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"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 Limitless Grasp is an Imperial merchant vessel trapped in the Jericho Reach, doomed to relive its final moments again and again.

It is believed by the Inquisition that it holds the secret to how the time-altering Warp rift known as the Hadex Anomaly was created.

History

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 starship 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 officers' 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 phenomenon. When this period of turbulence ceases, nothing remains but the void.

Solar weeks may pass, or months, or standard 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 also 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.

Others 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, transmitted a single message. This cry of awe and horror echoed 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 this so-called "Lamentation Wave." Some die in a moment of apoplexy as Dien's final thoughts surge through their minds.

Others 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.

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 solar weeks at a time during bouts of ardent meditation, Lexicanium Aratron tirelessly correlates over one thousand Terran years of psychometric data regarding the time, location, and intensity of each occurrence of the Lamentation Wave.

Now, after over a decade of study, Aratron claims a pattern is emerging. According to a report recently filed with Watch Commander Mordigael, 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 Chaos corruption carried by the Wave now roots within his mind.

The watch fortress' governing 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.

Sources

  • Deathwatch: The Achilus Assault (RPG), pp. 83
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