order to study the phenomenon first hand. If so, a seed of corruption carried by the Wave now roots within his mind. The Chamber of Vigilance tolerates Lexicanium Aratron's eccentricities out of respect for his service to the Deathwatch. However, there are those within the Chamber preparing to move against Aratron should rumours of his corruption prove true, preferring to deal with the matter internally, lest the Ordo Hereticus choose to investigate Deathwatch affairs.
- "My right eye offended me, so I plucked it out. My left eye deceived me, so I cast it into the void. My Third Eye remains. With it I see an immaculate light greater than the faltering Astronomican!"
- — Kokabiel Grigoris, rogue Navigator and Ipsissimus of the Cyclopean Congregation
More so than any Chaos Corsair, Stigmartus Battle Cruiser, or Warp-borne leviathan, the officers and voidsmen of the Acheros Salient Navy fear the Warp-borne peril of Kokabiel's Drop. Branching from the Araqiel Main between the Vanity and Blood Trinity Systems, the Drop is far more than a navigational hazard. It is a vortex leading to the churning heart of the Hadex Anomaly and a haven for a degenerate cult of rogue Navigators who have turned their sight from the blessed Astronomican.
Exploration and Illumination
- "The fear of the unknown is a shield. It protects the hearts of the faithful from a greater fear. I speak of the fear of discovery!"
- — Preacher Bastian of the Mortessan 14th Highlanders
In 789.M41, Lord Militant Tetrarchus charged the highly decorated Commodore Bronislave Tenermaritus with the task of charting a stable Warp route between the Cellebos Warzone and Samech, allowing Achilus Crusade forces to make a direct strike against that planet of Hereteks, crippling the manufactories and shipyards supplying the Stigmartus war effort. Taking as his guide one Kokabiel Grigoris, a relatively young but gifted Navigator following his House's long tradition of service to the Imperial Navy, the Commodore set out upon his flagship the Avenger-class Grand Cruiser Burden of Vigilance. Despite the best efforts of the Burden's commander, Navigator, and crew, the Warp beyond the Cellebos Warzone proved nearly impossible to chart. Warp eddies terminated into immaterial shoals, aetheric currents flowed back upon themselves, and the bilious emissions of the Hadex Anomaly obscured the sight of Kokabiel and his subordinate Navigators.
After months of fruitless exploration the Burden of Vigilance fell prey to the Haruspex, a pack of xenos marauders believed to originate within the Slinnar Drift. Commodore Tenermaritus perished in the ensuing battle, atomised during a valiant boarding action against the Haruspex Lifeseeker. The Commodore's sacrifice routed the xenos fleet, granting the Burden enough time to flee through a recently discovered Warp passage veering dangerously close to the Hadex Anomaly. The Burden's final message, intercepted by the Astropathic listening post on Pyrathas, claimed a great discovery waited at the end of the route. In the years following the disappearance of the Burden of Vigilance, the site of its last battle gained a sinister reputation. Voidships passing through the area drifted far off course. The sendings of all but the most powerful Astropaths faded into the void. A rare few vessels vanished outright. Superstitious voidsmen dubbed this region of Warpspace "the Drop."
A Burden Returned
- "Rush headlong into oblivion. Only then can you see what waits beyond."
In 793.M41 a mysterious vessel of Imperial design began preying on voidships passing through the Drop. Lucia's Gauntlet, one of the few voidships to escape such an attack, identified the vessel as the Burden of Vigilance, now re-christened the Burden of Revelation and captained by Kokabiel Grigoris. Quickly recognising the threat presented by the rogue Navigator, the Acheros Salient Navy stepped up patrols in the Drop. Regrettably, this move served only to provide Kokabiel with more prey. Of the flotilla dispatched from Calist, a third fell to the Burden of Revelation's guns. A half dozen vanished beyond the Drop in a futile search for Kokabiel's sanctuary. Of the remaining vessels, only three are accounted for, arriving at Khazant over a decade later after limping through the Warp without Navigators.
Grigoris claims the Drop and all space beyond as his domain, requiring tribute from those passing through. Voidships unfortunate enough to run afoul of the Burden of Revelation must pay the toll or face reprisal. The exact nature of this toll depends upon Kokabiel's whims and the needs of his vessel. Fuel, provisions, and crew are the most common price for safe passage. On other occasions Kokabiel demands a teratonne of bilge water, spent macrocannon shells, or some other voidship by-product of little apparent use. Lord Captains who refuse to pay the tariff face Kokabiel's vengeance. Most are fired upon outright, their voidships raided by mad acolytes of the Cyclopean Congregation.
Warships capable of defending against hit-and-run attacks are stalked for days, hounded by the Burden of Revelation as it flits into and out of the Warp just long enough to unleash volleys of Lance fire. A lamentable few are given the illusion of escape. Left untouched by a seemingly resigned Kokabiel, these vessels soon find themselves off course, lost in the Drop and drifting ever closer to the core of the Hadex Anomaly. By special order of Lord Militant Tetrarchus, all commanders of the Acheros Salient Navy are prohibited from acquiescing to Kokabiel's demands. Those who fail to abide by this order face a Traitor's execution. Naval commanders are left with a difficult choice; brave Kokabiel's Drop and risk an encounter with the master of the Cyclopean Congregation, or bypass the Drop entirely and add weeks to the length of a voyage.
- "His gaze keen, unblinking, and burning like a collapsing star."
- — Gadivilius Brom, Navigator Primaris of the Swift Reprisal
Kokabiel is a scion of House Grigoris, a Navigator bloodline whose service in the Imperial Navy stretches back to the Age of Apostasy. Though his household is renowned for producing Navigators of distinction, Kokabiel's brief commission is shamefully unremarkable. The discovery of the Drop marks the end of Kokabiel's obscurity, as well as his loyalty to the Crusade. Once considered handsome by Navigator standards, Kokabiel's few pleasing features are lost to pallid skin, elongated bones, and a perpetual grin both sardonic and beatific. However, Kokabiel's most striking features are his eyes, or lack thereof.
At the moment of his first revelation, Kokabiel plucked out his eyes, sacrificing mundane sight for the visions imparted in the Hadex Anomaly. Now only his Third Eye remains. Kokabiel's Warp Eye is forever open, shedding a purulent red glow that casts no shadow. This eye is a thing of cosmic terror. Some claim it is a window into the Anomaly. Others claim it contains a fragment of the Anomaly itself. Still others speculate that Kokabiel's blighted eye is a microcosm, a fleshy orb containing the Hadex Anomaly in miniature. The truth is known only to Kokabiel and his most trusted followers.
Strangely, though Kokabiel is familiar with the Jericho-Maw Warp Gate, having passed through it with the majority of his household at the onset of the Achilus Crusade, he is content to keep the Gate's secret to himself. Whether Kokabiel holds his tongue out of some remaining vestige of honour or plans to use his knowledge as a bargaining chip in the future remains to be seen.
Fate of House Grigoris
Kokabiel's heresy brought shame and scrutiny upon House Grigoris. With the household's susceptibility to corruption called into question, Lord Militant Tetrarchus ordered all of its members recalled from active duty and confined to the Grigoris' temporary estate on Carmyn, pending a full investigation by the Ordo Malleus. As of 817.M41 all but three members of House Grigoris are accounted for:
- Penemue Grigoris - Vanished in the Charon Stars shortly after Tetrarchus' recall order. Intercepted Astropathic communiqués suggest she planned to seek out Kokabiel and return him to the Emperor's light.
- Azazel Grigoris - Still serving aboard the Might of Terra, an Apocalypse-class Battleship long trapped behind enemy lines in the wake of the arrival of Hive Fleet Dagon.
- Araqiel Grigoris - The status of the Grigoris Novator is currently unknown. Taken into protective custody (some say abducted) by an agent of the Ordo Xenos, Araqiel's disappearance weakened the already faltering position of his house. Puritans within the Ordo Malleus loudly accuse Radical elements of the Ordo Xenos of intentionally sabotaging an ongoing investigation.
A self proclaimed prophet, Kokabiel Grigoris presides over a mystery cult of degenerate Navigators and decadent voidsmen known as the Cyclopean Congregation. Named for Kokabiel and his inner circle of renegade Navigators, all of whom are blind save for their Third Eye, the Congregation cult promises illumination through communion with the Hadex Anomaly. Practicing complex rites of initiation, the cult's upper echelons are open only to full-blooded Navigators. Only those with the Warp Eye, preaches Kokabiel, can appreciate the Anomaly for what it truly is.
According to his own blasphemous lore, Kokabiel's Drop is more than a convoluted region of the Immaterium. It is the entrance to a stable Warp route spiralling into the heart of the Hadex Anomaly, a place where the meanings of space and time are inverted. The fallen Navigator leads his Cyclopean Congregation on blasphemous pilgrimages along this route, each journey a profane recreation of the Burden of Vigilance's first passage through the Anomaly. During these voyages, acolytes ritually blind themselves, sacrificing an eye for each level of initiation attained within the cult. The lowest tiers of the Congregation are a collection of outcast voidsmen. Largely ignorant of the true nature of the cult, many of these Voidborn fanatics lost their humanity to madness and mutation long before pledging fealty to Kokabiel. Wandering corridors and groping along bulkheads, the most devoted acolytes eagerly trade their sight for deeper initiation.
Most revered outside Kokabiel's inner circle are the Typhlotics, bearers of the dormant Navigator Gene. Culled from Renegade houses and the extended families of raided Navigator households, these priests of the Congregation command the voidsmen flock and act as intermediaries between the cult's inner and outer circles. Having sacrificed both eyes already, Typhlotics go a step further, carving jagged spirals into their foreheads. Symbolising both the coiling route of Kokabiel's Drop and the swirling energies contained in their prophet's Third Eye, these scars mark the high priests of the Cyclopean Congregation.
The inner circle of the Cyclopean Congregation consists exclusively of Navigators personally initiated by Kokabiel at the nucleus of the Hadex Anomaly. The Congregation's oracles and hierophants, these prodigal scions of the Navis Nobilite, are the unquestioned masters of the cult. Spending most of their time in quiet contemplation, the Cyclopean Oracles speak only to disseminate prophecy and issue orders to the Typhlotic clergy. The Cyclopean Oracles possess the greatest secret of the Congregation. Using the Hadex Anomaly as a guide in place of the Astronomican, they navigate the Congregational Fleet safely and nearly instantaneously across the Jericho Reach.
Promise of Illumination
Kokabiel foretells a coming age of chaos and despair, a time when the Astronomican will fail, leaving the Navis Nobilite scrabbling in the abyssal dark. The Nobilite's only salvation, Kokabiel preaches, comes in the form of the Hadex Anomaly, a new and vital light in the Warp. Those who comprehend the mysteries of the Anomaly and use its light to guide their passage through the Warp will be the masters of the coming age. Kokabiel envisions a time when the influence of the Anomaly encompasses the galaxy entire, every Segmentum awash in its bloody glow.
Not every Navigator brought before Kokabiel Grigoris is a willing convert. Navigators abducted in raids, captured in boarding actions, or traded to the Cyclopean Congregation by desperate crew, are loath to risk damnation at the foot of a self-proclaimed prophet. Those who reject Kokabiel's offer of enlightenment and initiation into the Congregation suffer a fate few planetbound humans understand. With a savage twist of his talon-like fingers, Kokabiel rends the apostate's Third Eye, plucking the sensitive organ from the victim's forehead. Deprived of their Warp sight and rendered useless in the eyes of the Navis Nobilite, Kokabiel turns these unfortunates free. Some are dropped into Imperial territory, mutilated reminders of Kokabiel's private Crusade. Others are ransomed back to their households. The worst of these wander bilge decks of the Burden of Revelation, their pitiful cries reverberating throughout the ancient bulkheads.
A development unknown to the masters of the Achilus Crusade, Kokabiel Grigoris commands a growing fleet of voidships. Dubbed the Congregational Fleet, this flotilla of ramshackle spacecraft is composed of ships lost to the Anomaly over the past millennium. Patiently gathered and retrofitted by the Cyclopean Congregation, the fleet is currently moored among the remains of a shattered moon. Repaired with archeotechnology cannibalised from derelicts considered beyond all hope of redemption, these ships are being prepared for war.
Dark Adversaries and Strange Allies
Kokabiel Grigoris and the Cyclopean Congregation do not exist in isolation. Grigoris' machinations are entangled with the disparate factions at war in the Jericho Reach, creating a complex web of alliances and rivalries worthy of the most experienced Eldar manipulator.
- House Der'cel - Pronounced Excommunicate Traitoris for its involvement in the Sepphoris Secession, this Renegade Navigator House is a recent arrival to the Reach. Intercepted by representatives of the Congregation near Argoth, the entirety of House Der'cel converted to the Cyclopean Congregation in a single night. The Der'cel highliner Via Infractus is currently moored at an unknown location within the Charon Stars. The Via Infractus is currently the home of a massive breeding program, the birthplace of a new generation of Navigators raised from inception in the Cyclopean fold.
- Samech - The Cyclopean Congregation is on uneasy footing with the Hereteks of Samech. Once tentative trading partners, relations soured after Kokabiel purchased cloning technology to expedite the Congregation's first breeding program. The technology proved faulty, producing inchoate masses of palpitating tissue useless to the cult's long-term goals. Though Kokabiel swore revenge and bombarded multiple Heretek orbital stations at the edge of the Samech System, he has yet to deal a crushing blow against the Heretek Magus responsible for crafting the faulty accelerated maturation chambers.
- The Stigmartus - Unbeknownst to Lord Militant Tetrarchus, the Burden of Revelation preys upon Stigmartus warships as readily as Imperial vessels. Though Officer-Bishops are not outright forbidden from bargaining with Kokabiel for safe passage through the Drop, Elak Sarda takes a dim view of subordinates willing to acquiesce to the rogue Navigator's demands. The Cult-General's pride prevents him from entering diplomatic relations with the leader of a rival cult, and his military actions against Kokabiel continually meet with failure.
- Word Bearers - The Deathwatch Rapid Strike Vessel Final Mercy recently witnessed a meeting between the Burden of Revelation and the Word Bearers Battle Barge Inexorable Ruination deep in the Charon Stars. Both ships vanished into the Immaterium after discovery. Investigation of the area revealed the remains of a third ship of xenos origin.
Worlds of the Hadex Anomaly
- Belissar (Dead World) - An Imperial world believed to have been colonised in the 33rd Millennium, fragmented records indicate that this barren planet might have been terraformed by members of the Adeptus Mechanicus. At the same time, several native plant and animal species were eliminated in favour of species adapted from Terra. After thousands of years of isolation, there were few survivors upon the world. Those that remained were struck by an even greater tragedy during the latter years of the 40th Millennium. Shortly after its manifestation, the Hadex Anomaly was prone to fitful movement and expansion. During a time of ill-portent, Belissar was swallowed by the Warp Storm. After more than a century, the Anomaly moved into a different portion of the sector, and the planet emerged from the Warp, though horrifically changed. In 622.M41, Deathwatch and Ordo Malleus forces committed to a joint effort termed the Belissar Suppression. The intent was to cleanse the planet of its contamination, so that this hideous taint might be removed from the galaxy. Many of the field reports from that action have been permanently sealed. It is believed that the worst of the daemonic influences were eliminated from Belissar's surface. However, it is clear that the effort could not be deemed a triumph. The Warp's taint lingers upon this world, and none can say what measures might be taken to fully cleanse it.
- Castiel (Dead World) - The Dead World of Castiel is part of an abandoned system bearing little importance to the Imperium. Yet, for all its unremarkableness, the Deathwatch maintains a Dead Station there. Unlike many of the other Watch Stations throughout the Jericho Reach, the Castiel Station maintains a single-manned presence at all times. This vigil has become known as the Lone Watch. At any given time, a lone Deathwatch Battle-Brother maintains a vigil at the Castiel Station, monitoring the data it gathers as well as guarding something deep in the heart of the fortress. The term of this assignment is usually one standard year, when the next candidate comes to relieve the previous guardian. Those who have undertaken the Lone Watch never speak of what lies within this station that requires a living guardian at all times. Its proximity to the Hadex Anomaly lead many to believe it is an ancient Chaos artefact. This remains speculation at best, for the Battle-Brothers who have carried out the Lone Watch remain ever silent on the matter.
- Neeralla (Dead World) - This small barren world lay on the outermost fringe of the Hadex Anomaly and was considered a haunted world by many voidfarers that braved that region of hazardous space. The world held little interest for the Mechanicus and other Imperial agencies since all scans showed little of worth. In 738.M41, a passing Mechanicus probe discovered ruins in a location previously devoid of all structures. The Deathwatch was alerted and Forgemaster Xerill dispatched a Kill-team under his command to investigate. Initially, the investigating Space Marines discovered that the ruins was entirely alien and barren. They encountered a mysterious alien presence that caused them to black out and later wake up on the barren surface, all trace of the ruins gone. Within a week, the world of Neeralla was gone -- swallowed by an expansion of the Hadex Anomaly.
- Regulus (Death World) - An inhospitable world, the planet's atmosphere is dense with organic gases, clouds of ash, and high levels of radiation. The hostile environment may be the consequence of an ancient civilisation's demise or simply a consequence of its many active volcanoes. The current environs are far too hostile for Mankind's intrusion, but atmospheric contamination suggests that it might be useful as a Mining World. An Imperial Watch Station was established in response to structures that were observed millennia ago when the system was first scouted. The Achilus Crusade has not made any efforts to conquer or even scout Regulus. The command structure has dismissed it as a barren wasteland, of little short-term value to the Imperium. At best, it is considered a stepping stone to reach worlds more valuable to the Imperium.
- Samech (Hell-Forge) - A former loyal Forge World of the Adeptus Mechanicus,the sad truth was that the people of Samech's faith in the Omnissiah had been slowly dimming some centuries before the infamous event of the emergence of the Anomaly. When this stellar phenomenon consumed the world, the forges readily embraced their damnation, seeking out the Ruinous Powers to further their own aims. During the Achilus Crusade, Samech stood as the main source of armaments used against the Imperial forces. This world also came to be known as "the iron pit," becoming a haven for debased human Renegades that travelled there to trade and barter.
- Tabius Rasa (Ocean World) - The only habitable world of the Tabius Rasa System is a planet that bears the presence of Mankind with grave reluctance. Its vast water oceans are high in phosphates and potassium salts, which require extensive filtration prior to consumption. The planet's weather is dramatic, likely due to its four moons, with surface winds frequently exceeding 150 kilometres per hour. These storms constantly scour the surface, leaving worn rocks and short, reedy plant life. The human natives of Tabius Rasa are technologically primitive, but have established a stable society that seems free of Warp taint. Many of their communities are built in the canyons and foothills of mountains that can protect them from the wind. Others have moved to subterranean life, escaping the weather completely. Over the millennia, they have lost virtually all of the advanced technology that carried their ancestors to the planet. By necessity, these survivors have developed agricultural techniques and water filtration systems that exploit the native resources. Between the limited resources and the difficult weather, some consider it a miracle that the colony has survived. However, there may be darker reasons for its survival. The natives are often found accompanied by reptilian companions, which they call drahkens. These xenos creatures are a six-limbed, reptilian species that grow up to a meter in body length with a longer tail. The human colonists treat the drahkens with great deference, often carrying them on their shoulders, and in some circles treating them as peers. Some amongst the Ordo Malleus speculate that these reptilian life forms are actually some form of daemonic familiar.
- Vespasia (Verdant World) - The Achilus Crusade has a vested interest in making this world Compliant as soon as the resources become available to do so. This planet is a verdant place, friendly to mankind's colonisation, and home to a rich bounty that could greatly assist with the Crusade's resource difficulties. Vespasia was never densely populated, and its time apart from the Imperium has not changed that. Its proximity to the Hadex Anomaly, however, has had a substantial effect. The natives have completely forsaken the Imperial Creed. The planet's vast agricultural resources are managed by slaves descended from Imperial citizens. A ruling class of mutants holds the population in check. The forces of the Stigmartus provide the system's defences and security, in exchange for a generous tithe of the planet's harvests. These slaves live under the threat of starvation and constant degradation from their overlords. Because of the numerically superior underclass, agents of the Ecclesiarchy have begun an unauthorised initiative to infiltrate the slaves' culture. They hope to trigger a rebellion in the name of the God-Emperor.
- Watch Station CX3119 - Watch Station CX3119 was established to study the Hadex Anomaly nearly 800 standard years ago. Due to the reported fluctuation of the Anomaly, this Watch Station was initially created to be mobile, that it might remain ever on the periphery of the Warp Storm. Without warning, the Hadex expanded to nearly half again its size, sucking the station into the Anomaly and cutting it off from the Deathwatch. At the time, the station was unmanned, and while the Imperium was loathe to lose a valuable monitoring tool, it considered the station gone and classified it as destroyed. One can imagine the consternation and surprise of all within the Deathwatch when Watch Station CX3119 reappeared in 815.M41. The station's reappearance has provoked great debate amongst the Chamber of Vigilance of Watch Fortress Erioch and the Inquisition. The structure's new location is many light years from where it originally vanished, creating additional speculation on the nature of the Anomaly. Many wish to investigate the station to see what details the station's sensors have recorded during its time within. While the matter is debated, an elaborate system of quarantine beacons has been put in place warning all starships to keep a wide berth of the area.
- "Wicked Sisters" - Delphos and Iatos (Twin-Pleasure Worlds) - Located dangerously close to the heavily contested Cellebos Warzone, the Wicked Sisters are twin Pleasure Worlds that are markedly bizarre. The two systems they are each located in, Delphos and Iatos, are completely identical, and the planets themselves are nearly indistinguishable from each other except for the Imperial structures that have been built there. Both the systems are in close proximity to the Hadex Anomaly; its glowing presence in the sky tinges every night on the planets with a sickly red glow. There are many Inquisitors operating in the Reach that believe that the influence of the Anomaly has tainted these worlds, infecting those who stay there with the subtle taint of the Warp. However, with many more pressing concerns bearing down from all sides, no Inquisitor has been able to spare resources long enough to launch a full investigation. The suspicions of these Inquisitors are even more accurate than they could imagine; underground cults dedicated to Slaanesh have sprung up in both star systems, and the subtle influence of Chaos can be felt by any who stay on the surface for an extended period of time. In the decades since the worlds' reclamation they have garnered a reputation for laxity and the pleasures of the flesh, giving them the name "The Wicked Sisters" amongst Imperial citizens.
When the Hadex Anomaly first formed, it swallowed whole any world that was sitting in its birthing cradle. The raw, unfocused power of Chaos destroyed most of those planets caught in the terrible throes of the Anomaly's eruption. Those that were not destroyed were quickly corrupted, twisted into a foul parody of what they once were. These planets became the thing that haunts the nightmares of many an Inquisitor -- Daemon Worlds. Presented below are a few examples of Daemon Worlds that can be found within the Hadex Anomaly. Many more exist, but these are the ones known for sure to the commanders of the Achilus Crusade:
- Bulwark (Daemon World) - Once a proud Fortress World, guarding the original Jericho Sector capital of Verronus, Bulwark has been claimed by the worshippers of Khorne. Unlike Venkrous, the Warp itself did not mutate the planet; instead all of the atrocities that were committed in the years following the appearance of the Anomaly were perpetrated by the citizens of Bulwark. Once, mighty bastions of adamantium and steel stood firm against the enemies of the Imperium. Now, these same structures have become charnel houses, the inhabitants constantly offering up sacrifices to the Blood God. Where Aquilas once stood proud over the buildings of the Munitorums, now sit Flesh Hounds of Khorne, perched and waiting for the chance to satiate their eternal hunger with the blood of those that offend their master. Skulls, both human and daemon, decorate every outcropping. Walls are lined with spikes, and the aqueducts pump a never-ending torrent of blood into the seas. While these crimes are despicable, the greatest atrocity was saved for the Grand Temple of the God-Emperor. The beautiful stained glass windows, once multi-coloured and depicting scenes of the Emperor's glory, now are stained only with the blood of those few priests who kept true to their faith in Bulwark's darkest hour. The skulls of the Imperial priesthood were taken from their bodies and placed in a mound in front of the altar. The altar itself, previously depicting a scene of Sebastian Thor being touched by the hand of the Emperor, has been twisted to show that great Saint slaying the Emperor with an axe. Behind the altar now sits a throne of bronze, stained red with the blood of those used to appease their patron, and upon it sits the lord of this planet, the Daemon Prince Krakiota. With a Juggernaut of Khorne to either side, Krakiota hears the pleas and supplications of his followers. Those that he deems to be worthy are offered the ultimate reward; their life's blood is taken from them and poured into a goblet made from the skull of the former Planetary Governor. This goblet is then blessed and offered directly to the Blood God himself, in hopes that he will bring victory and bloodshed to his warrior worshippers.
- Coranin (Feral World) - When the Hadex Anomaly appeared in reality, Tzeentch, the Changer of Ways, claimed the Feral World of Coranin as its own. The changes it wrought were subtle at first. Trees would sway when there was no wind, roads no longer had the same endpoint, and other such small differences. The superstitious tribesmen of the planet turned to their mystics and soothsayers for answers, but the only responses they got were to accept the changes as a sign from their god. Over a period of years, children born to the tribes were mutated. Some would have an extra limb, others would merely have eyelids that closed from the sides. In an effort to appease their god who protected them from the angry red scar in the sky, the people of Coranin venerated these changed ones and made them the leaders of the tribe. It was not until two full generations had passed did the tribes finally receive an obvious sign from their god. When an avatar of Tzeentch revealed itself to the people Coranin, it did so with a flair for the dramatic. Shrubbery grew into a maze that followed the seemingly random steps of the daemon. The leaves on every tree that the daemon passed fell from their branches and were replaced with perfect replicas made from unholy Warpfire. Rivers switched the direction that they flowed every time they were crossed. It was not until the daemon reached the largest tribal settlement on the planet that the people truly understood what their god was capable of. The daemon looked upon its worshippers and pointed to a small boy. This boy had escaped the corrupting touch of the Warp and was physically sound and unmarred. The boy strode up to the daemon and kneeled before it. The daemon placed a single claw-like hand upon the boy's head and said a few words in an unpronounceable language. With a flash of violet fire, the boy was changed from a perfect specimen of a human to a perfect specimen of a Horror of Tzeentch. From that day forward, the people of Coranin heaped offerings and prayers onto the avatar of their new master, Tzeentch.
- Durell (Hive World) - The Hive World of Durell was not the most pious of cities before the coming of the Anomaly, and once Slaanesh got its sinewy fingers into the Spire Nobles, it was impossible for anyone to stop what was coming. When the Anomaly first manifested, the first thing that was affected was Hive Primus, the seat of planetary government. The hive city was transformed from a magnificent structure of stone and steel into one of flesh. Those that were unlucky enough to have habitation quarters on the outer edges found themselves being drawn into the walls. Their bodies formed the mortar that would hold this new structure together. Their mouths were placed facing inwards, so that all could hear the moans of ecstasy and cries of agony that Slaanesh could bring to those that it favoured. The upper spires became dens of decadence and excess. The middle hive is a gathering place where all can worship Slaanesh in any manner they choose. The hive itself became a single Grand Temple to Slaanesh.
- Magog (Daemon World) - Magog has been drawn into and exited from the Hadex Anomaly countless times in the millennia since the disturbance's first appearance. These transitions have had a substantial effect upon its only inhabitable planet and those who dwell upon it. Once this was a stable Agri-world filled with citizens loyal to the God-Emperor and the Imperial Creed. Now, it is a breeding ground and a training centre for the forces of corruption that extend into the Jericho Reach. The planet's environment and indigenous life all bear the taint of the Warp. In addition to those surviving humans, the planet is also rife with creatures spawned from the Warp. These foul daemons closely interact with the tainted humans, breeding mutants and providing a seemingly endless supply of further soldiers for the forces of the Dark Gods. Their presence serves as a powerful motivation for the tainted humans as they pay their obeisance. The mortals are constantly driven to commit acts of debauchery and cruelty in their service.
- Venkrous (Plague World) - Once a lush and beautiful Agri-World, Venkrous was the primary producer of most large grains for the Jericho Sector. Now twisted and warped by the rotting touch of Nurgle, Venkrous produces plants that are used to create vile poisons and hallucinogenic drugs. Wanting to create a planet more to his liking, the Plague Father pushed the land masses together until they created three continents where once there were nine. The next step that he took was to move the clouds out of the way so that all could look upon the glory of this creation. The clouds were moved towards the poles and turned a shade of pink so as not to distract the eye from the crowning achievement. The seas themselves, once a beautiful shade of blue, now run green with pus. Any wildlife that survived the change found itself mutated into strange new forms that spread the unholy plague to every corner of the planet. The human population of the planet was hit hardest of all. Those that staunchly refused Grandfather Nurgle's pestilent embrace were the lucky ones. They were merely executed, while those that quickly turned their worship to the Great Diseased One found themselves rewarded with a form of leprosy. Their limbs would quickly atrophy and die off over a period of seven days, but on the eighth day, the limbs that were lost would begin to grow back. The cycle repeats for eight months out of the year, but in the ninth month, the regeneration does not stop at simply regrowing the lost limbs. During that month, the limbs become bloated and grotesque mockeries of what they once were, until the last day of the month when they mercifully explode, spreading the plague amongst any who have not been gifted with it.
- Black Crusade: Core Ruelbook (RPG), pg. 321
- Deathwatch: Core Rulebook (RPG), pg. 349
- Deathwatch: The Achilus Assault (RPG), pp. 17-18, 28, 68-71, 75-76, 78, 80-90
- Deathwatch: The Jericho Reach (RPG), pp. 6-8, 13-14, 16, 31, 36-39, 41-43, 53
- Deathwatch: The Outer Reach (RPG), pp. 10-12, 14-15, 51, 60, 67-68, 79, 107
- Warhammer 40,000: Rulebook (5th Edition), pg. 117